How do you keep up with everything?
Some folks think the mind is a limited resource and the more I fill it with miles and points related information, the less memory I have for other (admittedly) more important things.
The truth is that I don’t just rely on my memory. I have a system in place that helps me manage everything.
Tools I Use to Track All My Credit Cards and Points Activity
Disclaimer: This is clearly not a fool proof system (so if you have any suggestions let me know). Obviously, I wouldn’t have applied for an American Express card a month early if I had a better system in place. I also recently mis-calculated a minimum spend on a credit card for me wife. I included the annual fee in the required minimum spend and she missed the bonus by not spending $45. I might be getting sloppy in my old age. :)
I use this tool to help me make sure points don’t expire because of inactivity. Award Wallet is also a really convenient site to visit to get an overall sense of what is happening with my points balances.
The biggest downside of Award Wallet is that it does not allow tracking for American and Southwest. If you have a browser extension it can track Delta miles. Otherwise, Delta is excluded
Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, and MyFico
I have an account at all three of these credit tracking programs. Credit Karma and Credit Sesame allow you to have a free account. MyFico charges a fee. Honestly, if it wasn’t for this blog I wouldn’t pay for a MyFico quarterly score. However, I like to be able to update you with my exact FICO score.
It’s always nice to be able to check and see how your applications are impacting your score.
DropBox + Word + Excel
In an effort to help me track mileage related data, I currently have three documents that I use. I store all of these documents on DropBox (free) so I can access them from everywhere (most importantly from my phone).
- Word Document with account numbers. This is probably not the safest way to store information, but I’m too lazy to change it. If I want to access an account number, I open this word document and get the number. Now I’m not talking about credit card numbers, rather my American Airlines Aadvantage number, as an example.
- Excel Spreadsheet to track credit card application dates and status. You can read more about that spreadsheet here.
- Excel spreadsheet to track extra cash bonuses and mileage purchases. This is a new spreadsheet I started at the beginning of the year. When I do something (say buy a $200 Visa gift card for $196), I record a $4 profit on this spreadsheet. Then when I buy Choice Privilege points through Daily Getaways , as an example, I use that money that I’ve saved.
Because I have a lot of accounts with a lot of different programs and sometimes even one account for each family member, I use 1Password to help store account usernames and passwords.
Before I started using a Mac, I always used RoboForm.
This is a paid program, but it’s worth it to me to have the convenience and security.
iCalendar or Card Watchdog
It doesn’t matter what calendar program you use, but I do suggest that any time you apply for a new credit card that you set up a reminder in your calendar to notify you after it has been about 11 months so you can make preparations to cancel the card.
There’s actually a new website that could help you organize your applications and be sure you don’t forget to cancel a credit card. Card Watchdog allows you to store up to 10 cards for free. You only need to enter your last four digits of your card number so there should’t be any security concerns with the website. If you don’t already have a system in place, then I suggest you check out Card Watchdog. I actually have been using the same spreadsheet for 10+ years, so if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
What tools do you use to help you track your credit card and points activity?