Talking points with… Who else? The dot guy

Brian Kelly, the founder of The dot guy , a website dedicated to maximizing loyalty points from credit cards, airlines and hotels, was 1...


Brian Kelly, the founder of The dot guy, a website dedicated to maximizing loyalty points from credit cards, airlines and hotels, was 12 in 1996 when he booked his first free trip, using his dad’s points to plan a vacation for the family of six in the Cayman Islands. Later, working as a recruiter for an investment bank, he began accumulating his own points for business trips, spending them on annual vacations that impressed his friends so much that he earned the nickname The Points Guy. . In 2010 he started blogging under the name and a year later quit his day job to devote himself full time to point hack.

Today, its site covers travel news with an editorial team of around 40 people, and last fall the brand created a mobile app that allows users to track their loyalty points in one place, to see their monetary value and get advice on how to spend them.

The process was not quite smooth. American Airlines, citing confidentiality, recently sent The Points Guy a cease and desist letter. Last month, Red companieswhich acquired The Points Guy in 2017 and also owns travel publisher Lonely Planet, preemptively for follow-up the airline, asking the court to rule that consumers can manage their loyalty accounts on a third-party site. The American counterattacked.

The app, for now, continues to serve “consumer education,” Kelly said in a recent interview. The following are excerpts from that conversation, edited for length and clarity.

Points and miles have gotten much more sophisticated since the days when you got them on planes and redeemed them for free tickets. The game has become much more complicated, but consumers can still win if they play well. The average consumer simply doesn’t have the ability to figure out which credit card to use, and people accumulate points because they don’t know what the proper use of points is.

The Points Guy app has three main principles: learn, earn and burn. Learning is content. If you have an American Express Platinum Card, we want to let you know when there’s a big bonus for you to sign up with. The second piece wins. We crunch the numbers and say, hey, you spend a lot of groceries with this card that only gives you one point per dollar. Did you know that if you used your gold card, you would get four points per dollar on groceries? On the burning part of the app, that’s where we want to help consumers. Most consumers are unaware that they can redeem US miles on Qatar Airways.

We want to be able to show people all of their net worth in points in one place, because people are worth a lot more than they realize. The purpose of the app is to get people more engaged in loyalty so they can use their points and travel again. We’ll also let you know if your miles are about to expire. Many programs have not expired miles during the pandemic, but starting April 1, 2022, American will expire anyone’s miles if they have had no activity for the past 18 months.

The Points Guy’s key plan in 2022 is to continue investing in content. We want to reconnect with our readers more deeply in online communities, where people can learn about different loyalty programs with the aim of helping people not just think about travel, but plan and plan it. run it and be their go-to guide for the journey. resources they need to explore the world.

I don’t think we would want to become a travel agency, but we want to help people decide not only which points to use to fly, but once they get to Osaka, how to explore. So we team up with Lonely Planet, but we also leverage our community. We think the time has come. Many people have stopped traveling, but they are ready to go again. At The Points Guy, we are delighted that the traveler leaves with confidence.

Oh, there are many. During the pandemic, my favorite trip was to Tahiti. It was one of the few countries that was open and had a fairly progressive testing stance. It was September 2020 and I used my US miles to fly Air Tahiti Nui business class from Los Angeles. I used Amex points and transferred them to stay at Conrad Bora Bora Nui free. It was still the peak of the pandemic and it helped me reconnect. I swam with humpback whales off the island of Moorea, which completely changed my life. It was my journey of regeneration.

You don’t need to travel to earn points. Do you go shopping? Do you buy groceries? Do you eat at the restaurant? Most people do these things. The dots game is not for frequent travelers. It’s for people who spend money. Sign up bonuses for credit cards are huge. Only one bonus per year can give you a free trip. And I think that’s when people realize, “I don’t have to be a business traveler to fly for free anymore.

I have 25 credit cards, which I wouldn’t recommend to the average person. Still, it’s my business. Even if you don’t want to travel, there are cashback cards you should get. If you pay cash, simply put, you are wasting money on every transaction. Because, for the most part, in the United States, points are built into the cost of goods. When you go to Target, you don’t get a discount for paying cash. So you could earn super valuable points or cash back.

I carry cash because I like to tip. I was a server, and the frontline workers in particular have been hit so hard these days. But I won’t pay anything in cash. When you put your purchases on credit cards, there’s an extra layer of protection you don’t get when using cash. And when someone steals your money, good luck. But if someone steals your credit card, you get it all back. For many reasons beyond points, having a good credit card these days is like having an extra line of defense, especially since so many airlines have experienced these operational meltdowns. If your flight is delayed and you use a travel credit card, with many of them you have up to $500 in free travel protection to pay for a rental car or hotel. So using the right card makes sense for points and protection.

Elaine Glusac writes the Frugal Traveler column. Follow her on Instagram @eglusac.


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Newsrust - US Top News: Talking points with… Who else? The dot guy
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