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Upgraded Points (“UP”) was launched in 2016 by founder Alex Miller with the mission to show travelers the real value of points and miles, as well as upgrade their overall travel experiences.

UP works every day to achieve this goal by publishing free, super in-depth, and intuitive content that aims to give our readers everything they’re looking for and more. Our travel and finance experts regularly spend hours researching and crafting just a single piece of content.

However, the team doesn’t just focus on new guides and the latest news. With the travel and credit card industry constantly evolving, content quickly becomes outdated. That’s why we routinely review and update thousands of articles on the site — many as often as every month.

We love hearing success stories from readers who consume our content and then are able to snag that elusive hotel or flight upgrade, take the family to Disney by using points, or even experience luxurious travel without breaking the bank. That’s why UP exists and that’s what excites us.

UP has grown quickly since launching in 2016, now welcoming millions of visitors every month with thousands of press and brand mentions across the web. Our expertise and insights are regularly featured across top-tier publications such as The New York Times, Forbes, Travel & Leisure, Business Insider, Fox Business, Washington Post, CNBC, TimeOut, and many more.

UP can also be found on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, including our Level UP Group on Facebook where 15,000+ avid travelers share, connect, and can ask our team anything to do with travel or credit cards! We also host regular “how to” videos that highlight a particular strategy or tip to maximize your travel.

Meet the Team

Alex Miller Picture

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 tens of millions of travel points and miles, mainly through maximizing 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, and more.

Alex is regularly called upon by mainstream publications to discuss travel and finance, including CNBCForbes, Fox BusinessFox NewsInsiderLonely PlanetThe New York Times, and The Washington Post.

Countries Visited: 34
U.S. States Visited: 29
Highest Hotel Status: Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite
Highest Airline Status: Oneworld Gold
Favorite Airline Alliance: Oneworld
Favorite First Class: Etihad Apartment (A380) and New Singapore Suites (A380)
Favorite Business Class: QSuite (A350)
Best Redemption Value: Our Around the World Trip — 611k miles for $55,000+ of value
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve®Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Erin Miller Picture

Erin Miller

Content Contributor

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

She caught the travel bug just after high school when her grandmother took her on a 2-week, whirlwind trip around Europe. That was that — she’s been gallivanting around the globe ever since (26 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 fully invested in this lucrative industry hack with many 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 and business class products under her belt, Erin swears it’s an insane way to fly, that will never (ever) get old.

Erin has been mentioned in a number of publications, including Business Insider, Forbes, Lonely Planet, U.S. News & World Report, and WTOP.

Countries Visited: 26
U.S. States Visited: 28
Favorite First Class: Etihad Apartment (A380) and New Singapore Suites (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®Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

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Kellie Jez

Director of Operations & Compliance

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 and miles when her husband showed her how to make the most of those points and 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 and miles.

Kellie, her husband, dog, and son live in Austin, Texas where they spend time hiking, golfing, and watching a lot of sports.

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: 10
U.S. States Visited: 20
Highest Hotel Status: Marriott Gold Elite
Highest Airline Status: Delta Gold Medallion
Favorite Airline Alliance: SkyTeam
Favorite First Class: The Apartment on Etihad
Favorite Business Class: Lufthansa
Best Redemption Value: The Apartment on Etihad AUH > JFK. Retail Value: $9,260. Redeemed for 99,244 Membership Rewards points (resulting in 9.3 cents per point).
Favorite Type of Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: American Express® Gold CardChase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

Keri was born and raised in Atlanta and first traveled abroad to England on a fellowship while earning her B.S. in Marketing at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She now makes Doha, Qatar, her home.

As an expat for over 7 years, Keri has lived in Qatar (2 times, 10 years apart) and Singapore. She has enjoyed amazing travel and adventure opportunities across the globe and has traveled to 47 countries. Her favorite travel destinations include Jordan, the Maldives, Seychelles, Thailand, and Türkiye. Highlights of her 2024 travel include Sri Lanka, Kenya, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.

Previously the assistant editor of a Houston-centric website, Keri spent her early career in corporate marketing for Domino’s Pizza and was also the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar.

Editing with Upgraded Points for over 5 years, as editor-in-chief, Keri manages the editorial calendar and oversees the efforts of the editing team and over 20 content contributors, reviewing thousands of articles in the process.

With over 20 years of personal experience utilizing points and miles earned from flights, hotel stays, credit card spending, promotional bonus opportunities, and sign-up bonuses, Keri has been able to maximize airline and hotel award redemptions for her family of 5.

Countries Visited: 47
U.S. States Visited: 28
Highest Hotel Status: IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite
Highest Airline Status: Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion
Favorite Airline Alliance: Oneworld
Favorite First Class: One can dream!
Favorite Business Class: Qatar Qsuite
Best Redemption Value: A 2-week tour of Christmas Markets in Europe, including 5 countries and 6 cities, all on airline miles and SPG points, as well as a Walt Disney World trip with friends that was paid for with Disney Dollars earned from referral bonuses from her Disney® Premier Visa® card
Favorite Type of Points: Capital One miles
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardCapital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card

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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!), oftentimes 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 3 children (8, 5 and 2 years old) have had American 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! Fun fact: Leigh has saved each of the boarding passes for each of his kids’ flights (and the stack is ever-growing!).

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, frequent flyer and 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.

Leigh is also a top-tier Virtuoso travel agent and can be reached at leighrowan@upgradedpoints.com for booking assistance.

Countries Visited: 60
U.S. States Visited: 0
Favorite First Class: Tie between Cathay F on the 777 and JAL F on the 777
Favorite Business Class: 3-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 per 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®The Business Platinum® from American Express, and Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

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Stella Shon

News Managing Editor

Stella was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where she lived for nearly two decades. Stella attended college just a stone’s throw away from her childhood home, graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Go Heels!) with a bachelor’s degree in media and journalism. She also studied abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris, which then fueled her desire to continue seeing the world using travel rewards.

Stella now calls New York City home. With three airports practically in her backyard and plenty of airfare deals to be found, Stella easily flies 100,000+ miles every year.

She has been a points and miles enthusiast for more than six years, and her work has been featured in media outlets like CNBC, Travel + Leisure, The New York Times, ValuePenguin, The Points Guy, LendingTree, Slickdeals, MoneyUnder30 and USA Today. Most recently, Stella was a corporate communications analyst at JetBlue.

Stella carries a dozen credit cards in her wallet but always reevaluates her points and miles strategy. Some of her favorite trips—all paid for with her credit card rewards—include a five-day trip trekking through Morocco, a week campervanning in Iceland with her mom and a 48-hour jaunt to Antigua, Guatemala.

Recent redemptions included: ANA first class from Chicago to Tokyo for 60,000 points, Delta One from New York-JFK to Honolulu for just $300 (thanks to a regional upgrade certificate) and some R&R in the Dominican Republic.

You can follow Stella on Instagram and Twitter.

Countries Visited: 25
U.S. States Visited: 22
Highest Hotel Status: Hilton Honors Diamond, World of Hyatt Globalist
Highest Airline Status: American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Pro, Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion, JetBlue Mosaic
Favorite Airline Alliance: Oneworld
Favorite First Class: All Nippon Airways (ANA) – 777-330ER
Favorite Business Class: Singapore Airlines
Best Redemption Value: Award mistake fares exist—a one-way lie-flat business class seat EWR-CDG-CMN for 12.5k EVA Airways miles on TAP Air Portugal.
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards and Bilt Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit CardAmerican Express® Gold Card, and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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Nick Ellis

Editor & Content Contributor

Nick was born and raised in West Michigan and caught the travel bug after a last-minute decision to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina after his sophomore year at the University of Michigan. After that, he got into the points and miles game to help fund subsequent spring break trips to Europe.

Nick has now traveled to 35 countries, largely thanks to travel rewards. Some of his favorite places include Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Tokyo, Japan, and Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Next on his travel bucket list is a trip to the Middle East where he’ll visit Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon.

Nick now lives in Michigan and most recently worked for The Points Guy where he was a writer and editor for more than 5 years.

You can follow Nick’s adventures on Instagram.

Countries Visited: 35
U.S. States Visited: 25
Highest Hotel Status: Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite
Highest Airline Status: Delta SkyMiles Diamond Medallion
Favorite First Class: Emirates A380
Favorite Business Class: Qatar Qsuite
Best Redemption Value: Using Marriott Bonvoy points to cover the cost of 3 rooms at the St. Regis Punta Mita over the New Year’s holiday when rates were close to $2,000 per night
Favorite Type of Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: American Express® Gold CardThe Platinum Card® from American Express, and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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Juan Ruiz

Senior Editor & Content Contributor

Juan has over a decade of experience writing and editing stories relating to travel, credit cards, and loyalty programs. His extensive knowledge in these fields has garnered recognition for his contributions in numerous reputable publications, including USA Today, CNN Underscored, Forbes, and The Points Guy, among others. Juan is also the co-founder of JetBetter, a bespoke award-booking concierge service that helps clients optimize their points for luxury flights and 5-star hotels.

When Juan was in elementary school, his parents sent him to Bogota, Colombia, by himself to spend the summers with his grandmother. This was the start of his insatiable wanderlust. These days, Juan has been to more than 40 countries and has experienced some of the most magnificent premium flights in the sky, including Emirates A380 First Class, Qatar Qsuites, Singapore First Class Suites, and Etihad A380 First Class Apartments, to mention a few.

Juan, his wife Stephanie, and 3 daughters live in South Florida, where they embark on travel adventures worldwide using points and miles earned from more than 25 credit cards he possesses. His crowning achievement is showing his three daughters the world through a global lens.

Juan holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Florida International University and a Master’s of Education from the University of Miami.

You can follow Juan on Instagram and Twitter.

Countries Visited: 41
U.S. States Visited: 28
Highest Hotel Status: World of Hyatt Globalist, Hilton Honors Diamond
Highest Airline Status: American AAdvantage Pro Platinum, JetBlue Mosaic, Delta Platinum Medallion
Favorite Airline Alliance: Oneworld
Favorite First Class: Singapore First Class Suite
Favorite Business Class: Qatar Qsuites
Best Redemption Value: Cathay Pacific long-haul business class for 4 at 50,000 Alaska miles per person. Cash value? $35,000!
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: American Express® Gold CardChase Sapphire Preferred® CardThe Business Platinum Card® from American Express

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Jessica Merritt

Editor & Content Contributor

Jessica has studied points and miles for more than 5 years. She is a current contributor with U.S. News, covering credit cards and loans, and is the publication’s former personal finance managing editor. Passionate about supporting consumers, Jessica helps readers get the most value from their money, whether the currency is cash, points, or miles.

With a family of 5, Jessica’s travel these days consists mostly of short domestic getaways and camping trips. Some of her favorite destinations are Key West, Orlando, Denver, D.C., and points within the great state of Texas, though she’s always researching a new trip!

Jessica lives in the Houston area with her husband and 3 kids who are always ready to hit the road, and, if given the choice, would probably sleep in a hotel or at a campground full time.

Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Houston.

Countries Visited: 4
U.S. States Visited: 23
Highest Hotel Status: Hilton Honors Gold
Highest Airline Status: Spirit Gold (yes, really)
Favorite Airline Alliance: No loyalty here!
Favorite First Class: None yet!
Favorite Business Class: None yet here, either!
Best Redemption Value: Nearly-free visits to Disney World for a family of 5, 2 years in a row!
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve®Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, and American Express Cash Magnet® Card

Chris Dong Picture

Chris Dong

Editor & Content Contributor

Chris is an obsessive traveler with an eye for luxury hotels and local, authentic experiences. He loves sleeping in opulent five-star suites (in the air or on the ground!) just as much as he enjoys eating at hole-in-the-wall noodle joints.

As a freelance travel writer and editor, he focuses on timely travel trends, points and miles, hot new hotels, and all things that go (he’s a proud aviation geek and transit nerd). Ultimately, he believes luxury travel, local experiences and loyalty programs can all go together.

Formerly full-time at The Points Guy, his work can now be found at AFAR, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, The Washington Post, Insider, and Lonely Planet, among others. When he’s not traveling, Chris calls Los Angeles home after nearly ten years of living in New York City.

You can follow Chris on Instagram and Twitter.

Countries Visited: 54
U.S. States Visited: 36
Highest Hotel Status: World of Hyatt Globalist, Hilton Honors Diamond
Highest Airline Status: American Airlines Executive Platinum
Favorite Airline Alliance: Oneworld
Favorite First Class: Cathay Pacific First Class
Favorite Business Class: Qatar Qsuite
Best Redemption Value: ANA First Class, Cathay Pacific First Class, Japan Airlines First Class.
Favorite Type of Points: Amex Membership Rewards and Bilt Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: American Express® Gold CardBilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card, and Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Michael Y. Park is a journalist living in New York City. For both work and pleasure, he’s traveled to over 60 countries, including having snuck through Afghanistan disguised as a Hazara Shi’ite, slept with polar bears on the Canadian tundra, picnicked with the king and queen of Malaysia, tramped around organic farms in Cuba, ridden the world’s longest train through the Sahara, and choked down gasoline clams in North Korea. He is a survivor of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on Lower Manhattan, and photographs from his experience have been displayed at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and at exhibits about the event. He worked at a restaurant helmed by chef Anthony Bourdain, who once threatened to cut off his hands. Justifiably.

Park’s written or edited for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, the Points Guy, New York Post, New York Magazine, Toronto Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Reuters, Epicurious, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Food and Wine, Oyster, Architectural Digest, People, Men’s Journal, Blender, Details, Rodale’s Organic Life, and other publications, on everything from space chimps to Elmo bongs to serial killers and from inside prisons. In addition, he was the former head of the travel section for LIFE magazine and digital managing editor for the world’s largest publisher of history magazines. He’s reviewed hundreds of hotels, resorts, and properties, from the infamous “Murder Hotel” in Times Square to the very suite of Costa Rican rainforest retreat where Beyonce and Jay-Z sequestered to allegedly mend their marriage, and has taken forms of transportation from dogsled to dugout canoe. His reporting on the airline industry led to the release of a flight attendant from ICE detention and ultimately led to congressional hearings. He always travels with an extension cord.

Countries Visited: 60
U.S. States Visited: 50
Favorite Airline Alliance: Oneworld
Favorite First Class: Singapore Airlines
Favorite Business Class: Cathay Pacific
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: The Platinum Card® from American Express and Chase Sapphire Reserve®️

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Chris Hassan

Social Media & Brand Manager

Chris has years of marketing and hospitality experience, so running the social media channels and writing about family travel is a natural fit for him here at Upgraded Points.

A Boston native now living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Chris has a passion for sharing travel tips for families and has been featured on BBC News, Parents.com, The Washington Post, The Weather Channel, and other publications.

Chris earned his B.S. in Hospitality & Tourism Management from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, studied hotel management even further in Switzerland, and then worked in luxury hotels in New England for years after graduating.

After meeting his wife and catching the travel bug in Europe, Chris and his young family always make travel a priority. With grandparents in each hemisphere, international travel has become an integral part of his kids’ lives, and being able to pay for it with points and miles makes it easier to afford.

While he is no stranger to flying long distances in the back of a plane with 2 kids, being able to fly business or first class and lie-flat is the preferred way to go. Chris is a firm believer that kids belong up front just as much as any other well-behaved paying customer.

You can follow Chris on InstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Countries Visited: 24
U.S. States Visited: 26
Highest Hotel Status: World of Hyatt Globalist
Highest Airline Status: AAdvantage Platinum Pro
Favorite Airline Alliance: Star Alliance
Favorite First Class: Etihad Apartment (A380)
Favorite Business Class: Japan Airlines (A350-1000)
Best Redemption Value: TAP Miles&Go via United Airlines between North and South America
Favorite Type of Points: Amex Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire CardCiti Prestige® Card, and Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

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Jarrod West

Senior Content Contributor

Jarrod has been writing about the ins and outs of credit cards and loyalty programs, along with airlines and hotels, for over 6 years. He is regularly called upon to share his expertise on the latest news within the space, and has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Travel and Leisure, RetailMeNot, and Yahoo! Finance.

Jarrod has over 20 credit cards in his wallet and has tested out dozens more in order to vet the very best card options for readers. As he is constantly sampling new cards, Jarrod also earns (and redeems) over 1 million points and miles each year. This allows him to book luxury travel experiences the world over, and save tens of thousands of dollars in the process.

He first became fascinated with the world of travel rewards as the perfect way to visit dream destinations without breaking the bank. Now, he is on a mission to help others realize their travel goals and upgrade their travel experiences.

He holds a B.S. in Economics from Northern Kentucky University and now calls New York City home. Jarrod also runs his own website, the Freequent Flyer Blog, where he has helped readers earn over 20 million points and miles (approx. $200k+ in travel savings) through his free credit card consultations. Outside of writing and traveling, he loves trying new restaurants, reading, and cheering on Liverpool F.C.

Follow Jarrod on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Countries Visited: 21
U.S. States Visited: 24
Highest Hotel Status: World of Hyatt Globalist
Highest Airline Status: American AAdvantage Platinum Pro
Favorite Airline Alliance: Oneworld
Favorite First Class: Emirates A380
Favorite Business Class: Qatar Qsuite
Best Redemption Value: 3 months of full-time travel for 2 throughout 18 cities in Europe, with all flights and 70% of hotel stays covered thanks to points and miles
Favorite Type of Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: The Platinum Card® from American ExpressAmerican Express® Gold Card, and The World of Hyatt Credit Card

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Christine Krzyszton

Senior Finance Contributor

Christine was born in Northern Michigan but spent most of her career operating her own business developing and managing insurance and financial services offices throughout the state. Her previous experience involved building and writing business plans in the mergers and acquisitions sector in New York, as well as staffing in the insurance and financial technology software field.

Her successful insurance and financial services career has been an excellent foundation from which to source her knowledge for many of Upgraded Points’ travel insurance articles.

Additionally, Christine has a collection of over 2 dozen current credit cards, including those issued by American Express, Chase, Citi, Discover, U.S. Bank, and previously Barclays and Capital One. Her goal is to learn every aspect of the cards’ attributes with a hands-on approach in order to translate that experience to her in-depth comparison and benefit articles. Beyond using the cards for earning and redeeming rewards, we won’t even mention the hours she spends reading each card’s Guide to Benefits.

Although Christine applies for cards on a consistent basis, she keeps a close watch on her credit score to maintain an excellent credit rating averaging between 820 to 840.

Her favorite use of points includes purchasing premium class fare tickets with The Business Platinum Card® from American Express to receive the 35% points rebate. Keeping a healthy balance of hundreds of thousands of points allows her to purchase several business class flights each year. She’s also a fan of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® which she uses to purchase bargain business class fares with Chase Ultimate Rewards points to receive 1.5 cents per point in value.

Christine now makes Northern Michigan her home, but she also travels over 200,000 miles each year, most of it internationally. She uses her miles to position to cities where deals can be found, preferably in business class, and uses rewards points to pay for the flights. She also uses her earned systemwide upgrades to fly in business and first class.

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

She has nearly 5 million flown miles, elite status on all 3 major domestic carriers, and is a 3-million miler with Delta Air Lines.

You can follow Christine on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Countries Visited: 98
U.S. States Visited: 45
Highest Hotel Status: Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite, Hilton Honors Diamond
Highest Airline Status: Delta SkyMiles Diamond Medallion
Favorite Airline Alliance: SkyTeam
Favorite First Class: Emirates First Class A380 Suite
Favorite Business Class: Delta One Suites
Best Redemption Value: Avios for short-haul flights
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve®The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

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Katie Seemann

Senior Content Contributor and News Editor

Katie fell in love with travel during a semester abroad in college spent in Nottingham, England. During that time, she got to see Scotland, Ireland, London, and Amsterdam and knew she wanted to see more of the world.

Fast forward to 2015 when Katie discovered the world of points and miles. She jumped in full force and hasn’t looked back. After starting her own blog, Zen Life and Travel, in 2016, she began freelance writing in 2017. In addition to being a contributor to Upgraded Points since 2018, her work has also been featured in Travel + Leisure, Forbes Advisor, and Million Mile Secrets.

Over the years she’s collected and redeemed millions of points and miles and currently has 16 cards in her wallet. Hyatt is her hotel brand of choice because the value you can get using points is tremendous. Because of that, her Chase cards get a lot of use since Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer directly to Hyatt. Her favorite cards are the Chase Sapphire Reserve® for travel and dining, Chase Freedom Flex℠ for bonus category spending, and Chase Freedom Unlimited® for everything else.

As for flying, American Airlines is her go-to airline since the Loyalty Points program makes elite status simple and achievable through non-flight activity.

When she’s not traveling, Katie spends her time at home in Ohio with her husband and 10-year-old daughter, probably planning her next getaway.

Katie is active in the points and miles community on social media and even helped organize a “Women in Points and Miles” meetup in San Diego.

You can follow her adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and especially Instagram, where she loves sharing her travel experiences and showing how to use points and miles to make luxury travel affordable.

Countries Visited: 28
U.S. States Visited: 29
Highest Hotel Status: Hyatt Globalist
Highest Airline Status: AA Platinum Pro
Favorite Airline Alliance: Oneworld
Favorite Business Class: Q Suites
Best Redemption Value: I paid 70,000 American Airlines miles plus $42 to fly in Qsuites from JFK to Doha and then in “regular business class” from Doha to the Maldives. It was worth every single point!
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve®, The World of Hyatt Credit Card, and The Platinum Card® from American Express

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Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

Amar was born and raised in England and sadly didn’t catch his bout of wanderlust until his early twenties.

Playing catch up, Amar embarked on an 11-country round-the-world gap year after graduation and then became well and truly hooked. The first gap year inspired a second which ended up being a 23-country down-the-world trip along the Americas.

Since then Amar has endeavored to turn his gap year into a “gap life” and has spent the last 13 years traveling the 7 continents. He has also lived in places such as Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico.

Amar is also an avid travel and outdoor product reviewer and tester. From the blistering Sahara Desert to the glaciers of Antarctica, he has put travel gear through its paces on 7 continents.

Amar holds a B.S. in Management & Strategy from Aston University, still runs the travel website OnlyWanderlust.com, and has contributed to publications such as ForbesEntrepreneurHuffington PostElite Daily, and Business 2 Community. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Countries Visited: 63
U.S. States Visited: 9
Highest Hotel Status: Hilton Honors Diamond
Highest Airline Status: Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion
Favorite Airline Alliance: Oneworld
Favorite First Class: The Apartment on Etihad
Favorite Business Class: Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Best Redemption Value: Lufthansa First Class From Boston (BOS) to Frankfurt (FRA) With 50,000 Asiana Club miles
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Preferred®, American Express® Gold Card, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

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James Larounis

Senior Content Contributor

Jamie first got hooked 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 deep into the inner workings of airline and hotel programs.

He’s helped organize Frequent Traveler University, where he’s spoken in depth about the loyalty programs of American AAdvantage, Amtrak Guest Rewards, Kimpton Inner Circle, Marriott Bonvoy, and World of Hyatt. In addition, he helps run the twice-a-year Loyalty Summit, a professional conference attended by heads of loyalty programs at major airlines, hotels, and credit card issuers.

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

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

One of the largest projects Jamie is involved with is business development at SELECT black card, where he is responsible for new benefit acquisition in the travel sector. Through his relationships, Jamie was able to sign major brand relationships with Celebrity Cruises, Hawaiian Airlines, Hyatt Hotels, Priority Pass, Royal Caribbean, Silvercar, Tumi, and others.

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.

You can follow Jamie on Twitter and Instagram.

Countries Visited: 30
U.S. States Visited: 35
Highest Hotel Status: World of Hyatt Globalist, Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite
Highest Airline Status: American AAdvantage Executive Platinum
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
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve®The Platinum Card® from American Express, and The World of Hyatt Credit Card

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Carissa Rawson

Senior Content Contributor

Carissa is a native Californian whose taste for travel began during her 7 years in the U.S. Air Force. A former Arabic translator, her first serious journey overseas was to Jordan, where a 6-month deployment taught her a lot about people and a little about award travel. What started as a curiosity quickly became an obsession, and soon she had launched her own website teaching others how to travel for free.

After years of running her own blog, she joined up with The Points Guy full-time to write about the best in rewards travel, flight deals, and the ever-elusive elite status. Since then she has contributed to many different websites, including The Balance, Business Insider, and Forbes.

When she isn’t writing about award travel, you’ll often find her scanning fare calendars and searching mattress runs, usually from some sort of Priority Pass lounge. She is a United 1K member and a soon-to-be Hyatt Globalist, though her heart will always lie with Hilton.

Carissa is a firm believer in value for money, whether that means she’s legging it on a $200 cash fare to Europe or sipping Champagne up front courtesy of an award flight. She’s also made good use of upgrade certificates and even, when she’s feeling fancy, redeemed miles for a premium cabin upgrade.

You can follow Carissa on Twitter.

Countries Visited: 51
U.S. States Visited: 36
Highest Hotel Status: Hilton Honors Diamond
Highest Airline Status: United MileagePlus 1K
Favorite Airline Alliance: Star Alliance
Favorite First Class: Cathay Pacific
Favorite Business Class: United Polaris
Best Redemption Value: Alaska Airlines via Cathay Pacific to the Middle East
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve®The Platinum Card® from American Express, and Citi Prestige® Card

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Daniel Ross

Senior Content Contributor

Daniel’s passion of aviation first took root when he was a little boy and would go with his father and brother to the airport to “watch the planes.” A few years later, at the age of 13, he boarded an aircraft on his own for the first time to visit his aunt in Barcelona, and from that moment on, his love of flying was fused with a passion for travel.

His love of languages prompted him to pursue a degree at the University of Manchester in French and Portuguese. He lived in France and Brazil throughout his undergraduate studies to become fluent in those languages. When he’s not writing or flying you’ll usually find him brushing up on Greek and Japanese – his 7th and 8th languages.

His first job after college was as a travel consultant at Flight Centre followed by a stint as a business development manager for the same company. Daniel wasn’t satisfied just selling trips. At age 26, he took his love of flying to the next level by getting a Master of Science in Air Transport Management from the University of Loughborough.

He has written for various sites since graduating in 2018, including Insider, Simple Flying, and The Points Guy, and has covered everything from route launches and inaugural flights to aircraft deliveries and the hottest fare deals.

You can follow his adventures on Instagram.

Countries Visited: 56
U.S. States Visited: 17
Highest Hotel Status: Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite
Highest Airline Status: British Airways Executive Club Gold (Oneworld Emerald)
Favorite Airline Alliance: Oneworld
Favorite First Class: Singapore Suites
Favorite Business Class: Virgin Atlantic Upper Class (new seats)
Best Redemption Value: Qatar Airways First Class DOH-SYD for 105,000 Avios and $133 (cash value of ticket ~$9,800!)
Favorite Type of Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: The Platinum Card® by American Express UK, British Airways American Express Premium Plus, Yonder

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Victoria M. Walker

Senior Content Contributor

Victoria M. Walker is an award-winning journalist, travel reporter and the founder of the “Carrying On with Victoria M. Walker” newsletter.

Victoria has been featured as a travel expert on Business Insider, Travel Noire, Conde Nast Traveler, D.C.’s FOX6, NPR, MSNBC, Newsy, and FOX 5 in Washington, among others. She contributes to Upgraded Points, AFAR Magazine as Special Correspondent covering the U.S. South, and The New York Times Real Estate “Build” section. She was formerly the Senior Travel Reporter at The Points Guy.

Between 2017 and 2019, Victoria first served as an adjunct and then full-time multimedia journalism lecturer at her alma mater, Howard University. Victoria taught Multimedia Storytelling, Intro to Media Production, and Digital Media Literacy. She holds a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the Howard University School of Communications.

You can follow Victoria on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Countries Visited: 26
U.S. States Visited: 27
Highest Hotel Status: World of Hyatt Globalist
Favorite Airline Alliance: Star Alliance
Favorite First Class: Emirates first class (A380)
Favorite Business Class: Etihad business class
Best Redemption Value: Park Hyatt St. Kitts Upgrade from King Bed to Plunge Pool Suite: used $90k points and $75 per night, but would have cost $3,600+ in cash
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: American Express® Gold CardCapital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, and Amtrak Guest Rewards® Preferred Mastercard®

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Lori Zaino

Senior Content Contributor

Lori was born in Chicago but has lived in Madrid, Spain, for nearly two decades. Bilingual in Spanish and English (and forever attempting to learn Italian and Thai), she loves digging into diverse languages and cultures through travel.

Just as comfortable backpacking as she is at the Ritz, Lori loves creating budget-meets-luxe itineraries to far-flung, exotic destinations. An OG Ryanair flyer, Iberia expert, and Platinum Marriott Bonvoy member, she finds ways to maximize her points and miles to have unconventional and exciting travel experiences from Sri Lanka to Guatemala to Myanmar to Sicily.

She’s camped in the Malaysian jungle with orangutans, salsa danced the night away in Cuba, used her points and miles for Emirates first class, hiked Machu Picchu, and floated in the Dead Sea. These days, she’s introducing her 2-year-old son to the world of travel (he’s already lounged on the beaches of the Caribbean and seen the Eiffel Tower), but she still enjoys traveling solo, with friends, and with her husband. Her favorite destinations include southern Italy, Ibiza, and Thailand.

Lori has written for publications such as CNN, NBC, The Points Guy, Insider, Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Culture Trip, Viator, The Sun, The Infatuation, and beyond, and has been quoted in Travel & Leisure, TIME, MSN, Mic, and more. Lori has also been a guest on the Miles Away podcast and BYU Radio.

You can follow Lori on Instagram, Twitter, and LoriZaino.com.

Countries Visited: 58
U.S. States Visited: 40
Highest Hotel Status: Marriott Platinum
Highest Airline Status: American Airlines Platinum Pro
Favorite Airline Alliance: Oneworld
Favorite First Class: Emirates
Favorite Business Class: Qatar Qsuites
Best Redemption Value: Regularly transferring Chase and Amex points to Iberia for business class flights between ORD-MAD
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve®The Platinum Card® from American ExpressCapital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

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Ashley Onadele

Content Contributor

Ashley didn’t travel internationally until she was in her early twenties when she and her then-boyfriend, now husband, gifted themselves with an all-inclusive trip to Cancun, Mexico after graduating from college. Since then there have been a few more all-inclusive resort stays, over a dozen more countries explored, and the added addition of two kids.

Ashley’s travel adventures have evolved to match her lifestyle. While she and her husband still enjoy coveted time away without the kids, the majority of her travel now revolves around family.

Points and miles have made otherwise impossible travel goals a reality for Ashley and her family. Her favorite thing in the world is showing other parents how to pursue the dream of travel through a combination of points, miles, and savvy travel tips.

Formerly the sponsored content writer at The Points Guy, Ashley has also contributed to Conde Nast Traveler, Matador Network, and other online and print publications. She also briefly shared her travels and points and miles tips on her own blog (frommyworld.com) as well as self-published “Your Baby Can Travel” which shows parents how to travel with their babies.

In other media, Ashley has appeared as a guest on podcasts like The Lily and Magnolia Travel Podcast and the Black Women Travel Podcast. She also recently moderated a panel about Black travel at the first-ever AfriCon conference in Los Angeles in 2022.

When she isn’t traveling, Ashley is obsessing over a new fiction novel, spending quality time with her kids and husband or the likeliest activity of researching where her points and miles will take them next!

Follow Ashley on Instagram and Twitter.

Countries Visited: 15
U.S. States Visited: 10
Highest Hotel Status: Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite
Highest Airline Status: American Airlines Gold
Favorite Airline Alliance: Oneworld
Favorite First Class: TBD!
Favorite Business Class: Singapore Airlines (traveling in March)
Best Redemption Value: Honestly, anything that saves me $$$ is a good redemption to me.
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: American Express® Gold CardCapital One Venture X Rewards Credit CardChase Freedom Unlimited®

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Christy Rodriguez

Travel & Finance Content Contributor

Christy lives in San Diego with her husband and daughter. Her study abroad to Italy in college ignited her passion for travel.

Luckily, her husband worked at Southwest Airlines, so they were introduced to the exciting world of “non-rev” travel. This allowed her to visit over 30 countries – mostly on standby. After he left that role, she dove into the world of credit card rewards points so that they could keep traveling for free!

The card that started it all was the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which she still has to this day. 2-3 other cards round out her wallet (currently in rotation is The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card).

Having a baby hasn’t changed much – she can’t wait to show her daughter this beautiful world! (She also has no clue how lucky she is to only fly in business class so far.)

Besides travel, Christy’s other passion is personal finance. She holds a B.A. in Accounting and an M.S. in Finance, both from Texas A&M University. She is also a Certified Public Accountant.

She knows it’s absolutely achievable to have an “exceptional” credit score while earning tons of rewards on your card. In fact, her credit score has consistently stayed above 800 since beginning this journey in 2009.

You can follow Christy on Instagram.

Countries Visited: 36
U.S. States Visited: 31
Highest Hotel Status: Marriott Bonvoy Lifetime Platinum Elite
Highest Airline Status: I have no allegiance, however I current have a Southwest Companion Pass
Favorite Airline Alliance: Star Alliance
Favorite First Class: Yet to be discovered!
Favorite Business Class: Singapore Airlines
Best Redemption Value: 2 seats in Singapore business class from SFO-Singapore nonstop (17 hours!) to celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardInk Business Preferred® Credit Card, and The Platinum Card® from American Express

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Ryan Smith

Content Contributor

Ryan grew up in Ohio but has lived in half a dozen states and multiple continents before recently returning to the U.S. and settling in southern California. After someone at his hostel in China said “I flew here for free using points,” Ryan was hooked. In December of 2023, he completed his goal of visiting every country in the world and now plans to revisit some of his favorites.

Ryan has been around points and miles for several years and has published content at Miles to Memories, AwardWallet, CNBC Select, USA Today Blueprint, Tripadvisor, The Points Guy, and Forbes Advisor. He also holds Brazilian citizenship and speaks fluent Portuguese.

His wife joins him on many of his trips, and they enjoy snowboarding, scuba diving, seeing animals in the wild, and hunting for vegan tiramisu. When not traveling, Ryan is probably answering questions from his family about how he travels so much and whether this points & miles stuff is illegal.

You can follow Ryan on Twitter.

Countries Visited: 197
U.S. States Visited: 50
Highest Hotel Status: Hilton Honors Diamond, Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite, World of Hyatt Globalist
Highest Airline Status: None
Favorite First Class: Never flown first class — but that will change in July.
Favorite Business Class: Qatar Qsuite
Favorite Type of Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: The Platinum Card® from American ExpressAmerican Express® Gold Card, and whatever new card has minimum spending requirements to meet.

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Ehsan Haque

Content Contributor

Ehsan is an avid traveler who has traveled to 100 countries over more than 1,250 days backpacking the world.

He has diligently used points and miles to fund his journeys, having discovered their value in 2016 and since opening over 50 credit cards. Currently, he holds 32 active credit cards and earns over a million points and miles annually through various strategies, including online arbitrage, gift card reselling, and credit card referrals.

Points and miles have allowed Ehsan to experience some of the world’s best international first class products and luxury hotels. He spends half the year outside of the U.S. and holds Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite, World of Hyatt Globalist, and Hilton Honors Diamond elite status.

Ehsan worked as a Points and Miles Reporter for The Points Guy and embarked on a 1-year travel hiatus before his 30th birthday to reach his goal of visiting 100 countries. His top 5 favorite countries he’s visited include Japan, Georgia, Cuba, Argentina, and Uzbekistan.

Based in the Chicago area, Ehsan primarily uses his points and miles for luxury hotels and long-haul premium cabins nowadays. He plans to visit every country by the year 2030. You can follow his travel photography and adventures on Instagram.

Countries Visited: 100
U.S. States Visited: 24
Highest Hotel Status: Hilton Honors Diamond, Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite, World of Hyatt Globalist
Favorite First Class: Etihad A380 Apartment
Favorite Business Class: Qatar Qsuite
Favorite Type of Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Reserve®️American Express®️ Gold Card, and Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

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Dan Miller

Content Contributor

Though born in a country that no longer exists (West Germany), Dan considers himself a native Ohioan who loves to travel with his wife and six (6!) children. He first learned about credit card rewards in 2012, when he realized that using miles and points was the only way he was going to be able to afford eight cross-country plane tickets to an upcoming family reunion. After researching the best credit cards, he signed up for a few and eventually used 170,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points (plus a Southwest Companion Pass) to fly his family to Lake Tahoe and back.

Realizing that it wasn’t all first class flights and 5-star hotels, Dan started the Points With a Crew blog in 2014, with the aim of helping families (especially large families) to use miles, points and credit card rewards to take that trip that they might have thought they couldn’t afford. He has spent over 10 years covering developments in the travel rewards credit card space. His expertise extends to all things personal finance, including student loans, budgeting and real estate, and his work has been featured in sites all over the Internet, including NerdWallet, Forbes, Business Insider, Rocket Mortgage, CreditCards.com, Bankrate, Turbotax, Credit Karma and Intuit Mint.

After COVID cancelled his first attempt in March 2020, Dan finally made it to his 50th U.S. state (Hawaii!) in 2023. He is also trying to visit all 3,143 counties in the United States, and is currently about 70% of the way to completion. A lover of extreme road trips, he holds the world record for the fastest time to visit all 88 counties in Ohio (23 hours, 34 minutes and 34 seconds).

Countries Visited: 35
U.S. States Visited: 50
Highest Hotel Status: None - no loyalty!
Highest Airline Status: None - no loyalty!
Favorite Airline Alliance: oneworld
Favorite First Class: Emirates A380
Favorite Business Class: United Polaris
Best Redemption Value: Hand-built round-the-world trip in business class using Aeroplan miles to Egypt, Abu Dhabi, Seoul and Tokyo
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred®, and whatever card he’s using to meet a welcome bonus offer

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Brett Holzhauer

Content Contributor

Brett is a personal finance and travel junkie. Based out of Fort Lauderdale, he’s had over 100 credit cards and earned millions of credit card rewards. He learned the tricks of the trade from his mom, and has taken many steps forward. He wasn’t exposed to much travel as a kid, but now has a goal of reaching 100 countries in his life.

In 2019, he sold all of his possessions to become a digital nomad, and he says it was one of the best decisions he ever made. He plans to do it again at some point in his life.

In his non-traveling days, he is covering economic news for outlets like CNBC and Forbes and reading up on the latest personal finance trends.

Countries Visited: 22
U.S. States Visited: 29
Highest Hotel Status: IHG Platinum Elite
Highest Airline Status: None
Favorite Airline Alliance: SkyTeam
Favorite First Class: Yet to be discovered!
Favorite Business Class: Singapore Airlines
Best Redemption Value: 2 seats in Singapore business class from NRT-LAX
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, American Express Business Gold Card

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Jestan Mendame

Compliance Associate

After graduating from college, he spent a few months working in the corporate world but quickly realized it wasn’t for him. Working a typical office job inside the four corners of a cubicle from 9 to 5 didn’t suit his adventurous spirit; he wanted a career where work and life were perfectly balanced.

Since 2016, he has embraced the life of a digital nomad, making the world his office. He has built a career in social media marketing and blogging for various travel brands, which is also his bread and butter for funding his travel cravings.

What he loves about his career is the freedom to work anywhere, anytime. It allows him to spend hours working on a project in the mornings and then devote the rest of the day exploring the beautiful sandy beaches of the Philippines, the vibrant nightlife of Thailand, or the bustling markets of Taiwan.

Countries Visited: 12
U.S. States Visited: 3
Highest Hotel Status: N/A
Highest Airline Status: N/A
Favorite Airline Alliance: Star Alliance
Favorite First Class: N/A
Favorite Business Class: N/A
Best Redemption Value: N/A
Favorite Type of Points: Chase Ultimate Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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Tiffany Eastham

Compliance Associate

Tiffany first caught the travel bug after a study abroad experience to Italy while still in college. She continued to travel frequently over the years and slowly learned about how credit cards and miles and points could unlock thousands of dollars in “nearly” free travel.

After several years of working as a healthcare provider, she ultimately quit her job to travel full-time and has since pursued freelance writing and editing in the travel space for a handful of different brands and publications.

She’s in the final stages of getting her Italian citizenship and hopes to eventually split her time between the U.S. and her second home—Italy.

Countries Visited: 35
U.S. States Visited: 21
Highest Hotel Status: Marriott Platinum Elite
Highest Airline Status: British Airways Bronze
Favorite Airline Alliance: Oneworld
Favorite First Class: Still on the bucket list!
Favorite Business Class: Emirates
Best Redemption Value: Getting over 6 cents per point to book Emirates business class on a long-haul, 15-hour flight from Seattle to Dubai.
Favorite Type of Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, American Express® Gold Card, and The Platinum Card® from American Express

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Kathryn Schroeder

Compliance Associate

A proud California native, who no longer lives there, Kathryn did the very unexpected many years ago: She gave up a rent-controlled apartment in a prime West Hollywood location (with garage parking) to travel the world full-time. She never regretted her decision, except on the rare occasion she reminisced about how comfortable a couch she owned during that time. It found a good home, as did all of her other possessions.

After nearly eight years on the road with just a 35-liter backpack, she had to return to the United States — leaving her fully remote writing/editing life behind. Don’t expect her ever to stop traveling, though. Two of her favorite pastimes are seeking out the latest travel gear (the lighter and smaller, the better) and reading maps to find places she hasn’t been, and most people never go or would never think to trek.

Alongside her unforgettable memories, Kathryn gained a great deal of knowledge about how to be a traveler vs. a vacationer. How to budget well to spend more time in places and make her money and miles stretch to get to visit destinations she never thought possible, such as Antarctica. She may love lie-flat seats and the amenities of business class, but she’d trade one flight in that class for four trips in coach (and has done it). Experiencing as much of the world as possible is always her priority, and she has a sixth sense a lot of time when choosing a seat that no one ends up next to her.

With a background in film and media, Kathryn never imagined she would become an editor of personal finance and travel rewards content, but that’s what she does now. And she enjoys it. Likely because it means she can contribute her knowledge of working the system to earn credit card rewards on everyday spending, at home or abroad, and taking advantage of welcome bonuses and card perks whenever possible to use towards and during travel.

From credit cards to high-yield savings accounts, debt management and avoidance, CDs, and insurance, Kathryn has or does edit it all, and more. Just don’t expect her to always be at home while working. All she needs is four things — her computer, phone, passport, and wallet — and she can get her work done from anywhere. She does pack clothes, of course, but they’re easily replaceable if anything goes amiss (and she has baggage insurance with two of her credit cards).

If you’re at an airport, on a bus, or a train and see a blonde in a hat with a Tom Bihn bag (because, travelers know) and a snack in hand, it could be Kathryn. Say hello.

Countries Visited: 67
U.S. States Visited: 32
Highest Hotel Status: N/A
Highest Airline Status: N/A
Favorite Airline Alliance: Star Alliance
Favorite First Class: N/A
Favorite Business Class: N/A
Best Redemption Value: By splitting the cost of an expedition cruise on 3 credit cards, I earned over 140,000 miles for future travel and nearly $600 in cash-back. This included a new personal card’s welcome bonus, bonus points on a travel purchase on a current card, cash back on an Amex card I currently have, and utilizing an Amex offer.
Favorite Type of Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Schwab Bank Visa® Platinum Debit Card, UnitedSM Explorer Card, U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa Signature® Card

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