In the Getting Started with Points and Reward System Part 1 we talked about traveling and how it is not really cheap. We have also discussed what we can do to actually lower the cost of traveling and become happy travelers drifting further away from the notion that travel is inaccessible.
We reviewed some of the best credit cards that will help you accrue points/ miles which you will be able to exchange for free flights/ upgrades/ discounts and so on.
In this second part, we will take a look at some exciting ways that help you stay more organized in your points game as well as other types of rewards systems that are not related to use of credit card, well, maybe not directly.
Those can come quite handy if you are like me… having about 6 credit cards and signed up to at least a dozen frequent flyer programs and all of them have different partner networks ( you know that generally, you can use your Alaska Airlines miles, for example, for tickets on their partners ) can be quite the challenge to keep organized.
My favorite app for this purpose is Award Wallet and its FREE. It helps you keep track of your frequent flyer miles and hotel points as well as book reward tickets. Another neat feature of this app is the ability to add your spouse’s, for example, accounts and keep track of all balances in one place.
The cool thing about it is that you only need to set it up once and then the information gets updated automatically, so you don’t have to deal with spreadsheets and to check your balances manually every time you want to see how you stand point-cially he-he.
A tracking application of another type- itinerary summary. By finding your booking confirmations in your inbox, this handy tool would display your trip information in the most cohesive way, so all your info is in one place.
However you can always do it the old-fashioned way- writing notes either manually on paper, electronically or by screenshot/ mark as important your confirmation emails.
Your Credit Card Portal
A perfect example here is the American Express portal. If you are a member of the family (hold an AMEX card), you can access all of your account details such as card balance and also your membership rewards.
Depending on the card you are using the points can be redeemed in different ways. I do have the Blue Cash Card and the Platinum but mostly used the latter. On my membership screen, I can choose to use point for a credit on my statement, to buy a gift card for more than 50 stores.
Although all of the above are fantastic ways to use up your hard earned points, my absolute favorite is to pay at checkout on BestBuy, Amazon or… wait for it… EXPEDIA!
Here I can also include the transfer to other airline systems and alliances options. For example, I can transfer my AMEX points to British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates and more… This way if I have accrued points on Emirates, but I’m short on 1000 for a reward, no problem! I can always turn to my beloved AMEX to save me.
Your Frequent Flyer Airline/ Partner Portal
Seems like the world of Frequent Flyer programs is a 3d labyrinth- whenever you feel you are close to figuring out all the possible ways of working the system, a new one comes up. It is excellent but can be quite confusing, however, in the end, you can get a lot of value out of it.
When it comes to flying domestic (in the US), I almost always choose Alaska (love the airline, the service and they are PNW leader, Seattle- native too) or in some rare cases, a partner of Alaska. I never fly domestic on a flight that would not earn me points- this is one of my travel mantras.
So, I put all my domestic business flights on Alaska and earn points in the Mileage Plan. Rule number 2- don’t spend your miles on domestic flights, I have never seen a good worth in doing that, mainly because Alaska’s miles have one of the highest worth value of all systems, along with AMEX points.
What makes Alaska’s miles so worthy is the partnership with other airlines. Some of them are Singapore Airlines, Iceland Air, Japan Airlines, Fiji Airways. They cover a lot of ground, and sometimes you can snatch amazing deals to remote destinations like Australia, starting at somewhere around 25, 000 miles. Now, this is amazing.
This is one of my absolute favorite ways of getting more points! Register your credit card number, connect it to your frequent flyer number, pay for a dinner in one of the thousand restaurants included in the program. No better tasting way to earn points!
PRO TIP: Make sure you use this trick to earn points, especially on business dinners. Yes, that’s right! Because you can deduct it from your taxes, but you still received the points! Isn’t that extra sweet?
I believe that other airlines also have a Mileage Plan Dining program. So make sure to check it out with your preferred carrier.
In E-rewards you can expect to take surveys in exchange for points/ gift cards/ coupons. It is my favorite because by taking the time to complete the survey I can get rewarded with precious Alaska Mileage plan miles that I can exchange for tickets to stunning destinations. You can also get points on Flying Blue (KLM and Air France’s alliance), American Airlines, Club Premier, Etihad and more.
Bear in Mind: Joining e-Rewards is FREE and by invitation only. Their Partners send invitations to the customers inviting them to join the program. If you’ve provided your email address to one of the Partner companies, you could receive an invitation to join e-Rewards.
Constant swiping of the small plastic cards shapes our days. Chips and Guac, toilet paper or your favorite cologne, whatever it is… it’s not free.
The very basic credit card reward would give you a point per dollar spent. But because we are PROs we are going to maximize the heck out of our hard earned dollars, right?
Here is how:
Every-time I feel comfortable with managing my credit cards and points system, it only lasts until the statement comes back and discover I made a mistake.
Those mistakes, of course, are very rarely costly, so its probably not worth my time to over analyze just to get few extra miles here and there. But what if there is software that can do it for you?
Okay, folks, we have come to a close of this secret revealing post. We are sure that this article will just scratch the surface of what is there to learn about maximizing profit from points systems.
Promise me something- make your dollars count and suck the worth out of them ha-ha. Whether you are using some of the techniques that we’ve listed above or you have your own unique mix of strategies for dealing with the money savings hassle, we would love to hear from you and your unique experience.
Drop a comment below, let’s build a productive talk on this topic so we can help as many travelers reach their dreams and spend the least amount of green paper. Happy POINTS (not dollar) spending everyone!