US Bank trades leftover retail gift cards for credit card rewards points

Plenty of banks let their customers exchange rewards points for gift cards. U.S. Bank became one of the first banks that lets its credit card customers handle that exchange in reverse. In partnership with aftermarket gift card vendor Plastic Jungle, U.S. Bank rolled out a service that lets FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature trade in the balances of unwanted gift cards for FlexPoints.

In a statement to reporters, U.S. Bank spokesman Cliff Cook explained the process as a solution to convert leftover holiday gift card balances into credit toward free travel. Eligible FlexPerks cardholders can visit a secure online site, where entering the account number and security code from most common retail gift cards will generate an offer in FlexPoints. When a customer clicks "accept," Cook explained, Plastic Jungle processes the exchange and deposits the FlexPoints into a linked account within two business days.

Translating gift card redemption into a rewards card perk

Plastic Jungle has operated a similar service from its own website for a few years, offering up to 92 percent of a gift card's value when customers submit unused balances for exchange. In return, the company sells new gift cards for up to 35 percent off face value. Partnerships with gift card vendors and with rewards credit card issuers make the process efficient for end users and profitable for Plastic Jungle, according to company officials.

At the time of writing, U.S. Bank's FlexPerks customers can redeem 20,000 FlexPoints for up to $400 in airfare on any of 150 participating airlines. Cook speculated that customers would enjoy the ability to unlock the value of unused gift cards, turning the few dollars left over from a purchase into the few extra points necessary for free travel. New U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards card applicants can qualify for a signup bonus that credits 20,000 FlexPoints after spending $2,500 on the card.