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If you’re big into miles & points then this is probably obvious to you, though I feel like this is a reminder I should post, since it’s something that took up over two hours of my time this morning.
If you’re applying for a co-branded credit card you typically earn points in a non-bank currency. In other words, a co-brand card like the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card collects points with IHG Rewards Club directly rather than with Chase, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express collects points with Starwood Preferred Guest directly rather than American Express, etc.
Now, if you’re anything like me, you have an AwardWallet account that tracks all your loyalty program numbers and account balances. Furthermore, when you apply for credit cards you enter your loyalty program number at that time. However, you’ll also notice in credit card applications you have the option of not entering your loyalty program number, in which case a number will be assigned to you.
Always sign-up for the loyalty program before applying for a co-branded credit card, as this will potentially save you a lot of hassle and headache.
I’ve realized that when I tell family and close friends which cards they should apply for, I forget to explicitly tell them to sign-up for a loyalty program account before applying for a credit card. Many of them would claim that’s too complicated, though it ends up costing me some frustration after the fact.
For example, Ford applied for a Hilton Amex Card a few weeks ago. He didn’t have an existing balance of Hilton Honors points, so didn’t sign up for an Honors account first. This morning it took us 30 minutes to get him logged into his account. For whatever reason his email wasn’t linked to the Hilton Honors account they created for him, so he had to call, verify his info, then be transferred to another department so they can manually add it, and then finally he could change his log in info online. A similar thing happened with the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card, which he signed up for recently.
Similarly, last year my mom applied for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. I was just helping her plan some travel, when I noticed she only had around 40,000 Starpoints in her account, despite the fact that she got both cards and hasn’t redeemed any points yet. Then we realized that her points are actually in two different accounts.
Fortunately she’s not going for status, or else this could be a bigger issue. Each card offers two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights towards stats, and it would be tough to combine those if the two cards were linked to different accounts (even when you consolidate accounts, it doesn’t transfer that benefit).
The moral of the story is that I’ve spent over two hours this morning figuring out everyone’s loyalty program numbers, consolidating accounts, and adding them to my AwardWallet so this problem doesn’t happen again.
Always be sure you sign-up for a loyalty program, add it to your AwardWallet account, and then apply for a credit card. Make sure your friends and family who apply for cards do the same as well!