I recently signed up for the US Bank Lifemiles Visa Signature card and was excited about the proposition. Lifemiles are routinely on sale with terrific bonus offers (recently up to 125% on purchased miles) and fill a void for Star Alliance miles across my accounts so despite only receiving a 35,000 point signup bonus, I know that I can cheaply top up the account for a specific award opportunity.
I rarely open our print mail, it usually holds nothing for me that I have not already received digitally and therefore I really don’t know when I received this notice. I was informed by US Bank that they would be exiting the Lifemiles Visa program and transitioning me to a new card within their “FlexPerks” program. I had trouble finding more information about this online as I have seen no formal publication about the transition to take place “June 2016” and in fact even Lifemiles seems out of the loop as they are still promoting the cards on their website.
For those of you that wanted to sign up for the offer, usually this would be the time. However, when clicking on ANY of those links the following error is displayed:
While I would hope that another bank based in the US is able to pick up this program that has done very well for itself by selling miles to banks and consumers directly, a new option is unknown to me at time of publication.
The letter wasn’t without hope though. In the top right corner of the letter (see crudely taken photo on my iPhone below) there is an offer to retain members that I found really attractive. Spend just $500 in the first 90 days after the transition and the new FlexPerks card has arrived and earn 20,000 points, enough to offset the costs of up to $400 in airfare.
This feels like a pretty good deal to me. It’s essentially a new card sign up bonus for only $500 in spend without a credit pull and $400 in free airfare. In fact, it’s better than what they offer on the card to new members, their current offer requires $3,500 in spend within four months to achieve the same bonus:
But what are FlexPerks and how can I spend them? Unlike other cards (Barclay Arrival, Capital One Venture) a per point equivalency ($.01 = 1 point/”mile”) is not given. Rather, they allow buckets in exchange for points. For example, 20,000 points is good for airline bookings up to $400 (regardless of class of service), while anything from $400.01 to $600 comes in at 30,000 points per ticket. The per ticket is a key distinction. If you want to buy two one ways on American for $100 each (well under the $400 limit both in total and per ticket) that would be 40,000 points.
It’s a backwards system certainly, and I am unable to ascertain whether or not you can pay the difference between a 20,000 point reward and for example a $412 fare with the total due $12. I suspect this is not possible which pigeon-holes you to specific fare buckets. That being said, if you could easily apply $10,000 in spending or $5,000 in any of the bonus categories (gas, groceries, etc.) then the value could be quite high as those tickets are not booked as award flights and you would earn miles and status for journey. The way I would like to use this card is to spend $5,000 in those categories on the card, achieve 30,000 points and put myself in the $600 or under free flight award, then book a revenue flight to China or Europe from the east coast as rates on my preferred carrier have been sub – $600 to both recently. For a trip to China I would accumulate a ton of value in essentially a free status run, plus the miles I earn from the trip and of course free airfare to some place I want to visit. Frequent Miler has a great post about this card from back in August when he covered it as an independent product and not in connection with the Lifemiles transition.
Image credit: Frequent Miler
Included with the card are (12) free Gogo Inflight wifi certificates provided. Transitioned cardholders do not incur an annual fee for the card in the first year (great because I just paid the Lifemiles fee) but in the second year it goes to $49 to keep the premium version. The Flexperks card pays for itself if those Gogo passes are an annual beneift and not a one-time offer, but due to limited details on the entire transition I cannot confirm this is the case.
It is sad to see the Lifemiles card go, especially since I had not accrued many miles yet or gotten to know the bank before it’s departure. However, the offer to transition with a low threshold and high bonus are money back in my pocket and make me a very happy client.