How Do You Track and Follow Up on Missing Miles?

A month ago hotel program Club Carlson offered 1000 free points for filling out a form with your email address, account number and twitter handle and following Club Carlson on twitter.

I admit I had forgotten about the points until this morning when I updated all of my points balances (as I do first thing each morning via AwardWallet).

I saw that 1000 points posted, logged into my account to see what it was.

And I immediately remembered!

It struck me though that I had never added this 1000 points to my spreadsheet of outstanding points due to me.

There was a time that I added every 100 point item. Next to each I noted when the points were promised to post. And I followed up on each and every one that did not post by the expected date.

I always followed up by email where I could, so that I would get a written record of whatever commitment was made. Usually it told me to wait more, and I could then follow up in response to that written commitment when the points still didn’t post (as was usually the case). Responding to a written promise of points by a certain date almost always yielded the points.

Ten years ago I never let a point fail to make my list, and I never failed to follow up. And I’ve contemplated a bit this morning why that’s changed a bit.

For one thing, points are so much easier to earn than they used to be. When a credit card signup bonus was 15,000 points at the most, 1000 points seemed like a relatively bigger deal. When roundtrip business class awards to Australia were 90,000 points, 1000 points seemed like a bigger deal.

And I suppose I’m not as big a cheerleader for Club Carlson as some (the Club Carlson Visa’s second night free on award stays is amazing, but you have to make two-night stays at Club Carlson properties to really take advantage of it).

Finally, points just post much more reliably than they used to. I don’t have to follow up on as many transactions as I used to. So the expected upside to tracking small items is smaller than it used to be.

With some of the big mileage scores, I’ve been wondering if I’ve gotten too lazy in my points collecting? Or if improving technology and tracking has just made this all so much easier than it used to be.

Do you track every mile due to you? Do you find the miles you are owed posting properly the vast majority of the time, or do you have to follow up? Have your habits here changed at all in the past few years?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. 1K Carlson is worth about $2 to me (ie, the cost it takes to MS equivalent amount of points using easy methods). Am I going to waste my time for a lousy $2? Nope.

  2. I ordered Valentine’s day flowers from FTD with the promise of 35 miles per dollar. Sounded too good to be true and it was. The flowers were pitiful, and after several emails and phone calls its 12 weeks later and still no points. Delta shopping said it was not there sale– just an ad on their site. Ultimately I gave up which is what they figure will happen.

  3. I don’t track every mile, as you say, it’s not worth it. Heck, I’ve got one or two 500-mile partner segments that I never bothered to send in the paperwork for because I’m just too lazy. And 500 points ain’t worth that much.

  4. How about the opposite topic–has anyone used points for an award, only to discover the points were never debited out of their account? It happened to me 2 months ago, still have not been charged the points or cash (knock on wood) on departure flight, but return flight 1 week later was debited before the aircraft left the gate.

  5. Hey, kimmiea, you need to let them know they haven’t docked your points yet. Then they will be FOREVER grateful to you, and you can bet if you ever have issues with them, they’ll be eager to help. (Besides, it’s the right thing to do.) OK, once I had a ff ticket and coming back from Europe the flight was cancelled and they put me on another airline and I got miles for it, and I never complained. So… well, I’m not as honest as I’m telling you to be. But I still think it’s the right thing to do, and if it’s an airline you fly very often, they will be really generous to you after that.

  6. I also have a spreadsheet! How long did it take you to get your 40k skypass points from the skypass visa?

  7. I still chase 1k pt or above missing earnings (points and miles are harder to come by here!) and do so by labelling any offers received with a ‘pending’ label in Gmail and then chasing at the appropriate time. I agree that once they’ve promised the points should post they almost never do after waiting ‘6-8 weeks’, however it’s an easy job to get them to manually credit them.

  8. Would you be willing to share a template or blank copy of that spreadsheet? I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with trying to keep track of everything.


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