I have almost 30 credit cards - here's how I keep track of pay dates, benefits, and rewards balances
- I have almost 30 credit cards, including some great options for earning rewards such as the Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
- It's easy to lose track of credit card pay dates, benefits, and rewards even if you don't have 30 cards. Having an arsenal of tools is essential for staying organized.
- I use Travel Freely to track card benefits and important account dates, AwardWallet to keep tabs on my rewards balances and loyalty perks, and QuickBooks Self-Employed to track my spending.
- Never underestimate the value of a good old-fashioned spreadsheet for tracking your credit cards, too.
Between the credit cards I use every day, the cards I keep for their annual bonuses (like free night certificates at hotels), and new cards that I'm working on the minimum spending requirements for, I've got almost 30 open right now. With all these cards, it would be really easy to lose track of things and forget to use benefits or end up paying extra fees. Here are the tools I use to make sure that doesn't happen.
I used to use a spreadsheet to keep track of all the details of my credit cards - when I opened them, what benefits I got from them, how much the annual fee was and when it would be due, and whether I'd completed the spending required to get a sign-up bonus. But thanks to Travel Freely, my spreadsheet days are (mostly) behind me - and I'm saving so much time!
Travel Freely is a free website that offers a powerful and easy-to-use set of tools for anyone earning travel rewards from their credit cards. Just pull up your free credit report on CreditKarma and then enter the card names and the date you opened the account - Travel Freely will pull in all the information you need about the card, from its benefits and bonus categories to when you can expect to be charged an annual fee.
Plus, email reminders help make sure you don't miss a spending bonus deadline and never pay an annual fee by accident on a card you'd meant to cancel.
Travel Freely doesn't stop at tracking your credit card information; it also uses all of that information to provide customized recommendations about what cards you should get next. The CardGenie™ tool will look at the cards you've had in the past, factoring in restrictions like Chase's 5/24 rule and American Express' one-bonus-per-card-per-lifetime policy, and provide you a list of the best cards that you're actually eligible to open.
Clear instructions and video tutorials make navigating the site very straightforward. I highly recommend Travel Freely to everyone, whether you've got more credit cards than I do or are applying for your very first one.
AwardWallet is an indispensable resource for anyone with frequent flyer miles, hotel points, or any other kind of rewards currency.
The site tracks a mind-boggling number of award programs: almost every airline you've heard of (and plenty you haven't), hotel loyalty programs, credit card rewards points and cash-back balances, store-specific rewards, cash-back portals, and more.
Regular email updates keep you informed about balance changes - no need to wonder whether points for your most recent flight or stay have posted. You can also see how close you are to reaching elite status or climbing to the next tier. This also provides an important security function - if you're ever unlucky enough to have points mysteriously vanish due to a technical glitch or a malicious intruder, AwardWallet can help you catch it in time to call the loyalty program and solve the issue.
And it doesn't just track your points balances - you can also keep an eye on benefits like companion tickets, hotel free night awards, and travel credits from cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Platinum Card from American Express. AwardWallet will even track your credit score for you.
Perhaps most importantly, AwardWallet will calculate the expiration dates for your rewards in all loyalty programs and give you a heads-up well in advance so you can spend your points or plan a way to keep your account active. With AwardWallet's help, the days of losing your hard-earned points are over.
Like Travel Freely, AwardWallet doesn't just stop at aggregating your rewards balances; it also uses its access to your credit card history to audit your spending and identify places where you might be able to earn more points, either with a card you already have or with a new card that offers more rewards.
I can't count how many times AwardWallet has saved me from losing points in an inactive account, or helped me realize that I've got cash sitting in a random cash-back portal website that could be put to work in my bank account instead.
Credit cards aren't just about the miles you earn - you also have to keep a close eye on your spending. QuickBooks Self-Employed is designed to help freelancers and entrepreneurs track their business expenses, but it's an intuitive and affordable way for anyone to get a handle on their spending.
Automatic syncing with your bank accounts every time you open the app means you're always up to date, and it's easy to separate business and personal expenses with one click. The more you use the app, the better it will get at predicting how to categorize your expenses. And since it's made by Intuit - the company behind TurboTax - it has a strong focus on maximizing potential deductions for your taxes.
Using QuickBooks has given me a much better handle on how much money I'm earning and spending every month, and that alone is worth the subscription fee, which starts at $5 per month.
A good old-fashioned spreadsheet
My spreadsheet days are mostly behind me, but not completely. I still use a spreadsheet every month to keep track of the balances I have on my cards, when the payment is due, and when (and how much) of a payment I need to make. This forces me to double-check that I'm not accidentally missing a minimum payment on a card.
Curious about which cards I use and why? Here are a few of my favorites:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve, because it offers great rewards on travel and built-in travel insurance for when things don't go as planned. It also offers great rewards on dining (3x points).
- Chase Freedom Unlimited, because it offers 1.5% cash back (1.5x Ultimate Rewards points) on all purchases. It's my top pick for purchases that don't earn a bonus with another card.
- Chase Freedom, thanks to its quarterly rotating categories that earn 5% cash back (5x points) on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter you activate. A great way to rack up some serious points!
- Platinum Card from American Express, because it gets me access to American Express' wonderful Centurion Lounges and credit for Uber rides each month.
- IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, mostly for the one free night at IHG hotels every year just for paying the annual fee.
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