Maximizing US Bank’s FlexPerks Program with Southwest

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US Bank’s FlexPerks program has a tiered level structure where you can get up to 2 cents per point when redeeming for a free flight. If you are new to this program and want to learn more about the in’s and out’s, I suggest reading these two previous posts which highlight the program and the affiliated credit cards (ultimately one credit card sign up could get you enough for a free flight up to $400): “Free Flights with US Bank FlexPerks Points” and “A Free $400 Flight with a US Bank FlexPerks Credit Card“.

To use your earned points, you must go through FlexPerks online travel portal. You can access the portal online and any flight between $0 and $399.99 will require 20,000 points and any flight between $400 and $599.99 will require 40,000 points. Essentially, you want to book a flight as close to the top of the tier as possible to get the maximum value. Here is the full redemption chart:

US Bank FlexPerksWith Southwest, however, you cannot book a flight online, but instead must call (the redemption number is: 855-241-8756). The major caveat to that is Southwest does not grand third-party booking sites access to their “Wanna Getaway” fares. This means you’ll be paying a higher fare than what you see on Southwest.com – they will pull in the “Anytime” fares. Paying a higher amount for a flight is definitely not one I condone, but with Southwest it could actually work in your favor. I have not personally tried the “trick” I am about to share myself, but after a few phone calls to FlexPerks to ask some questions about the program (i.e., blog research!), I do not see why this would not work. Please, comment with your experience to allow other readers to follow suite.

The Southwest trick… There is a slight trick with Southwest where it doesn’t actually matter what flight you book. Southwest allows you to change or cancel flights FOR FREE. So the trick is to find a Southwest flight as close to $400 even if you do not particularly want those dates or route (example: flights from Atlanta to Islip are about $381). Once the flight is booked, you can then go ahead and cancel the flight and you will receive a credit in your name for the total cost of the flight. You can then use this voucher for up to 365 days from the date the ticket was booked. This voucher can be used on multiple flights until it is used up, but it can only be used for the passenger whom the flight was originally booked for.

When I called U.S. Bank they told me that while they are like to help with passengers who need to change/cancel their reservation, there is nothing stopping them from going directly to the airline. Again, I cannot 100% confirm that this actually works with their program, but I do not see why not.

Also, when booking a flight through FlexPerks, you will receive the points/miles for flying as if you booked through the airline site directly. This means a $400 Southwest flight will earn you about 2,400 points (give or take depending on what the taxes come out to be as you don’t earn points on taxes paid). Additionally, the flight will count towards status (or any other perks you receive for a paid flight). On Southwest, for example, you’ll earn points towards A+ List status and towards the companion pass. On other airlines you’ll earn EQM’s, etc.

Another big perk of using your points for a Southwest flight…. If you are a Southwest companion pass holder, you should be able to add your companion on to your reservation! This means you are doubling the value of your points! There is no extra fee to do this, you just need to pay the normal taxes/fees that you would typically when booking on Southwest. To add your companion pass, once your reservation is in your Southwest.com account you can add it there, or call Southwest reservations and they can do it for you.

Affiliated cards to earn FlexPoints:

  • U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Select+ American Express® Card: Earn 10,000 points when you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening; Earn 1x point on all purchases; No annual fee.
  • U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards American Express® Card: Earn 20,000 points when you spend $3,500 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening – this is worth a free airline ticket up to $400. Earn 3x points on charitable donation, 2x points on gas, grocery, or airline purchases (whichever you spend the most on each monthly billing cycle), as well as restaurants, fast food, and most cell phone expenses, and 1x point on all other purchases; Get an airline allowance reimbursements for up to $25 per air travel award ticket toward baggage fees or in-flight food and drinks; Receive 3,500 bonus FlexPoints each cardmember year you spend $24,000 in purchases; Annual fee waived the first year then $49/year.
  • U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® Card: Earn 20,000 points when you spend $3,500 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening – this is worth a free airline ticket up to $400. Earn 3x points on charitable donation, 2x points on gas, grocery, or airline purchases (whichever you spend the most on each monthly billing cycle) and most cell phone expenses, and 1x points on all other purchases. Get an airline allowance reimbursements for up to $25 per air travel award ticket toward baggage fees or in-flight food and drinks; Receive 3,500 bonus FlexPoints each cardmember year you spend $24,000 in purchases; Annual fee waived the first year then $49/year.
  • U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Business Edge™ Travel Rewards CardEarn 20,000 points when you spend $3,500 in purchases within the first 4 months of account opening – this is worth a free airline ticket up to $400. Earn 3x points on charitable donation, 2x points on gas, grocery, or airline purchases (whichever you spend the most on each monthly billing cycle) and most cell phone expenses, and 1x points on all other purchases. Get a $25 airline allowance reimbursements for up to $25 per air travel award ticket toward baggage fees or in-flight food and drinks; Receive 3,500 bonus FlexPoints each cardmember year you spend $24,000 in purchases; Annual fee waived the first year then $49/year.

So for those that are interested in this card and typically fly Southwest, know that you absolutely can use your points for a Southwest flight, you just need to call. You can also use these tips and tricks to maximize the value of your points!

I’d love to hear your experience with using US Bank FlexPerks on a Southwest flight… comment below!

Comments

  1. I’m confusing. I used to book ticket on US Bank travel portal where they withdraw my points directly from my account. So if I call Southwest Airlines to book Anytime fare ticket, how to “pay” that ticket with my US Bank points? Thanks

    • @Ben – Sorry for the confusion. To book the flights you need to call the FlexPerks redemption line and they will book the Southwest flight for you.

      Then any changes you can deal with Southwest directly.

  2. Please someone try this so we have evidence of it working! I also don’t see any reason that it wouldn’t work…

  3. I’ve been thinking about cancelling this card because trying to optimize the value of the points is a headache, and my annual fee is due next month. This is a viable option for cashing in my 40K points. Hmm.

  4. Started this process this morning. The FlexPerks fares for Southwest didn’t match any fare class published on Southwest.com for two itineraries I tried (including the ILP to ATL fare mentioned above). They priced out a bit lower and made it difficult for me to book a ticket as close to $400 as possible. Will try again when there is more time, but the difference in fares was an unexpected twist. Any thoughts here are appreciated (they priced out slightly lower than Anytime published fares). I wonder if it is a taxes/fees thing.

  5. For those of you interested in finally getting some clarification on this matter, I can tell you that it’s not going to work. I called my Flexperks number and learned that they will handle any reservation cancellations/changes directly, as opposed to it being handled by Southwest.

    If you cancel, Flexperks will charge you a $35 processing fee and return the points to your Flexperks account.

    If you change your reservation, Flexperks will charge you a $35 processing fee and change the reservation for you.

    While the companion pass doubles the value of any Southwest reservation, without the Wanna Get Away fare rates, you’re paying twice as much in the first place, so I don’t see any benefit to this strategy. Too bad!

    • @Trevor – I know that is what FlexPerks says, but I believe you can still contact Southwest directly to cancel/change a reservation. The main issue though is that the fares are slightly more expensive then the cheapest “Wanna Getaway Fares”.

  6. Worked like a charm – just used 60,000 pts – found a flight the day after Christmas where all the ‘wanna get away fares’ were gone and they only had ‘anytime’ fares. Southwest listed $592 on their website, when I called in, they quoted $591.48 and i used 30,000 pts x 2 people.

    Waited a day and had to call southwest to cancel the reservation (got an error when I tried to cancel online – since it wasn’t purchased on the website). Since it was an ‘anytime’ award, they said i could get a full refund, but instead asked for the travel voucher. so I just have to use the SW confirmation # when making other reservations and have a year to use it up. Same confirmation # is linked to both people and each has $591.48 associated with their name

  7. Can anyone provide clarification? Southwest definitely can and does preferentially book “wanna get away fares” (or at minimum, my award had the get away fare pricing, not the anytime pricing.

    I think this is like booking fares with any other airline — you can specify the fare class (e.g., N fare on United).

    I’m not clear what rights “wanna get away” fares come with — does it allow changes? I received the following error when attempting a change online (<24 hours):

    Your reservation contains modifications that prevent you from changing it online. Please contact a Southwest Airlines Customer Representative for assistance at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792)

    • @Ed – If you book over the phone or through a third party, you typically need to call Southwest to change your flight. Wanna Get Away fares do allow changes (no fees), but you cannot refund back to your credit card, only to a travel voucher.

      • Yep, worked like a charm on WGA fare. Change online was failing, but cancel with “hold funds” worked without a human, and I could quickly rebook my changed flight with a small extra credit.

  8. about a $25 airline allowance credit , after cancelling swa flight that was booked by phone with flexperks pts, will the $25 credit be given if flying swa on the same dates? TIA for the DP

    • @dan – I am not sure what you mean? If you cancel a Southwest flight, you have a voucher to use 1 year from when the flight was booked. Book directly with Southwest.

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