Flexpoints, US Bank's proprietary rewards currency, are famously most valuable when redeemed for airfare: they're worth between 1.33 and 2 cents each, which makes the US Bank Flexperks Travel Rewards card an (almost) unlimited 2.66% to 6% rewards card, depending on the flights you ultimately redeem your Flexpoints for, as long as you're sure to spend exclusively in the card's bonus categories.
In addition to flights, Flexpoints can also be redeemed for hotel stays, and if Flexpoints are the points you happen to have while booking a trip, they may be worth redeeming. There are a few nuances to doing so, however, which you should know before getting started.
Prices are after-tax
This may go without saying, but before calculating the number of Flexpoints required for a stay, US Bank adds the taxes and fees for the reservation.
What didn't occur to me until I started researching this post is that the Flexperks Travel website presents the total cost, including taxes, up front, which is information that is typically hidden on both online travel agencies and the websites of hotels themselves. Instead of having to click all the way through to the reservation screen to see how much you'll actually be paying for a stay, you can search using the Flexperks portal and see the total cost of your different hotel choices presented on one screen:
Redemption values are lower
While you can get up to 2 cents per Flexpoint in value when redeeming for paid airfare, Flexpoints are only worth up to 1.5 cents each when redeemed for hotel stays. However...
Redemption thresholds are lower
Flexpoint redemptions for airfare start at 20,000 Flexpoints, for flights costing up to $400. When redeemed for hotel stays, you can redeem as few as 10,000 Flexpoints for stays costing up to $150, and in 10,000/$150 intervals thereafter. While your value per Flexpoint is lower, if you're Flexpoint-rich and cash-poor, it could be a great way to get value from large, unused balances.
Redemption prices are based on the total cost of your stay
In other words, while a one-night, $200-after-taxes reservation costs 20,000 Flexpoints, a two-night, $400-after-taxes reservation costs just 30,000 Flexpoints, since the total cost falls within the $301-$450 band.
I assume my astute readers will see where this is going: a way to goose the value of your Flexpoints on longer stays is break down your stay into multiple, shorter reservations to test different permutations of your reservation with "breakpoints" that bring each component reservation as close to the maximum allowed value as possible.
Another trick is to book the most expensive room that doesn't bump you into a higher price band. In other words, rather than booking a $200 stay for 20,000 Flexpoints, see if there's a bigger room or one that includes breakfast or parking, that won't raise your total cost above $300.
Stays probably won't earn points or elite-qualifying nights and stays
The Flexperks Travel portal is "powered by Orbitz," so unlike with airline redemptions, you probably won't earn points on your hotel stays, and they won't count towards elite status. You may or may not receive your elite benefits, depending on the elite program's policies. [Side note: I understand there are ways to get around these restrictions. I don't know any of them.]
While that doesn't sound ideal from a travel hacking point of view, you can also use the opportunity to stay in boutique hotels you don't get a chance to enjoy if you're usually too busy redeeming hotel points or chasing hotel elite status.
Unlike some bloggers, I choose not to pretend to live in a universe full of "ideal" redemptions. Instead, I choose to live in the real world, where points lose value the longer they go unredeemed. In that world, every trip presents a choice between spending cash that could be invested, used to pay off debt, or spent on all the other expenses of daily life, or spending points that have already been acquired, whether advisedly or not.
If you find you're consistently redeeming your Flexpoints for less than the opportunity cost of acquiring them (2% or 2.22% in cash back or statement credits, for example), then you should at least think about earning fewer of them. But don't let the perfect $799 airfare redemption be the enemy of the perfectly adequate $599 hotel redemption.