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How to Avoid Miles and Points Mistakes
I wanted to share a few of the tips and tricks that I’ve used in the past couple of months to simplify my life when it comes to credit card miles points and deals. It can be really easy to grow too quickly and get to a point where you’re actually being counterproductive. A perfect example of this is just a few weeks ago I had forgotten to enter a card into my spreadsheet with its due date because it was a new card, well sure enough I got hit with a $39 late fee. (Thank you Chase.) I also got assessed a finance charge.
This unfortunate scenario occurred all because I’m not taking the time to manage things as they come in. I’ve also gotten to a point where my credit card binder is completely unorganized and overflowing. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever taken a few cards on vacation not being sure which ones you needed and then found them in the laundry after you empty your suitcase.) Just me? OK, well my “pro” tip for that is to check your pockets before you put things in the wash.
Tips to Help you Simplify
For each tip I’ll give you a real life example of how I stupidly screwed something up and how easily I could have been prevented the issue in the first place.
- If you open a new card: Activate it and enter it into a spreadsheet immediately. There’s no reason to put it off since forgetting to pay it can be costly (as you can see from my above example).
- Keep your cards in one place: most of us keep them in binders but also have a second smaller binder for those times where you need to bring multiple cards like a vacation or a large shopping trip. I can’t tell you how many miles and points I’ve missed out on because in a rush I grabbed whichever card I could find as opposed to the right one because I had no idea where it was.
- Put a small label on each card to remind you of earnings and bonus categories: You might think you know your benefits cold but credit card companies are constantly making changes. Many moons ago I put all my gas station spend on the Citi Prestige Card (which didn’t earn any bonus on gas) instead of the Thank You Premier which does earn a bonus.
- While you’re executing the last tip: you might as well write on the card the date you opened it just so that you have a good idea of when the annual fee will be charged (this way you can make your retention call in time. I recently paid $125 for the Bonvoy Business Card from Amex because I called 35 days after it posted.)
- Respect your own time (AKA Don’t do deals that end up costing you in the end). What do I mean by this? I submit to you the New York Times google home deal. Well, I just got around to canceling the fourth subscription I signed up for in order to get 4 Google homes. Not to mention I don’t read the times so it was an incredible waste of resources, time and money.
Takeaway: know your limits and try to be organized.