Meet The Team!

Upgraded Points (“UP”) was launched in March 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 highly researched, in-depth, and intuitive content that aims to give our readers everything they’re looking for and more.

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 share.

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

In a very short 2016, UP welcomed over 1MM people to the site and is set to reach over 2.5MM visitors in 2017.

Alex Miller

Founder & CEO

Alex was born and grew up in England, spending the majority of his first 25 years living west of London. After graduating with degrees in Business & Management with Spanish from the University of Exeter, Alex started several online marketing businesses.

Alex certainly has his parents to thank for acquiring his love for travel, as there was always a new destination for the family! Alex’s passion for travel leaped a couple levels after graduating, when he and 5 friends visited 10 European countries in just 30 days, all on a shoestring budget by maximizing the Interrail!

This bug turned into an obsession when Alex moved to America in 2011 after falling head-over-heels in love with Erin (and also realizing how much fun he has there!).

Alex was (and still is!) literally stunned at the number of credit card points you can earn in the U.S. (something that is not possible in England), and quickly took this interest to the next level.

Alex has earned millions of travel points and miles, mainly through maximizing credit card sign-up bonuses and taking (nearly) every opportunity to earn the maximum amount of points whenever he spends a single dollar, anywhere. This combo is the key!

Alex was (and still is!) amazed at how many people do not leverage their opportunities to earn miles and redeem them for incredible travels – and this led to creating UpgradedPoints.com which launched in March 2016 after a year of planning.

As of 2017, points and miles have helped Alex to visit over 35 countries and fly international first class across 5 different products, with Singapore Suites, Cathay Pacific, and Lufthansa being amongst his favorite experiences, so far!

Erin Miller

Content Contributor & Relationships

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

Born and raised in Illinois, Erin’s a Midwest girl at heart.  While she traveled here and there before meeting Alex, his persistence with cracking the points game wide open has allowed her to experience some incredible destinations and fantastic flight upgrades – an exciting way to travel that will never (ever) get old!

Erin received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in 2008 and went on to earn her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Miami in 2011.  She currently works as a part-time Physical Therapist in the Austin area, which allows her the opportunity to grow in a profession she loves while affording her the time to contribute to UP and travel the world.

Aside from all this, she loves a good happy hour cocktail, could eat guacamole at every meal, and can’t get enough of their lab mix pup (and Head of Security), Leo.

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

Jeanette Margle

Editor

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

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

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

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

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

Brian Graham

Content Contributor

Brian has been helping build Upgraded Points since the very beginning. A lover of travel himself, when the Millers gave him whispers of a better life he couldn’t help but dive into the points world headfirst!

Before starting his points strategy, Brian had enjoyed traveling to a variety of places. But he didn’t start until very late in life…after the age of 23!

Brian’s first ever airplane ride was in a private turbo-prop jet. He was merely an intern boy trying to make a good impression, but it turns out the plane made an impression on him.

It wasn’t until Brian relocated to Dallas, TX, and moved in with an American Airlines employee that he truly discovered how incredible travel could be.

After getting hooked up with the employee travel benefits, he immediately set sail with his buddy around the world. Currently, Brian has visited the following countries:

Canada, the Bahamas, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, England, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Czech Republic, France, and Belgium.

That’s not nearly enough to satisfy his tastes, however, and Brian has multiple places on his list for when he can collect enough points!

Spencer Howard

Content Manager & Contributor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caroline Lupini

Content Contributor

Caroline Lupini always enjoyed traveling, but it became her goal to do as much as possible after a 3-week trip around Europe in 2011. In March 2014, Caroline left her job and embarked on nearly full-time travels. 

As a frequent traveler, frequent flyer miles have played a large role in planning her trips. Caroline has enjoyed discovering the ins and outs of how to maximize different types of miles, hotel points, and transferable points currencies. Over the years, Caroline has earned millions of frequent flyer miles and continues to grow that number every year!

Caroline enjoys learning and working remotely so she has the flexibility to discover the far reaches of the world. Recent travels have taken her to Colombia, Afghanistan, Poland, and more, with additional on- and off-the-beaten-track trips being planned every chance she gets!

Outside of travel, Caroline is passionate about good craft beer, the outdoors, photography, and skiing…and she absolutely adores dogs! You’ll also occasionally find her under the water on a scuba diving adventure. You can find out more about Caroline and her travels at carolinelupini.com.

Brandon Brunner

Content Contributor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marcelo Mazza

Head of Development

Marcelo is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. For the last 10 years Marcelo has been working in User Experience. He’s a problem solver, data-oriented kind of guy, and loves crafting solutions from ground-zero; wireframing, iterating, testing & coding each piece of the UX puzzle.

Marcelo has coded Upgraded Points from the ground-up and is an indispensable member of the team.

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! 😉