Do you know how many credit cards you have? If so, do you know which promotional offer you accepted, which rewards they feature and when the offers expire?
If you really want to earn the most rewards possible from your credit cards, then you need to know all of this information. Until recently, the best way to do this was by creating your own paper or electronic spreadsheet, and then manually entering in the data.
Is There a Better Way?
Geoff Whitmore started the blog Noob Traveler two years ago in order to share what he learned after getting bit by the reward travel bug. Like others, he found that he had accepted so many reward credit card offers that it was becoming difficult to remember the terms of each card, and when they were scheduled to expire. Luckily, Geoff lives in Austin, Texas, where it seems to him nearly everyone is a technology professional (or a musician). So with the help of some of his friends who are web site developers, he produced the Card Watchdog service that allows users to keep track of each of their card’s annual fees, sign-up bonus, and other critical information.
How It Works
Card Watchdog users can track up to 10 of their credit cards using their basic service at no cost. Most credit card terms are automatically populated, but cardholders can change that information to reflect the offer that he or she received. At no time does this service ask users for their sensitive account information, just the basic terms of the card they hold.
Users can then quickly reference the terms and benefits of each card they have, and receive email notifications of important events. For example, many credit cards offer to waive the first year’s annual fee, but cardholders can choose to be notified when they can expect the annual fee to rise.
For $17 a year, users can enter an unlimited number of credit cards, and receive instant message notifications in addition to emails. Furthermore, this service launched earlier this year, and is continuing to evolve. According to Geoff, users can expect to see other services introduced in the future, such as bank synchronization and the ability to track one’s credit score.
How It Compares to Others
Other tools that track credit card accounts, such as Quicken and Mint.com, are designed to monitor account spending and payments. In contrast, Card Watchdog was created for credit card rewards enthusiasts who want to earn as many points and miles as possible from their portfolio of credit cards. Since there are no other products that address this need, its closest competitor at this time seems to be the custom spreadsheets that some cardholders use.
The best way to maximize credit card rewards is to properly track and manage all of your accounts. By utilizing the right tools, those who hold numerous credit cards can accomplish this goal without creating an administrative nightmare.