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Stephen Au

Senior Content Contributor

485 Published Articles

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels.

As one of the foremost experts in credit cards, over the past 4 years, he has amassed a portfolio of over 70 credit cards, both personal and business. Stephen has personally tested, first-hand, almost every major rewards credit card on the market today, spanning banks such as American Express, Bank of America, Barclays, Brex, Capital One, Chase, Citi, City National Bank, U.S. Bank, and more.

Stephen’s work has been showcased multiple times in leading publications, including The Washington Post, U.S. News, Yahoo! News, and CreditCards.com.

His company, Au Points and Awards Consulting Services (AuPACS, pronounced OW-PAX), focuses on building ultra-customized credit card plans and curating points-funded dream vacations for clients, primarily business owners and even corporations. AuPACS has booked 200+ trips for its clients, both business and leisure vacations. AuPACS currently books 4 to 6 business class flights per day for clients with a yearly volume of $4 million in points travel booked.

Stephen also guides his clients through the best credit cards for their individual situations. In fact, he has helped his clients amass an average of 500,000 additional points every year, thanks to his innovative, proven credit card optimization methodology. To date, Stephen’s clients at AuPACS have booked over $3.5 million in luxury points travel aboard products like Emirates first class, Etihad First Class Apartments, Cathay Pacific first class, and more.

In addition, he is also a specialist in helping cash-strapped business owners consolidate and reduce high-interest debt. Stephen’s business owner clients include medical practice owners, software entrepreneurs, construction and real estate developers, e-commerce CEOs, private equity fund managers, chiropractic specialists, wealth management offices, and more.

Stephen understands that the subject of redemptions, often known as the most difficult part of points optimization, can be overwhelming. His technical background enabled him to create a data-driven process that helps his clients find the most efficient use of points within their parameters.

When he isn’t building relationships, Stephen is also a third-wave coffeepreneur and owns a product wholesale business.

You can follow Stephen and his travels on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Countries Visited: 24
U.S. States Visited: 22
Highest Hotel Status: Hilton Honors Diamond and Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite
Highest Airline Status: American AAdvantage Platinum Pro
Favorite Airline Alliance: Oneworld
Favorite Airlines: American Airlines — favorite domestic airline as they continue to offer a distinct product for ultra-premium first class passengers through Flagship First class; Air France — fantastic product with good award availability, an excellent all-around European airline when using points; Singapore Airlines — excellent business and first class products with reasonable award availability at a fair price with low taxes and fees
Favorite First Class:
Cathay Pacific (777) for its spa lounges, cabanas, classic Hong Kong luxury, and the widest first class seat in the world
Favorite Business Class: EVA Air (777) for its Rimowa amenities, pajamas, amazing food, and top-notch service
Best Redemption Value: 25 cents per point flying in ANA first class
Favorite Type of Points: American Express Membership Rewards
Top 3 Cards in Wallet: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, and The Platinum Card® from American Express

Countries visited icon

Countries Visited

US states icon

U.S. States Visited

Hilton Honors Diamond and Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite

American AAdvantage Platinum Pro

Oneworld

Cathay Pacific (777) for its spa lounges, cabanas, classic Hong Kong luxury, and the widest first class seat in the world

EVA Air (777) for its Rimowa amenities, pajamas, amazing food, and top-notch service

25 cents per point flying in ANA first class

American Express Membership Rewards

Stephen's Latest Articles

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The Best Credit Cards With High Limits in June 2024

The Best Credit Cards With High Limits in June 2024

If you need unlimited credit, you’ll have to wait for your invitation to arrive. Cards such as the Centurion® Card from American Express (also known as the Black card) offer ultra-high discretionary credit limits. However, these cards aren’t available to…

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Air France-KLM Flying Blue Promo Rewards for May 2024

Air France-KLM Flying Blue Promo Rewards for May 2024

Flying Blue is the popular frequent flyer program operated and managed by the Air France-KLM group. There is so much to love about this loyalty program — especially how easy it is to earn miles and how generously Air France…

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Four Seasons Resort Tamarindo, México [In-Depth Hotel Review]

Four Seasons Resort Tamarindo, México [In-Depth Hotel Review]

The Four Seasons Resort Tamarindo, México, opened in November 2022, making it one of the newest Four Seasons properties in the world. And it’s totally different from anything else you’ll find in Mexico, especially the Pacific coast of Mexico. Closest…

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Airline Peak and Off-Peak Award Charts: The Ultimate Guide [2024]

Airline Peak and Off-Peak Award Charts: The Ultimate Guide [2024]

Commercial aviation is one of the most seasonal industries in the world. Typically, the busiest time of the year for airlines is from May to October. Of course, this varies depending on the exact destinations, countries, or even cities that…

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Amex Platinum Card vs. Goldman Sachs Amex Platinum Card [Detailed Comparison]

Amex Platinum Card vs. Goldman Sachs Amex Platinum Card [Detailed Comparison]

The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the most popular travel cards on the market today, delivering thousands of dollars in value per year through its airport lounge access perks, strong rewards structure, and luxury benefits like hotel…

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The Ultimate Guide to American Express Card Levels [2024]

The Ultimate Guide to American Express Card Levels [2024]

American Express is well-known for its premium card products and benefits, with many thinking the brand is just for those interested in luxury and travel. But did you know that Amex has many tiers or levels of cards? The bank…

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The 6 Best Credit Cards for Venmo in 2024 [Why We Like Amex]

The 6 Best Credit Cards for Venmo in 2024 [Why We Like Amex]

Venmo is one of the most popular peer-to-peer payment platforms on the market today. Originally, it was built as an app where you could split bills with friends and family members — nowadays, Venmo is used to send remittances to…

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How To Upgrade or Downgrade the Amex Platinum Card [2024]

How To Upgrade or Downgrade the Amex Platinum Card [2024]

The Platinum Card® from American Express is, without a doubt, one of the most popular travel cards in the business. Offering superb luxury travel benefits and impressive rewards, it’s almost impossible to beat this card if you’re looking to get…

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[Expired] How To Earn Bonus MQMs With Status Boost on Delta Amex Cards [2024]

[Expired] How To Earn Bonus MQMs With Status Boost on Delta Amex Cards [2024]

Update:The offer mentioned below has expired and is no longer available. Update: MQMs are used to determine Medallion Status and are different from the miles you earn towards flights. Effective 1/1/24, this benefit will no longer be available, and there…

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How To Upgrade a Chase Card: A Complete Guide [2024]

How To Upgrade a Chase Card: A Complete Guide [2024]

Chase has a number of different credit cards available, and Chase even allows you to change from 1 credit card to another within the same family, as long as you meet certain (easy) criteria. That way, you can easily stay…

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Amex Platinum Card vs. Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card [Detailed Comparison]

Amex Platinum Card vs. Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card [Detailed Comparison]

When it comes to ultra-premium cards with luxury travel benefits and top-notch service, American Express reigns superior over all other companies. And 2 of the most spectacular products Amex has to offer today are The Platinum Card® from American Express…

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How To Upgrade the Freedom Card or Freedom Unlimited Card to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

How To Upgrade the Freedom Card or Freedom Unlimited Card to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Some of the most popular credit cards from Chase include the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Chase Freedom® card, and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. All of these credit cards offer some of the best rewards in the business, which is why they’re…

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Amex Platinum Card vs. Capital One Venture Card [Detailed Comparison]

Amex Platinum Card vs. Capital One Venture Card [Detailed Comparison]

Are you in the market for a new travel rewards card? Have you come across both The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card in your own research? Can’t decide between high-end travel benefits…

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The 21 Best Capital One Premier Collection Hotels To Book for Max Value

The 21 Best Capital One Premier Collection Hotels To Book for Max Value

Capital One recently rolled out the red carpet for its luxury and upscale hotels and resorts collection. This new collection called the Premier Collection, consists of a series of partnerships with some of the most exclusive hotels in the world….

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The Capital One Venture X Card’s Concierge Service — All You Need To Know

The Capital One Venture X Card’s Concierge Service — All You Need To Know

Have you ever struggled to make a dinner reservation at an exclusive restaurant in town? Or perhaps you had difficulty securing tickets to the hottest concert in town? If this describes your situation, you might find the Visa Infinite Concierge…

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How To Upgrade an Amex Card: A Complete Guide [2024]

How To Upgrade an Amex Card: A Complete Guide [2024]

American Express tends to offer many different tiers of cards. Over time, your needs may evolve, and you might originally opt for a simple cash-back card with little to no benefits but discover that you can enhance your travels or…

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Can I Upgrade the Capital One Venture Card to the Capital One Venture X Card? [2024]

Can I Upgrade the Capital One Venture Card to the Capital One Venture X Card? [2024]

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card are often confused with each other — and while the name of the cards only has a difference of 1 letter, they appeal to different…

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Card vs. Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card [Detailed Comparison]

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card vs. Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Card [Detailed Comparison]

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is undeniably one of the most popular travel rewards credit cards in the U.S. Chances are you know someone that has this credit card in his or her wallet, and you might even be considering…

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Can You Downgrade the Capital One Venture X? [List of Options]

Can You Downgrade the Capital One Venture X? [List of Options]

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is one of the few game-changing credit cards to have been released in the past few years. Between the ability to earn up to 10x Capital One miles on purchases, notable premium…

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Chase Sapphire Preferred Card vs. Marriott Boundless Card [Detailed Comparison]

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card vs. Marriott Boundless Card [Detailed Comparison]

Does getting a hotel credit card or a transferrable rewards card make sense? We’ll cut straight to the chase. Getting a transferrable rewards card is usually better, but in some situations, a hotel credit card might be ideal. For example,…

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Full List of Travel Insurance Benefits for the Amex Green Card [2023]

Full List of Travel Insurance Benefits for the Amex Green Card [2023]

One of the most underestimated cards out there is the American Express® Green Card, which is actually one of American Express’ first cards. It was the original charge card that was born in 1969, but it has fallen out of…

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Find out about other members of the team

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

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Jarrod West

Senior Content Contributor

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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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Jessica Merritt

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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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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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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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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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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

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Michael McHugh

Former Content Contributor

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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