Friday, November 21, 2014
How to Track Your Miles and Points: aka AwardWallet is Your Friend
You have figured out your travel goal. You have signed up for all of the free hotel and airline loyalty programs. You have signed up for one or two credit cards. You may even have some balances in some of the programs from a stay or two or a flight that you have taken over the past couple of years. And is it ever a pain to track all of those different programs and your balances, and when those points expire. That’s where AwardWallet.com comes in to save your day. This is a free site that saves all of your membership records and balances. It even tracks your credit card rewards and points, including American Express, Discover Rewards, and Chase Ultimate Rewards. Yes, you will have to share your username and password with the site. But I trust this site, and it has simplified my life for me.
With the free version, the expiration date is shown for only the first five accounts. I have over 40 accounts. For me, it’s worth the paid membership to see all of my expiration dates. The worst thing I could do is to qualify for and receive my CC sign up bonus, and then let the points expire. So I pay for the upgraded membership that allows me to see the expiration date for all of my memberships.
“Ok, Jung, you seem to know what you’re talking about. But is there anything I can do about my miles or points that are about to expire?”
Why, YES! There is something you can do. There are some, like Delta, where the miles/points never expire so you don’t have to refresh your account. Then there are some, like Choice Hotel points, where your points will expire at a certain date, and there’s nothing you can do about extending that expiration date. However, for the overwhelming majority of these programs, you can refresh your account by showing ANY activity. For example, let’s say you have 10K United miles that are scheduled to expire in three months. 10K is not nothing. It is almost halfway to a round-trip domestic coach class United flight. But you have no plans on flying a paid United flight any time soon. No worries. As mentioned in my previous post about shopping portals, United airlines has one. If you haven’t already created an account, do so using your United Mileage Plus account as your username. Once you have created your account, do some shopping. Once you buy one item through the shopping portal, you will receive United miles for your purchase. I have found the points to post in about 2-3 months, so this is not a method to be used if your expiration date is just weeks away. Another way of refreshing your account is to make a purchase with a co-branded airline card. Even if the purchase is a $2 coffee, your mileage account will be credited with two points, and your expiration date clock will be refreshed.
As an example, I have about 160K Hilton points. These were set to expire at the end of this year, and I had no plans on using them before then. What to do? I received an email offer to purchase Hilton points. For $10, I could purchase 1000 Hilton points. Normally, not the best use of $10, but this refreshed my account and my expiration date is now 10/2015.
Bottom line: Sign up for an awardwallet.com . It does the tracking of miles and points for you.
Caveat: For some airlines, you may have to download an add-in. And for a couple of others, there is a method available where you can have the loyalty program email your balance to awardwallet to be updated. But those are advanced awardwallet topics.