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Have you ever found the perfect award itinerary but couldn’t book right away because you needed to buy or transfer points? Today, there are more options than ever to top-up a loyalty account, but in many cases, your points won’t post instantly, leaving you with an agonizing wait.

We’re always on the lookout for great ideas to improve AwardWallet, so when we saw this post asking why there wasn’t a better way to monitor accounts for incoming points, we decided to build a solution.

Today, we’re proud to announce a new AwardWallet Plus feature called “Balance Watch” which will monitor a specific loyalty account to notify you as soon as your balance changes.

Waiting on Points Transfer

When to Use Balance Watch

AwardWallet attempts to check your account balances every few days, but in some cases, these background updates don’t happen on a consistent schedule. To get the most up-to-date information, you can click the “update all” button at the top of your list of accounts.

The normal update process is perfectly fine for most situations, but there are times when you want to know about a balance change right away. Once you find an itinerary you want to book, it can be a race against time to confirm your plans before award availability disappears. Most frequent-flyer programs (and some hotel programs) limit the number of awards that can be booked with points. If you don't have enough points in your account, you may need to purchase points or transfer them from a program like Chase, Amex, Citi, Capital One, or Marriott.

Unfortunately, not all transfers or points purchases happen instantly. While you're waiting for the transaction to process, anyone else can potentially book the same flight or hotel, and leave you scrambling for a “plan-B”.  Although we can't make your points post faster, we created Balance Watch to make sure you can book as soon as they do.

How it Works

Balance Watch will monitor a loyalty account to let you know as soon as your points arrive. Once activated, AwardWallet will check your balance up to twenty-four times per day and send you a desktop, mobile, and email notification as soon as a change is detected.

Balance Watch Full Notification 2

Balance Watch is an AwardWallet Plus feature, so you'll need to upgrade your account if you're currently using the free version. Each paid AwardWallet Plus subscription comes with one Balance Watch credit included, and you can purchase additional credits whenever you need to monitor for a balance change.

How to Activate Balance Watch

1. Before you activate Balance Watch, make sure the account you plan to monitor is updating without errors and you have enabled your preferred notification methods for rewards activity. You can update your AwardWallet notification settings here. AW Notification Settings

2. To activate Balance Watch, head to your list of accounts and click the edit button by the account you want to monitor. Please note that our example is for transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to Marriott Rewards. Make sure to enable Balance Watch on the account where the points will post (and not the account where the transfer originates).

3. Scroll down to the Balance Watch section and choose your options. When you select the source of the incoming points and the time you started the transaction, you'll be helping us collect data to share with the AwardWallet community. Turn On Balance Watch 1

4. Check the box to acknowledge the terms and click “Update Account” Turn on Balance Watch 2

5. On your list of accounts, you'll see that monitoring is active. Balance Watch Active

6. Once your points post, you'll get a desktop, mobile, and email notification Balance Watch Full Notification 2

Limitations

Balance Watch isn't for keeping track of inbound points that aren't expected in the next few days. For example, if you recently met the spending requirement to earn a welcome bonus with a new rewards card, it could take several weeks for those points to post. In this type of situation, we recommend using the “update all” button at the top of your account list to get the most up-to-date information.

How Long do Points Take to Post?

Great question! The bad news is that there isn't a lot of reliable information at the moment about posting times for purchased and transferred points. Although there is general consensus about which programs do not transfer instantly, the estimates can vary from twenty-four hours to more than a week depending on where you look. Marriott doesn't have any instant transfer partners, so you can count on waiting at least twelve hours (and possibly a week or more) for Bonvoy Rewards transfers. For Chase, Citi, Amex, and Capital One, most reports indicate that transfers to the following partner programs will not post instantly:

Chase Ultimate Rewards

  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy Rewards
  • Iberia Plus
  • Singapore Airlines (Krisflyer)

Citi ThankYou Rewards

  • Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)
  • Etihad Airways (Etihad Guest)
  • EVA Air (Infinity MileageLands)
  • Garuda Indonesia (Frequent Flyer)
  • Malaysia Airlines (Enrich)
  • Qantas (Frequent Flyer)
  • Qatar Airways (Qmiles)
  • Singapore Airlines (KrisFlyer)
  • Thai Airways (Royal Orchid Plus)
  • Turkish Airlines (Miles&Smiles)
  • Virgin Atlantic (Flying Club)

Capital One Rewards

  • Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)
  • Etihad Airways (Etihad Guest)
  • EVA Air (Infinity MileageLands)
  • Hainan Airlines (Fortune Wings Club)
  • Qantas (Frequent Flyer)
  • Qatar Airways (Qmiles)
  • Singapore Airlines (KrisFlyer)

American Express Membership Rewards

  • Aeromexico (Club Premier)
  • All Nippon Airways (ANA Mileage Club)
  • Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)
  • Iberia Plus
  • Singapore Airlines (KrisFlyer)

To further complicate the issue, transfers that are usually instant may take longer if you are transferring to a recently created loyalty account. In other cases, technical issues might delay transfers. In the early days of the SPG-Marriott merger, many transfers took far longer than normal.

With purchased points, there is even less data, and you're likely to spend hours digging through FlyerTalk discussions desperately looking for something more recent than 2010.

The good news is that we'll have up-to-date data to share with all of you as soon as AwardWallet members start tracking points purchases and transfers with Balance Watch. Stay tuned for comprehensive estimates based on (anonymized) Balance Watch data.

Why Isn't Balance Watch Free?

Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time and energy to create new features, so Balance Watch is only available to AwardWallet Plus subscribers. When you upgrade your account, you're supporting ongoing development efforts that improve both the free and paid versions of AwardWallet.

Admittedly, we're a bit biased, but AwardWallet Plus comes with a ton of great features like unlimited point-expiration tracking, enhanced account data, and spending analysis to help you earn more points with your everyday purchases.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve ever spent an evening refreshing your account balance while praying your first-class award ticket doesn’t disappear, we hope Balance Watch will be a valuable new addition to AwardWallet. As is often the case with new features, you’ll probably come up with ideas for how to use and improve Balance Watch that we never considered, so please share your feedback in the comments.

Get Alerts When Your Points Post with AwardWallet Balance Watch
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