Sometimes this hobby can feel like a full-time job. When you combine reading up on ways to maximize earning and redeeming miles, the hours spent online or on the phone searching for and booking award travel, securing seat assignments, completing visa applications, packing, and then all the traveling — you are bound to forget something.
I pride myself on being pretty organized — you have to be in order to stay on top of multiple programs, promotions, and mileage balances. But even I forget things, especially when I plan to do something, and then something comes up.
So when I can, I put reminders in my phone to prompt me to do the things my mind might otherwise overlook.
Credit card application deadlines
For whatever reason, I may not apply for a credit card as soon as an attractive offer is advertised.
I may be waiting for my credit score to increase slightly before making another application, or may have to wait a certain time period before I can apply for a certain card again.
I don’t want to miss out on the application and don’t trust that I’ll just happen to remember naturally.
Changes to award charts
Loyalty programs usually provide sufficient notice where they devalue their award charts. Well, the good programs do, anyway.
I’ll often have a month or two to book any awards under the ‘old’ award chart. Usually I get right on it because there’s a real sense of satisfaction in ‘beating’ the devaluation, but often the agent I speak to won’t be able to find the seats I’ve found, or I’ll be on hold forever because there might be bad weather affecting call centre wait times. Given the various time zones I’m calling from I’ve often still been up at 1AM on a frustrating call with an agent and just given up and gone to sleep.
The next morning I may forget to call back. But I don’t want to forget before the devaluation kicks in so again — I’ll set a reminder.
Meeting minimum spend
I’m usually pretty organized and responsible in meeting my minimum spend and typically devote every cent to that card, hitting the spend well before the due date.
But to make sure, I’ll put a reminder in two weeks before the needed date to make sure I’m on track to meet the spend. I would be devastated if I missed my welcome bonus because I had missed the minimum spend by a lousy $100!
Seat assignments are something I admit I’m not as good at doing as I should be. I always know the seating configuration of the flight I’ve booked because I always book the product and carrier that I want. Where the flight is operated by the airline I’ve booked the flight through (like a Virgin Australia flight booked through their Velocity program) I can usually do it on the spot, either on their website or on the phone if I’d called to book it.
But if I’ve booked through a partner airline and the itinerary is on multiple carriers I may have to go to each airlines’ website to select seats for that carrier’s flight. I do know some carrier’s websites, particularly in oneworld, do manage to assign seats on partner airline flights.
If I don’t do it when I book the flight I tend to forget, and seat 1A or whatever is not available when I go to check-in! If I have the energy to set a reminder to assign my seats I should really have the energy to actually assign the seats at that time!
Last minute award seats
I use ExpertFlyer to set up seat alerts for any extra or last minute award seats but if I know that a certain airline will release seats like clockwork at a particular time before each flight, I honestly can’t sleep worrying that for some reason the ExpertFlyer alert won’t work, or won’t be fast enough.
I would rather check myself manually for the piece of mind.
If I’ve done all of the above already, and I am checking in luggage, I don’t find a huge benefit in online check-in. This is because I still need to visit the check-in counter and if the agent is checking in my luggage it’s hardly extra work for them to check me in too.
But if I’m traveling Hand Luggage Only, or if I’m flying a low cost carrier, it can be very costly if you don’t remember to check in online on time!
This is one that really catches people out. A good frequent flyer will know their passport number and expiry by heart because they’re so used to entering it into reservations and program accounts.
But many countries will require at least six months validity remaining in your passport to enter their country. So you need to work well-backwards if you have any travel planned in the last nine months before the expiry date of your passport.
I would set a reminder eight or nine months before the expiry date so you have plenty of time to renew and receive the new passport before the six months hits.
When you’ve worked hard to achieve a certain status with any loyalty program you’ll be on that hamster wheel trying to maintain it.
If you reached something like Oneworld Emerald you might remember that renewal date better than your wedding anniversary, but if not, set a reminder for a few months prior to the date so that you can ensure you are on track to maintain it, or may have to go for a cheeky status run.
Even when I set reminders sometimes I forget things, or put them off. The best time to do most of these things is as soon as you think of it and do as much at the time of booking any travel.
But you will be kicking yourself if you miss some of these key milestones.
Do you have any other reminders you set for yourself?
Now I have to ask, what app/program do you use to set reminders? I haven't found one that I've liked (Android)
Thanks. Mine in iPhone/iPad and outlook...does it work the same way? It seems to collect only some of the data ( SPG, always, Hyatt & IHG ,usually, HH, never...and hit or miss with airlines).
If you have an Adriod phone and the details are sent to your Gmail account, the 'magic' of Google scanning your stuff starts to kick in... :)
Sometimes my flights and hotels just appear in my calendar without any input from me. Almost like magic. But not all of them. How does this happen? Can I make it work for all bookings? IT is not my strong suit.
I would prefer you show actual apps on your phone. Article seems to have nothing to do with your phone
Not sure of merchant category. It is a travel tour company.
Not sure my am ex plat. gives 5x for flights. Think my gold gives 3x so maybe that is a better choice.
Have lots of cards and now need to figure out to maximize my spending.
Mon. will make a $50,000. charge for a big family trip. Looking for advice on which card or cards to use to max points.
Am ex Plat, Am ex gold, am ex delta, Marriott chase, southwest chase, am ex Hilton, AA advat Citi. Could probably break total into different amounts.
Going to use AA card for flights as we are traveling on American.
Thanks for any insight
@ jj muir -- What is the merchant category for the $50k?
And I'd probably put the airfare spend on the Amex Plat for 5x versus the AA card, personality.
Eff you too.
Sheesh ok. Lucky and James are now fire and ice. Occasional guest appearance and oversight by Tiff. Comments of comedy from the characters as well. All wrapped up OMAAT is my blog. I don’t have time for the cheese brokers at TPG. Except Richard Kerr — he’s like a friggin’ surgeon.
I’d also like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to James for such great articles, and to OMAAT for hiring him
James, I have enjoyed your folksy newsworthy article here.
You are a great addition to OMAAT and seem now to be #2 in posts.
Keep up the good work!!
Your article was a great reminder for me to add a reminder to my phone that the the AA 25% bonus on hotel transfers ends 31 May! Thanks for the reminder
Don’t engage with Debit.
Just let him express his retarded opinions.
@ Debit - I use images from the OMAAT image library to avoid any copyright issues.
As much I would love to be in the Seychelles right now I can assure you Ben and I are completely different people - surely all my LCC stories have proven that!
Love that it also denotes "NONSMOKER". HA!
@Tiffany Thanks. Never flew the old config.
I’m never confident that my credit card banks have figured out that I spend over 100 days a year on overseas travel so I place reminders to myself make online travel notifications a week prior to departure. Once you’ve have your card declined because you failed to notify the bank, you pretty much do not trust the “system” to figure out your travel patterns. Another thing I do with 12 credit cards is to sinc...
I’m never confident that my credit card banks have figured out that I spend over 100 days a year on overseas travel so I place reminders to myself make online travel notifications a week prior to departure. Once you’ve have your card declined because you failed to notify the bank, you pretty much do not trust the “system” to figure out your travel patterns. Another thing I do with 12 credit cards is to sinc all the closing dates close to the end of the month so that automatic payments can be made on the first of the following month regardless of where I am. And finally, on the minimum spend deadline, I make sure I have met the requirement well in advance of the “deadline,” given that some banks start the clock on the day your application is approved, not the date you get and activate the card. I would hate to miss out on a bonus because I was off by a few days, or because the payment wasn’t posted in time.
Why are you carrying Benjamin schlappig's boarding pass.
Is it true then? This is just posting underdifferent pseudonames?
I love your new articles, bringing the latest & greatest tricks & tips in an easy to read format. I used to have to dig thru flyertalk or reddit to find those stuff but now I can just come here!
On which aircraft is 82H a first class seat?
@ LoLo -- Lufthansa's old 747 configuration.
Where's Grindr?? ;)