FlexPerks kills Kiva 3X

For years I’ve regularly paid for Kiva microloans with my FlexPerks Visa card.  The US Bank FlexPerks Visa card has long offered 3 points per dollar for charitable donations.  Even though Kiva loans are not technically charitable donations, the credit card coded them as if they were.  And, considering that FlexPerks points have been worth up to 2 cents per point towards airfare, this has been a fantastic way to earn up to 6% back while helping others (and hopefully getting your money back as well!).  You can read more about Kiva loans here: Manufacture Spend (and do good) with Kiva and Kivalens.

As previously reported, US Bank has already announced changes that made the FlexPerks Kiva connection less valuable.  For one, starting January 1 2018, the FlexPerks card will offer only 2X for charity.  And, beginning December 31st, points will be worth a fixed 1.5 cents per point towards travel rather than “up to” 2 cents per point for airfare.  Taken together, these changes meant that the FlexPerks Kiva combo would earn at most 3% back towards travel rather than up to 6%.

Now, the final axe has fallen.  As reported by several readers and confirmed on my own most recent credit card statement, US Bank is no longer coding Kiva as a charity.  Kiva loans are now earning only 1 point per dollar.  This has been verified with both the consumer and business versions of the card.

Fortunately, there are still many great options for funding Kiva loans, but the FlexPerks Visa is no longer one of them.  As long as you can float the money long term and are willing to accept some risk, the following may make sense for funding Kiva loans:

If you are interested in learning more about funding Kiva loans by credit card, please see: Manufacture Spend (and do good) with Kiva and Kivalens.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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    • I’ve been dumping $200 or less VGC to Kiva for some time – I withdraw my “Kiva dividend” every month and fund the subsequent pile of GCs the next month.

    • Hopefully your comment facetious.
      Not everyone can afford to float or risk $5k per month. Those that can and are aware of this method, probably do.

        • I guess that depends considerably on your financial fitness and level of desires to increase your balances. With GC’s I now see it as an opportunity to earn 25,750 – 25,868 UR every few months. It’s possible to even make a small profit if they are purchased during promos

      • I’ve always done better loaning to female borrowers… they seem to default less and I like giving more oppprtunity to places where female entrepreneurs may not have as many opportunities as their male counterparts

        • Kiva, as a platform, tends to have more female borrowers. I don’t filter my loans by gender, and have experienced equal default rates so far. My loans happen to be distributed ~85/15 F/M right now.

  1. Based on my latest statement, it looks like any transactions that posted after 30 Jun only got 1x points. Had a couple 30 Jun transactions that posted 3 Jul that didn’t get the charity bonus.

    • Wish I’d read your comment before I spent tons on Kiva via FP last month. Did your FP spending on Kiva ever adjust to 3x on your July 3 spend? Hoping it was just a delay.

  2. MSing seems to be an unwise financial decision with this unless you are really getting 6% everytime. If the average time it takes to be paid back fully is 12 months, you are losing about 6 months of interest on your average money (see amortization) Throw in an average loss ratio of 1%, and you net 5% (max). This is a poor investment unless you are utilizing a sign-up bonus. One thing most MSers fail to ever do is recognize the power of investments (like stocks) and overlook them because of their narrow vision, such as this example.

    • Some really inaccurate assumptions in your comment here.

      I’ve always focused on loans that are 5-7 months long, preferably that have been “pre-disbursed” in the month or two before I made them. I’d say my average repayment time, using these methods, has been 4 months. Add to that the fact that I’m often not actually “paying” for the loan until 5-6 weeks after it’s made (if done early in credit card cycle, and waiting until final due date to pay off statement), and the money is out of pocket for only about 3 months (with the first repayments having been received even before my CC statement was due).

      (A few times, I found the holy grail — high quality borrower, 4 month loans, predisbursed a month prior, at the beginning of my CC cycle, leaving me “out of pocket” for no more than 6 weeks).

      Anyway, I could easily cycle the same $30k about 4 times per year (reaching the $120k annual max 3x/charity on the Flexperks Visa card).

      Over the years, I’ve “lent” about $425k, with total combined losses of $385 (0.09% — less than a 10th of a percent) in defaults and currency exchange loss.

      In short, this has been a goldmine, yielding in excess of 20% annualized returns. This is a big big loss.

      The only silver lining is that I now longer have to deal with GCs and money orders and other time consuming nonsense to meet minimum spends. I’ll now just redirect all that spending to Kiva.

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