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Make the most of your travel rewards points in time for summer vacation

According to a NextAdvisor survey of more than

According to a NextAdvisor survey of more than 2,000 people, 36 percent of those in frequent flyer programs and 33 percent in hotel loyalty programs don't know how to redeem points they've earned. Credit: Getty Images/iStock

Summer is just around the corner. Now is a good time to tally up your credit card and travel points and rewards to see where you stand and come up with a strategy for making the most of what you have.

Reap your rewards. Not everybody is capitalizing on what’s in their wallet. According to a NextAdvisor survey of more than 2,000 people, 35 percent of frequent flyer enrollees don’t know how many miles they have, and 47 percent of those in hotel loyalty programs don’t know how many points they have. Worse, 36 percent of those in frequent flyer programs and 33 percent in hotel loyalty programs don’t know how to redeem points.

Read the fine print. What travel partners are associated with your credit card? “You can use your miles towards purchases with partners like airlines or hotel chains. Earning rewards is great, but acquiring rewards you’ll actually use is the goal,” says Natasha Rachel Smith, a personal finance and travel expert at TopCashback.com.

Transfer values. Some travel rewards cards allow you to transfer points or miles to third-party travel loyalty programs, but not every card offers 1:1 transfer value. “Before you try to transfer travel rewards to [a third-party program], call to verify the transfer process won’t cost any fees. Whether the point of transferring rewards is to extend the expiration date or simply gifting someone miles, make sure you don’t pay anything out of pocket or via your miles. Also ensure that the number of miles you transfer is a 1:1 transfer ratio,” says Smith.

Avoid mistakes. Don't give in to the temptation to purchase miles. Do so sparingly and only when it makes sense financially.

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