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12 points and miles tasks to complete by the end of the year

Dec. 05, 2021
13 min read
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Similar to last year, this year-end checklist isn't like the lists you might have followed before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ongoing pandemic is still creating unpredictability in international travel. Airlines have implemented policies that would have been unheard of before (such as eliminating change/cancel fees) and hotels have taken unprecedented measures to ensure guests' confidence and safety.

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So, as 2021 comes to a close, here are 12 points and miles tasks you should complete before the end of the year.

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Check progress on your status goals

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Many people spent most of the year either at home or on domestic road trips, which doesn't help you chase airline status. Even travelers who took to the skies tended to travel fewer miles than they did pre-pandemic.

Luckily, many loyalty programs reduced status requirements again this year or continued to extend elite status. You may find yourself closer to elite status than you usually would be — or even sitting in a higher tier than in an average year.

Now is an excellent time to check the progress you've made on earning elite status. While I wouldn't advise mileage running or booking a mattress run to get you over the finish line, you may want to look into applying for a credit card to help you meet your status goals.

Related: 6 reasons I'm striving for higher Marriott Bonvoy status this year

Set your travel goals for 2022

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While travel has rebounded in many ways, in other ways it hasn't. Many nations continue to have closed borders, and countries you could visit last week might be closed next week. Flexibility will continue to be an essential aspect of travel next year.

So, although it's a good idea to set travel goals for next year, be realistic about your goals and willing to change them if needed. Be sure to book airlines and hotels with friendly cancellation and change policies. By doing so, you'll avoid hefty fees if you have to change or cancel.

Related: Right now, travel is my lifeboat through the pandemic

Plan your credit card strategy

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If the thought of traveling again has you excited about 2022, then you'll want to plan out your credit card strategy while you're at it. For example, if you have a trip to Cancun on your bucket list, now might be a good time to apply for a new card.

One excellent option to consider is the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. After all, the Venture X currently offers a sign-up bonus of 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. This bonus could help you offset the cost entirely. Plus, the card offers an up to $300 annual travel credit for bookings through the Capital One Travel portal.

The end of the year is a great time to plan your strategy and start applying for cards. After all, we're all about to spend the GDP of a small country on holiday gifts alone. It's the perfect time to channel that spending toward meeting some credit card spending requirements and banking those big welcome bonuses.

Related: Why I decided to apply for the new Capital One Venture X card

Earn annual spending bonuses

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Speaking of increased spending, now is an excellent time to check your progress on annual spending bonuses. For example, if you have the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, you can log in to your Amex account and see how much progress you've made toward earning a free weekend night reward.

Do a quick check to see what type of spending bonuses your cards offer and your progress toward meeting the required spending thresholds. If you're close to meeting your spending goal, see if you can move around some upcoming expenses. After all, these annual bonuses are a great way to get value out of your credit card's annual fee. With travel hopefully becoming a bit more normal next year, you're likely to get tons of value out of that free night, flight voucher or companion pass.

Related: 7 of the best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night

Redeem travel fee credits

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Numerous banks shifted the way you could use travel credits during the pandemic. For example, some credits that were previously "travel only" became usable at restaurants and supermarkets. Chances are you may have already redeemed your annual travel credits. But you should double-check so you don't miss out.

These travel credits can help offset some pretty hefty annual fees, so you'll want to take advantage of them every year. They typically reset in January, so make sure you use them by the end of the month if you haven't already.

Note that you may also have non-travel credits on some of your cards. For example, if you have The Platinum Card® from American Express, you'll want to make sure to enroll in (if you haven't already) and then redeem the biannual Saks Fifth Avenue credit. With the holiday shopping season in full bloom, this can help you buy a great gift and save money in the process.

Related: Gifts you can buy using your Amex Platinum Saks Fifth Avenue credit

Register for hotel promotions

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It's worth considering hotel promotions when planning upcoming trips. However, many of these promotions have deadlines for registration. So, even if you don't plan to use a promotion, it may still be worth registering before the deadline. After all, things can change. For example, instead of going to a Hyatt in South Carolina, you might wind up at a Marriott in Pennsylvania.

Head over to our current hotel promotions page and make sure to register for any relevant promotions. Even if you're not sure you'll take advantage of all these offers, there's no harm in signing up anyway.

Related: 4 situations where booking a one-night hotel stay is worth the effort

Check your points and miles expiration dates

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Due to the pandemic, many airlines and hotels have suspended mileage and point expiration -- some have even ended mileage expiration permanently. But don't assume your miles are all safe. Now is an excellent time to check your balances and expiration policies and make plans to use or extend your rewards before they expire.

If you have points on the verge of expiring, you can always keep your points and miles from expiring by signing up for a cobranded credit card or making purchases on an existing card. Earning miles via dining rewards programs and online shopping portals is another easy way to keep miles from expiring.

Related: Here's how to get your points and miles back after they expire

Claim your free food delivery membership

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Food delivery apps are convenient when you're tired of cooking and want your favorite meal without actually leaving the house. The only downside? Delivery fees. Luckily, there are several ways to get those waived. Thanks to several partnerships, you can claim free monthly memberships that entitle you to waived delivery fees and discounts. Here's an overview of some available offers:

Uber Eats Pass membership from American Express

Uber Eats Pass usually costs $9.99 per month, but it gets you free delivery plus 5% off orders over $15 at eligible restaurants (taxes and service fees may apply and do not count toward the order minimum). That can add up to pretty substantial savings for frequent users. If you're an Amex cardholder, you may not have to do the math on whether it's worth it or not. Select cardholders get a whopping 12 months of complimentary Uber Eats Pass membership.

Eligible cards: The Platinum Card® from American Express, American Express® Gold Card and the American Express® Green Card.

Enroll by: Dec. 31, 2021.

The information for the Amex Green card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

DoorDash Dash Pass membership from Chase

DoorDash Dash Pass typically costs $9.99 per month and includes free delivery on orders over a minimum subtotal. But, you can get a Dash Pass membership with select Chase credit cards.

For example, Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred® cardholders will get at least a year of complimentary Dash Pass membership. Meanwhile, Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom Flex cardholders get at least three months, with the option to continue their membership beyond this period with a 50% discount.

Eligible cards: Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Chase Freedom Flex and numerous other Chase credit cards.

Enroll by: March 31, 2022.

Seamless+ membership and free Grubhub delivery through Lyft

Lyft Pink members qualify for free GrubHub+ and Seamless+ membership. Both of these services typically cost $9.99 per month. Lyft Pink costs $19.99 per month, though you can get a complimentary 12-month membership with a Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Be sure to do that by March 31, 2022, when the complimentary Lyft Pink membership offer expires.

Related: Food delivery promo codes and offers to help you save money on your next meal

Give the gift of status

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Several loyalty programs offer the ability to gift elite status to others, either as an outright perk of your status or as one of your annual gift choices. Your status benefits and perks may reset in the New Year, though. So, check whether you can gift elite status, and if so, whether you must do so before the year's end.

Related: Is airline elite status still worth it?

Pick your choice benefits

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Some loyalty programs offer a choice of benefits to top-tier elites. For example, you may be able to select discounts, upgrades, extra rewards or the ability to gift status to someone else.

The deadline to select choice benefits varies by program but usually isn't the end of the year. While you'll typically get a default benefit if you forget to choose, now is an excellent time to determine whether you're eligible for a choice benefit, research your options and make a choice. Many of you will be home for the holidays with some free time to spare. Why not knock this off your to-do list when you have a chance?

Related: How not to 'waste' your Delta Regional and Global Upgrade Certificates

Cancel cards you don't need

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A lot has changed in the credit card landscape during the pandemic, with both temporary and permanent changes impacting how most of us use our cards. That makes this an excellent time to review your credit card usage and determine which cards aren't serving you well.

When evaluating your wallet, consider the benefits of each card, whether you're using the perks and whether you can justify paying the annual fee. You may decide to downgrade or cancel cards that aren't providing you enough value.

Related: What to do before you close a credit card

Give back

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The pandemic has been challenging for everyone. I don't know about you, but I feel incredibly fortunate for the things that haven't gone sideways for me: my health, family and career. Giving back feels more pertinent than ever and now is an excellent time to begin supporting organizations that need it most.

While you can donate your points and miles, I recommend holding onto them for a much-needed post-pandemic break and opting for a cash donation instead.

Related: The best credit cards to maximize your charitable donation

Bottom line

The end of the year is a great time to think ahead and position yourself for success in 2022. Making sure you're maximizing all the card benefits available to you and taking advantage of great promotions can help you end the year strong. As your travel picks up, you'll be ready to enjoy all of the points, miles, status and perks you've stocked up on in 2021.

Click here for Uber Eats Pass terms and conditions.

Additional reporting by Ryan Smith.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.