End of year checklist: Do these things by Dec 31st

With exactly one week left in 2019, it’s time to dot the i’s and cross the t’s and make sure you have everything buttoned up in time for the new year. It can be easy to forget something simple, and indeed I’ve once again left a few things to the last minute that I’ll now need to finish up before year’s end. For the procrastinators among us, here is a list of things not to forget to do before 2020 begins next week.

Not yet, but soon!

Use airline incidental credits

  • Amex airline incidental credits, like those that come with the various flavors of Platinum cards or with the Hilton Aspire or Amex Gold card, are offered by the calendar year. These credits post based on the date that the charge is made on your card; even if you make a charge on 12/31 and the charge doesn’t post to your statement until a few days into 2020, it’ll count against your 2019 cap as long as the charge date shows December 31st or sooner. Just make sure you know which airline you’ve chosen (or you might be able to get a chat rep to change your chosen airline if you haven’t used your credit, but YMMV). See: Amex airline fee reimbursements. What still works?
  • Chase Ritz-Carlton incidental credits are also based on calendar year and the date that the charge hits your statement. Be sure to charge any incidentals by December 31st and you should be able to apply your 2019 credit even if the charges don’t settle for a few days into 2020.
  • Citi airline incidental credits work based on the statement cut date. Once your December statement cuts, your travel credit begins anew. In other words, if your December 2019 statement has already been issued, you can now begin using your 2020 travel credit (and conversely that would mean it is too late to use any remaining 2019 credit).
  • Bank of America Premium Rewards incidental credit works like Amex and Chase above in that the credit runs from January 1st to December 31st. Be sure to place qualifying charges by December 31st.

Use other annual credits:

  • American Express Business Platinum: Use the semi-annual Dell credit by December 31st. Be sure to enroll online to use it first if you have not already done so.
  • American Express Platinum (consumer versions): Use the semi-annual Sak’s Fifth Ave credit, just be sure not to use it on gift cards as Amex has clawed back the credit on gift card purchases even months after closing the card. Also remember that this month’s Uber credit is the higher $35 amount.

Register for WeWork (Business Platinum Cardholders)

If you have an American Express Business Platinum card, you have until the end of the month to enroll in the WeWork benefit to be able to use co-working spaces in cities around the world. Amex recently announced that this membership benefit will run until the end of December 2020 for anyone who has enrolled in 2019 — even if your WeWork membership was set to expire before December 2020. This benefit is being discontinued on January 1, 2020, so you’ll want to register for it now to have access during 2020.

Status match

Strategic status matches are a good tool to have in your belt. Sometimes, one can leverage a single year of earned status into several years by matching from one program to the next. In some cases, you can go from zero to hero in a matter of clicks. Keep in mind that you’ll want to match status before your current status level expires, though for some programs that you have another month or two before status drops.

On the hotel front, I recommend reading this post that will position you to hop on the status-match-go round. Also, if you have Hyatt Explorist and have not yet matched to MGM Mlife Gold, do that now.

Choose choice benefits

Some elite statuses come with an annual choice benefit where you can select from among a few key benefit options. Be sure to make your choice selections ASAP.

  • Delta choice benefit: You have until January 31, 2020 to select your choice benefit if you achieved Delta status during 2018 for the 2019 calendar year, so you have another month on this one at worst. Those who achieved Delta status during 2019 have until January 31, 2021 to make their selection. Delta Diamond Choice Benefits: Which to choose and when?
  • IHG choice benefit: If you achieved Spire Elite status last year (in 2018), you have until December 30, 2019 to make your choice benefit for this year. If you have achieved Spire Elite status based on 2019 activity, you will have until December 30, 2020 to make your selection.
  • Marriott choice benefit: Annual Choice Benefit selection must be made by 11:59 pm ET on January 15, 2020. Note that the website says that you will be able to make your choice benefit selection within 48 hours of achieving 50 or 75 nights. Make your selection here. See: Marriott choice benefit valuations: Which to pick? for help deciding which to choose.

Apply for Amex cards

December is the ideal time to apply for American Express cards that come with annual credits. That is because those credits are based on calendar year. It is…

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