NoobTraveler released a new service called Card Watch Dog this week. It’s a clever idea, similar to AwardWallet or other mile-tracking websites. However, it doesn’t track the miles and points to tell you when they expire. What it does is track all the cards you apply for and tell you when the annual fee is about to hit or when enough time has passed to apply again.
Many people already do something similar with a spreadsheet or they write notes on their cards reminding them how much is left on their minimum spend or when it’s time to call the bank to cancel (or ask for a bribe to keep it).
Personally, I’ve never had much of a problem. I have only a dozen cards or so. Most of them are cards I want to keep. I’m just not a heavy churner. While some people may apply for six or more cards every three months, I’m closer to the inverse: usually three every six months. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate some of what NoobTraveler has here. I think it’s a valuable tool most people should take a look at if they have more cards than will fit in their wallets.
There are two key benefits to Card Watch Dog that make it better than a spreadsheet.
First, it has a cleaner interface and is stored online. I have lots of documents on my computer. I lose most of them. Those I keep I rarely spend much of an effort to prettify. Maybe you can’t tell, but I put a lot of effort trying to find ways to make this blog look and function better because I realize I’m not the only one using it.
Second, Card Watch Dog will alert you by SMS (text message) or email when your annual fee is about to hit or the minimum spend is required for a bonus. You can also make other custom alerts.
Many of the other features of Card Watch Dog are well-designed. I liked that I had the option to flag credit cards as being my account or those of a spouse or other individual. If, like me, you manage many peoples’ points and miles strategies, this is a feature with obvious necessity. You can also add information on bonus categories and APR, though you should never ever carry a balance if you are applying for credit cards just to earn the points.
For more active churners, there are fields to add information on the issuing bank and the credit bureau from which your file was pulled during the application. This is less useful to me but is important if you are in a balancing act with more cards than you can count.
The one flaw I encountered was that many of the drop-down menus and calendar features did not work during my initial analysis using Chrome. After switching to Safari, everything was great, so this may be a bug in the code. It’s annoying more than anything else. (There’s also a pretty robust Use License in the T&C that forbids me from including any screenshots — also annoying — but I asked first.)
What does this service cost, you may be asking? It’s completely free if you have ten or fewer cards and are happy with email notifications. That sounds like me. I send so few text messages that paying 20 cents each is still the cheapest option, and most of my dozen cards are ones I want to keep and don’t need to monitor.
If you are a more active collector of points and miles with credit cards, you may want the Pro plan. For only $17 per year you can organize as many cards as you want and track them with both email and text messages. Remember that you can monitor multiple users’ cards with only one account, so an entire extended family can get by with a single Pro plan. At slightly over $1 a month, I think Card Watch Dog is a very good deal.
Disclosure: I received no financial or other compensation for this review.