Each year, we need to go over our end of year credit card checklist to make sure that we’ve used all of our benefits, where we stand with our free night annual certificates, and utilizing several other types of credits we get with our cards. These are the things that I check out before the end of the year.
Many of our credit card benefits are received and expire with the calendar year (January 1-December 31). There are a few credit card benefits that depend when we applied for the card.
For instance, if you have the Capital One Venture X card, the $300 yearly travel credit is based on when you applied for the card (commonly referred to as cardmember year). So this credit renews each year on your cardmember anniversary. However, it makes sense to include these in our year-end checklist and make a plan of when to use them before they expire.
We have a whole post about using annual card benefits associated with some of our favorite credit cards. Go through this list and make sure you’re using each of these benefits before they expire.
The end of the year is the perfect time to make sure you are on track with using these benefits. Personally, I try and use each of them early in the calendar or cardmember year so I can move on and not have them on my mind. Creating a spreadsheet for these credits and marking them off as they are used is another useful trick.
Remember that if you have a TSA Precheck, Global Entry or CLEAR credit on several credit cards, you can offer to get it for a friend or family member. This is a great way to share your benefits and not let them go to waste!
If you have the United Explorer card, you receive two United Club lounge passes each year. You get these every calendar year, based on when you got the card. If you’re not going to be able to use the passes before they expire, you can share these passes with someone else.
The Capital One Venture Card also comes with two passes to a Capital One lounge. This benefit is based on when you were approved (given per calendar year) and, unfortunately, you can’t share it with someone. This is a good time to make a plan on when you will use it though. (Note: this benefit for the Venture Card will end 1/1/25).
At the end of the year, I also like to look at my annual night certificates. I check to see which ones are still outstanding and then make a plan of when to use them. I even put it in my calendar about a month before they will expire – I definitely don’t want to waste one!
Hotel co-branded cards like the IHG (personal and business), Hyatt personal, Hilton Honors Aspire, and Marriott Bonvoy Boundless cards all give you a free annual night certificate. Make sure you’re using them and make tentative plans for the next year as well.
If airline or hotel elite status is important to you then checking how close you are to reaching it is imperative at the year-end. I always have elite status with United because I generally pay for my domestic flights, savings my points/miles for international business class.
I just checked my status for this year and am 186 PQP short of getting Platinum Elite Status. It would be a huge mistake if I didn’t earn those last few qualifying points when I am so close! In order to reach that status, I will be upgrading to first class on a my next flight that takes place on Christmas Day. Talk about cutting it close!
If you are just a night or two to reaching a Milestone Reward on Hyatt, you might want to book a staycation so that you get that reward. An easy way to do this is by booking at a low-category Hyatt.
Be sure to look at all the benefits of each of your cards and finish off your own end of year credit card checklist, so that you do not miss on some great rewards!
Marriott will let you transfer points to a family member, but they only allow you transfer so many points a year. I once wanted to transfer 200,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to my husband so that he could book a hotel for us because he had higher hotel elite status. I was so bummed to learn there is a max threshold of 100K that you can transfer each year. Always review whether you might want to do this at the end of each year.
There are not a lot of times when buying points makes sense unless you have a plan for them. However, sometimes it just works. In my instance, I have a lot of IHG points but don’t have a credit card with the ability to book 3 nights, get the 4th night free. However, my husband does have a card with that gives him that ability.
If I want to stay at a Kimpton or other IHG hotel, it might just make sense to buy points so we can do that. Of course, I’d have to do the math to make sure it is a good deal. You can only purchase 150K IHG points a year, so if you will need extra IHG points next year, it would make sense to take the time now to figure that out and buy some at this year end AND some next year.
There are other hotels and airlines that limit the amount of points you can buy every year, so be sure to check out those thresholds yearly.
I have a lot of cards that I keep in the proverbial “sock drawer”. Occasionally credit card companies will close cards that you don’t ever use. The end of the year is a good time to review these cards and put a couple of small purchases on them to keep them active, particularly if they are some of your oldest cards and are a benefit to your credit card score.
Some cards like the World of Hyatt Credit Card or the American Express Hilton Aspire give a free night certificate if you spend $15k in a calendar year. If you’re close to that spending threshold and know you can use a free night certificate for the following year, make sure to hit that spend before 12/31.
This is the perfect time of year to perform an end of year credit card checklist. As you do so, make a plan on which cards you might want to keep, cancel, or downgrade this next year. Credit cards come with some fantastic benefits and perks. Make sure that you take advantage of every single one of them!
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