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Lori Zaino

Senior Content Contributor

50 Published Articles

About Lori Zaino

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.

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Lori's Latest Articles

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17 Top Family-Friendly Destinations in Mexico [2024]

17 Top Family-Friendly Destinations in Mexico [2024]

One of the best family vacation spots in the world, Mexico is home to endless natural wonders, miles upon miles of stunning shoreline, and numerous historical and cultural attractions. The country is nearly two-thirds the size of Western Europe with…

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The Best Times To Visit Portugal in 2024 [By Seasons and Interests]

The Best Times To Visit Portugal in 2024 [By Seasons and Interests]

Portugal has it all — sprawling Atlantic beaches with massive swells, cultural and culinary delights, and plenty of other attractions that call to tourists. While you can visit Portugal at just about any time of the year and enjoy your…

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How To Get Late Checkout at a Hotel (And Cards To Get It With)

How To Get Late Checkout at a Hotel (And Cards To Get It With)

We’ve all had those moments where an 11 a.m. hotel checkout feels impossible. Maybe it’s the day after a destination wedding where you overindulged and got in late. Or maybe you’re on vacation and simply want a little extra time…

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Anywhere but Paris: Your 2024 Guide to a Crowd-Free, Affordable, and Refreshing European Summer

Anywhere but Paris: Your 2024 Guide to a Crowd-Free, Affordable, and Refreshing European Summer

The 2024 Summer Olympics are set for July and August in Paris. In late 2023, accommodations in the City of Light were up 300% for these peak dates, with hotel rooms costing more than €1,000 per night. Combine high prices…

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The 8 Best Safaris in South Africa in 2024

The 8 Best Safaris in South Africa in 2024

There are numerous countries around Africa (and really, throughout the entire world) for a safari. But South Africa is an optimal destination if you really want to see the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant, and buffalo). According to the…

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Where To Travel in Europe This Summer 2024 [Beaches, Ruins, Culture and More]

Where To Travel in Europe This Summer 2024 [Beaches, Ruins, Culture and More]

Thinking of planning a summer trip to Europe in 2024? You’re not alone. The World Tourism Organization predicts Europe will surpass pre-pandemic levels of tourism and international arrivals in 2024. The Olympics are beckoning visitors to Paris in July and…

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13 Tips To Save Money on (And Survive) Summer Travel [2024]

13 Tips To Save Money on (And Survive) Summer Travel [2024]

If you’re planning to travel this summer, you may be feeling the pain of sticker shock. Prices seem exorbitant for just about everything, including hotels, airfare, vacation rentals, car rentals, train tickets, and more. There is good news: domestic airfare…

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15 Epic Safari Spots To View Wildlife Outside of Africa [2024]

15 Epic Safari Spots To View Wildlife Outside of Africa [2024]

There’s nothing like seeing the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and African buffalo) in the wild on a safari in Africa. But destinations like Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and other parts of Africa aren’t the only places to enjoy…

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Top 11 International Beach Destinations for Summer 2024

Top 11 International Beach Destinations for Summer 2024

Despite inflation, short-staffed airports, and baggage chaos, Americans are prioritizing travel in 2024 — with 50% more planning to travel this year than in 2023. With trends like wellness travel, slow travel, and sustainable travel high on travelers’ bucket lists,…

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The 9 Best Countries in Africa for a Safari in 2024

The 9 Best Countries in Africa for a Safari in 2024

While Kruger National Park in South Africa is one of the most popular destinations on the African continent to see the Big 5 — lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and African buffalo — many other African countries offer incredible safari experiences…

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15 Best Cheap Spring Break Destinations for Travelers on a Budget [2024]

15 Best Cheap Spring Break Destinations for Travelers on a Budget [2024]

Everybody wants to go on spring break. But travel is expensive, especially to peak spring break destinations like Miami or Cancún or during peak dates like Easter. If you’re on a budget but still want to enjoy a spring vacation,…

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The Principal Madrid in Spain [In-Depth Hotel Review]

The Principal Madrid in Spain [In-Depth Hotel Review]

The author was traveling as an invited guest of The Principal Madrid. All opinions are the author’s own, and the hotel had no input in any part of this review. Madrid’s dizzying array of hotels can make it hard for travelers…

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The 15 Best Spring Break Destinations for Families in 2024

The 15 Best Spring Break Destinations for Families in 2024

It’s time to say goodbye to winter and ring in the arrival of spring with a family vacation. There are so many destinations within the U.S. perfect for spring break family adventures, from U.S. national parks to cultural haunts, theme…

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14 of the Best Wellness Retreats in Mexico [2024]

14 of the Best Wellness Retreats in Mexico [2024]

Wellness travel is more popular now than ever, and Mexico is a top spot for those seeking to travel to focus on their physical, emotional, or spiritual health. Mexico offers a number of different types of wellness retreats apt for…

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The 15 Best Places To Travel for Solo Female Travelers [2024]

The 15 Best Places To Travel for Solo Female Travelers [2024]

Solo travel travel has skyrocketed in recent years, and females are leading the pack. If you’ve Googled the term “solo female travel” in past years, you’re not alone. According to search engine data, search volume for the term is up…

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The 13 Best Hotels in Tulum — Fly Nonstop Into Tulum’s New Airport (TQO)

The 13 Best Hotels in Tulum — Fly Nonstop Into Tulum’s New Airport (TQO)

Fans of boho chic Riveria Maya destination Tulum can take a hard pass on flying into Cancún (CUN) and then driving ~74 miles to get there. Instead, they can fly directly into Tulum, as Felipe Carrillo Puerto Airport (TQO) in Tulum…

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[Expired] The 25 Best SLH Hotels To Book With Hyatt Points for Max Value [2024]

[Expired] The 25 Best SLH Hotels To Book With Hyatt Points for Max Value [2024]

Update:The Hyatt and SLH partnership ended on May 15, 2024. SLH properties can no longer be booked with Hyatt points. Fans of boutique, intimate hotels worldwide who still want to use points to book them aren’t entirely out of luck….

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Upgraded Points’ 13+ Travel New Year’s Resolutions for 2024

Upgraded Points’ 13+ Travel New Year’s Resolutions for 2024

A few years ago, the travel world looked decidedly different. I recall reading a New York Times article pondering whether or not travel would ever be fun again post-pandemic as I awkwardly packed my carry-on, donned an N-95 mask, and…

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Should I Keep or Cancel My Capital One Venture X Card? The $395 Question

Should I Keep or Cancel My Capital One Venture X Card? The $395 Question

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card appeared in the shadows of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express in late 2021. In just 2 years, it’s become wildly popular among the general public, especially…

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The 10 Best All-Inclusive Resorts in Cancún, Mexico [2023]

The 10 Best All-Inclusive Resorts in Cancún, Mexico [2023]

If you’re in the market for some winter sun, Cancún is the place to get it. The popular Mexican resort town has white sand beaches, plenty of things to do and see, and all-inclusive resorts that cater to every type…

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Should I Keep or Cancel My Amex Platinum Card? The $695 Question

Should I Keep or Cancel My Amex Platinum Card? The $695 Question

The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the most premium cards on the market. But premium benefits come along with a premium price — and the whopping annual fee (rates & fees) is no joke. Maximizing all of…

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Find out about other members of the team

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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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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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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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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

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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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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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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Jessica Merritt

Editor & Content Contributor

A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little cash as possible.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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