Reward programmes. Air miles. Avios. Plus miles. Loyalty points.
As expats and world travelers we love them as they carry the promise of a free trip home. The problem is keeping track of them. They accumulate oh-so-slowly, like the gradual gathering of dust on a book shelf - and when you have a look 16 months later, they've already expired.
“Most points just vanish after a while, and you don't even notice you've lost them,” explains AwardWallet co-founder Alexi Vereschaga.
When you're constantly travelling, snagging the best deals no matter the airline, hotel, or restaurant, it's nearly impossible to monitor and take advantage of all the programmes. Memberships add up but remain unused – “Maybe this time it will be worth it,” you think.
Dreams of first-class seats for economy prices dance through your brain, but never materialize.
Card after card piles up, and you can't remember the login details for any of them after a time.
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There are an estimated 10 trillion unused frequent-flier miles in circulation, worth over $165 billion – so the question on every traveller's mind is, “I've logged plenty of miles. Where's my piece of the action?”
Vereschaga knows the problem all too well.
"More than 20 percent of frequent-flier miles don't ever actually get redeemed," he says. “It's a shame, it truly is.”
Or rather, was. Vereschaga, along with fellow IT guru Todd Mera, got tired of losing their miles and created a solution.
Together the duo created AwardWallet - a free service that now supports 674 different loyalty programmes on one uncomplicated interface. Users can easily keep track of their assets and avoid losing balances, with all account numbers, passwords, and points stored in one place.
"It tracks and monitors all of your reward programmes and itineraries for you, and notifies you when balances change and before points expire," Vereschaga explains.
It's been a game changer for people like Rolland Miller, a user who has more than 20 travel-related accounts.
"As a frequent traveller, it's impossible to remember all the details for my airline and hotel accounts," he remarks. "AwardWallet has become an indispensable tool in my travel arsenal."
By making it easy to manage reward programmes correctly, AwardWallet saves money for travellers and companies alike. And it's not just for flying.
“If you want to travel and spend very little money, you need to utilize these loyalty programmes,” Vereschaga says.
“Elite statuses give you VIP treatment; miles give you free international flights; hotel points give you free hotel stays. The trick is to use them right. People who don't track these miles and points are really missing out long-term.”
The AwardWallet website quickly became a popular choice for travellers after it was founded in 2004, and nowadays it's growing even more thanks to ever-mobile users and their smartphones.
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Hundreds of thousands of travelers already rely on AwardWallet, whether online or via the app, to manage their points and earn rewards that save them money and make their travel experience more enjoyable.
“I am always looking for ways to better organize the vast amount of information that is needed to keep track of the various programs to which I belong,” says Tracy Dunham, another satisfied traveller from North Carolina. “For me, AwardWallet is that solution.”
The service connects to hotels, car rental agencies, credit card companies, and everything from EuroStar to Subway restaurants to Amazon.
And for a limited time, readers of The Local can qualify for a free six-month trial of AwardWallet Plus, which gives you even more tools to manage your loyalty programmes.
Simply enter TheLocal when you sign-up, and get closer to earning that free trip home.
This article was produced by The Local in partnership with AwardWallet.