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Jessica Merritt

Editor & Content Contributor

83 Published Articles , 476 Edited Articles

About Jessica Merritt

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.

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Jessica's Latest Articles

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KLM Crown Lounge at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston [Review]

KLM Crown Lounge at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston [Review]

In March 2024, I visited a Priority Pass lounge that had eluded me for years: the KLM Crown Lounge in Houston (IAH). Though it’s usually too full to admit Priority Pass members, the stars aligned on a recent trip, and…

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Best Travel Insurance for Japan: Your Worry-Free Guide

Best Travel Insurance for Japan: Your Worry-Free Guide

Planning a trip to Japan is exciting, as a rich cultural heritage, vibrant cities, and breathtaking natural settings await you. Though generally considered a safe travel destination, a trip to Japan can still be perilous, as you could encounter natural…

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The 12 Best Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotels in 2024

The 12 Best Walt Disney World Good Neighbor Hotels in 2024

Where you stay at Walt Disney World Resort matters. A great Disney World hotel can offer convenience and save time and money getting to the parks while enhancing your stay with amenities such as resort pools, dining, and spa or…

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How I Won a $300+ Chase Dispute [Plus Tips on Winning a Dispute]

How I Won a $300+ Chase Dispute [Plus Tips on Winning a Dispute]

Credit card disputes can get your money back when merchants don’t deliver. When I had an issue with theater ticket delivery and the seller wouldn’t budge on a refund, I filed a dispute with Chase and won. Here’s what I…

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Thompson Houston by Hyatt [In-Depth Hotel Review]

Thompson Houston by Hyatt [In-Depth Hotel Review]

I visited the brand-new Thompson Houston with my husband in March 2024, and we fell in love with this fabulous hotel. Thompson Houston is the brand’s fourth property in Texas, following locations in Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin. Houston is…

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Meow Wolf Grapevine Review [Personal Experience With Photos]

Meow Wolf Grapevine Review [Personal Experience With Photos]

I visited Meow Wolf Grapevine’s The Real Unreal with my family in February 2024. This immersive art experience was captivating and expanded our imaginations. If you’re planning a visit to Meow Wolf Grapevine, read this review to find out everything…

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Is Disneyland Park Hopper Worth It in 2024? [How To Maximize Your Value]

Is Disneyland Park Hopper Worth It in 2024? [How To Maximize Your Value]

Considering Park Hopper tickets for an upcoming visit to Disneyland Resort? With Park Hopper tickets, you can hop between Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park within a single day. These tickets offer flexibility and convenience that can help you…

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Amex Delta Gold, Platinum & Reserve Cards: How To Use the Delta Stays Credit [2024]

Amex Delta Gold, Platinum & Reserve Cards: How To Use the Delta Stays Credit [2024]

American Express recently overhauled its line of Delta co-branded cards, increasing annual fees but sweetening the deal by adding statement credits. One of those credits is a Delta Stays credit ranging from up to $100 to $250 annually, depending on…

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The 26 Best Things To Do at Disney Springs for a Fun and Memorable Vacation [2024]

The 26 Best Things To Do at Disney Springs for a Fun and Memorable Vacation [2024]

Disney Springs is “things to do” embodied. It is a massive Disney destination that complements Walt Disney World Resort with an almost overwhelming selection of places to eat, play, and shop. Where else but Disney Springs can you ride in…

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The Benefits of Disney Credit Cards at Disney Parks [2024]

The Benefits of Disney Credit Cards at Disney Parks [2024]

Heading to Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort soon? You’re probably planning to pack comfy shoes, snacks, and your favorite Disney apparel, but adding one of the Disney credit cards to your must-pack list can offer savings and enhance your Disney…

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The Best Student Travel Insurance: How To Choose, Tips, and Policies [2024]

The Best Student Travel Insurance: How To Choose, Tips, and Policies [2024]

Whether you’re planning to study abroad, backpacking through continents, or just going on a quick adventure, student travel can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. If you’re an inexperienced traveler or have family members at home who need some reassurance, you…

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When Is Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) Travel Insurance Worth It?

When Is Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) Travel Insurance Worth It?

If you’ve booked the trip of a lifetime, you might think that nothing can keep you from getting on the plane and experiencing the vacation you’ve dreamed of. Unfortunately, reality doesn’t always play out that way, and you may need…

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The Troubadour Hotel New Orleans, Tapestry Collection by Hilton [In-Depth Review]

The Troubadour Hotel New Orleans, Tapestry Collection by Hilton [In-Depth Review]

I visited The Troubadour Hotel New Orleans with my family in January 2024. We stayed just a single night as a rest stop on our road trip home from Orlando to the Houston area, but spending the night at this…

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Decode Like a Pro: How To Read Your Credit Card Statement

Decode Like a Pro: How To Read Your Credit Card Statement

Your credit card statement offers a monthly snapshot of your account activity, including the amount you owe, transactions you made, applicable interest and fees, and, most importantly, when you need to pay your bill and how much you absolutely have…

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Hilton Pensacola Beach [In-Depth Hotel Review]

Hilton Pensacola Beach [In-Depth Hotel Review]

In early January 2024, I visited the Hilton Pensacola Beach with my family of 5. While the temperature outside was cold for Florida standards, the service was warm, and we had a great stay at one of my family’s favorite…

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How To Dispute a Credit Card Charge With Capital One

How To Dispute a Credit Card Charge With Capital One

You can dispute problematic charges on your Capital One credit card whether you were overcharged or charged by mistake. Capital One enables cardholders to file disputed credit card charges online, by mail, or by phone.  Once you get in contact…

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Hampton Inn Houston Downtown [In-Depth Hotel Review]

Hampton Inn Houston Downtown [In-Depth Hotel Review]

I stayed at the Hampton Inn Houston Downtown with my family of 5 on Black Friday. We squeezed in this quick overnight staycation on a last-minute Spend a Night on Us certificate redemption. It was fun to stay downtown and…

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Motto by Hilton New York City Times Square [In-Depth Review]

Motto by Hilton New York City Times Square [In-Depth Review]

I stayed at the Motto by Hilton New York City Times Square with my husband in early December. This property opened in September 2023, and staying in a new hotel in the big city was fun. The location was perfect….

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If I Pay Off My Credit Card in Full, Will My Credit Score Go Up?

If I Pay Off My Credit Card in Full, Will My Credit Score Go Up?

Are you ready to pay off a credit card and wonder if it will improve your credit score? Generally, yes, you should expect your credit score to go up when you pay off a credit card in full. Making a credit…

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Protect Yourself Abroad: Best Medical Evacuation Insurance [2024]

Protect Yourself Abroad: Best Medical Evacuation Insurance [2024]

Leaving your destination in a medevac helicopter probably isn’t in your travel plans. But if you need emergency medical evacuation, it will be costly and may be difficult to coordinate without help. A medical evacuation travel insurance plan can cover…

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Hampton Inn and Suites Aurora South Denver [In-Depth Review]

Hampton Inn and Suites Aurora South Denver [In-Depth Review]

I stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites Aurora South Denver with my family of 5 in mid-October 2023. It was a great stay and delivered exactly what we expected and then some. It was a great home base for…

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Find out about other members of the team

Ashley Onadele Picture

Ashley Onadele

Content Contributor

Ashley discovered a love for travel in college that’s continued as her family has grown. She loves showing parents how they can take their families on trips using points and has contributed to numerous publications and podcasts.

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Brandon Brunner

Former 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.

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Brian Graham

Former Content Contributor

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.

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Caroline Lupini

Former 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. 

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Charlie Page

Former Content Contributor

Charlie is a Senior First Officer and has been an airline pilot for nearly 15 years. He currently flies long-haul on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner after 10 years buzzing around Europe on the A320. He got into travel and aviation from an early age, fortunate enough to be taken on some great family holidays.

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Chris Dong

Editor & Content Contributor

Chris is a freelance writer and editor with a focus on timely travel trends, points and miles, hot new hotels, and all things that go (he’s a proud aviation geek and transit nerd). Formerly full-time at The Points Guy, his work can now be found at AFAR, Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, The Washington Post, and Lonely Planet, among others

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Christine Krzyszton

Senior Finance Contributor

Christine ran her own business developing and managing insurance and financial services. This stoked a passion for points and miles and she now has over 2 dozen credit cards and creates in-depth, detailed content for UP.

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Christy Rodriguez Picture

Christy Rodriguez

Travel & Finance Content Contributor

After having “non-rev” privileges with Southwest Airlines, Christy dove into the world of points and miles so she could continue traveling for free. Her other passion is personal finance, and is a certified CPA.

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David Slotnick

Former Content Contributor

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

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Erin Miller Picture

Erin Miller

Content Contributor

An experienced points hacker, Erin is Alex’s partner-in-crime and contributes to Upgraded Points with in-depth guides and relationship management. Erin’s work has been cited in multiple major publications.

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Jeff Brownson

Former Content Contributor

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

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Katie Seemann

Senior Content Contributor and News Editor

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, Forbes Advisor, and Fortune Recommends.

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Kellie Jez

Director of Operations & Compliance

Kellie’s professional experience has led her to a deep passion for compliance, data reporting, and process improvement. Kellie’s learned the ins and outs of the points and miles world and leads UP’s compliance operation.

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Lindsey Olander Picture

Lindsey Olander

Former Content Contributor

Currently based in New York, Lindsey spent her childhood in Connecticut dreaming of far-off places. Her first flight was to Disney World at age 11. Her second flight was for a high school field trip to Italy, though travel as a career didn’t stick until she studied abroad in London during college and discovered the true power of her passport. Since then, she’s worked as a travel editor at Jetsetter and Travel + Leisure, where she reported on everything from African safaris to hot hotel openings to, yes, Disney World.

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Lori Zaino

Senior Content Contributor

Lori is an intrepid traveler who loves creating itineraries that exude “luxe on a budget.” She’s written for CNN, NBC, The Infatuation, and more, and loves to muse about points-fueled trips to Sri Lanka, Sicily, and Myanmar.

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Lukas Picton

Former Content Contributor

Lukas escaped his hometown south of Sydney and moved to the big smoke immediately after high-school, but the bright lights of the city weren’t enough, and he soon set his sights on more exotic international destinations and has been in love with travel ever since.

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Michael McHugh

Former Content Contributor

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Michael took his first international trip in 2013 with friends to the Bahamas. Although he didn’t travel much in his younger years, on that trip, he caught the travel bug and has been hooked ever since.

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Ryan Smith

Content Contributor

Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.

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Spencer Howard Picture

Spencer Howard

Former Content Contributor

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

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Stephen Au Picture

Stephen Au

Senior Content Contributor

Stephen is an established voice in the credit card space, with over 70 to his name. His work has been in publications like The Washington Post, and his Au Points and Awards Consulting Services is used by hundreds of clients.

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Susan Wright Picture

Susan Wright

Former Finance 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.

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Victoria M. Walker

Senior Content Contributor

Victoria holds a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the Howard University School of Communications and is an award-winning journalist, travel reporter, and the founder of the “Carrying On with Victoria M. Walker” newsletter.

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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.

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Andrew Kunesh

Former Content Contributor

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

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Dan Miller Picture

Dan Miller

Content Contributor

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.

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Juan Ruiz

Senior Editor & Content Contributor

Juan has extensive experience in writing and editing content related to credit cards, loyalty programs, and travel. He has been honing his expertise in this field for over a decade. His work has been featured in various prestigious publications, such as USA Today, CNN Underscored, Forbes and The Points Guy. Juan is the visionary behind JetBetter, a premier award booking concierge service.

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Stella Shon

News Managing Editor

With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in The New York Times, USA Today, and more.

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Chris Hassan

Social Media & Brand Manager

Chris holds a B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management and managed social media for all Marriott properties in South America, making him a perfect fit for UP and its social media channels. He has a passion for making content catered toward family travelers.

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Michael Y. Park

Editor

Michael Y. Park is a journalist living in New York City. He’s traveled 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.

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Ehsan Haque

Content Contributor

Ehsan is an avid traveler who has traveled to 100 countries, diligently using points and miles to fund his journeys. Currently, he holds 32 active credit cards and earns over a million points and miles annually, primarily using them for luxury hotels and long-haul premium cabins.

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James Larounis

Senior Content Contributor

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.

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Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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Julian Kheel

Content Contributor

Julian Kheel first learned the ins and outs of credit card rewards and travel loyalty programs while flying more than 200,000 miles a year as a TV producer and director for World Wrestling Entertainment. With over 15 years of professional experience studying travel loyalty programs, Julian has served as CNN’s Senior Editor covering travel and credit cards, as well as the Editorial Director of The Points Guy, and has worked as a consultant for the Big 3 U.S. airlines.

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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.

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Nick Ellis

Editor & Content Contributor

Nick’s passion for points began as a hobby and became a career. He worked for over 5 years at The Points Guy and has contributed to Business Insider and CNN. He has 14 credit cards and continues to leverage the perks of each.

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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

With years of experience in corporate marketing and with a nonprofit, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and reviewing thousands of UP articles in the process.

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Greg Stone

Content Contributor

Greg got bitten by the travel bug at a young age while traveling with his Dad on business trips to Asia. He took over the family business in 2012 and uses it to maximize his loyalty points earning. His obsession with earning and burning loyalty rewards points allows him to travel over 100 days every year.

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Alex Miller

Founder & CEO

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business, The New York Times, and more.

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Senitra Horbrook

Writer

Senitra Horbrook is a frequent solo traveler who began using points and miles in 2012. Formerly credit cards editor at The Points Guy, Senitra has also contributed to Forbes Advisor, AwardWallet, Insider, among others.

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Jarrod West

Senior Content Contributor

Boasting a portfolio of over 20 cards, Jarrod has been an expert in the points and miles space for over 6 years. He earns and redeems over 1 million points per year and his work has been featured in outlets like The New York Times.

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Carissa Rawson

Senior Content Contributor

Carissa served in the U.S. Air Force where she developed her love for travel and new cultures. She started her own blog and eventually joined The Points Guy. Since then, she’s contributed to Business Insider, Forbes, and more.

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Daniel Ross

Senior Content Contributor

Daniel has loved aviation and travel his entire life. He earned a Master of Science in Air Transport Management and has written about travel and aviation in publications like Simple Flying, The Points Guy, and more.

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