Whenever possible, we pay with credit and then pay off the balance each month to earn more rewards. I love seeing how many points and miles I've earned when I open my statement each month. But as much of a thrill as I get from getting the points, I have forgotten to cash out countless rewards points over the years and misplaced my rewards numbers for all of my loyalty programs more times than I am going to admit. So when I heard about UsingMiles.com, a website that helps manage, use and earn even more rewards points from a variety of loyalty programs including rewards credit cards, I was intrigued.

Managing credit card rewards points and more

Before signing up, I gave Krista Paul, founder and vice president of marketing for UsingMiles.com, a call to learn more about the website. Speaking to me from Denver, Colo., Krista told me a few years ago, she went to redeem her frequent flier miles, and learned that over 26,000 miles had expired and she was unable to get them back without paying a hefty fee. "I was so mad about the airline miles and then realized that I had probably lost hotel points in the past that I didn't even know about," says Paul. To keep the same fate from happening to others, she started the website and included the feature that sends an email to users when points are about to expire.

An easy-to-use dashboard and a free pastry

I was impressed that UsingMiles.com has over 230 different participating loyalty programs including credit cards, airlines, hotels and even brand loyalty programs like My Coke Rewards. I was a little surprised to see only ten credit card loyalty programs on the list, but then remembered that Krista had told me that the site had just started supporting credit cards two months ago and was adding more daily.

I was able to sign up online from my home computer in Wake Forest, N.C. in a matter of minutes by using my Facebook account and then answering additional security questions. The site offered two memberships, a free basic membership and a Premier Membership that is $29.99 per year. I selected the free membership and then began adding my loyalty programs to the dashboard. It actually took me longer to hunt for my frequent flier miles numbers and loyalty cards in my purse than it did to enter the information. I was bit hesitant to enter my credit card information, but felt more at ease once UsingMiles.com asked me the security questions I had set up on my credit card company's website.

A few minutes later, my dashboard showed I was about one trip away from earning a free plane ticket with a combination of my frequent flier miles and my airline credit card which I hadn't realized by viewing the two rewards statements separately. I was happy to see my rewards accumulating, but maybe even more so to see that I had earned a free pastry from Panera Bread!

Searching for airline tickets

Additionally, UsingMiles.com is a meta-travel search engine, but instead of just listing prices, it goes a step further by using loyalty information to help the customer make choices that most effectively use their current miles and earn miles on travel that they pay for. I plugged in the dates for an upcoming trip to visit my family in Florida. In addition to a list of prices for various flights, the website told me that there was currently a promotion where I could earn 1,000 extra frequent flier miles with my Delta program.

I also gave a Usingmiles.com customer, Andy Reed, a call to find out about how the website works in real life. He travels frequently for business and has been using the site for over three months. He told me that he has found it really beneficial to be able to capitalize on all the promotions out there without having to search. "It's saved me a lot of time because I don't have to go from website to website to see my miles and the promotion. I've also earned a lot more miles as well," Andy said.

After spending some time on the site, I decided UsingMiles.com could really help my husband who travels frequently for business to earn more miles. Hopefully, he can earn enough miles so we can go somewhere fun for summer vacation.

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