Keeping track of rewards and loyalty programs
Keeping track of rewards and loyalty programs can be a constant battle for the traveling inspired.
Let’s face it, just about every hotel, airline, credit card, rental car company, grocery store, drug store and clothing store has some kind of reward program. It’s great that companies want to reward you for your loyalty. Or keep track of all of your purchases for you. But if one more store gives me another loyalty card to carry around in my wallet, I’m gonna need shoulder surgery. Because my purse is so loaded down with all those cards. Maybe your key ring has no room for any keys because some loyalty programs give you a convenient key fob card. Ugh!
But we can’t deny that those membership numbers and rewards sometimes reap big benefits with stuff you already purchase. And while traveling, having those cards handy can save you money, or get you some extra perks. Several times I have been traveling with a group of friends and asked if they made sure they were getting credits for their hotel room with the hotel’s loyalty program. A common response is, “I don’t know my reward number,” or “I think I have a reward card, but I left it at home”. I cringe inside about the valuable points they are throwing away.
Enter the Key Ring App. It’s free, and now you can leave all of those membership cards at home. With Key Ring, you just set up an account and start adding your cards. Key Ring will scan the barcode on the back (if there is one) and make a “virtual” barcode on your phone for that card. If there is no barcode, you can enter the card number manually. A photo of the front and back of the card is also saved for that store. This is especially helpful while traveling. Every time I check in to a hotel, or at the airline gate, I double check with the agent that my reward number is on file for that reservation.
Just about any card can be entered. Hotel reward cards, airline mileage accounts, AAA cards, library cards, retail store cards and even health insurance cards.
Just yesterday I was at Dick’s Sporting Goods and they scanned the barcode right off my phone. It saved the cashier time, since he didn’t have to look it up, and I don’t have to keep that card in my wallet. Also, my husband has the Key Ring app and our Dick’s Sporting Goods reward card is in his phone on the Key Ring app too. We don’t share the same Key Ring app, we just scanned in and entered the same card information for that particular store. Not to mention, lots of retail stores will send coupons to their reward members through the mail. Some companies are even doing coupons though the Key Ring app, but I have yet to use that feature.
One thing to note, is that Key Ring doesn’t keep up with your balances in any of these accounts. Which doesn’t really matter for retail stores. But hotel and airline miles can expire.
So how do I keep up with the travel reward programs with points that might expire?
Enter the website, Award Wallet. This is a free (can you tell I like free things?) website that tracks balances for frequent flyer miles, hotel reward programs and credit card points. They offer AwardWalletPlus, but I haven’t found the need to upgrade to that version yet. You can easily set up your free account online. Once you have all of your programs entered, your account home page will look something like this:
In this example, you can see the expiration dates for the miles, and the indicator of the points balances increasing with the green “up” arrow. When you redeem miles or points, that would of course be the red “down” arrow. My favorite feature is the email I get when points in a specific program are about to expire. Most programs just require activity. Luckily, Award Wallet gives me enough notice so I have time to see if I can generate activity of some kind in order to extend the expiration of those points.
While planning a trip, Award Wallet is a great website since you can see all of your balances in one place, in order to maximize their usage. Otherwise you’d have to go to each reward program website, and check the balances by hand. Thank goodness Award Wallet does that spreadsheet for us! I’m currently planning two international trips for next year, and Award Wallet has been really valuable helping me save lots of money by using points and miles. If I can’t see what I have, I can’t use them very effectively.
Just to keep you informed, this is not a sponsored post. Both of these fantastic sites/apps are free. They just happen to be apps I use A LOT, and wanted to pass them along to you. I’ll share anything to make your daily life easier, save you from shoulder surgery, and make your traveling life more inspired.