Maximize Credit & Loyalty Benefits
It’s the end of December so you have about a week to maximize your yearly credit card and loyalty program benefits and finish up any elite status requirements. Many programs reset in January but this year is a bit different thanks to the generous Covid status extensions and decreased qualifications- so that definitely changes things a bit. Even still there are some offers you may want to take advantage of before the end of the year. This is your last chance to get your affairs in order and ensure you don't leave any value on the table. Don’t forget to make sure you’re also signed up for any 4th quarter promotions, it would be a shame to miss out on free earning opportunities. Here's a quick list of the tasks you should complete ASAP to maximize your credit and loyalty programs as well as a few things I plan on doing before the New Year that I wouldn't even consider in normal travel times.
- Take advantage of Benefits that are disappearing
- Use annual credits
- Double dip credits
- Big Spend Bonuses
- Finish stay or flight requirements
- Elite Status Planning and Status Matches
- Lock in cheap rates
- Credit card referral bonuses
Take Advantage of Benefits Ending in 2020
There are several credit cards making changes to their benefits and annual fees in the upcoming year and if your card is making any negative changes now is the time to lock in your benefits before they go away. Here are just a few of the changes coming in 2020.
- Limited Time Status Boosts through credit card spend
- Hilton Cards- Bonus points earned through eligible purchases through Dec. 31, 2021, will be considered base points that count toward elite tier qualification and lifetime Diamond status.
- AA Credit Cards
- December 31st is the last day to capitalize on those huge bonus offers i.e. 5x Points at Amazon on World of Hyatt Cards,
Spend Those Calendar Year Credits
Many cards offer credits for things like travel and restaurants that reset each calendar year. If you haven’t already used up all of your credits you should do it ASAP because you want to make sure they post before year end. Also, keep in mind some issuers require that the qualifying charges post to your December billing cycle. It’s better to use your credits now to ensure there aren’t any issues with them not posting in time. Check out this article for strategy if you have a bunch and need a little guidance.
Examples of Cards With Yearly Credits
- American Express Platinum Card- $200 Airline Fee Credit
- Amex Business Platinum Dell Credit- $100 biannually ($200 this year)
- Chase Ritz Carlton- $300 Travel Credit
- Citi Thank you Premier $100 Hotel Savings
Apply Now To Double Dip Yearly Credits
This is a great time to apply for premium cards with calendar year credits because you can double dip and lower the net cost of the annual fee. By applying NOW you may be able to double (or even triple) dip the travel credit and get it for 2020 and 2021 but still only pay one annual fee. At this point you are limited in options because only certain issuers will give you an instant credit card number or send your card with rush delivery.
Big Spend Bonuses
Many credit cards offer additional benefits to cardholders who meet minimum spending thresholds. Bonuses include points, status or other perks like free companion airfare tickets.
- Spend 30k on a British Airways Card in the calendar year, you’ll get a Travel Together Pass
- Spend 15K on Amex Surpass and get a free weekend night certificate
- Spend 50k on a Jetblue Plus or Business card for Mosaic status
You should check your accounts to see if there are any spending requirements that you are close to hitting for the year. To check total spending, log in to your online accounts and select activity for 2020 or “Year to Date”. If you’re close, you might as well concentrate your spending for the rest of the year on that card to make sure you don’t miss out.
Elite Status Requirements
It's time to review your elite status situation because there are so many opportunities and limited time promotions to advance to high level status with much less effort than isua=sually required. Additionally, several hotel and airline programs are rolling elite status and flight credit into 2021. So you might need to add a trip or switch your spending to a certain card to earn extra qualifying nights or miles but with a well thought out plan you could be in a loyalty windfall situation.
Maximize Points, Loyalty Benefits & Credit Card Perks: Get Free Elite Status With a Match
If you didn't re-qualify for elite status in 2020, you should be good since everyone and their momma has gotten their elite status and benefits extended through 2021. Statusmatcher.com is a great site to find examples and data points for current status match opportunities. With any luck, you’ll be able to match and receive elite status through 2021-2022.
Examples of Status Match opportunities
- GUIDE: Casino Status Matching (Now that Wyndham Match is DEAD!)
- NEW! Mlife Status Match to Gold or Platinum + World of Hyatt Status Match
Use Miles, Points and Free Night Awards to Book 2021 Travel Speculatively
I have booked so many trips for 2021 because I've never seen prices this low before and lots of the cheap fares/rates extend through the end of 2021, plus they're pretty much all refundable if booked before the New Year since flexible cancellation has been one of the major concessions loyalty programs have given to travelers. Additionally, programs with dynamic award pricing are passing those savings onto award bookings and free night certificates. Check out my post: How I Plan to Maximize Bonvoy Free Night Certs
Credit Card Referrals- Refer a Friend Bonuses
Credit card refer a friend bonuses are typically capped at a certain number of referrals or max points earned per year, so if you tend to get a lot of referral bonuses or think you're over the limit, you should hold off until January so that your eligible to earn a fresh set of rewards.