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The rush of Christmas is over and everyone’s being a little lazy as they prepare to ring in the New Year with friends and family. Grab a Red Bull or some Starbucks and wake up! You have just a couple of days to maximize the benefits of your travel rewards and credit cards before the end of the year. Here’s what you need to do with your rewards and cards before year-end.
- 12 smart money moves before year end to make 2018 awesome
- How many miles & points are you missing? Birch Finance review
- Up to 10x Cash Back on Dining with Dosh Cash Back Multiplier
What You Need To Do With Your Rewards
If you have a rewards account for your favorite hotels and airlines (which I hope everyone does already), you need to jump on a few to-dos to maximize your rewards before year-end.
1. Use Your Status To Get Status
One of the perks of having status is that other hotels and airlines want you. It’s kind of like when you’re dating someone, all of a sudden more people find you interesting.
Travel is a competitive field and airlines and hotels know that, if you have status, you’re a frequent traveler that will spend money with a brand that offers you perks.
Use the website StatusMatcher to figure out which other hotels and airlines will award higher status to you just because you have status with another brand.
2. Book Thanksgiving 2018 Travel
I know, I know. It’s hard to think about Thanksgiving 2018 when New Year’s Eve hasn’t even arrived.
But, most airlines allow you to book 11 months (330 days) out. Book now and you’ll have some of the best award selection available for your travel plans.
Hotels often allow you to book up to 2 years in advance, so you can book Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve plans for 2018 now. And some might not be smart enough to place restrictions or higher prices on those dates yet… so take advantage while you still can!
3. Register for Hotel and Airline Promotions
It is a good idea to register for every hotel and airline promotion that you come across. You never know how your travel plans can change causing you to end up on a trip or at a hotel that you hadn’t planned on.
4. Save money on FTU Registration
Frequent Traveler University (aka FTU) is one of the most popular travel rewards conferences. Thousands of people attend these events every year to learn tips & tricks from experts and network with other people who love to travel.
Use my referral link and the promo code “STOCKINGSTUFFER” to save $20 on your registration for FTU Advanced Seattle, which is being held during the weekend of February 24-25, 2018. Early registrants will also receive a copy of Chris Guillebeau’s book Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days.
Don’t delay… this promotion is only good through December 31, 2017!
If you need a reason to visit Australia, FTU will also be hosting an event in Brisbane, Australia, during the weekend of April 14-15, 2018. Use my referral link and the promo code “EARLYBIRD” to save $20 AUD on your registration for FTU Australia.
What You Need To Do With Your Credit Cards Before Year-End
Ok, so we’ve tackled some must-do’s before year-end for your miles and points accounts. But what about your credit cards. Credit cards are a vital part of any serious miles and points collector’s strategy. Here’s what you need to do with your credit cards before year-end.
1. Use Your Travel Credits
Premium credit cards offer a travel credit that helps offset the annual fee. They hope that you won’t use them so they can increase their profits. Don’t let the big banks win!
With some cards, like the Citi Prestige card, you can book travel into next year and redeem the credit based on the purchase date. Others, like the Barclaycard Arrival, only give you 90 days from the purchase date to redeem credits for those purchases.
If you don’t have any travel plans pending, shame on you. Err, I mean, consider buying gift cards in small denominations that most credit cards will believe are checked bag or other fees that we all hate. Your mileage may vary with this strategy.
2. Redeem US Bank FlexPerks
If you have the Amex or Visa version of the US Bank FlexPerks card, there is a major devaluation coming effective January 1, 2018. The point values will be reduced from a maximum of $0.02 per point to a static $0.15 per point – a reduction of 25% of possible value!
The change isn’t all bad, because current redemptions are only in increments of 10,000 points, whereas the new system will only require a redemption of the exact number of points required based on the price of the ticket. However, it still hurts to have a potential loss of 25% of value.
3. Pre-Pay for Global Entry Renewal
Many premium credit cards also offer a reimbursement of up to $100 towards a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership. However, that reimbursement is only available every 4-5 years, so start the clock ticking by renewing your Global Entry now.
This is especially important if you’re considering closing a premium card when it comes up for renewal. I evaluate my credit cards all of the time based on my spending patterns and the always-changing nature of travel rewards and credit card perks. Before you cancel, consider calling to see what type of retention perks the bank will offer.
4. Review Your Credit Cards
I’m sure plenty of us have way more credit cards than we ever thought possible. We have some cards whose benefits have changed and may no longer be worth the fees that we’re paying. Or we have some cards that have overlapping benefits.
Make a list of all of the credit cards that you have, the annual fees, and the reason why you have them. Do the benefits outweigh the annual fee? If not, consider cancelling it.
Another thing to do it use an app like Birch Finance. It will review your credit card spend and let you know whether you’re maximizing your daily spend to earn the most amount of travel rewards. Click here for my review of Birch Finance to see how many miles and points you’re missing and decide if it is worth downloading.
5. Earn Points & Cash Back Automatically
There are so many miles, points, and cash back that people miss out on daily just because they haven’t automated the process for themselves. With a career, 8 rental properties, this blog, and a family, I thrive when I can automate my processes to save myself time and effort.
The first program I use is called Dosh. It helps me earn 7-10% cash back whenever I dine at a participating restaurant with my registered credit card. Use my Dosh referral link and get $5 for signing up and registering your first card.
I also stack the benefits by registering my credit cards with airline Dining Rewards programs, such as Southwest, American, or Hilton. Many major airlines and hotels offer dining rewards, so do a Google search for your favorite brand or click here for the list of participating airlines and hotels.
Pro Tip: Many of these dining rewards programs offer sign-up bonuses. So, spread your cards around or rotate programs every few months to maximize your rewards.
Another way to earn extra cash back with your credit card is to use online shopping portals every time you shop online. You can do this even with the gift cards you received for Christmas! My favorites are Ebates, Mr. Rebates, and TopCashBack. I’ve earned over $200 with Ebates, almost $250 with Mr. Rebates, and over $300 with TopCashBack!
At almost $800 combined, that’s some serious money for doing something I was going to do anyway. Use my referral links and you’ll get a little extra in your account from each of these sites.
6. Max Out Quarterly Bonuses
Some credit cards, like the Discover it card, offer quarterly bonuses at rotating categories. And most of them are 5x points or 5% cash back, so don’t miss out on maximizing these bonuses.
For example, the Discover it card offers 5% cash back at Amazon and Target through December 31, 2017, on your first $1500 in spend. That’s $75 in extra cash that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
If you don’t plan on spending $1500 right away, consider buying gift cards to other stores or restaurants through Amazon or Target. That’s one of the ways that I maximize my cash back quarterly bonuses.
The Bald Thoughts
Maximizing your miles, points, and credit card rewards doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Instead, use these simple steps to maximize your travel rewards and credit cards before year-end so you can get one step closer to your next free vacation.
Happy Holidays and have a safe New Year!
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