Keeping Track of Rewards Credit Cards in 2018

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Keeping track of rewards points and miles is easy. Signup for AwardWallet, enter your account details for each loyalty program, and we do the legwork for you. AwardWallet alerts you to expiring rewards points, automatically updates balances, notify's you when points post to your account while providing convenient one-click access to all your loyalty accounts in one place.

Keeping Track of Cards Requires More

In the world of credit card rewards, nothing is more important than keeping track of the details for each card application. You need to know when you applied for the card, activation and closing dates, card name, lender, credit bureau, rewards program, credit limit, deadlines for completing bonus spending requirements, plus many other details.

Failure to keep track of each card can result in missed deadlines for signup bonuses, missing out on promo bonuses, or can adversely impact your credit score if you miss payments through a lack of organization. So how best to track your credit cards?

Pile of Credit Cards

Use a Spreadsheet to Track Cards

This may seem archaic, but we're trying to keep it simple. The first step is to build out a spreadsheet to track each card application. The spreadsheet needs to contain all the details for each card, and it must be updated and refined on a regular basis. Some fields you should look at including:

  • Card status – Applied, denied, opened, or closed
  • Card name – Anything such as Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Creditor – The bank issuing the card
  • Date applied – The day you applied. Likely the day that you'll have a credit inquiry generated on your report
  • Date approved – The day from which your minimum spend time clock starts
  • Date activated – When you call up and enable use of the card
  • Date closed – The day you've closed your credit account
  • Account number – Perhaps only fill in the last four numbers
  • Rewards account – What type of rewards are being earned
  • Rewards account number – The loyalty account number associated with the rewards account
  • Application URL – URL visited to complete the application
  • Credit limit – Line of credit provided
  • Credit Bureau – Which credit bureau(s) were used to check your creditworthiness
  • Personal or business card – Is this a personal or business credit card
  • Name or business name – If business, what is the business name
  • Address on file – The card billing address
  • Email address + phone number supplied – What contact info does the issuer have on file
  • Bonus details – What is the bonus associated with the card
  • Deadline for minimum spend – When must you meet the minimum spend by to receive the bonus
  • Annual fee – How much will you pay to keep this card
An example of an Excel spreadsheet created to keep track of credit card applications
An example of an Excel spreadsheet created to keep track of credit card applications

Your spreadsheet can also include sections to track promotions for each card, due dates for card payments, and other details. But, it’s essential not to make it too complicated or cluttered, as it becomes difficult to follow and update. It can make more sense to keep abreast of bill payments using a personal finance app like those listed below.

Tip: You can list reminders in Excel, Google Sheets, and Apple Numbers to remind you of deadlines for bonus spend requirements. This is also a fantastic way to remind yourself when interest rates kick in on an introductory 0% APR card, or to alert you when the wait time between signup bonuses is coming to an end (for example the 48-month period applicants must wait before receiving the bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card after being a previous cardholder)

Use a Personal Finance App to Track Repayment Dates on Each Account

The benefits of using a personal finance app go far beyond simply notifying you when credit card payments are due, but that’s the focus of this post and as deep as we are going to dig today. There are dozens of personal finance and budgeting apps that can help keep track of credit card dates, both paid and free services.

My favorite personal finance app is a free service called Mint. It allows you to link to almost every financial institution in the States and get an instant snapshot of where you stand financially with each card and account. Mint will alert you to due dates on bills and credit cards and can help you plan repayments in advance when you have a lot of financial activity across multiple accounts.

Mint can also monitor spending over specific dates for each card making it incredibly easy to see at a glance how close you are to meeting minimum spend on signup bonuses.

Plan Your Rewards Strategy Around Travel Goals

This may sound like a no-brainer, but make sure your current rewards strategy is wrapped tight around a defined set of travel goals. With a goal on paper and a plan to achieve it, you will typically focus on only a specific few credit cards to earn the required points. Fewer cards and programs to track when aiming for a travel goal means you will typically need to carry fewer physical credit cards as you are hyper-focused on maximizing specific programs.

Physically Organize Your Credit Cards

If you plan on taking rewards travel to the next level, you need next level organization, and that includes the cards themselves. Carrying between 30 and 50 credit cards in your pocket would likely get a little cumbersome after, say, the first 3/4 minutes.

The only cards you should carry around are your daily spend cards unless you have a particular use for another card on the day. Any number of factors dictates physical storage for the rest of your cards. How much room you have, if you have an office or filing cabinet, or if you like to have them all close to hand.

Personally, I’ve tried everything from a small Rolodex-style device on my desk to a clear file with business card inserts, to my current favorite, two small credit card wallets that can store 20 cards each. Combined with the spreadsheet and app to store account numbers and card details, this is sufficient for my nerdy minimalist needs.

Enable Auto-Pay and Keep Your Accounts in the Green

By enabling the auto-pay function with your financial institution, you’ll never miss a repayment. Missing due payment dates on your card is one of the fastest ways to wipe out any rewards gains you’ve made by using your credit card as it can lead to paying high-interest rates on the money borrowed, and you can also get hit with late payment fees.

Final Thoughts

Keeping track of credit cards is a crucial component for successful rewards travel. Whether you focus your efforts on just one of the strategies above or combine them all into a strategic credit card tracking system, you will see benefits that help you to become successful in this hobby.

Have any tips and tricks on keeping track of your cards you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below and share your ideas with the rest of the AwardWallet community!

And for those that are wondering, yes, we're looking at ways to try to help with this within AwardWallet as well. If you have suggestions, we're all ears.

Keeping Track of Rewards Credit Cards in 2018
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Comments

  • I use a spreadsheet and it helps a lot!

  • I started using AwardWallet in 2016 and love the tool! I initially signed up to track my miles and points from my various mileage/reward programs, but I’ve come to love that AwardWallet is more than just that! It has really been an awesome source of travel information and useful tips. I really like the suggestion about using a spreadsheet to track cards. I actually already use one, a little bit differently, but with the same premise of staying organized and ensuring points are posted. With my spreadsheet I also track my purchases made through AAdvantage Shopping Mall for example, to ensure that merchants are posting my miles as they should. There were times when this didn’t happen and thanks to my tracking I pick up on it. In each case I simply sent an email with details of the purchase to aadvantageeshopping and they’ve delivered every time!

  • I think different methods work for different people. I agree, I’m a spreadsheet person. It’s easily accessible to me, familiar, and I can customize it how I want. With minimal spreadsheet knowledge, you can make it an easy to us and follow tool. But, to each their own.

  • Great post, really helped me as I forgot to write all this down when I first started

  • Thanks for maintaining a great site – a great way to track rewards. I seem to remember that you have a way to track Delta miles, even though Delta makes it a bit more difficult to do so. Would you kindly remind me about the process?

  • In continuation of the auto-pay idea, I’d rather automate the statement receipt process via email and set up alerts to be reminded about payments. I’d always recommend paying your CC before the statement closes or immediately after you receive the statement but I don’t like auto-pay because I feel like it makes people, myself included, too disconnected with what they’re actually spending and less likely to check their statements for accuracy and fraud. That is why I’ve never automated my payments, but do automate a whole bunch of email reminders.

    • I think that’s where Mint comes in handy. It notifies of large transactions and out of the ordinary spending. I actually have it set up as a widget on my phone and to refresh itself every 4 hours so I always have an updated transaction list. That way, I would never forget an actual payment.

  • Adding fields to my spreadsheets to improve them. Thanks!

  • Another item be aware and keep track of is to continue using one’s ‘sock-drawer’ cards to avoid account closure for non-use. I believe Citi will closes accounts with no activity after 24 months, for instance.

  • wow this is pretty comprehensive… I just dabble in a few rewards here and there..

  • ADAM PARSONS says:

    Spreadsheets for every transaction but award wallet for updates for me.

  • This is a timely article for me. I am in the midst of setting up a spreadsheet. This post provides useful guidance for column headings. Thanks!

  • This is the best explanation of “use a spreadsheet” that I’ve seen. Great post!

  • We just signed up. Did not know you ever existed before. Initial impression is this is a great concept.

  • Thanks to give me the input to start a spreadsheet.
    To my use I will keep it simple at the beginning and if necessary I’ll add other features later.
    At the same time I’ll bookmark this very useful article for reference as I think I’ll read it again several time in the future.

  • I like the spreadsheet idea, but AwardWallet is even easier!

  • Wow I definitely don’t have anything this complicated! But maybe I should start keeping better track of my cards.

  • A follow up to Howie’s recent post about using sock drawer cards to keep the card active. Hope this is not too off topic, but I’ve advised friends whose miles were about to expire to buy an iTunes song on that airline’s shopping portal. For less than a buck, about 20K miles were saved. The moral is that small purchases can make a big difference.

  • Mint looks like a great personal finance app!

  • Yes, Auto-pay does seem like a good idea. I recently got penalized for a bill I thought I had already paid.

  • I wish I had this info 6 months ago! It would’ve saved me the reinstatement fee for letting a bunch of miles expire. Never again!

  • that spread sheet looks good!

  • Is there any alternative to Mint?

  • I like the idea of sock drawer cards! I have some I just hold on to in case there is a promotion, but it seems like a good idea to group them together and use them twice a year to buy groceries to keep the points current!

  • I use a spreadsheet to keep track of free nights, companion passes, and other promotions. Then I use Award Wallet to save me time with keeping my miles and expiration dates up to date. It’s really helped.

  • amzsinger@gmail.com says:

    Just started using Award Wallet. So far this has been a great way to keep track of my programs!

  • Helpful post!

    Forgive me if I missed it, but is there really no app available right now that will track both your Reward Points/miles AND when the credit card bill is due?
    Would love it if someone could suggest such an app!
    Thanks.

  • What happened to chases credit journey ?

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