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 and brand mentions.

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 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 & Social Media Manager

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


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.

Christine Krzyszton

Points Content Contributor

Christine was born in Northern Michigan but spent most of her financial services career in the Metro Detroit area and a few years in New York. She now makes Northern Michigan her home but manages traveling about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location.

She is the author of “How to See the World in a Weekend” and has been writing about her weekend travels, personal finance, and travel tips for over 10 years. She has been a contributor to various online travel blogs, a regional men’s magazine, travel newsletters and lifestyle blogs.

Her travel philosophy is that “if you go where everyone else wants to go when everyone else wants to go there, you’ll get very little value for your travel dollar”. She plans her travels with that philosophy.

Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

While she has a goal to ultimately reach 100 countries visited and join the Traveler’s Century Club, she comfortably adds a few each year and is currently at 84.

Christine holds a BA in Business from Northwood University and several financial services industry designations. She is also A+ certified, a foundational computer technologies certification.

You can find Christine on Twitter and Facebook.

Countries Visited: 84
Favorite First Class: Emirates A380 Suites
Favorite Business Class: Delta One Suite Business Class A350
Best Redemption Value: The one-way 12,500 mile Delta awards to Alaska in the summer.
Favorite Redemption Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve, Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card from American Express, Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®

Stephen Au

Points Content Contributor

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels, thanks to his love for travel hacking.

A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times.

Within 2 years, Stephen has earned millions of points and miles, enjoyed several business class cabins, and stayed in luxury hotel suites in 14 countries.

Stephen’s true passion, however, lies in helping people achieve their travel dreams. As the Founder of Au Points and Awards Consulting Services (AuPACS, pronounced OW-PAX), Stephen works with clients one-on-one to curate long-term credit card and points plans that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based).

Stephen understands that the subject of redemptions, often known as the most difficult part of points optimization, can be overwhelming. His technical background enabled him to create a methodical and data-driven process that helps his clients find the most efficient use of points.

As a result, Stephen specializes in maximizing points to get you where you want to go, the way you want to get there.

Countries Visited: 19
Favorite First Class: 
Cathay Pacific (777)
Favorite Business Class: EVA Air (777)
Best Redemption Value: Singapore Airlines Business Class to Myanmar (777)
Favorite Type of Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet:  American Express Hilton Honors Aspire®, Chase Ink Business Preferred℠, Platinum Card® from American Express

Katie Seemann

Content Contributor

Katie is an Ohio native who caught the travel bug after spending a semester in college in Nottingham, England. In addition to exploring England, she visited Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands during that time and loved every minute of it (everything except the hostel in Scotland – that’s an experience she doesn’t intend on repeating!)

In late 2015, Katie discovered the world of points and miles, and it literally changed her life. She started a blog called Zen Life and Travel because so many people were asking her how she traveled so much (it’s all about the points!).

Since then she’s earned close to 1.5 million miles and points and currently has 13 travel rewards cards in her wallet. Her favorite travel partner is her husband who enjoys all of the free trips. So far, her favorite places are Hawaii, Tuscany and Scotland, and the Galapagos Islands top her travel wish list.

Countries Visited: 20
Best Redemption Value: Purchasing a Marriott Vacation Package to get the Southwest Companion Pass.
Favorite Redemption Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Freedom Unlimited, The Platinum® Card from American Express

When she’s not traveling, you can find Katie at home with her 4 year old daughter, husband, and 2 cats. In addition  to her own blog, Katie is also a contributor to a Columbus, OH based moms blog. She loves taking time to slow down to enjoy the “little” things in life…and, of course, planning her next trip!

You can follow Katie’s adventures on Instagram and Twitter.

Michael McHugh

Points Content Contributor

Michael was born in Baton Rouge, LA and raised in Mobile, AL, and took his first international trip to the Caribbean in 2013. From then on, he was hooked.

After that trip, Michael has continued traveling both domestically and internationally —primarily with constant travel companion and girlfriend, Ashlee, who runs her own travel/style and contracts blog. They currently reside in Washington, DC.

After redeeming points and miles on his first two-week trip to Southeast Asia in 2016, Michael has now traveled to 13 countries and territories.

Michael earned a BS in Construction Management with a minor in Business Administration from Louisiana State University and runs his own travel blog (Points With Q) on the side. Michael’s specialty is maximizing points for incredible redemption options.

Follow Michael on Twitter and Instagram.

Countries Visited: 13
Best Redemption Value: 
80,000 Ultimate Rewards to fly Delta One round-trip to Europe (Ultimate Rewards > Korean Air)
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve, Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Expresss, Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Jeff Brownson

Points 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. Follow Jeff on Instagram.

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®.

Susan Wright

Finance Content Contributor

While writing about finance and insurance isn’t something that keeps most people awake at night, it is what Susan Wright has focused on for more than 25 years. As a financial copywriter, Susan has an eye for money-related details such as credit and savings, and she loves to pass along helpful information to consumers.

Susan holds 11 financial industry designations (including CLU, ChFC, RHU, REBC, ADPA, CITRMS, CIPA) as well as several licenses. She also earned her BA from Michigan State University, and her MBA from St. Louis University. She has been the sole owner and writer at Insurance Promotion Services since 2003.

Susan is also in the process of compiling a book about the building of the Gateway Arch, where she plans to include several stories from one of the builders of this monument, her father. An avid Cardinals (baseball) and Blues (hockey) fan, Susan resides in St. Louis, Missouri.

Christy Rodriguez

Travel Content Contributor

Christy’s first international travel experience was for a summer study abroad program in Italy. After that, she knew that she was destined to travel as much as physically (and financially) possible.

Luckily, her husband got a job at Southwest Airlines, so they were introduced to the exciting world of “non-rev” travel. Seven years later, she has visited over 30 countries, mostly on standby.

In the past few years, she started learning how to maximize her trips by combining standby travel with credit card miles. While she only has a few business class trips under her belt, she has always enjoyed the ability to just hop on a plane for whichever flights were open! Her favorite part of travel might just be the planning for any possibilities?!

Christy’s favorite travel destinations are Japan, Italy and Cambodia. Basically, combine amazing food and drinks with beautiful architecture and she’s happy! High on her travel wish list is Jordan, Portugal and Sri Lanka.

Find more of her travels at Thanks SWA.

Jarrod West

Jarrod is a northern Kentucky native and alumnus of Northern Kentucky University where he studied Economics. 

As a former broke college graduate with an insatiable desire to see the world, his curiosity with points and miles happened out of necessity. 

This quickly led to a full-blown obsession which resulted in earning millions of points and spending 3 months traveling Europe with his girlfriend, Valeria, financed almost entirely with points and miles!

In the last two years, Jarrod has been fortunate enough to travel to 14 new countries and 20 US states. He also runs his own travel blog, the Freequent Flyer Blog, where he specializes in providing consulting services to those who are new to points and miles.

When he’s not traveling, Jarrod loves cooking, reading, and cheering on Liverpool F.C.

Follow Jarrod on Instagram and Facebook.

Countries Visited: 14
Favorite Business Class: Delta One (A350)
Best Redemption Value: Using the Southwest Companion Pass, so Valeria and I can both fly for the price of one!
Favorite Type of Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express Platinum Card, American Express Gold Card

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! 😉

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