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The U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card hasn’t yet appeared on our regularly updated list of the best travel rewards cards, but it’s definitely a contender, thanks to a generous rewards program that favors restaurant spending and certain travel purchases, and a sign-up bonus worth up to $450 when redeemed for airfare and other travel purchases, including hotel stays and car rentals.
Like Capital One Venture Rewards and Citi ThankYou Premier, FlexPerks Gold is a general-purpose travel card. You don’t need to remain loyal to a specific airline, hotel brand, or car rental company to get your money’s worth. As long as you travel regularly and earn rewards quickly enough to offset the $85 annual fee, you’ll find something to like about FlexPerks Gold.
Here’s what you need to know about FlexPerks Gold’s features, strengths, weaknesses, and overall suitability.
When you make at least $2,000 in eligible net purchases within the first 4 months, you get 30,000 bonus FlexPoints. That’s worth up to $450 when redeemed for airfare and other travel purchases, and $300 when redeemed for cash.
Earn FlexPoints on a four-tiered schedule:
- 5 Points per $1 Spent on Eligible Purchases: Applies to purchases of prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the FlexPerks Rewards Center, making this a fantastic card for frequent travelers.
- 3 Points per $1 Spent on Eligible Purchases: Applies to purchases made at restaurants, making this card a great choice for frequent diners looking to save money dining out.
- 2 Points per $1 Spent on Eligible Purchases: Applies to airline and gas station purchases – a strong incentive for frequent travelers and people with long commutes.
- 1 Point per $1 Spent on Eligible Purchases: Applies to all other net purchases.
You can redeem your accumulated FlexPoints for cash, travel, merchandise, and more in the FlexPerks marketplace. Travel Rewards, which are points that you can exchange for travel purchases in cash-like transactions, typically offer the best value. Airfare redemptions made with Travel Rewards value FlexPoints at up to $0.015 apiece, higher than most competing general-purpose travel credit cards. More than 150 airlines participate in the FlexPerks program, and you can generally redeem with no blackout dates or seat restrictions.
You can also redeem for gift cards, statement credits, bank account deposits, and general merchandise. You need at least 1,000 points ($10 value when redeemed for cash) to execute most redemptions.
FlexPerks Gold has some useful, potentially valuable travel benefits:
- TSA PreCheck or Global Entry Reimbursement: You’re automatically reimbursed for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fees, whichever you choose to pursue first. Reimbursement comes as a statement credit in the month following the transaction.
- Complimentary Boingo WiFi: This card comes with complimentary WiFi at more than 1 million Boingo hotspots worldwide, including thousands in major airports.
- Airline Fee Credit for Award Tickets: You’re entitled to a $25 fee credit on airline fees associated with award travel, including baggage fees and certain in-flight purchases. Note that this fee does not apply to purchased airfare.
- Global Dining Program: The Global Dining Program entitles you to special discounts and benefits at thousands of restaurant partners worldwide.
- National Car Rental Discounts and Free Day: You’re entitled to one free rental day with National each year, plus discounts of up to 25% on select paid rentals made with National.
- Boston Coach Discounts and Preferred Treatment: FlexPerks members are entitled to preferred rates and treatment with Boston Coach, a livery service operating in hundreds of cities around the world.
- Complimentary Rental Car Insurance: This Amex-backed benefit entitles you to complimentary loss and damage coverage for car rentals paid in full with your card.
- Lost Luggage Coverage: This benefit entitles you to reimbursement for luggage lost during common carrier travel, subject to certain limitations and restrictions.
- Travel Accident Insurance: Though it’s not a complete travel insurance package, this benefit entitles you to reimbursement in the event of death or serious injury while traveling, subject to certain limitations and restrictions.
This card’s additional benefits include:
- Overdraft Protection for U.S. Bank Deposit Account Holders: If you have a deposit account with U.S. Bank, you can link it with your FlexPerks Gold card to protect against overdrafts. When you attempt a deposit account transaction that would normally result in a negative balance, U.S. Bank automatically draws on your FlexPerks Gold cash advance credit line to cover the shortfall. There’s no fee charged to your card for this service, but most deposit accounts charge a daily fee for overdraft protection transactions – most commonly $12.50 per day. Going forward, overdraft protection transfers incur interest at a higher cash advance rate, so it’s in your interest to pay them off as soon as possible.
- CONNECT from American Express: CONNECT from American Express entitles you to exclusive perks, including special entertainment access, VIP experiences, and special offers from retail partners.
- Retail Protection: This benefit entitles you to redress and reimbursement for certain adverse shopping events, subject to limitations and restrictions. Read your disclosure and account agreement for complete details.
- Concierge Service: This 24/7 perk is available at home and on the road. Use it to get hard-to-find reservations, source entertainment recommendations in unfamiliar cities, or arrange logistically complicated transportation maneuvers.
- Emergency Assistance: If you’re stranded on the road, this benefit can help. You may be responsible for out-of-pocket payments to third-party service providers.
- ID Theft Expense Reimbursement: If your identity is stolen or compromised, you may be entitled to reimbursement, subject to certain limitations and restrictions.
The $85 annual fee is not waived during the first year. There’s no foreign transaction fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount. Cash advances cost at least the greater of $5 or 3%, but certain types of cash advances cost more. Late payments cost $38. Returned payments cost $35.
This card requires excellent credit. Any significant credit blemishes will likely disqualify your application.
- Excellent Return on Restaurant, Hotel, and Car Rental Spending. FlexPerks Gold earns unlimited 3 FlexPoints per $1 spent on restaurant purchases. Prepaid hotel and car rental purchases booked through the FlexPerks travel portal do even better, at 5 points per $1 spent. For frequent diners and travelers, that value is hard to beat.
- Very Good Return on Airline and Gas Station Spending. FlexPerks Gold favors airline and gas station spending too. Both purchase categories earn unlimited 2 points per $1 spent on purchases. That’s a 3% rate of return when you redeem for award flights – again, a well-above-average value.
- Sign-Up Bonus Worth Up to $450. This card’s sign-up bonus is worth up to $450 when redeemed for travel (hotels, flights, and car rentals) and $300 when redeemed for cash. The $2,000 spend is a steep ask for some cardholders, but the 4-month period makes it a bit more manageable. Most competing cards’ sign-up bonus periods last just 4 months.
- No Foreign Transaction Fee. FlexPerks Gold doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. If you travel abroad, you don’t have to worry about losing 2% to 3% of each transaction to avoidable fees.
- No Penalty APR. This card doesn’t charge penalty interest. That’s great news for cardholders who occasionally miss statement due dates on account of unexpected expenses or cash flow issues.
- Has an $85 Annual Fee. This card’s $85 annual fee is a tough pill for frugal travelers to swallow. If you travel infrequently or simply can’t spare any room in your budget for a recurring $85 charge, look to a no-annual-fee competitor, such as the Expedia+ Card from Citi.
- Limited Travel Perks. FlexPerks Gold’s travel perks aren’t as valuable or useful as some competitors’. For instance, the airline fee credit (airline allowance) applies only to award travel. Even if you travel frequently, most of your trips won’t involve award tickets, rendering this benefit useless for long stretches. Many genuinely helpful benefits, such as complimentary rental car insurance, come standard on lots of other Amex and Visa cards, including many that don’t charge annual fees.
- No Point Transfer Allowance. You can’t transfer your FlexPoints to other loyalty programs, such as frequent flyer clubs or frequent guest schemes. This is a drawback relative to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, a popular travel rewards credit card that has 1-to-1 point transfer arrangements with about a dozen travel loyalty programs, including United MileagePlus.
The U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card is tailor-made for frequent diners, audacious travelers, and people with long commutes or vast sales territories – in other words, millions of Americans. If you’re not satisfied with the travel rewards credit card choices you’ve seen up until this point, you owe it to yourself to give FlexPerks Gold another look. And if you’re not impressed by what you see, no worries: Check out our list of best travel credit cards to find additional opportunities to earn a real return on your everyday spending.