If you are going to take advantage of points earning credit cards, it is important that you do an occasional review. Some people use products like Award Wallet to eliminate the need for this step, because it keeps track of many things 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.
I am a huge fan of spreadsheets and use them frequently. I created a spreadsheet that tells me the top two cards I have with the best points return on pretty much anything I spend money on. I have another that tells me the Open Date, Card Name and most important Perks of my cards. If your card earns points that will expire if you don’t use them, it would be simple to just highlight those cards on your spreadsheet.
Since I only have a handful of credit cards, it didn’t take me very long to open each account and make a quick note of how many points I have. I did find one card that had points that would be expiring within a few months. Since I am not really using that card right now, 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. It wasn’t a great return, but I didn’t have any other use for those points at this time. Using the 2500 points pretty much cleared the account so that I wont have to worry about that happening again.
You also just want to have a general idea of how many points you have in your account, because occasionally people get hacked and 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 to Bonvoy (insert eye roll….Marriott) and I had to follow up with their Customer Service to get the issue corrected. Since I was aware that an account changeover was coming, I had kept screenshots of my points total which made it much easier to recover my balance. I found a good use of my Marriott points last year, and have actively avoided their programs ever since. They are a hot mess!
At the same time that I review my points, I make a note of any Award Certificates that I have earned and when they will expire. We are currently sitting on a couple of airline travel vouchers and 2 different free hotel nights that all must be used within this year. I am trying to make sure I work them into our travel reservations so we don’t miss out on their value.
My Final Thoughts
You work hard to earn points. They have value. It makes sense that you protect your assets by doing a quick review from time to time and find a way to use any points before they expire. There are tons of ways you can use them like cash back, gift cards, hotel nights, airfare, shopping, donations and a whole lot more.
Dream, Plan, Save, Adventure!