So you are a member of about 30 different airline, hotel, car rental, store loyalty, brand loyalty and other point type programmes… how do you keep track of them all? Well there is of course the old fashioned way which is to keep a spreadsheet of them all or to keep the statements (if they still send them in the mail) or sign into the account online every so often to see what you have there. As I wrote about last year in the (woefully incomplete) entry about mileage trackers, there are services which will do this for you. Since there are quite a few of these services I will attempt to go through them one by one, so this post may be a bit longer than most so I am able to get through them all. These are not offered in any particular order other than possibly the order in which I either used them or knew about them.
Points.com – I do not know if they were the first to offer this type of service but they were the first one I had ever heard of and the only reason I knew about them was because Air Canada had some promotion where if you signed up you would get 100 bonus miles. When they started they did not support many programmes but they did have an interesting little feature where you could exchange points or miles between programmes. For example, if you had some USAir miles you were never going to use you might exchange them for Air Canada miles. This feature still exists today and while I am not sure if the exchange rates have changed over time, they do seem just as extortionate today as they did when they started. Granted, I cannot blame Points.com for this because they do offer the service to consumers for free and there is definitely a cost to running the website and processing the exchange transactions but unless you absolutely had to and could find no other way to use the miles, I cannot suggest it as a good option for your miles.
About a year or so ago, Points.com changed their layout and they support many more programmes than they did before (not all of them support the exchange feature however). Unfortunately, the layout of the new design is not exactly easy to navigate or use. Yes it does serve the purpose of keeping track of the miles but it seems rather cramped and it still does not follow as many programmes as some others do.
MileTracker – This is a service offered by USA Today. At one time it even had a desktop application so you did not need to always go to the website. I am not certain but this may be even older than Points.com but I really do not know about that for certain. This service essentially allows you to enter in your loyalty programme information and it will retrieve the balances for you. No frills or extras just a central place for keeping track of everything. In the past few years though, it seems the service has not been maintained so many programmes do not actually retrieve the balances anymore. This is likely due to the airline changing its website and MileTracker was never updated to account for this change.
There is another version of this same tracker called MilePort offered by FrequentFlyer.com.
MileageManager – I have never actually really used this one very much except for the free trial offered through Forbes. This one is more comprehensive than the first two trackers because it not only tracks the miles or points but also tracks elite status and expiry of miles. Unlike the others though, it does not update in real time, it updates at set intervals so you cannot always know the exact number of miles you have at any specific time, only from the last update interval. Unlike the other services, this one is not free. It costs $14.95 per year.
GoMiles.com – This is one of the newer entries into the miles tracking arena. I must admit my bias here and say that I like them. Afterall, I did give them a bit of a shout out last year when I posted about them originally. GoMiles includes what we might call the “standard” feature of a mile tracking service which is tracking balances for multiple programmes. In addition to this though, they allow you to track the balances of your friends or family as well. GoMiles includes most airlines and hotel chains (keeping in mind, this is in beta at the moment so some carriers like GOL or Azul in Brazil for instance, are not included although they may be in the future). They also have an interesting feature which I find to be unique. Instead of viewing your mileage balance in terms of how many miles you have, you can also view it by how many award tickets you have. Hotel points can be viewed as room awards too.
GoMiles also has quite a nice graphical presentation to its service and for airlines at least, it will group them by alliance. For programmes you have attained some level of elite status in, there is a red tag after the number of points listed for that programme. If you would like to see the status you have attained, or in some cases the expiry date of the points you can place the mouse pointer over the programme entry and the information will pop up. If you would like more detailed information about the programme such as how far along you are to elite qualification and such, you can click on the programme entry and a new window will pop up to tell you all of this information.
Along the right hand side of the screen it will include many bonus offers for miles and points for the programmes you are enrolled in. Another handy little feature is that they have live help through a chat function. I have never needed to use it myself but if you have a problem I would think live help is much better than e-mailing for help. Lastly, just like last year when I wrote about them, there is a certain appeal to helping a new venture get off the ground.
AwardWallet – A very popular choice for those who want to track more than just travel loyalty programmes is AwardWallet. Unlike all of the other services I have mentioned thus far, AwardWallet is able to track much more than just your miles and hotel points. It tracks 118 airlines, 55 hotel chains, 31 credit card reward programmes, 108 retail loyalty programmes, 14 car rental, 25 dining rewards (this includes both the programmes run by the restaurants and ones like rewards network), 8 train, 26 survey sites and 52 other (this includes things like Amazon affiliates, Park N’ Fly, TopGuest and other programmes which did not fit into the other categories); all together it is about 437 programmes. I say “about” because the number is actually a bit higher than 437 because some programmes are listed only once in the list to pick from but have multiple programmes within it, such as rewards network which has various airline, hotel and other reward options. AwardWallet will track all of these separately if have more than one programme you use Rewards Network for.
Just like GoMiles, AwardWallet will allow you to track accounts for family and friends. Unlike GoMiles though, you have two options in how you would like to do this. You can add their programme accounts to be tracked under your sign in name to AwardWallet; or you can link your AwardWallet sign in to their sign in. The second option allows each person to control what the other one can see and what control they have over each other’s log in names. For example, you can add as read only, or you can add as being able to update each other’s accounts. This allows each person to retain their own log in so they can see their balances as they like but if there is someone who manages it for them, this person can also keep track of them at the same time. In the event you are tracking miles for multiple people you have the option of updating the balances for everyone at the same time or only updating yours. When adding programmes you have the option of storing the information with AwardWallet on its server or storing it locally on your computer.
While I must say GoMiles has the most visually pleasing graphic format, AwardWallet would take the title of the most functional layout. Instead of having various pop up windows to tell you the information you are looking for, AwardWallet favours having columns after the name of the programme and before the number of points. These columns give information such as, account number for the programme, elite status, expiry date and also the change in the balance since the last time it was updated. If you need more details about the programme account you can click on it for the pop up version.
Another feature AwardWallet has is that it has mobile access through applications for iPhone and Android users. If you use a Blackberry or other mobile device you can use their mobile website (not as good as the dedicated application but not bad by any means).
Signing up for AwardWallet is free but they also offer what they call a “plus” subscription. If you sign up for it, it will provide you with more information about the programmes. For example, it will give the expiry for every programme in the main screen instead of needing to click into the details for it. It also gives the option to see the account history for the programmes. This essentially shows you the balance over time. If you do not want to pay for it, you are able to earn it by referring people to the service (full disclosure, if you sign up from the link I provided, you will get 6 months of the plus service for free and I will also get credit towards this). In order to make the deal a little better for those signing up, AwardWallet also gives 6 months of free plus membership to those who sign up from the referrals.
Others – There are other services out there such as SuperFly, UsingMiles and MileWise which do track miles but their main focus is on other things such as valuing the miles and finding rewards with the miles. Since they are not primarily mileage tracking services I have not included them here. This is not to say that I will not include them in the future though.