New Year’s resolution No. 1: Redeem airline miles at

If you’re like us, you have already happily resolved to incorporate all types of New Year’s resolutions into your 2012 year. You’re probably waking up each morning to make it to the gym, saying no to that delicious dessert (or at least to the second helping of dessert), and maybe even planning a trip to someplace you’ve never before been. At UsingMiles, we want to encourage you to make sure you track and redeem airline miles in 2012.

Loyalty programs have become so popular, as it turns out, that companies are getting a little anxious about the trillions of banked miles and travel reward points they owe, the Toronto Star reports.

So increasingly, they’re trying to limit their liability by slipping in some expiration dates. If you don’t use your points — or your account — within a certain time frame, they’re gone.

Nobody (except the airlines) wants that, right?

So here’s the Star’s five-point checklist to make sure you get what you’ve earned:

  1. Complete at least one transaction a year. It doesn’t have to be much — gas up at an eligible station, buy a pair of gloves at a participating hardware store — and your account’s in good standing.
  2. Buy or transfer points. It might cost a couple of bucks, but in the long run, you’re still coming out ahead.
  3. If you can’t use them yourself, donate miles or points to a worthy cause. You’ll collect a tax credit, and the donation will count as activity (we have some some suggestions on where to donate miles here.)
  4. Obvious at it seems, use up the points. Redemptions, however minor, still keep accounts active.
  5. Another obvious one: Keep track of your balances and expiration dates on to make sure you don’t lose anything accidentally.

It’s amazing what type of value you can realize when you really start managing and utilizing your miles and points. Resolve to get organized – and get using – your miles this year.

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