Many people ask me how I keep track of my points. In this post, I will share the three trusted systems I use to keep track of everything, from points and key dates, to wins/failures and lessons learned.
Award Wallet is a secured website that keeps track of all your various loyalty accounts. From popular programs like Marriott, United, and Alaska Air, to more obscure programs like Etihad or EVA’s Infinity Mileageland (yes, that is a real program and my favorite program name), Award Wallet keeps all your point balances in one place.
In addition to doing a great job at the core function of being an automatically updating pivot table, Award Wallet also tells you when your miles will expire, what status you have with the program, and other helpful details, such as if you have any free night awards (that are separate from points). But Award wallet doesn’t remind you when the annual fee on your credit card is coming due. That’s why you need another tool.
I use a master excel spreadsheet to document and keep track of various dates, projects and promotions. For example, I created a tab to keep track of all the Amex deals. I have another tab that kept track of Amazon Payments manufactured spend, and tell me the next step I needed to do in order to close the loop on that month’s cycle. On another tab contains a list of all the credit cards, cardmember anniversaries, annual fee (if any), and other critical details. The dates are associated with another tab that keeps track of my next action items.
I schedule time each month to review the action items in this spreadsheet, and to determine next steps. For example, there could be an action item to review a particular credit card and evaluate if the benefits are still aligned with our travel strategy. If not, it might mean that we product change that card (or even cancel it). The one downside to excel is that it is not the best tool to capture complex thoughts (paragraphs and stories) very well.
I use a secured version of Evernote to document strategies and wins. I find that the cell-based approach of excel doesn’t lend itself to story-telling, so I write my learnings and notes in Evernote. I write down lessons learned in a journal format so that I keep track of my progress. I can also perform keyword searches on Evernote notebooks to review past wins and failures, to inform of current decisions. By reviewing my history, I can project and make inferences on the direction of the miles and points community and loyalty industry.
Although I like both Excel and Evernote, I wish there was a better way to integrate the two tools. Maybe one day, I’ll merge my notes into excel, with a large text-formatted cell containing each of the journal entries. For now, I’ll keep the dates and action items in one place, and the lessons learned archived in another.
With Award Wallet, Excel, and Evernote, I have a complete system to manage my loyalty program and strategy. How do you keep track of all your points?