I know my readers are some of the biggest fans of US Bank Flexperks Travel Rewards cards, given their convenient bonus earning categories and potentially generous redemptions rates of up to 2 cents per Flexpoint when redeemed for paid airfare.
On January 1, 2018, the redemption rate will fall from up to 2 cents per Flexpoint for paid airfare redemptions and up to 1.5 cents per Flexpoint for hotel redemptions to a flat 1.5 cents per Flexpoint for all redemptions. That's a devaluation for folks who are good at maximizing the value of their Flexpoints, and more or less a shrug for folks who redeem Flexpoints aggressively for paid economy fares because they're so easy to earn.
If you're concerned about the coming devaluation, this last quarter of 2017 is a good opportunity to lock in your Flexpoints' higher value. Here are a few suggestions.
Book high-value Southwest fares
Since Southwest flights can be refunded to your Rapid Rewards account up until the time of departure, an easy way to lock in the highest possible value of your Flexpoints is to book Southwest flights (which unfortunately has to be done over the phone) near the top of a Flexperks redemption band. As long as you fly Southwest often enough to be sure you'll use your credit before it expires, this can be an easy way to prepay for flights using the maximum value of your 2017 Flexpoints.
Book Alaska Airlines flights (much) more than 60 days in the future
Alaska Airlines has a similar policy to Southwest, in that they allow you to redeposit the cash value of your flights into your Mileage Plan "travel bank." However, Alaska Airlines' policy is in some ways more and in some ways less restrictive.
It's more restrictive because non-elite members of Mileage Plan can only redeposit a ticket's value into their account more than 60 days before departure, while Southwest lets you redeposit your ticket's value up until departure.
On the other hand, Alaska opens their flight booking window much further into the future, so you have the option of booking flights deep into 2018, while Southwest opens their booking window by what feels like just a few weeks at a time (although in reality I suppose it's more than that).
Don't forget your airline fee credit!
If you plan to simply redeem Flexpoints for a flight and cancel it 24-48 hours later, you would probably be justified in forgetting the original dates you scheduled your flight for.
But that would be a mistake!
On the day or days of your original Flexpoint flight redemptions, you're eligible for a $25 credit for each ticket you booked using your Flexpoints. So that would be a good day to pay some checked bag fees, the taxes and fees on an award ticket, or simply buy an airline gift card. After the transaction posts, don't forget to call in and request the $25 fee waiver — it's an extremely manual process.
I think there are good arguments on both sides for keeping or cancelling US Bank Flexperks Travel Rewards cards after January 1, 2018, but there's no excuse for letting your points suddenly lose their value on that date! It's time to start thinking about 2018 travel plans which will let you lock in your Flexpoints' current, higher value.