US Bank makes Real-Time Mobile Rewards awesome. Are you listening Chase? Amex? Citi?

UPDATE: Please also see: US Bank Real-Time Mobile Rewards. What works where?


Wow.  I didn’t see this coming.  US Bank has just become relevant again in the travel rewards space.  Via a feature called “Real-Time Mobile Rewards,” the US Bank Altitude Reserve and the US Bank FlexPerks cards now allow you to redeem points for travel at 1.5 cents per point without requiring you to book through US Bank’s travel portal.  I never thought I’d say this about a US Bank product, but… this is a feature that I really wish Chase, Amex, and Citi would mimic.

Real-Time Mobile Rewards

This enhancement came to my attention yesterday when I received mailers like the one shown above for my Altitude Reserve card and my FlexPerks card.  The mailers indicate that you can now redeem points for travel, at 1.5 cents per point value, regardless of how you bought that travel.  That’s huge.

Due to an issue I’m having with not being able to log into my US Bank account (the darn issue is going to take a week to solve!), I asked a friend to test this out for me.  He followed the directions in the mailer to activate Real Time Mobile Rewards and selected all available categories.  Then he booked just under $500 in airfare through Expedia and paid with his Altitude Reserve card.  Instantly he received a text asking if he’d like to redeem about 33,000 points the purchase.  All he had to do was text back “REDEEM” and he was done.

Real-Time Mobile Rewards Real-Time Mobile Rewards

Why this is huge

Quite a few travel rewards cards offer more than 1 cent per point value when redeeming points for travel.  Popular cards that do this include Chase Sapphire Reserve (1.5 cents per point), Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred (1.25 cents per point), Citi Premier (1.25 cents per point), and US Bank’s Altitude Reserve and FlexPerks cards (1.5 cents per point).  With the new exception of US Bank, though, in all of these cases you must book travel through the bank’s travel portal in order to get that enhanced value.

The ability to circumvent the bank’s travel portal and still get good value for your points is huge for a number of reasons:

  1. Bank travel portals sometimes have worse prices than can be found elsewhere. You can now shop around and buy from wherever you want!
  2. Often it is impossible to find the flights, hotels, etc. that you really want through a bank’s portal.
  3. You can now click through a rewards portal to book travel in order to earn extra rewards
  4. There is no effort required to use your rewards. Simply use your card to pay for travel and then decide whether to offset those charges with points!
  5. By paying with your credit card and then offsetting the charge with points, you should earn credit card rewards for those travel purchases.

Note that cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards card and Barclaycard Arrival Plus already work the same way: you do not need to book travel through a special portal in order to get full value rewards.  The difference is that the Capital One and Barclaycard cards offer just 1 cent per point value whereas US Bank offers 1.5 cents per point value (granted, though, each of these cards earn 2 points per dollar for all spend).

How to setup Real Time Rewards

  1. Log in your US Bank account from a desktop browser, click “My Rewards”, then “Redeeom Rewards & Access Card Benefits”
  2. Click “Card Benefits” then “Real Time Mobile Rewards”, then “Activate”
  3. Check the boxes to select your desired rewards categories (or select all).

Now when you use your US Bank card to make purchases within your selected categories you should be texted the option to redeem points for those charges.  For travel purchases only, the number of points required should make the points worth 1.5 cents each.  For all other purchases, you’ll get only 1 cent per point value.

Note that this feature is available to FlexPerks Visa, FlexPerks Business, and the Altitude Reserve, but not to the Amex FlexPerks card.

See Also: US Bank Altitude Reserve Complete Guide.

Irksome Minimums

If you’d like to use Real Time Rewards for hotels or car rentals, note that it will only work with charges of $500 or more for lodging, or $250 or more for car rentals.  The Real Time Rewards preferences page notes the following:

Minimum purchase amount for Lodging is pre-set at $500.00. Minimum purchase amount for Car Rental is pre-set at $250.00. All other participating categories will follow the minimum purchase amount selected below.

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.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Leave a Reply

80 Comments on "US Bank makes Real-Time Mobile Rewards awesome. Are you listening Chase? Amex? Citi?"

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of
trackback
Jules
Guest

Greg, is there an option to redeem the points towards travel purchases other than by text? If I’m traveling internationally I don’t want to pay excessive text messaging costs.

pizzywoah
Guest

It looks like it is only available for Visa flexperks cards.

steve
Guest

This is also great news as now can redeem for Southwest flights without having to call their 800 number and waste tons of time.

steve
Guest

and hotel stays can be booked direct; earning hotel points and getting elite benefits.

Steve
Guest

Does this make holding onto the Altitude card in Year 2 worth it?

Peter
Guest

Hell no

Yuri
Guest

I’m planning to keep after this change. I’m earning 4.5% everywhere with Samsung Pay. This is better than anything else for in-person and in-app transactions.

J
Guest

Does booking this way still allow for the $25 incidentals credit per ticket?

John
Guest

Greg, did the friend in your example confirm they got the “double-dip” rewards for the travel purchase? That would be pretty amazing if you get to redeem for points and gain points on the same purchase!

Michael H
Guest

This was confirmed in another blog from a user with first hand experience.

Ar99
Guest

Under the “1” it says points can only be redeemed it purchased directly with airlines, hotels, car rentals, etc. so then how did your friend get credited for an Expedia purchase?

Yuri
Guest

it’s also says that it applies only to US merchants.

BL
Guest

I always prefer to book hotels direct for the loyalty perks. But does this mean I have to book prepay non-refundable rates in order to redeem Altitude Reserve points at 1.5x?

USB
Guest

What if I didn’t have enough points to cover the entire purchase? Can we do points + cash (credit)?

TFMReader
Guest

I checked today, it does not applies to partial pay, you have to have enough points to cover the entire purchase.I only had enough points to cover $105 in travel purchase @ 1.5c per point. I paid $130 from my visa signature flexperks card on southwest.com and did not received any text for redeeming my points for the purchase. Just FYI, my real time rewards settings is set to trigger it for purchases over $10. I later did another purchase for $90 at southwest.com and immediately received the message to redeem 6,000 points towards my purchase, which I accepted :). Hope this helps.

HoKo
Guest

Exactly the DP that I was reading thru the comments looking for. Thanks

Larry
Guest

This is good if you want to book premium economy or flights outside the USA since neither of those can be booked online. Saves a phone call and price mismatch issues.

PG
Guest

The wording makes it sound to me that the presets for lodging and car rental can not be lowered, but I could easily be wrong, since it doesn’t seem that I can actually see what my min purchase amounts are after setting them.

“Minimum purchase amount for Lodging is pre-set at $500.00. Minimum purchase amount for Car Rental is pre-set at $250.00. All other participating categories will follow the minimum purchase amount selected below.
Purchases below the minimum purchase amount will not be eligible for redemption.”

Carl P
Guest

I see that and hope it’s not really the case. If so I don’t get why they even show lodging as a choice under the selected minimum to check off or not. I’ll give it a try on a stay Monday and know by mid-week.

You can check you setting after activation.

Login on usbank.com
Click “My Rewards”
Click “Redeem Rewards & Access Card Benefits” for account
Click “Card Benefits”
Click “Real-Time Mobile Rewards”
Click “View / Modify Setup Preferences”

USB
Guest

I was able to set just $50 as the min purchase amount for lodging and car rental and the system did not complain. Who knows if it actually works though …

FLN
Guest

@Greg – this is very cool! I have other fam members that have Flexperks to burn and this is just great as we usually book airlines directly.

Just to confirm, this works with the FlexPerks Edge business card which I have. I know that sometimes the features aren’t compatible – for example, the BE card doesn’t offer the 12 Gogo passes, but I was happy to see this feature worked.

Ricardo
Guest

I cannot activate the offer. When I click “activate” it takes me again to the login page. Hopeoks later or tomorrow.

trackback

[…] is a surprising and very interesting move by US Bank. US Bank makes Real-Time Mobile Rewards awesome. Are you listening Chase? Amex? Citi? This should last as this bank usually does not have affiliate links…otherwise you would have […]

THEsocalledfan
Guest

Greg, you finally going to break down and buy a Samsung phone?

Andrew
Guest

Watch Out, US Bank will steal your points and close your cards accusing you of buying gift cards even when no gift cards were bought. They will also close the rest of your cards at the bank and steal those points too.

Yuri
Guest

I bought a few gift cards when I was doing my MSR, but I kept my purchases of GCs under $400, and my accounts were not closed.

HoKo
Guest

Did you ever end up receiving any compensation for the confiscated points?
Why did they think you were buying gift cards?

trackback

[…] your points as of last week (unless you have the Amex). Frequent Miler broke the news that you can redeem via Real Time Mobile Rewards. You’ll want to login to US Bank, then go “My Rewards” => “Redeem […]

trackback

[…] H/T: Frequent Miler […]

GFM
Guest

Hey Greg. The information below is pretty important regarding your post if true.

I just called US Bank Flexperks customer service to inquire whether the $25 airline allowance applied to Real Time Rewards redemptions for an airline ticket which according to the supervisor I spoke with, it does not.

More surprisingly though, the supervisor told me that the redemption value for Real Time Rewards in the travel category is the same 1 cent per point despite the postcard showing a sample redemption at 1.5 cents per point.

I hope this is not accurate, but can you please double-check with your sources at US Bank?

Carl
Guest

I just spent $158.60 on an airline ticket and got a notification to redeem 10,573 points, which I accepted. Now a RTR Credit of $158.60 is showing on that account. It’s possible that since this is a very recent change that only seems to be documented via postcard, workers may not have been informed. Previously, RTR was indeed 1¢ across the board (but excluded some categories like fuel and restaurants).

Carl
Guest

Dang, wish I’d seen this last weekend (insert comment about the irony of being at FTU and getting behind on related blogs). I had a Fairmont stay (using a free night certificate from their long-gone CC) and put the food charges (beyond the $50 credit) on my Altitude Reserve. Alas, I hadn’t known to update Real-Time Mobile Rewards settings, so I didn’t get an alert for that purchase as the amount was < $100. Of course, I likely wouldn't have noticed that the number required for redemption was a better value than the usual 1¢ (that I would never use). I don't know why US Bank couldn't have sent this major update via email instead of (or in addition to) snail mail. But sure enough, I had two of these mailers awaiting me when I returned to town. Such a quirky company. I've long had difficulty doing redemptions via the terrible portal, as it's almost impossible to find fares that aren't Basic Economy. So, this is a major step forward and helps me see my four (!) USB travel cards in a new light. I immediately used Altitude to purchase a DL ticket (via Delta.com so I'd earn Starpoints), and I got the notification and redeemed about a minute later. Both the ticket purchase and travel credit show as pending on that card. Works for me!

trackback

[…] fellow blogger Frequent Miler was the first one I saw post about the change to allow US Bank FlexPerks to be redeemed instantly […]

trackback

[…] – good news if you have a US Bank Altitude or Flexperks card you can now redeem at the elevated 1.5 cents per point rate for ANY travel charge […]

Leo
Guest

would buy AA or southwest gift cards trigger this?

Sean
Guest

I just called FlexPerks and the rep had no idea what I was talking about. I haven’t received a text, and I set my charges for travel. Spent $120 on the card for a RyanAir flight. Which is it?

Sean
Guest

Just spoke with a FlexPerks rep because I haven’t been getting texts, and she didn’t know what I was talking about with the redeeming 1.5 cents via RTR. I told her to talk with the rest of the reps in the office and make sure the company was on the same page with what they were mailing out. Which is it?

HoKo
Guest

I can confirm from personal experience it is 1.5 cents for RTR on Altitude card…I haven’t tried my Flexperks CC yet

trackback

[…] Readers may remember that I was pretty excited about US Bank’s Real-Time Mobile Rewards when I learned that they’ve expanded them to include travel.  If you have the Altitude Reserve card, or a Visa card that earns FlexPerks points, you can now apply your rewards to travel purchases at 1.5 cents per point value without having to book travel through US Bank.  This is huge because it means that we can have our travel cake and eat it too.  By that I mean we can book travel any way we want… including going through portals, using promo codes, etc., and still use US Bank points to pay for that travel at 1.5 cents per point value.  For more on this exciting new feature, see: US Bank makes Real-Time Mobile Rewards awesome. Are you listening Chase? Amex? Citi?. […]

N Sproul
Guest

This post may need an update with data points. I am travelling in Canada and did not get the text for hotel purchase in excess of 500 USD and a rental car purchase in excess of 250 usd. I did get the text for my airline baggage charge before we left the US but did not send the “redeem” text until the next day and got the response that the time to redeem had elapsed. So RRR was a big fail for me. Do the rules say purchases need to be in the US or made in USD? I had been really excited, especially since I just got a samsung. Now I worry I will never be able to redeem because I rarely pay cash for US hotel stays.

Dave
Guest

Has anybody tried this with Uber? Uber transactions do get reimbursed toward the $325 travel credit so I would imagine it would work but I want to confirm.

trackback

[…] sounds great, actually, is being able to use bank points to book directly while realizing uplift. US Bank Real-Time Rewards are an example of this I wish other banks would […]

trackback

[…] US Bank makes Real-Time Mobile Rewards awesome […]