A Rewarding Pursuit
Properly managing all your various rewards programs can save you a lot of money. Here are some tips for keeping track of your points.
You know all about rewards programs. You’ve got a keychain full of grocery store bonus cards, right?
Do you also take advantage of loyalty programs at other retailers, like Best Buy and Michaels? Are you a frequent flier with you preferred airline, or a revered guest at your favorite hotel chain? Does your bank offer rewards on your debit or credit card? You could be missing out on great discounts and freebies if you don’t participate in a loyalty program with a merchant that you frequent.
Unclutter your keychain
There’s an app for that! The Apple App Store offers a selection of apps to help you organize your store loyalty accounts. I like Keychain, which lets you type in the account number and store information. The app then creates a digital rewards card, which you give to the cashier to scan at checkout. When are you ever without your phone? So you’ll never have to worry about forgetting your bonus card again, and you’ll rack up the gas points and Catalina coupons in a flash.
Manage your rewards
Check out a points-management site like Points.com. You can choose from more than 100 loyalty programs, and keep track of all your accounts in one place. Even better, you can trade points you’ll never use for points you will, which is especially helpful if you’re just a few hundred points away from a specific reward level. This site even lets you “purchase” gift cards, memberships and discounts for as little as 500 miles or points, and gives you additional earning opportunities for certain rewards programs.
Know the program rules
Read the guide carefully. Understand how you earn points, and how you spend them. It’s good to know how many points you need to earn certain rewards, and what, if any, restrictions are set on earning or redeeming points. Be aware of blackout dates.
Keep track of expiration dates
Don’t let your points expire, especially if you have enough to earn a reward. You may not have enough points to snag that round-trip ticket to Hawaii, but it’s better to spend the points on a $50 Starbucks gift card than to let them go to waste.
If your points are scheduled to expire, but you don’t have enough points to redeem for anything, read the program rules or contact the program’s customer service hotline to see whether there is anything you can do to keep your points current. Or consider trading for points on Points.com.