Brian Kelly: A Guide to the World of Points and Miles


Credit card points can be useful traveling, but are often difficult to understand. But, like most problems these days, there is a website to help you out – in this case, Brian Kelly’s site.

Kelly graduated from Pitt in 2005 with a major in Spanish and a minor in economics. He is now the founder and CEO of The guy at the points, a credit score and mileage journalism website that teaches travelers how to earn the most miles and the best rewards on their flights. This website, run by 27 employees, also includes advice on which credit card companies have great deals for different types of air travelers.

Points and miles are like cash: users earn them when they take a trip or use their credit card for a purchase. People can also earn free miles for their next trip using a certain airline rewards system.

Kelly’s website began with her experience as a Pitt student.

“My experience at Pitt was largely defined by my involvement in student government,” Kelly said. “And there I learned more than in any class.”

This now viral website it all started with Kelly’s experience at Pitt as chairman of the student government council for two consecutive terms. As president of SGB, he traveled across the United States for conferences. He also visited Madrid, Spain, as part of a study trip abroad. After so many trips, Kelly achieved US Airways Gold status, which means he received rewards such as a 25% mileage bonus, no need to check in at the airport and membership in the Admirals Club.

“And from that point on,” Kelly said, “I found out that there was a whole community of people on the internet who were obsessed with frequent flyer miles.”

He also gained leadership experience at Pitt as chairman of the Student Resident Association, the vice president of recruitment of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, member of the Blue and Gold Company and one Pitt Pathfinder.

“It was these experiences that really defined my time at Pitt,” said Kelly.

After graduation, he worked with Morgan Stanley – an American multinational investment bank and financial services company – in New York City. Here he “[travelled] a ton as a corporate road warrior. After earning millions of points while traveling, he started a blog that became the starting point for The Points Guy website. As it was going viral, Kelly decided to quit Wall Street in 2011 to make blogging her full-time job.

Kelly said that by becoming CEO after converting his blog to a journalism site, he made the mistake of not innovating in his business model in order to hire the best people for certain positions.

“And, you know, I made a lot of mistakes along the way,” Kelly said. “Like not hiring enough people or not hiring people smarter than me in some areas. ”

He said early in his career that he stayed in his comfort zone, which made it difficult for him to make bolder decisions. He made a bold decision when he finally sold his business twice, in 2012 and 2017, to Red companies. Red Ventures owns a stake in his business, but gives Kelly the freedom to run the business as he sees fit. Kelly said he sees being part of a large conglomerate as a learning opportunity.

Kelly said her company has given great advice to the public on how to travel safely during the pandemic and after quarantine. The website has kept track of country reopening guides, the best types of COVID-19 tests, and what travelers need to do to avoid getting sick on a plane.

“I think our commitment to just giving balanced, real-time information on what is needed to travel safely was the best advice we’ve given,” said Kelly.

For post-quarantine travel, Kelly advised credit card users who accumulated their points and airfare vouchers during the pandemic to start using them.

One of The Points Guy’s upcoming new projects is an app where people can learn more about credit card points, like how to earn more points and redeem them for maximum value. Kelly wants the company to focus more on technological advancements so that the app can gather more accurate point information. Even if people haven’t used their points yet, they are still valuable since most loyalty programs will allow travelers to cancel flights without repercussions. Hence, the app will encourage people to use their points more wisely as it will show live events that will help customers save money.

“In general, we see points becoming more and more a part of people’s lives,” Kelly said. “There are more ways you can earn points now than ever before.”

Similar to Kelly, Mary Kate Heaney, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at The Points Guy, also shares a passion for learning and travel. Heaney manages all press opportunities for TPG spokespersons, especially Kelly, as she leads various charitable initiatives and fundraisers for nonprofits.

“I think TPG offers information that anyone who travels (whether moderately or heavily) and uses a credit card can benefit tremendously,” Kelly said.

Heaney said Kelly is a great leader because of her creative ideas for charity and other events.

“He really cares about the brand and its people,” Heaney said. “And he knows the industry incredibly well.”

She is also strongly anticipating the upcoming software, The Points Guy App, as it will put the consumer first. Heaney said Kelly has been very diligent every step of the way leading up to the public launch.

Travel editor Melanie Lieberman also said she admires Kelly’s passion for running the business.

“He always imagines the next step,” said Liberman. “Whether it’s opening a UK TPG in London or designing a game-changing app. ”

TPG UK is part of Kelly’s plan for the company’s global expansion. Kelly is even interested in expanding the business to Spain, as it will give him a chance to “dust off that old Spanish major”. He said the company’s global expansion will allow even more people to understand how stitches are part of their lives.

Points are a currency in which the more you care about your own knowledge, the more valuable they are, ”Kelly said. “And that is why I am delighted that The Points Guy with our constantly growing staff is the key resource for people when they use their points, whether it is for travel or to convert them to cash or even the crypto points are. here to stay. “

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