One of the first things I put up under the Beginner’s Guide tab was a 10-step guide to help readers begin churning miles and points. Over the next few days I’ll be doing a 10-post series, elaborating on each of the steps below.
The beginner’s guide to traveling for (almost) free on miles and points:
1. Set travel goals
2. Check your credit
3. Sign up for rewards programs
4. Manage your miles and credit cards
5. Sign up for a rewards earning credit card
6. Shift your everyday spend to credit cards
7. Meet the minimum spending requirements
8. Maximize bonuses and promotions
9. Earn points by dining and shopping
10. Redeem points and miles for free travel
Manage your miles and credit cards
Part of the fear of beginning to churn credit cards and actively begin collecting points and miles is “how do I keep track of it all?” I personally prefer to use Excel to track every little detail, but it can be time consuming. Here is the spreadsheet template I use, which hopefully will be helpful to you. I highly recommend protecting the document, which requires a password to open it, since you will be storing log-in info, passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive information here. The Villain and I store it on Dropbox, so that we can both easily access it, from our home or work computers or iPhones.
AwardWallet.com is a website to help you keep track of different loyalty programs for you and your family. It can login on your behalf to the different reward accounts and retrieve your balance, expiration, elite level, etc. I have 8 free upgrade coupons available for new users. Sign up using my link, and enter promo code free-eisquz. Please comment below if you have used one of the codes so I can update how many are remaining!
|Regular Account||AwardWallet Plus|
|Automatically track reward balances for unlimited number of reward programs|
|Track rewards for any number of your family members|
|Automatically track travel plans|
|Allow sharing travel plans or reward balances|
|Notify when balances expire via email (frequency: 90, 60, 30, and 7 days before expiration)|
|Organize rewards into custom views|
|Display extra reward account properties|
|Display historical account balance changes chart|
|Allow exporting award balances into Excel format|
|Display expiration notice||Up to 3 expirations||Unlimited|
|Support AwardWallet development efforts|
|Price||FREE||You get to choose|
Award Wallet allows you to add multiple individuals to one account. You can also download in Excel or as a PDF. Another similar service I have used before is manilla.com, which is fairly similar to Award Wallet, in that in keeps track of lots of different types of accounts. To keep track of our overall finances, we love Mint.com. Mint is a lifesaver for monitoring our monthly budget, keeping track of bill due dates, tracking amounts on each card, etc. This hobby can certainly be overwhelming, but it is certainly manageable with sites such as mint.com and awardwallet.com, as well as using Excel or whatever personal monitoring program works best for you and your family.