To Do: Your End of the Year Rewards Travel Checklist

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The countdown is on! We’re in the final weeks of the year. You’ve got plenty of things to do to keep you busy (and earning as many points as you can) during the festive season, but don’t forget one of the most important things of all. The end of the year is an essential time to tidy up your wallet and get ready for the start of a whole new year of earning credit card travel rewards.

Have a quick review at our 12 to do’s to get your wallet ready for 2018. Be sure to get the ones that apply to you on your list:

1. Use up your annual premium credit card benefits

Many of the premium credit cards offer annual different travel credits as a benefit, and actually claiming these perks is important to offset the cost of your annual fee. If you’ve got the Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, you’ll want to make sure you’ve used up your $300 annual travel credit. If you have The Business Platinum card from American Express, you’ll want to be sure you’ve taken advantage of the $200 incidental credits for your selected airline.

If you don’t utilize these benefits, you’re literally throwing money away! Not sure of whether or not your credit card has credits? Look through the card’s list of benefits and see for yourself.

2. Check annual credit card spending if working towards a bonus

Many co-branded credit cards offer added benefits when you meet a minimum spending threshold over the course of the calendar year.  The Platinum Delta SkyMiles card and the Hilton Honors Surpass are two examples of cards where a significant chunk of spending over the course of the year will help you level up your elite status.  If you have a card like this and have been working towards this type of benefit you should double check today where you stand with that challenge.

If you’ve already met the spend requirement, you can rest easy. If you have yet to meet the goal, call up the number on the back of the card to double check how much more you need to spend on the card so you can put a last-minute strategy together.

3. Double check your standing on minimum spends

If you are trying to meet a minimum spend requirement to unlock the sign-up bonus on a credit card, now is a good time as any to see where are in regards to the challenge. End of year or not, this is a good practice to have any time you are gunning for a sign-up bonus on a credit card. Also, be thinking strategically if you want those points to post next year instead of this year to help you achieve a 2018 goal like the Southwest Companion Pass.

4. Prepare for the Hilton credit cards switch over

Earlier this year, American Express was chosen by Hilton Honors to be the exclusive issuer of Hilton credit cards in the USA, edging out Citi who also issues cards for the program. Beginning January 30, 2018 all existing Citi customers will be automatically transferred to American Express.

If you’re an existing Citi customer, you’ll want to prepare your strategy before the January switch. If you’ve never had the Hilton American Express, or if you already have the Hilton American express you may consider canceling your card before the end of the year. You don’t want a duplicate card and two annual fees, and if you decide you want the Amex version of the card later, you can get it – with the signup bonus- on your own timeline.

5. Check Whether All Flights & Stays Have Been Credited

Look back through all your eligible nights and flights this past year and make sure they have been credited properly to your rewards account. Take into account any promotions running at the time and ensure that you received the relevant bonuses as well.

6. Check Elite Status Qualification

When you’re making sure your flights and stays have all been credited, it’s also worth checking if all your flight and hotel activity from this past year has put you close to attaining elite status. You may learn that you’re just one stay or one flight away from leveling up your travel game. In this case, you’ve still got time to plan an after Christmas mileage run, or check into a hotel in your neighborhood for that last night (yes, it could actually be worth it).

7. Use Or Gift Expiring Upgrades

If you have some suites or flight upgrades that are expiring at the end of the calendar year with no plans to use them, consider gifting them to a friend or family member who can make use it for some upcoming holiday travel. Those United Club passes that you get with the Hyatt card from Chase and the United Explorer Card- you can text a picture of the bar code to a family member or friend traveling for the holidays and they can use the image to get into the lounge!

8. Top Up Account By Purchasing Miles/Points At A Discount

Rewards programs are dishing out last minute discounts on their rewards currency to pad their balance sheets, but you can use this opportunity to top up your account for an upcoming award at a discounted price.

9. Use Shopping Portals For Online Shopping

We mentioned this last month, but a reminder never hurts. If you are doing your holiday shopping online, make sure you are double dipping by making the purchase with a miles/points earning credit card and also checking out with an online shopping portal for even more bonus miles/points.

Shopping portals are offering increased miles/points-per-US$1 rates and/or bonus miles for cumulative spending so head on over to your favorite online shopping portal and find out. And if you’re an Amazon shopper, be sure you’re clicking through to Amazon from your unique shopping link in your JetBlue TrueBlue account to earn 3x miles for every dollar you spend on Amazon. This surefire strategy lets you take advantage of Prime shipping while earning yourself a vacation in the Caribbean next year.

Want even more? Max out this Amazon deal by shopping with a new JetBlue Plus Card to earn a signup bonus while you’re at it.

10. Check For Credit Card Shopping Offers

If you have a credit card that has opt-in discount or offers, like American Express Offers, log into your account and see if there any retailer offers you can use to save some money this holiday season.

11. Transfer Virgin America Points To Alaska

If you are one of the last Virgin America holdouts, it’s high time you transfer your points over to Alaska Mileage Plan now at a 1:1.3 ratio.

12. Get Two Free Drinks At Delta Skyclub With AMEX

After all the painstaking work of making sure all our your miles and points are in order, why not get two free premium drinks on American Express if you’re popping into a Delta SkyClub. You can access the lounge with an American Express Platinum card and a same day Delta flight, but you’ll need any Delta American Express Card for the premium drink coupons.

Congratulations, traveler! You’re ready for a big year of credit card rewards earning ahead.