12 points and miles tasks to complete by the end of the year
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This isn’t just a year-end checklist like any other because the last year has been different from any other. Gone were the award booking rules and travel opportunities of yesteryear. Instead, we found ourselves googling things like “Which states can Californians travel to” and replacing international travel plans with staycations.
Airlines implemented policies that would have been unheard of before (blocked middle seats, free changes/cancellations, clean airplanes) and hotels took unprecedented measures to ensure guests’ confidence and safety during a global pandemic. As 2020 comes to a close, here are 12 points and miles tasks you should complete before the end of the year.
Check progress on your status goals
If you’re like most people, you spent the majority of the year at home, cooking Alison Roman’s shallot pasta and discovering new programming to binge-watch (Hello Hallmark Channel). Travel didn’t feel safe and public health officials advised people to stay home to contain the virus.
Of course, the incredible travel deals that resulted from the pandemic proved too tempting to resist, so some folks did take the opportunity to escape the monotony of remote everything by taking a few trips.
If you’re one of these people, then you may find yourself closer to elite status thanks to generous policies introduced by airlines and hotels. Now is a good 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.
Set your travel goals for 2021
With several COVID vaccines set to debut in January (or maybe even December, according to some reports), there is renewed hope that the travel industry will regain some normalcy in 2021. That means now is a good time to start setting your travel goals for the year and taking advantage of some incredible deals out there right now.
Alaska Airlines is currently offering discounted gift cards through Costco. Hotel chains are offering steeply discounted rates. Hyatt has suspended peak pricing until March, cruise lines are aiming for business with massive discounts, and sites like Sherman’s Travel still offer incredible travel package deals.
The best part is that many travel companies are offering free changes and cancellations, so if 2021 somehow ends up being more problematic than 2020, you’re not stuck with those plans.
Plan your credit card strategy
If the thought of traveling again has you excited about 2021, then you’ll want to plan out your credit card strategy while you’re at it. There are lots of great travel deals out there, but why pay out of pocket if you don’t have to? If you’ve got a trip to Cancun on your bucket list, now might be a good time to apply for a Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card so you can take advantage of the amazing all-inclusive packages available through discount sites like Travelzoo and Sherman’s.
The 60,000-mile welcome bonus (after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.) from the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card can help you offset the cost entirely.
The end of the year is also 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.
Earn annual spending bonuses
Speaking of increased spending, now is a good time to check your progress on annual spending bonuses. For example, if you have a Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, you can log in to your Amex account and see how much progress you’ve made toward earning a second annual free weekend night. The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex 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.
I was pretty horrified (but also not surprised) that I had gotten only $7,600 of the way to the $50,000 needed for a free night. I was, however, thrilled to get a $125 flight voucher from American Airlines for meeting the $20,000 annual spending requirement on my Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® (and renewing the card).
Do a quick check on your progress and 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 annual fee. And with travel hopefully resuming next year, you’re sure to get tons of value out of that free night, flight voucher or companion pass.
Redeem travel fee credits
Every major bank has expanded its travel-specific fee credits this year to include everyday spending categories like grocery stores and restaurants. So chances are you may have already redeemed your annual travel credit from a card like the Citi Prestige® Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express, but you should definitely double-check so you don’t miss out.
The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card and Citi Prestige 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.
These travel credits help offset some pretty hefty annual fees, so you’ll want to take advantage of them every year. They reset in January, so make sure you use them if you haven’t already.
If you have an Amex Platinum Card, you’ll also want to make sure to redeem the bi-annual $50 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. Enrollment required for select benefits.
Register for hotel promotions
The announcement of a COVID vaccine has made 2021 seem slightly less bleak and more people are feeling confident about booking travel. Luckily, there are lots of great hotel promotions going into next year. Some of them, like the Hyatt Miraval promotion, have December registration deadlines.
So head over to our current hotel promotions page and make sure you’re registered before the end of the year. Even if you’re not sure you’ll take advantage of all these offers, there’s no harm in signing up anyway.
Check your points and miles expiration dates
Due to the pandemic, many airlines and hotels have stepped up by suspending mileage and point expiration through at least the end of the year. But don’t assume your miles are all safe. Check your balances and expiration policies to ensure you don’t wake up to any surprises on New Year’s Day.
If you do have points on the verge of expiring, you can always keep them active by signing up for a co-branded 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.
Claim your free food delivery membership
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 every available offer and when it expires:
Uber Eats Pass normally costs $9.99 per month and gets you free delivery, plus 5% off orders over $15 at eligible restaurants (taxes and service fees may apply and do not count toward order minimum). That can add up to pretty substantial savings for frequent users. However, if you’re an Amex cardholder, you may not have to do the math on whether it’s worth it or not. That’s because select cardholders get a whopping 12 months of complimentary Uber Eats Pass membership. Uber Eats Pass will auto-bill starting 12 months from initial enrollment in this offer, at then-current monthly rate.
Valid through: 12 months from enrollment
Enroll by: Dec. 31, 2021
DoorDash offers a 1-month free trial on a service that typically costs $9.99 and includes free delivery on orders over $12. Beyond the free month, you can get Dash Pass membership with a qualifying Chase card.
For example, Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred® cardholders will get at least a year of complimentary Dash Pass membership. Meanwhile, 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. In both cases, Dash Pass membership benefits apply to both DoorDash and Caviar.
Valid through: 3-24 months
Enroll by: Dec. 31, 2021
Lyft Pink members in for a treat because in addition to rideshare benefits, they qualify for free GrubHub+ and Seamless+ membership. Both of these services typically cost $9.99 per month. Meanwhile, Lyft Pink costs $19.99 per month, though you can get a complimentary membership with a Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Be sure to do that by March 31, 2022, when the complimentary Lyft Pink membership offer expires.
Valid through: Open
Enroll by: TBD
Give the gift of status
Through Jan. 31, 2021, select elite members can gift a year of top-tier Hilton status to any friend or family member. Hilton Diamond members can gift Hilton Gold elite status, while Lifetime Diamond members can gift Diamond status. This applies to members who earned their status through stays as well as those who earned it through a credit card like the Hilton Aspire.
The deadline for this promotion is Jan. 31, 2021. Check this off your list now and you’ll give a great gift and it’s one less thing to remember in January.
Pick your choice benefits
IHG, Marriott and Delta offer Choice Benefits to top-tier elites. Options include discounts, upgrades and the ability to gift status to someone else. The deadline for IHG Spire Choice Benefit selection is Dec. 30, 2020, while Marriott Choice Benefit get until Jan. 15, 2021. Delta Platinum and Diamond Medallion members have much more time, with the Delta Choice Benefit selection deadline being Jan. 31, 2021.
There is still plenty of time to choose, but now is a good time to 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?
Cancel cards you don’t need
A lot has changed in the credit card landscape, with both temporary and permanent changes impacting how most of us use our cards. That makes this a good time to review your credit card usage and determine which cards aren’t serving you well.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has been in my wallet for almost a decade and I would have never considered doing away with it. However, with the introduction of new category bonuses for the Citi Premier® Card and the Chase Freedom Unlimited rehaul, I’m seriously questioning whether I need this card anymore. After all, I still have a Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, so I can continue to convert my Freedom cash back rewards to Ultimate Rewards points.
The end of the year is a good time to really evaluate your card strategy and consider canceling credit cards you don’t need anymore.
It’s been a hard year for everyone and 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 a good time to begin supporting organizations that need it most.
You can also donate your points and miles, though I recommend holding onto them for a much-needed post-pandemic break and opting for a cash donation instead.
The end of the year is a great time to think ahead and position yourself for success in 2021. Making sure you’re maximizing all the card benefits available to you and taking advantage of great promotions is a solid way to start. If things go back to normal next year and you’re able to resume traveling to all those wonderful places on your bucket list, you’ll be well-prepared to do so.
Featured image photo by Getty Images
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