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Best Apps for Tracking Rewards Programs

 
By
July 3, 2013

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The more rewards programs you belong to, the easier it is to lose track — and lose out.

In fact, according to June 2013 numbers from marketing firm Colloquy, Americans are so fond of travel, retailer, restaurant fuel and credit card rewards programs that the average U.S. household belongs to 22 of them. But while consumers are quick to sign up, cashing in is another matter. According to Colloquy, the average household is active in only 9.5 of the programs it's signed up for. Moreover, each year consumers leave as much as one third, or $16 billion, in unused rewards cards earnings on the table, according to Colloquy's 2011 findings.

For anyone juggling multiple rewards programs, that may hardly come as a surprise. Keeping track of membership cards and login info for rewards accounts can quickly turn into such a cumbersome chore, that it becomes easier to let rewards expire than to redeem them.

Fortunately there are several useful apps that can make rewards tracking less overwhelming.

“Apps for keeping tabs of the rewards programs you're enrolled in and tracking earnings is an obvious application for smartphones,” says Jim Karpen, staff writer with iPhone Life Magazine. “But that's just the beginning. Apps can alert you to special offers in rewards programs you're enrolled in, get you exclusive coupons and discounts from local vendors and help you plan for reaching rewards elite status faster.”

We've rounded up four of the best smartphone apps that can help you keep tabs on your points, miles and upgrades.

Key Ring
Available on:
iPhone, Android
Cost:
Free

Key Ring, as the name implies, is the app for consumers with key chains maxed out with plastic membership cards from grocery stores, drug stores and other retailers.  Key Ring allows you to upload all those membership cards to your smartphone, giving you access to the barcodes and other membership info right on your phone when needed. Rewards program cards are not the only thing you can add: Gift cards, library cards and other membership cards can be uploaded too.

Keeping tabs on your membership cards is just the beginning, however. The app will search for current offers and weekly sales from the stores you earn rewards from and bring you digital coupons for more than 30 stores. You can create a shopping list from your selections and share it with family and friends. Last but not least, the app backs up your loyalty cards in the cloud, so no need to worry if your phone gets lost.

AwardWallet
Available on: iPhone, Android
Cost: Free (for basic account); suggested price of $10 for six months for AwardWallet Plus.

This app is an offshoot of Awardwallet.com, and it transfers most of the website functions to your smartphone. The app is useful for keeping track of rewards earnings across a range of loyalty programs, including rewards credit cards, frequent flier accounts and hotel rewards programs.

Enter all the loyalty programs you want to track at AwardWallet.com (basic membership is free), and the app then gives you a detailed view of the rewards balances across all your programs. The app tracks more than 550 airline, hotel, credit card, shopping and dining rewards programs. You'll get notifications when rewards balances change, and the app also sends automatic alerts when points are about to expire.

Keep in mind that if you're tracking frequent flier miles, several major carriers (including American Airlines and United), deny AwardWallet access.

MileBlaster
Available for: iPhone, Android
Cost: Free

This app is similar to AwardWallet, but as the name implies, it is more narrowly focused on tracking travel rewards. The app tracks frequent flier miles and hotel points and lets you see at a glance how close you are to award and elite goals for each of the programs you are enrolled in

MileBlaster was the winner of the 2011 Travel+Leisure Magazine Best Travel Websites and Apps, in part because of its extra features: MileBlaster alerts you to special miles and bonus offers from the airlines, hotels, car rentals and travel rewards credit cards you're enrolled in.

The app is linked to MileBlaster.com, giving you access to your free account on the website. You can add multiple accounts for any given rewards program, enabling you to track miles for your entire family.

As with AwardsWallet, MileBlaster can track only the rewards programs of certain airlines, and several major carriers (including American and United) are not among them.

TripIt Pro
Available for: iPhone, Android
Cost: $0.99 for basic version; $49 per year for rewards-tracking features

While TripIt is primarily a travel organizer, TripIt Pro ($49 per year) also includes the PointsTracker feature, which enables you to track all your travel rewards programs in one central place, including frequent flier, hotel and rental car programs. The TripIt Pro app also lets you see how close you are to elite status in the different rewards programs — again, with the exception of the frequent flier programs of the major carriers that have blocked access (including American, United and Southwest). To get the PointsTracker feature, first enroll in TripIt Pro and then download the smartphone app for free.

Besides tracking points, TripIt includes other useful travel organization features. Ever been searching frantically for all your information about flight details, hotel reservations, car rentals and dining reservations before a trip? TripIt enables you to consolidate all those details into one handy itinerary on your smartphone, iPad or online at TripIt.com.

Simply forward all booking confirmation emails to the email address provided by Tripit, and TripIt automatically organizes your travel details into an itinerary. The app will also send alerts about flight delays, cancellations and gate changes to your smart phone, and should your flight get canceled, immediately suggest alternate flights.


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