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There are three main principles to keep in mind when it comes to maximizing credit card rewards.

  1. Never miss a minimum spending requirement.
  2. Optimize all your purchases by earning maximum points on every dollar spent.
  3. Never let your points expire.

All of this sounds straightforward, but millions of points are lost every year because tracking this information isn’t easy.

Luckily, mobile apps can simplify the world of points and miles. Whether it’s tracking point expiration dates, ensuring you’re earning bonus points on grocery spending or even providing guidance on award redemptions, these apps can help consumers maximize credit card rewards to their full potential.

If you’re looking to make an informed decision about tools that allow you to integrate loyalty programs and credit card rewards, consider mobile apps such as AwardWallet, UThrive, Points Loyalty App, TPG, MaxRewards and Birch Finance.

Why You Should Track Your Credit Card Rewards

Keeping track of your credit card and travel rewards can be challenging, especially when you take advantage of multiple cards and travel loyalty programs. Not only do you need to remember how many points and miles you have when it comes time to redeem, but to truly maximize your rewards — you need to understand the features of each card.

  • Understand your cards’ bonus purchase categories. Knowing when to use each credit card is essential. Some cards earn a flat rate of rewards for all eligible purchases, usually 1.5X-2X points per dollar. Yet others award extra point per dollar when you spend money in certain categories. For example, your cards may earn 2X-3X points per dollar for online shopping, travel purchases or grocery and gas rewards. Other cards offer accelerated rewards earning in rotating quarterly categories, or they allow you to choose a specific purchase category. As an example, Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card lets you opt in to different categories each month for online purchases, home improvement stores and more.
  • Know the type of currency your credit cards offer. Some cards earn airline miles or hotel rewards that you redeem with specific merchants. Other cards earn general travel rewards like American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Capital One Miles. General travel rewards are flexible and can typically be redeemed for lineup of travel expenses including commuting, parking, rental cars, flights and hotel stays.
  • Keep track of expiration dates. These days, most credit card and travel rewards do not have expiration dates, but that’s not true for all programs. For instance, the hotel rewards earned with IHG credit cards expire. Whereas the points earned with the American Express Hilton Honors card do not. Knowing which travel rewards expire and when will help you make informed decisions when redeeming.

AwardWallet

AwardWallet app

AwardWallet

AwardWallet partners with over 600 rewards programs, allowing you to track your hotel, airline and credit card rewards. AwardWallet is compatible with all of the major credit card issuers, too. If you want to maximize your credit card rewards fully, Award Wallet offers several tools to help you do just that.

In addition to tracking your points, AwardWallet tracks your elite status progress and notifies you before points or free night awards expire. You can even use AwardWallet to track your credit card spending, travel plans and credit card travel and dining credits.

Whether you’re managing your credit card rewards or your entire family’s, AwardWallet is an invaluable tool in helping you stay on top of it all. Best of all, it’s free to use.

If you upgrade to the paid AwardWallet Plus service for $30 per year, you’ll get unlimited account balance updates and expiration tracking. 

AwardWallet is available in the Google Play Store, where Android users give it app 4.5 stars. You can also find the app in the Apple Store with a full 5-star rating.

In addition to a mobile app, AwardWallet offers a desktop version with a simple user interface, allowing you to track your rewards balances in whatever format you prefer. The AwardWallet app is ideal for those who want a simple interface with the most comprehensive tracking mechanism.

UThrive

Uthrive app
Uthrive

Knowing which credit card to use on specific purchases is key to maximizing rewards well beyond the initial credit card sign-up bonus. The UThrive app offers personalized credit card advice based on users’ spending habits.

Not only does the app keep track of your spending, but it also provides recommendations on which cards to use on current and future purchases. This enables users to earn the most rewards possible and make better decisions about which credit cards to cancel or keep.

Despite being a newer app, UThrive is a good option for those who want a simple app that helps them optimize their credit card spending for maximum rewards. Plus, the app is partnered with all of the major credit card issuers and travel loyalty programs in the U.S.

The UThrive app is free to use and available in the Apple Store (4.6 star rating) and Google Play Store (4.5 star rating). It also features a desktop version.

The Points Guy App

The Points Guy app
The Points Guy

The Points Guy launched its credit card rewards app in September 2021 as a competitor to AwardWallet. The app lets users track loyalty account balances, check progress on credit card spending requirements and receive tips on which cards to use for the most rewards possible. 

Users can also stay on top of the latest rewards program updates with a customized news feed. Savvy travelers can use the award planning tool to quickly figure out how many miles they need for a bucket list vacation and make plans towards meeting that goal. 

The TPG App is currently only available in the Apple Store, with a waitlist of Android users. Still, iOS users give the app a 4.4 star rating.

It’s a great tool for newbies who want a more comprehensive guide in their credit card rewards journey, from start to finish. The app is currently free to use, giving it an advantage over AwardWallet.

MaxRewards

MaxRewards app

MaxRewards

Unlike other rewards trackers that monitor travel loyalty programs, MaxRewards is integrated with credit card issuers and banks. It supports over 800 credit cards from more than 80 card issuers. So if you’re more concerned with maximizing credit card rewards, this platform may be for you. However, if hotel and airline loyalty programs are a significant part of your rewards strategy, you may be better off with another service.

That said, in addition to giving you one convenient platform to track all of your rewards balances, MaxRewards also offers a robust selection of tools including:

  • Best card for use: See which of your cards provides the maximum rewards at a specific merchant.
  • Sign-up bonus tracking: Keep an eye on the spend required to reach a new welcome bonus.
  • Credit dashboard: Monitor your credit card balances, credit utilization ratio, available credit and FICO credit score.

The app is free to use, but fans can unlock premium features with the paid version, MaxRewards Gold. For $3 a month, you’ll enjoy features like automatic activation of quarterly bonus categories and auto activation of issuer deals from Chase, American Express and Citi. Further, Gold also manages your card issuer deals and sends notifications about new and expiring offers. It’s a nice perk for those who both take advantage of deals and have more than a few credit cards in their wallets.

MaxRewards is mobile only; so those who prefer desktop may find another platform more user friendly. You’ll find the app in the Google Play Store with a 4.4 star rating, and in the Apple Store with a 4.7 star rating.

Birch Finance

Birch Finance app

Birch Finance

The first thing to know about Birch Finance is that it’s not a credit card rewards tracker. But if you want to understand how to better maximize your spending rewards, Birch may be designed with you in mind.

Birch analyzes your spending history using a financial aggregation tool. Simply connect your spending accounts, debit cards and credit cards, and Birch provides a report that grades your spending against the cards used to make specific purchases. It also shows you missed rewards opportunities you could have earned with your past spending.

The beauty of Birch is that it also shows you which credit cards you could be using to earn more rewards than you currently are. Even rewards veterans may find it useful to run a Birch report on their spending. (You know, just to make sure you’re maximizing.)

Birch Finance is available on both desktop and mobile. Android users have given the app a modest 2.5 star rating in the Google Play Store. Yet, the app seems to be more stable for iOS users who have given Birch a 4.2 star rating in the Apple Store.

Which App is Best for Your Spending Habits?

There are several tools out there aimed at helping consumers maximize credit card rewards. The best one comes down to your personal needs.

If you’re purely interested in tracking all of your rewards balances, AwardWallet is your best bet. If you want tracking capabilities with an educational component, the TPG app might be a better fit. And if you’re just looking for a simplified tool for recommendations on which card to use, the UThrive app might be just what you need. Remember: A mile is a terrible thing to waste. These apps can help you avoid this scenario.

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Ariana Arghandewal

Ariana Arghandewal is a rewards travel expert and founder of Pointchaser. She has covered all things points, miles and credit cards for over a decade and served as an editor at The Points Guy, NerdWallet, and FlyerTalk. Her work has also appeared in Forbes, Fodor's Travel, and U.S. News Weekly.