Once you have your strategy in place, staying organized becomes the most important thing.
- You need to know how many points you have in which programs and how you can use these points for either a redemption or a transfer.
- You need to know what cards you have and how much you need to spend to earn your sign-up bonuses.
- You need to know what your credit score is so you don’t apply for a card and get rejected, as well as what your overall finances look like.
- …and so on!
This can all seem overwhelming, but don’t be alarmed. There are programs out there already that will help you track all your points. And of course, Upgraded Points is here to help you figure out how to earn and use your points!
Manually, you’ll still need to track your sign-up bonus spending, personal finances, and credit score. Most cards these days provide your credit score, so at least that’s becoming easier!
Table of contents
Keeping Your Points and Programs Organized
Tracking Your Points Balances and Spending
Possibly the most popular tracking program is AwardWallet. It’s a simple and free program that works very well. You can track awards programs from hotels, airlines, and credit card portals all in one spot.
It requires you to enter your username (or account number) and password for each account, then it tracks them in a nice organized list, telling you how many points you have and when they expire.
We suggest keeping all your usernames and passwords in one place, so you’ve got them handy when you need to enter them all into this site.
Track Your Cards and Sign-Up Bonuses
Each time you sign up for a card, you’ll need to ensure that you know how much you need to spend to earn the sign-up bonus. As we’ve discussed, make sure you can meet the minimum spend before signing up for the card! Otherwise, that card is probably not worth getting.
Make a simple spreadsheet to show which card requires what level of spending, the date you opened the card, and the time frame to make your minimum spending (almost always 3 months).
Then, keep track of what you spend (using Mint.com makes this really easy!) and make sure you hit it by the end.
Managing Your Finances and Credit Score
The next thing you want to do is keep track of your credit score and finances.
Tracking your credit score is becoming easier and easier! Luckily, most cards have started offering your FICO score for free, and so does Mint.com.
This started as a competitive advantage feature that soon was picked up by many cards, and the result is free credit scores for all!
If you don’t have access to a graph that tracks your score over time, be sure to create your own spreadsheet to do so. This is important to see how your activity affects your score.
Also, be sure to note when you opened up cards and keep track of all the other measurements as described in the credit score section of this guide. That way, you can make the best decision on when to open your next card.
It’s just as important to have your bank accounts organized and a budget managed.
Again, Mint.com can do all these things for you, but you may want some other resources to help you decide how to do this. Many personal finance blogs can help you; here are a few of the most popular:
We won’t get into details here since we’re not a personal finance site, nor are we affiliated with any of these blogs. We just promote good personal finance habits in order to continue earning travel rewards.
Managing Your Card Earnings and Benefits
You’ll also want to keep track of what cards you have and which categories of spending they work best with. Having a quick cheat sheet allows you to easily figure out which card works best in a certain situation.
Let’s not forget about the other card benefits, which can often be more valuable than the card’s points earning. Your list may look something like this so you can remember all the extras:
Trust us when we say it is much easier to do this up front than to go back and log in each time you want to remember something! You can get other updates about new cards here at Upgraded Points.
Tools To Help You Stay Organized
We’ll be coming up with some spreadsheet templates and other tools you can use to keep organized very soon! Organizing isn’t always fun, so it can help to get a jump start by utilizing something that someone else has created.