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Reward point overload? Here's how to keep on top of them

If you've ever lost thousands of air miles because you forgot to redeem them on time, then you can empathize with Krista Paul. The Denver-based entrepreneur lost 26,000 of hers, enough for a round-trip ticket in North America, because the expiration notice was sent to an old e-mail account.

She assumed she could call the airline, explain the mix-up, and ask to have the points put back into her account. The airline said yes – for $350.

Frustrated, Ms. Paul searched online for a site that would help her better manage her miles. When she didn't find one that fit her needs, she decided to create it herself. As the founder of UsingMiles.com, she says the site has everything we need to manage all of our various reward points in one spot.

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"Points are something people forget to manage, but our points are really a type of currency. They're something we've earned," Ms. Paul says. And it's not just airline loyalty points we're juggling; it's hotels, rental cars and a mix of other point systems like credit cards, HBC Rewards, and Shoppers Optimum Points. Most of us have accounts all over the place and if we lose track, we can lose our points.

When you log into your Using Miles account you'll land on a personal dashboard and receive a snapshot of all of your programs in one place. You can then determine where to travel and stay using your points, how close you are to earning that next free flight, car rental, or hotel stay, and how to move up to the next level in loyalty status. A free membership provides most features except for notification when your miles are about to expire, which is available for an annual fee of $30.

If you're concerned about missing redemption dates, then the premium option is the way to go. However, after scanning the site you'll probably find that the basic membership covers all of your needs when it comes to managing and redeeming your points simply and efficiently.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at the Globe's personal finance site.

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About the Author
Angela Self

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies, a group of five women who specialize in personal finance. They are hosts of a self-titled show on the W Network and the authors of The Smart Cookies' Guide to Making More Dough. More

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