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Housekeeping – making sure your miles and points are in order

I know there are a lot of hyper organized people who play this game. I happen to not be one of them, much to my wife’s chagrin. I am organized enough to have avoided major mistakes (that I know of lol) but I am not hyper vigilant.

What that means is every couple month I do a bit of housekeeping, which can take an hour or more but puts me at peace of mind that I haven’t made mistakes. I just recently did this, so I thought I’d share some of the housekeeping items I tend towards.

I’d also love to hear what kind of housekeeping you all engage in: always be improving! So hit me up in the comments. Also, if your response is “you should have done all this stuff in the first place”, take a place in line behind my wife.

Confirm all new credit cards are on autopay

I usually engage in housekeeping activities around a month after applying for a bunch of new credit cards. That’s because the very first thing I do when housekeeping is make sure all my new credit cards are on autopay. Since some banks make it easier than others to enroll in autopay (ahem, Bank of America link I can never find), I like to double check all my new accounts are on autopay.

Your miles and points balances need housekeeping from time to time. Here are 5 things you can do to make sure everything is in order!
Why can’t you make things easy like everyone else Bank of America?

After I’ve confirmed my accounts are on autopay, I update my credit card spreadsheet accordingly. I also make sure my spreadsheet is updated with accurate sign up dates, credit lines, and potential annual fees. While my spreadsheet is open…

Look for any upcoming annual fees

I’ve gotten better about setting calendar reminders for myself to cancel cards/call for retention bonuses. But some of my older cards or cards that I have received retention bonuses on still don’t have the calendar reminders so I like to double check my spreadsheet. If I have any calls I need to make coming up I’ll either set a calendar reminder for myself or highlight the line item in the spreadsheet.

This gets me mentally started on the process of prepping for my next retention calls. That also gets me thinking about my overall plan for my miles and points.

Update demand table

I started using Milenomics demand table last year and it’s really helped me plan out my travel. If you’re unfamiliar definitely read his posts on the topic. To summarize, it’s just a spreadsheet of potential trips and potential costs in miles and points.

Your miles and points balances need housekeeping from time to time. Here are 5 things you can do to make sure everything is in order!

I’m not good about updating my demand table in real time so I try to do it when I’m housekeeping. This gives me a good overview of where I’m going for the year and helps me think about the miles and points I need to earn to get there. This bit of housekeeping goes hand in hand with the next.

Take stock of current miles and points balances

People hate to admit it, but it’s really easy to lose track of what miles you are earning at any given time. So every few months I like to see where my balances are at to make sure that my mental picture of my balances matches up with the actual picture.

This helps me set my agenda for the next few months. What credit cards will I be considering? Where am I going to be focusing my bonus spend? What balances are too large and putting me at risk? 

Personally, I find if I’m not doing this work I’m being very efficient, which is why I force myself to do so.

Get amped about upcoming trips

The last thing I tend to do while housekeeping? Get myself amped up for future trips! Oh, and double check those reservations to make sure they’re intact. I’ll also look at options to save money. For example, Jetblue extended my Mosaic status for a month so I can still change some flights/redeposit miles for free if I need to.

Hotels are another place to save money since the prices are always changing and dropping. So I like to garden my reservations and make sure everything is all set. This has the doubly beneficial effect of getting me excited for what’s coming.

Final Thoughts

Without housekeeping, I’d probably get myself into a lot of headaches while playing this game. Being mindful and logical about my decisions and taking stock of my situation really helps me to stay grounded and focused. It also helps me avoid huge mistakes.

What kind of housekeeping tasks do you like to do?

Your miles and points balances need housekeeping from time to time. Here are 5 things you can do to make sure everything is in order!

Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less

11 thoughts on “Housekeeping – making sure your miles and points are in order

  1. Periodically double checking reservations is a good idea. I just found out that our direct flight on Alaska was cancelled and we were rebooked on a redeye(with a stop). Never received an email notification of the change, I just happened upon it when doing a double check.

  2. I used to do similar tasks starting before digital calculaters were available .Now I can check my balances six times a day if I want. This stuff is so easy .I do have a little spiral notebook with info . like who are partner airlines etc. No use getting too stressed over things .

  3. What housekeeping tasks do I like to do? None of them 😉 !!

    But as the man in my household must like them less, because he certainly does them less, do them I do. I have more of a “rolling” housekeeping style – think how rolling college admissions works – rather than a weekly or monthly approach.

    One thing to add (for those who use it ) is making sure new accounts get added to Awardwallet. I often forget or procrastinate that task, so when I review my balances, they are not completely current. Periodically looking at expiry dates for points/miles/free hotel nights is useful too.

    PS – Your wife sounds like a very smart lady!

  4. What is the point of Autopay? I’m reading through your post for the third time and still don’t understand the point of this.

    1. People are really offended by autopay! So I’ll explain why I need it.

      The point for me is this, when we started having kids I got so distracted I missed like two payments on different cards. Almost didn’t catch it until next statement which would have been worse! Luckily the banks waived fees and interest both times, but auto pay protects me from that happening again.

      Wish I was organized enough to avoid silly mistakes like that but I’m not!

      1. I love autopay and have it on every account possible. I’ve used it since a sabbatical trip in 2008 when we were abroad, gone 4 months, and I didn’t want to deal with forwarded snail mail or internet connections that could be iffy. It worked perfectly and ever since I use autopays as much as possible.

        BOA is, as Joe noted, not very user friendly, not only because the website is clunky but because they have two ways to do it and it sometimes takes up to two statements to take effect. Chase and Amex are a breeze. CITI is not quite as easy since the website doesn’t display it as clearly as Chase or Amex but it works.

        The only time I have ever had a problem is occasionally, if I paid a bill before the autopay date, the bank will still sweep the autopay in so the account gets paid twice. Most banks won’t do this but some have it set up that you need to alert them to not take that particular payment on the autopay date.

        Since I very rarely pay an account ahead – I did so a few times related to MS or if an autopay set up was still pending – it hasn’t been a problem. And when it has happened, I just let the account keep a credit balance since it generally would get used up the next month.

        We recently moved our household checking account to a credit union and I had to change every autopay. That was a huge pain but the ease in the past and going forward was well worth it. I come down firmly on its positives, but to each her own!

      2. I’m not offended by it at all. I just wasn’t sure why it was needed and didn’t know if I was missing something. Thanks for the explanation. I don’t have kids, but you never know when real life would interfere.

        Since I normally try to pay all accounts ahead before the statement cuts (so that there is almost never a balance showing at all) this might not work for me. A couple of months ago I let a balance of several thousand show on an account – 5% Back GC – and my credit score dropped by 14 points.

        ES explained below which banks are good at this and which aren’t. That list seems pretty accurate. I would have no hesitation trusting AMEX or Chase to get things right. I would never trust a bank like USBank with any details like that though.

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