If you are going to take advantage of points earning credit cards, it is important that you do an occasional account review.
While doing my review for 2021, I discovered that one of my credit cards now lists an annual $100 airline fee credit that I didn’t know about. If I hadn’t been reviewing my credit cards, I never would have noticed this valuable credit. I am not sure how long I have been missing out on this perk, but I am already planning on how to use it this year!
Some people use products like Award Wallet to eliminate the need for this step, because it keeps track of many account aspects for you.
- Tracks your accounts and updates your balances
- Knows when your points will expire
- Points balance/use notifications that can alert you to missing points
- Reservation Management
- Keeps track of award certificates you have earned and when they must be used by
Unfortunately, some companies have restricted or reduced their access to your accounts for security purposes. Still the program has a lot to offer and it might be worth you taking a look at it. For me, I like to keep things simple, so I do an annual review myself and keep the results as a spreadsheet in my travel notebook.
Myself, I am a huge fan of spreadsheets and use them frequently. I created a spreadsheet that tells me my top two cards that I will earn the most points with in each major spending category. I have a second spreadsheet with the Open Date, Annual Fee and lists the most important perks of each of my cards.
It doesn’t take very long to look at each account and make a quick note of how many points you have. You should have a general idea of how many points you there are in your accounts, because occasionally people have their points stolen. Any time you have something that has value, someone out there is probably trying to figure out how to steal it. Sad but true.
A program may also accidentally mess up the points balance in your account. I had that happen when Marriott changed over to to Bonvoy and I had to follow up with their Customer Service to get the issue corrected.
At the same time that I review the points on my accounts, I make a note of any Award Certificates that I have earned and when they will expire. Wouldn’t want to waste those!
There are tons of ways you can use your points if they are expiring soon:
- Cash Back
- Gift Cards
- Redeem for Hotel nights
- Redeem for Airfare
- “Erase” Purchases
- Shopping portals
Each account will be different, so you just need to review their list of options.
In 2020 I found one card which had points that would be expiring within a few months. Since I don’t use this card often, I took a minute to figure out what I could do with the points I had. Even though only 411 points were due to expire, I was able to convert 2500 points into a deposit into my savings account. If I hadn’t done a review, I probably wouldn’t have noticed that these points were about to expire.
My Final Thoughts
You work hard to earn points and reward certificates. They have value. It makes sense that you protect your assets by doing a quick review from time to time to take stock of what you have. Then you can plan how you will use them BEFORE they expire.
Dream, Plan, Save, Adventure!