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7 Points and Miles Tasks to Complete by the End of 2017

[The Points Guy] 7 Points and Miles Tasks to Complete by the End of 2017: October is the perfect time to ensure you’re on the right path to end the year in a good place, points and miles-wise. In order to prevent significant heartache and the realization of lost opportunities on January 1, 2018, take the time now to get things in order. Today, I?ll give a rundown of the top award travel tasks you need to complete by the end of 2017 to make sure you maximize your loyalty portfolio moving into 2018.
1. Check Airline Elite Qualification Miles and Dollars
Airline status counters reset on January 1, 2018 which confuses some people because 2017 status is good until January 31, 2018. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have another month to qualify ? check your current standing along with remaining anticipated 2017 earnings now.

If you believe you’ll benefit from the next-highest tier of airline status in 2018, it may be time to plan a few mileage runs or boost your spending on certain credit cards that reward elite-qualifying miles for large spend. The Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard offers 10,000 EQMs after $40,000 in annual spend, and the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express currently offers 10,000 MQMs and 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 within the first three months and an additional 15,000 MQMs after $30,000 in annual spend and an additional 15,000 MQMs after $60,000 in annual spend.
I find the Google Flights Explore Map the most useful mileage run planning tool. You can input your origin city and dates and then look for far-flung destinations with a cheap price.
2. Check Elite-Qualifying Night and Stay Progress
As with airlines, make sure you’ve planned adequate hotel stays to reach elite status if you’re going to benefit enough in 2018 to warrant any extra effort. Remember that some programs, like Starwood Preferred Guest, count award nights toward any elite status requirement. For World of Hyatt, award nights don’t count toward required nights but points +cash nights do.

The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card and Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express (business and personal versions) offer stays or nights to help you make up any shortfall. The SPG cards include 2 stay and 5 night credits toward elite status each calendar year. The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card includes 15 elite night credits (good enough for automatic Silver status) plus an additional elite night credit for every $3,000 you spend on the card.
3. Use Your Annual Airline Incidental/Travel Credits
Many premium credit cards offer a travel/airline fee credit that reimburses you a certain dollar amount for eligible charges on an annual basis. Remember Wi-Fi is not covered for onboard purchases with most cards. The following cards have annual fee reimbursements, each with their own peculiarities for what qualifies for reimbursement:

Citi Prestige ? $250 air travel credit 

The Platinum Card From American Express ? $200 airline fee reimbursement good for a single airline

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express ? $100 airline fee reimbursement good for a single airline

Chase Sapphire Reserve ? $300 travel credit (now calculated by membership year for new cardholders)

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card ? $300 airline fee credit, must call in or request via Chase secure message to be reimbursed

Bank of America Premium Rewards Credit Card ? $100 airline incidental credit

4. Meet Annual Spend Thresholds
Many credit cards offer you bonuses when you reach certain spending thresholds in a calendar year. If you?re close to one of these thresholds, you only have a couple more months to hit it. Here are some cards that provide this benefit:

Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express: Earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) when you spend $25,000. Earn another 10,000 MQMs when you hit $50,000.

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card ? Earn Ritz-Carlton Rewards Platinum (and therefore Marriott and SPG Platinum) status with $75,000 in annual spend.

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express ? Earn SPG Gold status when you spend $30,000 in a calendar year.
Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card ? Earn Diamond status when you spend $40,000 in a calendar year. Note that this card is no longer available to new applicants.

JetBlue Plus Card ? Earn JetBlue Mosaic status for one year after spending $50,000 annually.

5. Register for and Maximize Promotions
Each fall, several hotel chains run promotions to help with the post-summer travel lull. Currently, Marriott is running its well-established MegaBonus promotion. With the Free Night MegaBonus, you can earn a free night after you complete two paid stays at any participating property in the world. Eligible travel for the promotion must be completed between now and January 15, 2018. In addition, once you?ve completed the two paid stays and gotten the free night, you could be eligible to unlock more rewards.
SPG?s Explore More promotion gives you the opportunity to earn up to 1,000 bonus Starpoints at participating SPG properties. You?ll get the bonus points after each eligible stay at participating St. Regis, Luxury Collection, W, Le Meridien, Westin, Sheraton, Tribute Portfolio and Design Hotel properties. Or, you?ll earn 500 bonus Starpoints after each eligible stay at participating Aloft, Element or Four Points property. In addition, you can earn 10,000 bonus Starpoints when you stay 25 nights during the promotion period.

Hilton’s Double Up promotion lets you earn 2x points on all of your stays through the end of the year. In addition, if you?re a Diamond member, you?ll earn 10,000 bonus Honors points for every 10 nights you stay at a Hilton during the promotion period for a maximum of 50,000 points.
IHG’s Fall Accelerate promo can earn you 50,000+ points in as little as four stays for accomplishing individualized tasks and goals for stays until December 31.
6. Check Point and Mile Expiration Dates
A few programs have point/mile expiration policies where December 31 could be the expiration date for your miles and points. With Etihad Guest, for example, your miles expire at the end of the semester (either June 30 or December 31) three years after you earned them. If you earned miles from July 1 – December 31, 2014 with Etihad, they expire December 31 of this year.
If you aren’t already, you should start using an app like AwardWallet that will send you reminder emails well before your points expire. Log in now to check your expiration date and, equally important, the expiration policy of that program. Some hotels and airlines will let you extend the date with a single qualifying activity, while others have a hard, non-extendable expiration date.
7. Plan for 2018
There’s a lot in store for 2018 in the way of potential airline, hotel and credit card changes. Based on your own anticipated travels in 2018, you should pay attention to the changing landscape and perhaps adjust your loyalty and travel strategy.
We should see something in the way of a plan unveiled for the merging of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest. Hyatt has announced a new executive vice president for global head of loyalty and new business platform, and rumored changes include award nights counting toward the 60-night Globalist requirement. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Hyatt continue to acquire smaller, boutique chains to expand on its “wellness” focus and relatively small footprint. In 2017 Hilton introduced cash+money bookings and the ability to pool points with up to 10 people ? I expect we’ll see some tweaking of this after a year’s worth of data is collected and analyzed.
On the airline front, if Germany and Italy are routine destinations, you may be without Alitalia and Air Berlin. Also in Europe, Aer Lingus could very well be a part of the Oneworld alliance. I suspect American and the Middle East three will continue their escapades and either end more codeshare agreements or continue to make award redemptions harder and harder. Virgin America planes should begin to disappear from the skies as they inherit new Alaska livery and interiors. Last, I suspect Southwest planes landing in Honolulu will soon be commonplace.
On the credit card front, there have been several surveys sent to existing Chase and Citi customers asking for reactions to proposed loyalty changes. The most prominent in the Chase survey was the removal of the ability to transfer and combine Ultimate Rewards earned from different products into one account. Citi’s survey asked for reactions to potential changes on the Citi Prestige Card ? including earning 5x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines; coincidentally, the same earn rate on airfare as the Platinum Card from American Express. Regardless of how often you plan to travel in 2018, you should keep up with current events so you can maximize all your credit card spend and plan the best trips possible.
Bottom Line
You don’t want to be caught off guard come January 1, 2018 and realize you just lost credit card travel credits or were 100 miles short of the next airline elite status level. Take the time now to review the above tasks and ensure you maximize the travel and credit card spend you have left in 2017 in order to make 2018 your best award travel year yet.
What are you ensuring gets done before the end of the year?

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