Between business trips, vacation time and last-minute getaways, I find myself traveling several weeks throughout of the year. And along with all that travel, comes a whole slew of hotel loyalty points that add up with each stay. I try always my best to keep up with the points I earn, but from needing to keep tabs on my loyalty balances (across airlines and hotels) to following through with cashing them in, it can be easy to lose track and risk not taking advantage of all the points I accrue.
Over the years I’ve started to build up a number of strategies to keep my accounts active. But there are a certain few hacks I’ve discovered work out well – helping me keep my account active with just the slightest amount of work. Here are some of my favorite hacks for fighting inactivity, and the best ways I’ve found to keep hotel points from expiring:
Buy, Gift or Transfer Points
In many cases, it just takes a little shuffling of points to reactivate your account status. And the majority of brands simply require you to simply move one point in or out of your account to show you’re still active. Rather than book an entire stay to add to your balance, or spend a large portion of your points when you don’t need to, you have the option to buy, gift or transfer points instead. Marriott Rewards members, for example, can transfer anywhere from 1,000 to 50,000 points per year for a transaction fee of just $10 (Gold and Platinum Elite members can do so for free).
And Choice Hotels members can purchase up to 50,000 Choice Privileges points in a year, helping them stay active and reach their reward goals.
You can also consider donating a portion of your Marriott, Hilton or Best Western rewards balance to a charity. These programs, and many more convert your points into an equivalent cash donation on your behalf to the organization or cause of your choice. Pick from many national organizations such as the American Red Cross or Make-A-Wish Foundation, and even seek out local education, arts and culture or health charities to support, and put your points to real good use.
Take Advantage of Earn Malls
Another way to quickly and easily add extra points to your hotel rewards account is by taking advantage of earn malls. Offering a full list of stores where you’re likely already shopping, like Home Depot, Target, Walgreens, every purchase made through these online shopping portals adds extra loyalty currency to your rewards balance. By simply clicking through the site to fill your shopping cart, you can earn points on purchases made with any credit card. And this way to earn is especially helpful around the holiday seasons when you’re not only buying gifts but looking to boost your balance for family visits and travel.
Hilton HHonors Shop to Earn Mall, Marriott Rewards’ Shop My Way and Choice Rewards’ Choice Privileges Mall are just a few examples. Start seeking earn malls to not only turn your spending into extra savings but also keep your account active year-round.
Sign up for a Rewards-Earning Credit Card
If you’re not doing so already, using a rewards-earning credit card is a great way to keep your accounts active without needing to continuously book stays with all the hotels you have a loyalty account with. There are many hotel branded cards, including the Starwood Preferred Guest by American Express, Marriott Rewards Premier and Hyatt Visa cards by Chase, which allow you to earn hotel points on everyday purchases. And for most, just one purchase on the card in a 24-month window keeps your account active.
Not to mention, many of the cards give you a hefty signup bonus to boost your account balance even more.
Educate Yourself and Keep Your Rewards Top of Mind
The easiest way to keep your points from expiring is to educate yourself on the expiration periods for each hotel brand. By knowing how long you can go without interacting with an account, you can save yourself from losing out on all of those hard-earned points. Additionally, consider keeping tabs on your account balances using loyalty management platforms or apps, which help aggregate all your account balances in one central location. Here’s a roundup of some top hotel brands and their required timeframes for activity:
Best Western – Never
Choice Hotels – On Dec 31 – 2 years after the year of last activity (non-extendable)
Club Carlson – 24 Months
Hilton – 12 Months
Hyatt – 24 Months
IHG – 12 Months
Marriott – 24 Months
Above all, keep your loyalty rewards top of mind! Take advantage of free services like the Points Loyalty Wallet, which allows you to log and track over 110+ of your favorite loyalty programs. You’ll be able to track all of your points and miles balances in real-time, in one convenient location and with one password to remember.