Using credit card rewards can be a great way to get your travel fix at a discounted rate. However, the world of travel rewards can become extraordinarily confusing if you don’t know the ins and outs of travel hacking.
Fortunately, one of the web’s premier travel rewards sites, The Points Guy (TPG), has converted its vast treasure trove of knowledge into an app that could change the way you earn and track rewards toward travel. Since TPG is a sister company of Bankrate, we were able to get insider access and a first look into the app.
Here’s what you should know about The Points Guy app and how to use it to maximize rewards on travel.
What is The Points Guy app and how does it work?
The TPG app, currently available only on iOS, allows users to store all of their airline, hotel and credit card loyalty points in one place. By tracking everything with the app, you’ll get tips and advice on using your credit card rewards strategically toward your travel goals.
The app’s features are spread across three main travel rewards philosophies: earn, learn and burn.
As you might have guessed, this section focuses on helping you earn the most rewards toward your travel goals. Here, you’ll be able to track all of your travel loyalty programs and credit card rewards in one place.
In the “Cards” section of the app, “My earnings summary” reports how much you’ve spent in a given month across all your cards and the rewards you’ve earned. It also identifies where you missed opportunities to earn more points, plus what you could have done to boost your earnings.
In addition to spending and points reports, you’ll get insights, tips and recommendations on spending to meet your travel rewards goals. If you are planning a certain travel itinerary, you can track rewards points progress toward that goal with easy-to-read charts located in the app.
Burn is about using your rewards in the most efficient way possible, namely when it comes to connecting the dots between award fares and travel partners. Most people understand how to use rewards within their specific loyalty programs, but the app has the potential to reveal award routes through travel partners—which aren’t always as obvious. At times, these travel partners can offer great value for your travel rewards, especially for luxury picks, like first class, business class or upgraded hotel rooms.
The “Award Explorer” section of the app allows you to search for award routes between airports. You can filter results to include credit card-specific travel portals such as:
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Capital One Miles
- Citi ThankYou Rewards
Plus, you can also filter results by airline loyalty programs like:
- Alaska Mileage Plan
- Delta SkyMiles
- Iberia Plus
- United MileagePlus
There are many other loyalty programs to choose from, but this is just a sampling.
The search results return the number of points you’ll need for a given award route and the fare classes available for the route. Once you see an award route that you like, the app will guide you through the steps to book it.
You’ll still get access to the content you’ve always enjoyed from TPG, but now you’ll be able to customize your homepage with the content categories that interest you the most: points and miles, deals, credit cards, hotels, airlines, family travel, luxury travel, beginners, guides and more. You can still stay up-to-date with the latest travel news in a way that makes sense for your travel interests.
How to use the TPG app
You’ll get the most out of your TPG app when you give it the most information possible. With that in mind, here are a few things you should do immediately after downloading the app:
Choose your home airport
When you create your account, you’ll have the opportunity to choose your home airport. Adding this information will pre-populate your airport when you are searching for award routes, which can save time if you often fly out of the same airport as your “home base.”
Connect your loyalty accounts in the ‘Cards’ section
This is a must if you want to stay in the know about your award travel options. To keep an accurate running balance of your points and their estimated value, this step is key:
The good news is that the app makes it easy to add your loyalty programs and credit cards for tracking. You can authenticate your hotel and airline loyalty program accounts right inside the app. If it takes a long time to sync loyalty accounts using your login credentials, you have the option to add your points manually.
Add your cards in the ‘My wallet’ section
Here, you need to connect any rewards credit cards you want to track. You can add credit card accounts using the same in-app authentication process as the loyalty programs you connected.
Once you add your credit cards, you can identify them if the app can’t do so as soon as it’s synced. If your card is not properly identified, you won’t see the correct rewards structure displayed for the card and your points balance and tracking could be incorrect.
Also, if you’re adding a new card, you can unlock the welcome bonus tracker. You’ll just need to add your card approval date and you will get coaching and reminders to help you make that goal.
Save an award flight
To save for an award flight, you’ll need to search for one. You’ll enter the airports of departure and destination along with how many tickets you are looking for. In this search, you have the option to filter by transfer partners and loyalty programs, but it’s best to stay away from filters so that you can see all of your options.
Once you get the results back, you can favorite the trip using the heart icon in the upper right corner of the screen.
The app will also display the number of points you have toward each fare class on this route. This will include not just your points in one program but will also factor in all transfer possibilities.
Turn on location services
Another neat feature of the app is that you can get real-time spending tips based on your goals, like booking an award fare or meeting a welcome bonus spend requirement. In the “My earnings summary” section of the Cards tab, there is an “Out making a purchase?” option. This will recommend nearby places to spend along with the best card to use to earn the most rewards.
According to the TPG app’s developers, a push notification for card recommendations based on your location is in the works. For example, if you have location services turned on and visit a merchant where you don’t usually shop and there is a clear best card to use, the app will send a push recommending the best card in your wallet.
Turn on app notifications
If you turn on notifications in the app, you’ll get important updates about the app and your accounts within the app. So far, notification plans include:
- Alerts for expiring points
- Notifications to keep you on track for a sign-up bonus
- Notifications to ensure you use monthly or quarterly credits
The types of notifications and frequency are still evolving, but it’s best to have them on so you don’t miss crucial updates that will impact or improve your user experience.
Report any bugs
Although there’s a lot to appreciate about the TPG app, it’s still a work in progress. In our talks with the developers, we’ve learned about some exciting plans to add and improve features. You can help with this process by creating a support ticket in the app if you encounter any issues or errors. Simply navigate to the “More” tab, then go to “Support,” where you can send a message to the app’s support team.
The bottom line
The Points Guy app can be a handy tool to help you track and organize your award travel plans at a glance. If you are an avid traveler who relies heavily on award fares and discounts, you’ll get a lot of value from the tracking, reports and recommendations features the TPG app provides.