Maximizing Rewards Programs with Points.com
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.
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.