United Mileage Plus

How To Keep Track Of Credit Cards

By June 21, 2013 December 10th, 2013 5 Comments

Keeping Track Of Your Miles

If you are reading this blog, it is probably safe to assume that you are somewhat obsessed with miles and points…

Over the years, from talking to readers, I have also come to realize that in addition to signing up and managing credit cards and miles for themselves, most readers are also doing the same for friends, family, significant others, etc.

For example on AwardWallet, under my personal profile, I have 4 other users who I manage. In total I am managing 65 separate frequent flyer accounts that have a total balance of 712,249 miles and points (not including free nights, Ultimate Rewards, United, Southwest, or my latest round of credit card applications)!

Needless to say, if I didn’t have AwardWallet, I am not sure what I would do because it is invaluable in keeping track of all the balances as well as reminding me when miles are set to expire. It is kind of a no brainer, but if you don’t have AwardWallet, I HIGHLY recommend signing up!

Link To Award Wallet

That being said, while AwardWallet is great for keeping track of account balances, it doesn’t do anything to help keep track of credit cards.

Keeping Track of Credit Cards

While keeping track of miles is extremely important, it is equally as important to keep track of your credit cards!

For example, I currently have 21 open credit cards!

All of these cards have different annual fee dates, benefits, earning structures, minimum spend, etc.

Not to mention, these are just MY cards, and not my Parents or Brothers cards.

In the past, when I was only applying for 1 card at a time, it was pretty easy to keep track of my card information because I had in total maybe 5 cards. When I would close a card, I would simply write it on the back to remember.

These days, since I have substantially more cards and many are variations of the same card (US Airways), it is extremely important that I know which card is which and verify that I actually completed the minimum spend requirements to earn all my points.

Credit Card Spreadsheet

My friend Eric sent me a Excel spreadsheet that he uses to keep track of all his cards, and I liked it so much that I want to share it with the world.

A link to the spreadsheet is below and I left in some of the cards since I suspect many people have the same cards.

If you go to File menu in the document, you can actually download a copy for yourself.

I personally would recommend downloading a copy, and then if you have Gmail, uploading it into Google Docs. This way if your computer ever crashes, you will have a copy in the Cloud.

Link To Spreadsheet

With Eric’s spreadsheet, you can track:

  • Credit Card Issuer
  • Credit Card Type (Visa, AMEX, Mastercard)
  • Opening Date
  • Closing Date
  • Sign Up Bonus
  • Category Bonus
  • Annual Fee Due Date
  • Minimum Spend Completion Date

If you haven’t been keeping track of your credit cards (like me), it will take 30 minutes or so to get everything set up (great task if you are currently reading at work and bored), but once it is set, you will be extremely grateful.

The reason why a spreadsheet like this is EXTREMELY useful is because it allows you to know if you are eligible for another sign up bonus!

Example 1 – Time Since Last Application

While some cards restrict the sign up bonus to “once in a lifetime”, other cards are a bit flexible and you can get multiple cards with multiple bonuses without issue. US Airways is a prime example. By getting 2 US Airways Cards, I now have 75,000 US Airways miles that will hopefully soon become AA miles!

Chase Cards typically have the most stringent restrictions for getting the sign up bonus again. The general consensus is that after your card has been closed for 2 years, you might be able to get the bonus again. This is NOT a hard and fast rule, so don’t blame me if you sign up for a Chase Card and don’t get the bonus again because it might vary for each different type of card.

That being said, my Friends and I originally got in on the first British Airways 100,000 miles offer way back in 2009. We got the 100,000 miles and ended up closing the card in 2010.

Well fast forward to 2012 and the British Airways 100,000 Avios offer appeared again. My friend was interested in getting the card again, but I was not sure if Chase would give him the bonus again. After doing some research, I found that if you had the card closed for 2 years, some people were reporting that you could get the bonus again. Luckily, my friend kept track of his applications and closures, and he was over the 2 year closed mark so he applied again. He was approved without issue and got the 100,000 Avios again!

Example 2 – Same Name But Different Cards

One of the first Chase cards I got way back in 2009 was the Continental OnePass Card. This was obviously before the UA /CO merger, but the reason I got it was because Chase also had a 25,000 mile Continental checking account offer. Basically you could open 2 checking accounts and get 50,000 miles and also open the Continental OnePass Card and get another 50,000 miles. It was an easy 100,000 miles for 1 online credit card application and 2 trips into Chase to open the checking accounts! Those were the days…

Well fast forward to the merger between United and Continental, and all the Chase Continental OnePass cardholders had their Continental cards converted over to United MileagePlus cards.

Whenever I write about the United 50,000 MileagePlus Explorer Card bonus being offered again, I always get emails from Readers saying they once had the Continental OnePass Card but it was converted to a United Mileage Plus Select, so are they eligible for this new offer?

This is where a spreadsheet would be useful because although the Continental Cards had the same name as the United MileagePlus Select cards, the Continental / United card was actually issued by Mastercard and the MileagePlus Select was issued by Visa! So not only would they be able to get the MileagePlus Explorer Visa without issue but they probably would have also been able to get the MileagePlus Select Visa (before it was discontinued) and gotten the bonus on that card too!

While the United / Continental merger happened a few years ago and the names and details of the old MileagePlus cards are still somewhat fresh, imagine if in a few years United offers a new MileagePlus Explorer card or brings back the Chase Sapphire Preferred Mastercard. Are you really going to remember what flavor (Visa, Mastercard, etc.), your last card was? Probably not!

Recap

While the above examples may seem really trivial (like if a old card was issued by Visa or Mastercard), it can honestly be the difference between getting 50,000 miles for a free award ticket, or shelling out $1,000 for a paid ticket.

With the United example, when the new MileagePlus Select Visa came out, I honestly thought I wasn’t eligible since I had the old Continental MileagePlus Select and had closed it. It wasn’t until after reading about the new MileagePlus Select Visa, that I read the old one was actually a Mastercard, thus I was eligible.

In getting the Continental OnePass (aka MileagePlus Select Mastercard), MileagePlus Select Visa, and the latest MileagePlus Explorer, I have been able to get over 155,000 miles from signing up for those cards!

Although there is some work involved in setting up the spreadsheet and keeping it updated, over the long run, it is definitely worth it and I highly suggest everyone set one up.

-Parag

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5 Comments

  • Elaine says:

    I keep all my cards in an old-fashioned three ring looseleaf binder, along with all the paperwork that comes or goes along with the card: terms of the agreement, companion or lounge passes, emails confirming that I have arranged autopay for the account, descriptions of bonus/benefits, copies of screen shots, etc. When I remove the card from my wallet I tape it onto the appropriate page until I might need it again. For example, while I complete a minimum spend, my trusty CSP card stays in the binder. I make notes as necessary in the binder.

    But as I accumulate more cards for myself and my husband, I think the spreadsheet is a helpful tool, a quick place to verify info at a glance or when the binder is not where I am. Since I always arrange autopays – even if I might be using a BB check to pay a bill before the autopay hits – I will add a column for that. I might also add a column for an 800 number. I have seen various versions before, but appreciate the links to yours, now that I am ready for this kind of record-keeping. Thanks!

  • Frequent Flyer University says:

    @Elaine – Sounds like you have things under control!

  • Kira says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I totally want to be as organized as you! Now I have a great tool to handle all of my cards. Thank you for posting this!

  • sand nott says:

    I need to start keeping track before I lose out on even more offers. Thank you!

  • […] process is that last year I finally started tracking all the open / closed cards my family has via this spreadsheet. So instead of guessing when my Mom last had the Hyatt card, I can simply now just check the […]

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