Good morning everyone, I hope your weekend is going well. It is supposed to rain on and off all weekend in San Francisco, so I hope the weather is better wherever you are. Yesterday was not a very good day for most Bluebird and AMEX Serve Card holders (Round 2 of AMEX Serve Card Account Closures (March 4, 2016)), but the second round of shutdowns ironically occurred at a great time for this post.
When I logged into my US Bank online account this morning, I saw a $49 annual fee post on both of my US Bank FlexPerks Credit Cards (Visa Signature and American Express). I was exclusively using my US Bank FlexPerks AMEX Credit Card for AMEX Serve Card online reloads, but since that avenue is no longer available, I really have no other use for the US Bank FlexPerks AMEX Credit Card. I originally got both US Bank FlexPerks Credit Cards when they were offering large sign up bonuses (Winter Olympics in 2014 for the US Bank FlexPerks Visa Signature Credit Card and the standard 20,000 FlexPoints for the US Bank FlexPerks AMEX Credit Card).
On my recent US Bank FlexPerks Visa Signature Credit Card statement (left), you can see that I did not spend very much on the credit card in 2016. I used that card a lot last year when you could load your Target Redbird Card with a US Bank FlexPerks Visa Signature Credit Card and get 2x FlexPoints. Since the Target Redbird Card died a few months ago, I haven’t used my US Bank FlexPerks Visa Signature Credit Card this year.
On my recent US Bank FlexPerks AMEX Credit Card statement (right), I was racking up the FlexPoints by loading 4 AMEX Serve Cards via online credit card reloads. During the good days (before January 8, 2016), I was spending $4,000 a month via online AMEX Serve Card reloads. Between January 9 and March 4, I was still able to spend $1,000 per month reloading my last AMEX Serve Card. With the closure of my last AMEX Serve Card, I no longer have a need for the US Bank FlexPerks AMEX Credit Card.
Last month I wrote about Upcoming US Bank FlexPerks Visa/AMEX Credit Card Changes to “Grocery”; FlexPoints Purchase & Transfer Limits. Those changes are now in effect and there is another change coming, but one that probably no one cares about. Hideaway Life is a complimentary benefit (aka worthless) that US Bank FlexPerks Credit Card holders can use. I wrote about that in Lesser Known Perks of the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Credit Card. It was free, so I signed up, but it is totally worthless for me. Does anyone read Hideaway Life?
Before I even consider paying the annual fee, my first plan is to call the retention department and ask them to waive the annual fee or give me a $49 statement credit to offset the annual fee. It is a long shot, but “you miss all the shots you don’t take” (aka call and you have a shot at getting the annual fee waived or a statement credit).
If that doesn’t go well, I have a few other options to consider:
- Pay the $49 annual fee
- Pay the $49 annual fee with 3,500 US Bank FlexPoints ($49 / 3,500 = 1.4 CPP value)
- Downgrade to a no annual fee credit card
- Close the credit card
Since I no longer actively earn FlexPoints, I’m not really interested in keeping the current cards open. I’m more focused on spending down my FlexPoints account balance. I strongly recommend never closing a credit card if there is no annual fee credit card you can downgrade or convert to, so that is the route I am going to pursue.
On the US Bank FlexPerks Credit Card comparison page, there are 4 options (2 annual fee credit cards and 2 no annual fee credit cards). Since I have both of the annual fee credit cards, let’s look at the no annual fee credit cards and see how they compare.
There is a no annual fee American Express credit card that earns 1x everywhere and a no annual fee Visa credit card that earns 0.5x everywhere (aka 1 FlexPoint per $2) and 1.5x for charitable donations.
Here is the small print on the charitable donations category for the no annual fee Visa credit card.
Fun fact, I was reading through the FlexPerks program rules and it specifically says that FlexPoints will not be awarded for US Mint purchases (hehe). I also learned that FlexPoints expire approximately 5 years after you earn them, on a first-in, first out basis.
Back to the comparison. Both no annual fee credit cards have the ability to redeem FlexPoints for travel (20,000 FlexPoints = up to $400 in airline travel), but they do not come with the $25 airline allowance. Assuming you book 2 award tickets with FlexPoints and max out the $25 airline allowance, that basically negates the annual fee. I recommend reading the comments on my post about US Bank FlexPerks $25 Airline Allowance Reimbursement Process & Timeline.
US Bank also clarifies what no annual fee means by explaining that no annual fee will be billed for year 1 and year 2. What about year 3? Is there going to be an annual fee? I don’t want to wait and find out…
Both no annual fee cards have foreign transaction fees, so don’t use these cards outside the United States. Last but not least, the no annual fee AMEX has a smart chip, while the no annual fee Visa does not have a smart chip. Way to call out the no annual fee Visa as a slacker… shesh!
So what is my game plan? My plan is to call US Bank and ask for a retention offer on my US Bank FlexPerks AMEX Credit Card. If that doesn’t work, I will downgrade/convert to the no annual fee AMEX credit card. After looking at the list of Team USA 2016 olympic sponsors, it doesn’t look like US Bank will participate. I did see Citi, Visa, and Hilton all mentioned, so there *may* be a promo surrounding the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Credit Card. That is all speculation at this point.
With that said, I will call US Bank and ask for a retention offer on my US Bank FlexPerks Visa Signature Credit Card. If that doesn’t work, I will downgrade/convert to the no annual fee Visa credit card. If US Bank does decide to be a sponsor, they will most likely offer a higher sign up bonus for their US Bank FlexPerks Visa Signature Credit Card like they did for the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2014 Winter Olympics. If that is the case, I will then close my no annual fee Visa credit card and try applying for the US Bank FlexPerks Visa Signature after the 2016 Summer Olympics are over.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Have a great weekend everyone!