Quick hit: changes to US Bank Flexpoint transfers

In the last few years US Bank has made a number of negative tweaks to the Flexperks Travel Rewards Visa Signature card. They restricted the once-generous "grocery" bonus category to a more restrictive definition of "grocery stores." They limited the number of points that could be transferred in or out of a Flexperks account to 20,000 per year (although see here for a possible workaround). And starting January 1, 2018, Flexpoints will be worth a fixed 1.5 cents each for flight redemptions, rather than being redeemable in $200 "bands" as they have been to date.

There is another change I have not seen discussed elsewhere, which was quietly implemented relatively recently.

Online Flexpoint transfers now require the recipient's credit card number

The Flexperks rewards interface is run by a third-party fulfillment center, and internally they assign accounts a 12-digit account number. As recently as January 7, I used that Flexpoints account number to transfer points between accounts. It seems that as late as March either the Flexpoints account number or the Flexperks credit card number could be used to transfer points.

At some point since then, they've changed the "Transfer Points" form (found under the "Manage Points" heading) to request the "credit card account number where the FlexPoints will be transferred."

And sure enough, attempting to transfer points to a Flexpoints number online now returns an error, while using a credit card number results in success.


The cynic in me naturally suspects that US Bank implemented this change in order to slow down the rate of Flexpoint redemptions, figuring that fewer people are willing to share their credit card number than were willing to share a single-use account designator. The fewer points are shared, the less efficient redemptions become and the more points will tend to go unredeemed.

On the other hand, while US Bank may internally treat Flexpoint redemptions as a cost center, I have to wonder what their ultimate goal is with these steady, piecemeal attacks on the program's value. It may be that each one of these changes individually shaves off another few hundred of the bank's most expensive customers, but it also leaves the rest of their cardholders rightly feeling like the remaining value of the program is being nickle-and-dimed away. I'll keep the card for now, but even so they've left a bad taste in my mouth, which seems suboptimal for a medium-sized regional bank trying to grow its credit card portfolio.