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

Dec 23, 2020

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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.

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In This Post

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.

(Photo by Caiaimage/Agnieszka Olek/Getty Images)

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.

Related: Complete guide to airline elite status during the coronavirus outbreak

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.

(Photo by LeoPatrizi/Getty Images)

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.

Related: Airline coronavirus change and cancellation policies: A complete list of major carriers

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.

(Photo by mixetto/Getty Images)

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.

Related: The 7 best elevated credit card offers to sign up for

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).

Woman Holding Credit Card in Front of Laptop
(Photo by Kite_rin/Shutterstock)

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.

Related: The best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night

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.

(Photo by Orbon Alija/Getty Images)

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.

Related: 10 gifts you can buy using your Amex Platinum $50 Saks Fifth Avenue credit

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.

Businesspeople checking in to hotel in the lobby, at sunset
(Photo by Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images)

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 membership from American Express

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.

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

Valid through: 12 months from enrollment

Enroll by: Dec. 31, 2021

DoorDash Dash Pass membership from Chase

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.

Eligible cards: Chase Sapphire ReserveChase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Chase Freedom Flex

Valid through: 3-24 months

Enroll by: Dec. 31, 2021

Seamless+ membership and free GrubHub delivery through Lyft

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

Related: 17 food delivery promos to help you save money on your next meal

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?

Related: How I got more than $1,300 in value from the Hilton Aspire Card during the pandemic

Cancel cards you don’t need

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)

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.

Related: What to do before you close a credit card

Give back

(Photo by Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images)

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.

Bottom line

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.

Click here for Uber Eats Pass terms and conditions.

Featured image photo by Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.