I have had a mixed relationship with US Bank over the last few years but they have proven time and again, they are simply not a good partner in our banking relationship.
Product Changes Aplenty
I first started my US Bank relationship with their LifeMiles card. I held that for only a few months before their deal with Avianca expired and never renewed, forcing a product change. At the time, I thought it was a great change because I kept the LifeMiles and also got the equivalent of a new sign-up bonus on the replacement card, FlexPerks.
However, that card then changed the value of their points from up to 3¢/point to 1.5¢/point. FlexPerks couldn’t be spent on a number of bookings (like short-haul international) and where they could be used, prices were not comparable to what was available elsewhere on the internet. In essence, the points were worth even less because FlexPerks options were solely for more expensive versions of the same itinerary I’d found elsewhere.
I held on to the card because I never found a redemption I could stomach but had a valuable amount of points I didn’t want to throw away. The annual fee included a perk I enjoyed, GoGo internet passes. Unfortunately, that perk was also removed but because it’s such a non-factor card in my wallet, I missed this and paid for a year without it.
It seems every 18 months US Bank introduces another change that further reduces benefits of their limited product and I’m baffled.
Not Compelling Products
The FlexPerks card is either a perfect example of an uninspired cash grab from loyal banking customers or a product of the least informed major bank in the country. Their executives have to carry other products in their wallet.
They continue to offer the Club Carlson card but not from their website, you have to search for it and don’t sign up unless you have a really specific redemption in mind.
They offer the US cards for LATAM and Korean but for some reason, they don’t advertise unless you beg them. You have to click past four different FlexPerks cards and even then they don’t offer the features and benefits, just a link to find out more (notice the down arrow which obscured the view until clicked.)
If I was a loyal US Bank customer in Atlanta or Miami and didn’t know about the LATAM card from their own website, how is US Bank being a good banking partner? Of course, the sign up bonuses are not compelling nor are there any unique benefits, just miles in a program that may work for some customers. I have nothing good to say about Korean generally so the fact that their credit card company operates like this is totally acceptable to me.
Unbeknownst to me, I had an auto lease through US Bank as well. Usually leases are only offered by the parent financing (Ford Credit for example) and rarely shopped out. I experienced a number of problems that included method of payment (they took a long time to set it up), and though I re-leased a Ford again, the walk-away fee from not doing so through US Bank meant I got hit with a termination fee.
They also tacked on $250 for a single tire that didn’t meet their standards though passed state inspection, just weeks before (how could I have one tire too worn but not at least two?) I had no indication when I returned the vehicle that this would have been an issue, that particular tire would not have cost nearly $250 installed. They let me know by mail weeks later after they sold the vehicle to another party. They failed to return an add-on to the vehicle and also charged for… get this… scratches in the bed of the truck. That’s a first. Ever.
I tried to talk to them and reason, they were unreasonable – par for the US Bank course.
I called to move a credit line from one card to another and US Bank’s foreign call center rep said he’d never heard of such a concept and put me on hold. I waited a few minutes, he dismissed the concept as ridiculous and then offered to combine the current credit line with a new one if I applied with him on the phone. Hmmm, so, you can easily do a credit line transfer if you get a commission on a new product, but not on one where you don’t get a bonus.
While the LifeMiles change has to be a mulligan for the bank, the ever-worsening FlexPerks is an objectively inferior product. The bank has other valuable relationships in their travel credit card category but they won’t tell you about them unless you really dig. Don’t bother, none are compelling, their customer service is junk and the rest of their approach to banking is second-rate. I don’t know how they ever got to the size that they are, but there is no reason for them staying in that elevated position. My annual fee for my FlexPlerks card comes up soon, I’ll let you guess whether or not I will keep that credit line open.
What do you think? Have you enjoyed FlexPerks products? Have you had a good experience with US Bank? Have you also had a bad experience with US Bank?