How to Organize, Track, and Manage Points & Miles so it Doesn’t Become a Full-time Job

When people object to this little game of collecting miles and points, there are two common objections.

1.  I’m afraid it will hurt my credit score.  The truth is that it impacts your credit score, but not by as much as you might think.

2.  It takes too much time and effort.

While it does take some time and some effort, I feel like the payback is well worth the time investment.

How to Organize and Track Your Credit Card Applications

I set up a very simple excel file.  It has the following header sections:

organize miles and points

A sample of the spreadsheet that I use

Name: Is it my application or my wife’s?

Card: What card did I apply for?

Date: When did I apply?

Bonus: How many points are being offered?

Status: This is where I record what happened during the approval process.  Was I automatically approved?  Did I need to follow up with a call?

Cancel Before: I write the date a year from the date I sign up.  Techinically, you have a year from when you are approved, but I’d rather just fill in all the information instead of waiting a day or two for when I’m actually approved.

Cancelled Date: When I actually cancelled a card.

This might seem complicated, but it’s not.  You can set up a similar spreadsheet in 3 minutes.  It only takes 2 minutes to fill in the information when you apply for a credit card.

After I’ve filled out the Excel sheet, I have one more step before I’m done – I add a reminder in my computer calendar to cancel the card.  I set it one year from the application date and set a reminder for 30 days before that date.

Why Go to “All” that Work?

  1. You won’t forget to cancel a credit card when is time for an annual fee to post.  By the way, you can usually get the annual fee refunded if you forget to cancel it , but call within 30 days of when the annual fee posts to your account.
  2. You won’t accidentally apply for a card you’ve recently had.  Seriously, some people apply for a card because they forgot they recently had it.
  3. You can appropriately space your applications.  As an example, Citi typically will give you the bonus again 18 months after you’ve applied for the card.  Keeping a record lets you know when it’s safe to apply again.
  4. You can track your application history.  Was your last application easy or difficult to get approved?  I have the most applications with Chase since they have the best offers.  I like to read my comments about how the previous application process went before deciding if I should pull the trigger.

How to Organize and Track your Miles and Points

I’ve been very pleased with Award Wallet.  This easy to use online program tracks all your award miles for all your family members in one convenient place.  Unfortunately, Award Wallet isn’t able to automatically track Southwest points and American Airlines AAdvantage.

Fortunately, you can even set up all your family members accounts in one Award Wallet account.  If you upgrade to a pro membership (for just a few dollars every six months), you can track your expiration dates to be sure that miles don’t expire without your knowledge.

Another program I’ve recently started using is Mile Wise.  While I like Award Wallet better for tracking points, Mile Wise has the added benefit of helping you determine your options when it comes to booking travel.  I personally don’t find the feature all that helpful, as I’d rather manually determine the best use of my points.  However, if you’re just starting out, Mile Wise can help you develop a good plan of attack for redeeming your miles and points.

How do you track, organize, and manage your points and applications?  Any tips for the rest of us?

Comments

  1. Carol says

    Craig,

    I love the concept of a spreadsheet, but I have never done one before. Is it possible to show a screenshot of one and then explain the steps in creating one?

    I want to thank you for all the valuable ideas and information you share with your readers! They have helped me immensely!

    Carol

    • says

      Carol,
      I’ve just updated a post with a screen shot. When you first open Excel you’ll see a much of rows and columns. All you’ll need to do is put each section title starting in A1. Then as you enter information in each row just put the correct information under the appropriate column title.

  2. dj says

    hi great idea here. can you shed some lights on cancelling cc? what would you say? what reason to give to them? if canceling at end of 1st year, do you 10 months(≈20 months after) before applying again? i usually pay for one year then cancel it, not necessary?

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