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There's plenty to love about miles and rewards credit cards. Take it from someone who once booked a $95,000 family vacation for just $1,500 thanks to the magic of miles. For me, the end game is very rewarding, but the process is also fun.
That being said, collecting points and miles does take some ongoing effort, especially if you’re managing multiple accounts. Here is how I track my points, miles and rewards credit cards.
AwardWallet for tracking points and expiration dates
I keep track of my points and miles through AwardWallet, which not only tracks my balances and expiration dates but my entire family’s. I manage all of the rewards accounts for my family, making sure everyone is maximizing their earnings with the right credit card and getting lots of value out of their redemptions.
With AwardWallet, I was able to add all of their airline, hotel and bank rewards accounts in order to easily track everything in one place. With 41 accounts between five of us, it’s important to keep track of expiration dates. Luckily, AwardWallet automates almost all of that.
A few programs are not supported, but AwardWallet does have a way to pull balance information via email. It may not be as accurate, but it definitely helps to have a place where all your rewards balances are easily viewable in one place.
AwardWallet also lets you set point goals for specific accounts, so you can remember what you’re working toward while watching your balance grow.
» Learn more: A beginner’s guide to points and miles
Mint.com for credit card activity
At the moment, I have 10 rewards credit cards (and that’s after a recent downsizing). Juggling so many credit cards can get very challenging if you don’t have a system for tracking everything.
Most importantly, missing a payment is not an option. When you charge tens of thousands of dollars to your credit card every month as I do, not paying a card off on time can mean massive interest charges that outweigh the value of your earned rewards.
Mint.com is a free tool that helps me keep track of all my credit card activity in one place. I get notifications when payments are due, and I can see all of my spending activity in one place. The latter is especially crucial in helping to avoid fraudulent charges.
A few months ago, hackers got hold of several of my credit cards and proceeded to use them at merchants that I normally shop with: DoorDash, JetBlue and Groupon. Except I hadn’t actually booked airfare with JetBlue in months, and the DoorDash order was delivered to an address in San Francisco. Upon further inspection of my combined credit card activity, I found over $3,000 in fraudulent charges.
Not having to log into different credit card accounts to review these charges was a huge plus and helped me take care of the issue much faster. My banks reversed the charges and sent me new cards. I continue to use Mint for this purpose.
A spreadsheet for tracking annual fees, statement closing and payment due dates
Keeping track of payment due dates is important, but so is knowing when your statement closes. After all, if your utilization rate is too high, it can negatively impact your credit. So I use a separate spreadsheet to track my statement closing date as well as spending requirements and notes about when payments were submitted.
Several of my credit cards come with annual spending bonuses, and this spreadsheet helps me track my progress. That way, I don’t miss out on things like earning the $125 flight discount from the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® or paying its annual fee ($0 intro for the first year, then $99).
It takes a bit of time and effort, but it’s definitely worth it. Not to mention, I get the sense of satisfaction that comes from feeling like I’m on top of everything.
The bottom line
Travel credit cards and loyalty programs can be very rewarding, but it’s important to stay on top of your goals and responsibilities. While making sure you’re completing your spending requirements and hitting your target miles goals are important, it’s just as important to take care of your credit in the process. Keeping your utilization rate low and paying off cards in time is crucial, so figure out a way that works for you. Automated apps and good-old-fashioned spreadsheets are how I manage my accounts.
The information related to the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best travel credit card for you How to rack up points and miles with everyday spending Earn more points and miles with these 6 strategies