Maximizing Rewards Programs with Points.com

By Little House. Last updated 2 December 2011. 16 comments
Photo: 401K

I don't fly or travel frequently enough to make the most of rewards points, but I still like earning them with the notion that someday I might be able to take advantage of them. However, I recently found out that most of my frequent flier rewards points had expired, and that made me angry! Although I accrued them for "free," I would have liked the opportunity to use some of them even if they didn't equate to a rewards ticket. (See also: Perform a Credit Card Rewards Annual Review)

While I was checking on all of my points through various websites many years ago, I grumbled to my husband how nice it would be to manage the different rewards programs through one website. Of course, I wasn't the only one to think about how convenient that would be: Points.com created a website that does just that and more. Points.com actually offers alternatives for those of us who never accrue enough points to make the most of our benefits! I know I'm a bit late to the party since this service has been around a few years now, but I recently signed up and was amazed at how easy it was to view all of my remaining points throughout various programs.

Easy to Use

With just a quick email and password to sign up for a new account, I located most of my rewards and loyalty programs through their "Add Programs" widget in their right sidebar. Since most frequent flyer and hotel rewards programs only require an account or member number and a password, I didn't feel like I was divulging all of my personal information in one place when I entered my information for each program. Within a few seconds, Points.com was able to connect to most of my individual accounts and show me my most recent points summaries, or at least the points I had remaining in each of my programs.

Not only can I sign up frequent flyer and hotel rewards programs, Points.com also allows me to sign up a few financial rewards programs, such as AMEX Membership Rewards, as well as retail rewards programs like Best Buy Reward Zone. Before deciding if I want to include these in my Points.com account, I can research what options I'll have with each rewards program by clicking the "Learn More" link. For example, some programs like Delta's Frequent Flyer Program allow me to track, earn, buy, exchange, trade, and redeem my points on the Points.com website. While others, such as the My Coke Rewards program, only allow me to track and earn points using Points.com.

In my case, just being able to see all of my points on one website is extremely convenient. At least I know what points I have available and can decide how I can use them to my benefit.

What type of credit card are you interested in?
How much do you spend per month?
Do you carry a balance?

Make the Most of Your Points

Out of a possible 104 rewards programs listed on Points.com, each program has a "Learn More" link that shows what you can do with each program on their website. For example, Aero Mexico's Premier Rewards program allows you to track and earn points through Points.com. Tracking points is easy since Points.com automatically pulls the rewards information directly from the Aero Mexico website. But Points.com also lists additional ways to earn points besides booking a flight, such as renting a car or reserving a specific hotel.

The most beneficial service Points.com offers for me is their redeem option. I can redeem a select group of rewards program points for gift cards to various vendors. From Amazon.com gift cards to Starbucks gift cards, I can select one of my rewards programs that offers redemptions from a drop down menu and choose a dollar amount. Points.com will calculate how many rewards points I need to purchase the gift card. Of course, not all of my rewards programs offer this feature, but for those that do, I no longer have to worry about unused points.

Swap and Trade with Others

Another feature of Points.com is the ability to share, swap, and trade points with other Points.com members and between existing rewards programs. I haven't tried exchanging points with any other members yet, and there are some limitations depending on the individual rewards program, but it's another alternative to help make the most of my points in any one account.

In the past, I've swapped points between individual rewards programs to take advantage and utilize rewards points. Points.com offers this feature as well, making it easy to swap between programs such as AMEX Membership Rewards and specific airline programs. Making these transfers on one website is convenient, and I can track all of my transactions through my account history.

The few drawbacks that I came across while adding my accounts through the site were fairly minor and wouldn't discourage me from using this program in the long run. For example, the majority of Points.com's loyalty programs focus on airline rewards and retail programs, so adding my Chase Rewards account or my Citibank Thank You Rewards program isn't possible at this time. They also have partnered with 14 hotel rewards programs, which covers the majority of hotel chains. However, a popular hotel chain that is absent from their list is Marriott, which I happen to be a member of. I also experienced a small problem with registering my American Airlines AAdvantage; the site kept timing out and wasn't able to register my account at all. However, registering my remaining accounts was successful, so it could just be a temporary glitch.

All in all, now that I've realized I can keep track of all of my points online, I look forward to maximizing those rewards programs to my benefit, instead of watching them expire.

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Guest's picture

This is a great concept. I only have one credit card that receives points (I'm a poor graduate student), but it'd be nice to be able to track them more easily and see what I can do with them (again I'm a poor grad student, so I don't accumulate a lot of points).

Little House's picture

Points.com is affiliated with about 4 financial rewards programs, so if your credit card is one of the four, it really does make it easy to track. They also track My Coke Rewards points, those are the codes inside the soda caps. It's just another way to earn points, even for a poor college grad. ;)

Guest's picture
corbin

ya I agree. It's a really cool site.

Guest's picture
Carrie

Hello Little House!

I am one of the people who write for the Points.com blog (www.blog.points.com). Thank you very much for writing a review of our site! We are really glad that you find it useful.

We would love to cross-post to your review from our site. Would that be ok with you?

Thanks again,

Carrie

Little House's picture

Hi Carrie,

Thanks for the comment. Cross-posting would be great. Thanks again for providing such an easy to use service.

Guest's picture
Bill

I have found AwardWallet (awardwallet.com) to be a dramatically better site for managing all my frequent flyer, hotel, etc. accounts. The point redemption and exchange options on points.com are for the most part very bad I think, and the IT is pretty buggy as well. FlyerTalk users seem to much prefer AwardWallet also.

Little House's picture

Thanks for mentioning this site. I've never heard of it before and will check it out.

Guest's picture
Samurai

Reward points are definitely attractive and money savers.. potentially. Just best not to get to obsessed with getting reward points for rewards sake!

Little House's picture

That's a good point. There's no need to sign up for a bunch of programs, especially if it costs money or causes one to spend more!

Guest's picture

Little House: I'm writing a finance guide for people who have a history of getting into debt. What would you recommend for consumers who want to get back to credit cards and that could be beguiled by these rewards programs (then abuse them)?

Little House's picture

I'd never recommend using credit cards for blatant abusers; points or no points. Obviously people who are working towards rebuilding their credit need a very structured budget and probably need to forgo earning rewards through credit cards if they aren't ready to handle the responsibility.

However, there are plenty of other ways to earn rewards points, like through My Coke Rewards, grocery store reward programs, and travel programs.

Guest's picture

Hi Jennifer, This site just might be really helpful for me. I have a really tough time keeping track of all the programs. And, I do travel a lot! Now, if I can just find the time to get to the site :)

Little House's picture

With all that travel, I'm guessing you have a lot of points that you can use towards more travel (or maybe a vacation!?) or other rewards like gift cards. Hopefully you'll be able to check in on them every now and then.

Guest's picture

I signed onto Points.com back in college, but I never actually took advantage of it. I'll have to look back into my old account and see if it's still around!

Little House's picture

I'd be interested to know if they still have your account listed as "active." It would be helpful to know how long they hold accounts that have had minimal activity.

Guest's picture
Forest

That sounds like a very cool website. I don't use any points schemes right now as I like to keep things simple but I do know some people who would benefit from such a site.