Pro tip: Flexpoints can only be redeemed online for most international travel 7 days in advance

Here's a new one for me. A long-time reader reached out to me, as the biggest fan of US Bank Flexperks Travel Rewards in the blogosphere, to ask whether I'd had any experience booking close-in tickets using Flexpoints. He was trying to book a ticket to the Caribbean in exactly one week, and wrote that "the website will not show me anything prior to [one week out]."

I wasn't sitting at my computer so couldn't see exactly what he was seeing, but replied that while Flexpoints could not be redeemed for same day travel (and indeed, neither can Ultimate Rewards points), they certainly can be redeemed for travel within a week.

It turns out, we were both right: Flexpoints can be redeemed for next-day domestic travel but can only be redeemed online for travel 7 or more days in advance to international destinations excluding Canada. Next-day flights to Canada are fine (I couldn't find any other exceptions, but if you know of another country that's an exception, let me and other readers know in the comments).

While researching this post I also came across another curious restriction:

"Travel itineraries booked online require at least one USA or Canadian airport. To book a travel itinerary that does not include a USA or Canadian airport, you may contact a Travel Rewards Agent at 1-866-814-1293."

My reader was ultimately able to call and book his close-in Caribbean flight, but was charged an additional $25 phone booking fee for each ticket, which he couldn't convince the representative to waive. It's not clear to me how much discretion agents have to waive those fees — I did have a $30 change fee waived in the past.

Out of curiosity, I also checked the Ultimate Rewards booking portal and they have no trouble booking next-day international flights online. Between the $25 per ticket booking fee, and the superior travel insurance offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve, that may be a better option than US Bank Flexpoints when booking close-in paid international travel, depending on where the fare falls in a Flexpoint redemption band (and what other uses you have planned for your Ultimate Rewards points).