Meet The Team!

Upgraded Points (“UP”) was launched in 2016 by founder Alex Miller, with the mission to show travelers and those hoping to travel, the real value of points and miles.

UP works to achieve this goal by publishing free, highly researched, in-depth and intuitive content that aims to give our readers everything they’re looking for — and more. Our experts spend anywhere between 5-20+ hours researching and crafting a single piece of content.

We love hearing from readers who were able to take fantastic adventures, or experience great products they wouldn’t have otherwise managed, had it not been for the content we produce and share.

That’s why UP exists and that’s what excites us.

In 2016, UP welcomed over 1MM people to the site followed by 2MM+ in 2017. Our goal for 2018 is to reach 4MM people. The brand continues to grow with increasing press, brand mentions, and citations.

Alex Miller

Founder & CEO

Alex has been traveling for over 25 years and he has his parents to thank for this. Born and raised in England (and living there until he was 27), from a young age Alex was lucky enough to set out on numerous family trips all over the world.

During university, where he studied Business & Management with Spanish, Alex studied abroad for a year in Alicante. After graduating in 2007 his passion jumped to another level when he and 5 friends visited 10 European countries in just 30 days – all on a shoestring budget.

This travel bug turned into a full-time obsession when Alex moved to America in 2011 after falling head-over-heels in love with Erin.

Alex has since earned millions of travel points and miles, mainly through maximizing credit card sign-up bonuses and taking every opportunity to earn the most points possible on each dollar spent.

These points and miles have helped Alex to fly some of the most awarded international first-class products in the world, including Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, British Airways & Lufthansa!

The most rewarding part of running UpgradedPoints.com are the success stories from readers and other avid travelers, some of which are featured in our Real Redemptions series.

Countries Visited: 31
Favorite First Class: 
Etihad Apartment (A380)
Favorite Business Class: Singapore Airlines (777)
Best Redemption Value: BA Travel Together Ticket (First Class)
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ CardChase Ink Business Preferred℠Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Erin Miller

Content Contributor & Relationships

Erin currently maintains her status as Alex’s adventure-seeking partner-in-crime and contributes to Upgraded Points through content creation & relationship management.

She caught the travel bug just after high school when her grandmother took her on a two-week, whirlwind trip around Europe. That was that – she’s been gallivanting around the globe ever since (22 countries & counting)!

Alex’s persistence with cracking the points game wide open has allowed her to experience some incredible, new destinations and some pretty fantastic flight upgrades. She’s now fully invested in this lucrative industry hack with 6 different points-earning credit cards in her wallet. She’s constantly choosing the best card for the purchase at hand, capitalizing on category bonuses and checking portals to maximize spend.

And it’s definitely worth all the effort – with 8 different First & Biz class products under her belt, Erin swears it’s an insane way to fly, that will never (ever) get old.

Erin currently manages the UP Instagram account @UpgradedPoints, but you can also follow along with her personally @erin.lynn.miller.

Countries Visited: 22
Favorite First Class: 
Etihad Apartment (A380)
Favorite Business Class: Singapore Airlines (777)
Best Redemption Value: Singapore Suites from JFK > FRA> SIN
Favorite Type of Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ CardChase Freedom Unlimited®The Platinum® Card from American Express

Leigh Rowan

Director of Special Projects

Leigh Rowan brings a wealth of travel expertise and industry connections to the constantly-growing UP Team. Leigh has been a world traveler since his teens and has visited over 60 countries on 6 continents (Antarctica, he’s coming for you next!), often times traveling with his family in premium classes for little more out-of-pocket cost than an economy ticket.

Leigh met his wife on an airplane (Alaska Airlines; OAK to SEA!), and they’ve been traveling together ever since, and even now, with little ones in tow! His two children (4 and 1 years old) have had American Airlines AAdvantage Gold and Delta SkyMiles Silver Medallion status – with a little luck and grit, they’ll both be at Platinum on each airline, soon enough!

Anchoring our West Coast presence, Leigh lives and works in San Francisco’s busy entrepreneurial and tech scene. He brings years of experience in the finance, frequently flyer/loyalty program, and technology sectors. When he’s not helping UP strike new relationships with advertising or tech partners, he’s helping busy executives manage their travels via his company Savanti Travel.

Leigh studied Italian at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and did a brief stint in culinary school in Italy. You can follow Leigh’s frequent travels, occasional pictures of food, and infrequent musings on Twitter at @leighrowan

Countries Visited: 60
Favorite First Class:
Tie between Cathay F on the 777 and JAL F on the 777
Favorite Business Class: Three way tie (are those allowed?!) between the food and champagne on Air France’s 777, the spaciousness of Asiana’s A350, and the overall service and experience of Cathay’s 777
Best Redemption Value: 15 cents/mile for Etihad First (SFO-AUH) for my best friend for his honeymoon!
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Business Platinum® from American Express OPEN, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Jeanette Margle

Editor

Jeanette’s passion for perfection in writing and editing is almost as strong as her passion for travel! Though she loves living near her family in Texas, she takes plenty of opportunities to visit new places.

From weeks-long U.S. road trips to months-long international excursions, Jeanette has experienced many of the sights this world has to offer. She especially enjoys experiencing local history, culture, and cuisine during her travels, and loves incorporating elements of adventure.

Her favorite trip so far has been exploring Peru with friends: from the exciting fusion of cuisines in the coastal metropolis of Lima, to ancient ruins in the rural countryside, and finally hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. Her bucket list includes trekking in Patagonia and making it to Everest Base Camp!

At home, Jeanette enjoys running, hiking with her husband and their dog, reading good books, and cooking great food accompanied by a stellar glass of wine.

Jeanette has two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Texas and a Master’s of Education from the University of Houston. A former journalist and middle school English teacher, she spent time working in higher education before venturing out on her own as an editor and writing coach with her company, Vox Tuus LLC.

Spencer Howard

Senior Content Contributor

Always a fan of flying, it was only natural that Spencer was drawn to finding a way to improve the travel experience.

Like many, he started this journey searching for cheap flights to take him around the world. This was fun for a while, but Spencer was intrigued by the idea of flying in business and first class!

Throwing himself into what became an extensive research project, Spencer spent 3-4 hours per night learning everything he could about frequent flyer miles over the course of several months (he thinks this is normal).

Spencer has put that knowledge to use by booking some of the top premium cabin award flights in the sky. Fortunately for his friends, he helps them figure out how to travel too 😉

Spencer graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in political science and now works in Washington, D.C.

When he’s not searching for fun award redemptions, you can find him playing softball on the National Mall, watching Notre Dame football, or enjoying a fine bourbon. If you want to learn more about what he is up to, you can find him at Straight To The Points.

Countries Visited: 21
Favorite First Class: 
Garuda Indonesia
Favorite Business Class: KLM (787-9)
Best Redemption Value: Emirates First JFK-DXB-BKK-DXB-MXP-JFK
Favorite Type of Points: ThankYou Points
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Bank of America Asiana, Chase Ink Plus, Citi Access More

Jeff Brownson

Senior Content Contributor

Jeff was born and raised in Syracuse, New York, and didn’t take his first flight until his senior year of high school. Travel as he grew up was always by car, exploring much of the US and a bit of Canada.

Studying abroad in Copenhagen during college, and backpacking around Europe afterwards, was the next major step in a long life of travel. The wanderlust quickly took hold.

Today, Jeff can be found traveling the world solo, with groups of friends, or most often with his wife, Chrissy, and two boys, Ryan and Cole. Together with their dogs, Athena and Artemis, they make their home in Falls Church, VA, just outside of DC.

Since discovering miles and points in 2010, Jeff has traveled to over 35 countries, flying in first class, business class, and sometimes even in coach. Whether he’s staying in a hostel dorm, or in a luxury suite at a 5 star hotel, Jeff is constantly looking for the best deal to make travel as close to free as possible.

Jeff holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is a contributor to TravelingDad, and has been a featured speaker at the Chicago Seminars and Family Travel for Real Life Conferences.

Countries Visited: 40
Favorite First Class: 
Cathay Pacific (777)
Favorite Business Class: Cathay Pacific (777)
Best Redemption Value: 4 seats to the Galapagos flying JFK-PTY-UIO-GPS-UIO-PTY-BOS on Copa and Avianca (Ultimate Rewards > United)
Favorite Type of Points: Amex Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: The Platinum® Card from American Express, Citi Prestige Card, Chase Ink Plus®.

David Slotnick

Content Contributor

Born and raised in New York, David still remembers his first flight when he was only four years old: a U.S. Airways trip from New York-La Guardia to Palm Beach, Florida. He formed his love of travel around that and other family vacations, including to England at age eight and Namibia when he was 13. During college, a four-country trip around Europe with a friend cemented his passion for seeing the world.

David is obsessed with points and miles and loves that he can use them to travel more often and more comfortably (and luxuriously). He enjoys getting into the nitty gritty of different programs and finding the best deals. Using points, miles and deal-searching, he and his fiancée have flown both short and long haul trips in products ranging from economy to international first class.

David is a genuine #avgeek and is crazy about the journey, but is even more enthusiastic about actually being at the destination. He’s always eager to really get to know a new place; while conducting archival research for his master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh, he took advantage of the opportunity to explore the U.K.

Currently a full-time writer and content creator, David left his job as a healthcare PR executive this year to pursue his dream of writing, reporting, and sharing travel news, tips and information first hand.

Follow David on Twitter or on his personal blog, The City Miler, for his latest work and adventures.

Countries Visited: 11
Favorite First Class: 
Korean Air (A380)
Favorite Business Class: American Airlines
Best Redemption Value: 13.8¢/mile using AA miles to Fly to London in Business Class
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card & The Platinum® Card from American Express

Brandon Brunner

Content Contributor

Brandon was born and raised in California and really didn’t travel much growing up, even outside of his own state. While attending college, he was constantly looking to find the cheapest fares to any destination abroad, and quickly learned about the motto- “Chase the fare, not the destination”

Luckily, his first international flight was to Costa Rica (under $300 roundtrip) where that “Pura Vida” lifestyle (and Imperials) hit him hard, and he knew he had to see more.

Of course, Brandon signed up for all sorts of frequent flyer programs without any real plan, except for the fact he wanted free flights!

Then a few years down the road he began pursuing credit cards, sometimes in masses, to earn all sorts of miles and points to elevate his travel style and enable him to travel more for so much less.

So far, Brandon’s favorite flight has been on the First Class Apartments on Etihad’s A380 from Abu Dhabi to New York. He can’t choose a favorite country, but he does have a “Top 5” which can change depending on the day: Costa Rica, Peru, Brazil, Sri Lanka and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Brandon graduated from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey with an M.A. in International Policy Studies, specializing in Conflict Resolution and currently lives in Washington D.C.

Leo Miller

Head of Security

It’s a dangerous world out there, and someone needs to step up and protect us from online spam and intruders!

Leo, our lab mix pup, decided to take on this highly important role (in exchange for a steady supply of his favorite peanut butter biscuits, of course).

He’s our special little guy, a big member of the Miller family, and our head of security! 😉