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, 5MM+ in 2018 and our goal for 2019 is to reach 10MM people. The brand continues to grow with increasing press and brand mentions. Traffic stats can be seen here.

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, but you can also follow along with her personally.

Countries Visited: 23
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.

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

Kellie Bennett Jez

Editor in Chief & Director of Operations

Kellie joins the UP team after spending 9 years in the education sector, both in Higher Education and K-12. Over the years, she found her professional passion revolved around compliance, data reporting, and process implementation/refinement.

Kellie has always enjoyed traveling, but was welcomed to the world of points/miles when her husband showed her how to make the most those points/miles to travel to Dubai, France, Thailand, Hong Kong, and a few more. Her favorite trip to date was their honeymoon when she got to fly Singapore Suites, The Apartment on Etihad, and Emirates First — all on points/miles.

Kellie, her husband, and two dogs, Alley & Scotty Cameron, live in Salt Lake City where they spend time hiking, golfing, and watching a lot of basketball.

Kellie holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master’s of Education from the University of Texas at Austin.

Countries Visited: 7
Favorite First Class: The Apartment on Etihad
Favorite Business Class: Cathay Business
Best Redemption Value: EEK – that’s a tough one! With making the right purchases with the right card, you can earn GREAT rewards
Favorite Type of Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: The Platinum Card by American Express, the American Express Gold Card, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Jeanette Margle

Senior 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.

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®

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.

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.

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

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

Michael McHugh

Points Content Contributor

Michael grew up 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 wife, Ashlee, who runs her own travel/style and contracts blog.

After redeeming points and miles on his first two-week trip to Southeast Asia in 2016, Michael has now traveled to 15 countries.

Michael graduated 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.

You can follow Michael on Twitter and Instagram.

Countries Visited: 15
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, American Express Blue Business Plus

James Larounis

Points Content Contributor

Jamie first got his hook on miles and points during a high school choir trip to Europe, where he flew in Lufthansa First Class (thanks to his dad’s then US Airways miles) because economy was sold out.

Years later, he started The Forward Cabin blog to teach friends and family about miles and points and delve in deep to the inner workings of airline and hotel programs.

He’s helped organize Frequent Traveler University, where’s he’s spoken in depth on the loyalty programs of Amtrak, American Airlines and Kimpton Hotels.

Highlighting on his knowledge of airline customer experience, Jamie was featured in American Airlines’ “Elevate” training program presented to all employees in 2016 talking about the essentials to customer service.

Among several media spotlights, he’s spoken at Princeton University, and the New York Times Travel Show, been quoted in The New York Times, Travel and Leisure Magazine, The New York Post, The Fiscal Times, Skift, Forbes, New York Magazine, and Condé Nast Traveler, been featured on CNN, written for InsideFlyer, Road Warrior Voices/USA Today,, the official content platform for the Travel and Adventure Shows, and makes occasional guest appearances as a featured expert discussing the travel industry on FOX News.

Consulting projects include clients such as Executive Travel, OurBus, ZED Aerospace, PEX+, American Airlines, iVisa and DoNotPay Travel, among others.

In 2018, he was awarded the highest honor for exceptional customer service for Washington Dulles International Airport.

Jamie holds a B.S. in Political Science from the University of Mary Washington, and is a certified Advanced Life Support provider with the Commonwealth of Virginia. In his spare time, he volunteers as an emergency medical technician on an ambulance, leads community CPR and First Aid classes, and is on the Board of Directors of his local Rotary Club. His proudest accomplishment is earning the Eagle Scout award with the Boy Scouts of America.

Countries Visited: 25
Favorite First Class: Qantas First Class (A380)
Favorite Business Class: Qantas Business Class (B747)
Best Redemption Value: 4,500 British Airways Avios from Longreach to Brisbane Australia
Favorite Redemption Points: American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve, Platinum Card from American Express, Chase Hyatt Visa.

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.

Andrew Kunesh

Points Content Contributor

Andrew was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs and now splits his time between Chicago and New York City.

He’s a lifelong traveler and took his first solo trip to San Francisco at the age of 16. Since then, Andrew has traveled to over 25 countries in style with over 10 business class products under his belt.

Some of his favorite business and first class products are on Lufthansa, SWISS, Hong Kong Airlines, JAL, and Qatar Airways. But don’t worry: he still takes the occasional Spirit and EasyJet flight when the price is right.

Andrew started collecting points and miles obsessively when studying at DePaul University and soon started freelancing in the space. He frequently writes about miles and points and books award tickets for a handful of clients.

You can catch Andrew posting about his travels on Instagram and Twitter.

Countries Visited: 25 (with more on the way!)

Favorite First Class:
Lufthansa—just can’t get enough of the first class terminal.
Favorite Business Class: That’s a tough one, but I’ll have to settle for Qatar Airways. You really can’t beat the rose champagne.
Best Redemption Value: 8.1 cents per point flying BUD-FRA-ORD in Lufthansa first class.
Favorite Type of Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Platinum Card® from American Express, American Express Gold Card, Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

Jarrod West

Content Contributor

As a former broke college graduate with an insatiable desire to see the world, Jarrod became fascinated with using points and miles as the perfect way to visit dream destinations without breaking the bank.

Like many others who enter this hobby, his fascination 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!

Thanks to points and miles, Jarrod has been fortunate enough to travel to 14 new countries and 22 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.

Jarrod holds a B.S. in Economics from Northern Kentucky University. When he’s not traveling or writing about the latest travel credit card, Jarrod loves cooking (mostly eating!), reading, and cheering on Liverpool F.C.

Follow Jarrod on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Countries Visited: 14
Favorite Business Class: Delta One (A350)
Best Redemption Value: 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

Greg Stone

Content Contributor

Greg got bitten by the travel bug at a young age while travelling with his Dad on business trips to Asia. He took over the family business in 2012 and uses it to maximise his loyalty points earning.

His obsession with earning and burning loyalty rewards points allows him to travel over 100 days every year, often in-style on some of the most coveted business and first class products.

You can see more of Greg’s travels on Instagram.

Countries Visited: 35
Favorite First Class: Singapore Airlines new Suites
Favorite Business Class: Qatar Airways Qsuites
Best Redemption Value: 148,000 Kris Flyer Miles for a $15,000 flight in the new SQ suites
Favorite Redemption Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Amex Business Platinum, Amex Platinum, Amex Velocity (Australia)

Chris Hassan

Family Travel Contributor

Chris is from Boston and is currently living in Rio de Janeiro with his wife, two kids, and their dog, Shelby.

When Chris was in college, he spent a semester abroad studying hotel and business management in Switzerland. That is where he caught the travel bug and met his wife. Quite a successful trip!

Since then, Chris and his wife have lived and worked on three different continents together and travel in search of good food and drinks whenever they have the chance.

From lie-flat beds in the sky and 5-star hotels to lap-children in coach and Airbnbs, Chris tries to maximize every family vacation so that his kids will appreciate the joy of travel just like he does.

Chris funds their family travel addiction with the help of credit card points to make sure that grandparents in each hemisphere get quality time with the kids!

You can follow Chris on Instagram.

Countries Visited: 20
Favorite First Class: Etihad Apartment (A380)
Favorite Business Class: American Airlines 777 – I know it’s not the fanciest, but it’s a great option for when we fly GIG-JFK, which is often.
Best Redemption Value: I helped booked a RTW honeymoon for my Dad and his wife all in business/first class and 5-star hotels, ending with a ride home in the Etihad Apartment.
Favorite Redemption Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Citi Prestige, The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express, Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card American Express Card

Cherag Dubash

Content Contributor

Cherag was born in a family associated with aviation and was hooked on to planes since the age of 3, the time he undertook his first flight on an Airbus A310 from Mumbai to Dubai.

Based in Abu Dhabi, the London City University graduate is regularly seen on Instagram, travelling over 100K miles each year in First and Business Class while holding down a regular job.

Cherag fuels his addiction of premium flying by maximizing the earning and redemption of credit card and frequent flyer points and fare hacks where mileage redemption is not available. You can follow Cherag on Instagram.

Countries Visited: 57
Favorite First Class: Emirates B777 Game Changer
Favorite Business Class: Qatar Airways A350 QSuites
Best Redemption Value: JAL First Class HND – JFK
Favorite Type of Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: The Platinum Card® from American Express, Emirates NBD SPG World Master Card and ADCB Etihad Guest Above Infinite 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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