Brian Kelly – Founder & CEO of The Points Guy

Episode 192

How do you travel first class on an economy budget? Today’s episode features our guest, Brian Kelly, Founder and CEO of The Points Guy. Known for generously sharing how to use points to unlock first class travel experiences, Brian shares how his passion for points accidentally turned into a business. This conversation is full of insightful entrepreneurial advice and some great travel tips during the pandemic. Get through this hump day and plan your next vacation with the latest episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow

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Brian Kelly 0:00
It’s like solving a puzzle where the prize is getting to go to the Maldives, for the cost of going to Orlando,

Kara Goldin 0:06
I am unwilling to give up. That I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be, I want to be just want to make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked out knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what

you can control control control. Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. So join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go Let’s go. Hi, everyone, its Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show. And I’m so excited to have my next guest here I’ve been a super fan of Brian, we were just catching up a little bit on his company and sort of how I’ve I ran across his company a few years ago, because I love my points and who doesn’t love their points. And he is the points, guys. So hopefully you all know who Brian is. And if you don’t know who Brian is, and we’re gonna learn a little bit more about Brian as well. But he is his company is called the points guy. He is the founder and CEO. And he is it’s just this incredible online resource for finding the best credit card and travel options out there. And he definitely has guided me over the over the years and definitely is really exciting to, for me to kind of hear the backstory, which is really what I love to hear about these founders. It started out as a hobby. And even after Brian was in a few different industries, we’ll talk about that. But it really was a was you know, this one man traveling show and worked in finance and grew it to over 10 million readers. I mean, it’s just insane how this has grown into something so big just out of a passion for travel. we’re so thrilled to have Brian here to tell us a little bit about his journey and his path and to becoming just this incredible leader and and points business travel loyalty, however you want to refer to it. So welcome to the show, Brian,

Brian Kelly 2:33
thank you so much for having me. It’s always nice to interview with a fellow points girl in your case. Definitely impressed with what you’ve built and how smart you are with your points. So thanks for having me.

Kara Goldin 2:45
That’s awesome. Well, thank you. So how did this all start? Tell me about Brian back in Were you always the points guy even before you knew you could use it for travel.

Brian Kelly 2:56
I was actually so I was always a computer nerd in my family. So I’m 38 now. So I remember it was 1990 when I got our first home computer, this big old IBM box and I taught myself DOS and my parents always thought I’d be a computer programmer, I was that obsessed, like I was always the computer administrator. My parents had no clue what this machine was. And so it’s kind of funny, when my dad got a job for a startup in the mid 90s. He always had a secretary and all sudden he was working from home. And he didn’t know how to book he had to book travel on his own. So that was my first job. I was his travel agent, because I was using Travelocity which had just launched. So Meanwhile, my dad thought it was this convoluted process, he was paying me I think $10 a booking, and I do it in two minutes, you know, is the best business that I had ever created. So uh, so I started off being his little travel agent. And then one year, you know, I was 12 at this point. And he said, Well, if you can figure out how to use our frequent flyer miles, we can go on vacation. And that’s when I was like, I really figured out the nuances of the programs. And then every year we’ve gone insane trips to the Cayman Islands, Barbados, also pretty much free.

Kara Goldin 4:03
That’s incredible. And it must have been kind of fun to say it was like solving a puzzle.

Brian Kelly 4:08
It is to this day. And that’s what I tell people, you know, it’s like solving a puzzle where the prize is getting to go to the Maldives, for the cost of going to Orlando, you know, and that’s what I get so much joy out of doing what I do, even though I’ve sold my business, I’m still on board, I’m passionate about helping people see the light, because it is a mentality. And when you realize that loyalty is truly valuable, you know, it takes a little bit of mining knowledge in your head to get these programs down. But once you you know, unlike most currencies that will lose value or you know, you can actually mine knowledge into loyalty programs and then get way more value out of them. And so that’s been a joy of mine to bring that to the masses because it used to just be like this small online community of points, hackers. And never did I think that the points guy would become you know, We now have 12 million monthly unique visitors and growing it was just a way to share my tips because I was always so frustrated Why is it everyone else see the value you can travel for free first class like

Kara Goldin 5:11
that’s that’s amazing I love it so you went to school you ended up working in banking and so what was the point when you sort of thought I gotta go run this business and and go and you know, hang a shingle and and really get serious about this.

Brian Kelly 5:29
So well in college I went to University of Pittsburgh, and I became student body president. So all of a sudden I started traveling on my own to conferences, I studied abroad in Spain, got a cheap ticket to Dublin on spring break, and then all sudden I was US Airways gold status. And then I remember it was 2003 or four, I found flyertalk, which is an online community frequent traveler. So I got the real points bug when I plugged into this global network of people out there who were had been doing what I was doing, you know, for almost a decade at that point. And that’s when I became points obsessed. But I graduate from Pitt in 2005. My goal, you know, I was in the closet, I was like, I’ve got to move to New York City. You know, I had a job in being a pharmaceutical sales are up in Pittsburgh in pain management of all and I knew I was like, this is going to be way too grim. I’ve got to go to New York, I just need to discover myself. And that’s like, my one job I could get was being a buyer for Lord and Taylor and I went through their buying program and and then from there, they were like, Brian, I don’t think there’s so much of a buyer, which is way more numbers and being behind the desk than I think I realized, yeah, and I became best friends with the head of HR, and she’s like, come with me, kid, you know, she’s like, you need to be out in front of people. So I was the head of college recruiting for Morgan Taylor at age 23. And I was like, I get to get paid to go on college campuses, you know, this is amazing. And then, and then once I loved HR, I was like, well, instead of doing it in fashion, this is, oh, 607 the boom, you know, this is the pre all my friends in banking at age 25. We’re making you know, huge bonuses, and they’re like, come on work for a bank. Because you know, even in HR, you’re going to get four weeks vacation amazing benefits. So I convinced Morgan Stanley to, to hire man. And then all of a sudden I was in high tech recruiting. So doing all of the, you know, undergrad, master’s, computer science recruiting, convincing kids to work at Morgan Stanley instead of Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, at the time, was a big competitor. So I started jet setting on a higher level all around the country, Canada. And that’s all of a sudden, I went from being broken working in fashion retail to I was still broke when I worked at Morgan Stanley, but I had a corporate Amex card. And I figured out how to do the expenses. So I was putting every major, you know, $50,000 to Harvard. Oh, don’t worry, guys. I got it. It’s on my credit card. Because everyone hated doing the expenses you have to fax in. Yeah, I figured out how to do it. So everyone at Morgan Stanley thought I was the hero for putting every expense under the sun on my on my corporate card, but I was the one getting millions of points. So that’s great.

Kara Goldin 8:05
That was the genesis. Yeah. And just out of curiosity, to when we definitely have some college students who are listening to this. So what was your major in college,

Brian Kelly 8:14
I was a Spanish major with an economics minor. And I had a horrible GPA in college. I am smart, but I just you know, for me, I had to add, and I didn’t realize it at the time, and I would sit and lecture My mind was going a million places. And so for anyone else out there who, you know, you’re smart, but you may not be, you know, smart in the classroom context, like, you know, I put myself in a student government and what I learned being the student body president at Pitt, and managing a team in a $2 million budget was way more important than you know, the astronomy lecture that I just could never wrap my head around because I didn’t care so I lost Yeah, liberal arts to the core, but I always knew I wanted to, you know, push myself and be successful in business. So yeah, you can you can major in whatever and but uh,

Kara Goldin 9:10
that’s Yeah, that’s amazing. And then also going from the apparel industry to you know, into finance into sort of tech I mean, that’s what I always share with with lots of people I have three in college right now I was just having this conversation with my son it’s like you got to just find something that you’re really passionate about that you really love doing and I love hearing the fact that you were actually always doing points. I mean, it was something that you just kind of enjoyed along the way but So at what point were, you know, you got beyond flyertalk and and you thought like, there’s just this real need out there out there for what I know

Brian Kelly 9:51
what, you know, I would go to dinner parties and everyone would say, Oh, you know, points and I would inevitably be sitting down, teaching people what I knew and blowing their minds and What I thought was so cool is like, I was 26 you know, I didn’t have a huge deep, you know, great GPA, but I would sit down with the neuro, you know, physicists that you know, I think we’re sitting out the brain surgeon, I taught him very simple things about Amex points, and his mind was blown. I was like, This is cool. I am this little skill that like, to me seems so simple. And then so it was, it was 2009. I remember. So during the recession, it was miserable working at Morgan Stanley, even though I was in recruiting, I’m six foot seven. I mean, I was still in HR. So whenever we do layoffs, or the reductions in force, I would always be used. I was the Grim Reaper standing outside of the conference room, and I would have to walk people to the elevator. And not only that these lifers at the company, awkward elevator ride down, and they’re like, Okay, I’m good. I’m like, No actually have to walk you to the turnstile. And that was like, so much. Yeah, oh, crap, and then went up in the air came out, it was literally my life, I had all these frequent flyer miles, and I was like, you know, working, you know, in a miserable type job, but uh, you know, kind of on that hamster wheel. The moment for me came when I got promoted, but they were like, you know, your promotion is not getting laid off, you know, it’s the recession, you know, you won’t start making money here till you’re 30 just grind it out for a few more years. And I just remember being in my late 20s, in New York, wanting to get ahead, I had no money, I had millions of points, I was going to the Maldives. But I had $200 in my bank account, I just was like, I need to make money. And my ex at the time was like, Brian, you’re brilliant. You give away your skill of points, you know, you’re passionate about helping people plan trips, you should charge so the points guy originally wasn’t even a blog, it was just a form you can fill out and I will charge you 50 bucks per ticket, if I can help you use your points to go on a trip. So I started off as a kind of travel agent for points. And then a friend was like, you should start blogging. This is 2010. And he you know, often, you know, he just said, I’ll set you up for free. And when you are, he was an SEO specialist. I didn’t know what SEO was. He said just write good content once a day on a good cadence and just write good stuff, don’t try to do any of the weird SEO things. And shorten up the audience started to build. And, and you know, early in 2011, my life changed when I learned about affiliate marketing. When a friend from college, who I’d stayed in touch with said, Brian, I’m gonna change your life meet me for a drink. And I truly thought he was asking me out on a date, and he was not interested. But I said, you know, Brian, just go. And he worked for an affiliate marketing company that represented Chase. And he said, you know, Chase reads the point sky every day, you know, I was so naive in my head, I love blogging, I probably had 30,000 monthly uniques. He’s like, they love your stuff. And all of your readers are the consultants and who they want to get their message in front of and most importantly, you’ve got a young audience. So he got me into affiliate marketing, where you know, just by putting the link to I was already talking about credit cards, but you know, that chase united card, I would use my link and if someone got approved, I would get paid, you know, pretty sizable bounty, and literally changed my life that I think the first month was like $5,000, which I’m like, Okay, this is almost like my salary.

Kara Goldin 13:13
Just to simplify it for people on the actual blog, you, you would just stick a link for people to sign up for these credit cards.

Brian Kelly 13:24
Right? So what I’m talking about the United card gets you free check bags, instead of just going to like slash united, I would use my special link that would track a cookie. And if that person actually got approved for the card, I would then get paid through these like middle marketing agencies. And it was just simple. I wasn’t doing anything different. I was just using link B instead of link a and I was making money. And then it was April of 2011. That’s the day my life really changed. Seth kugel, The New York Times had reached out to me, I went through my spam folder randomly one day, so it was a weirdo. And I see this message New York Times inquiry and Seth was the frugal traveler. He was budget traveler. He said, Brian, I have shirked points my whole life. I tell my readers just to get the cheapest flight. They’re not worth it. Unless you can prove me wrong. And I said Seth meet me we went to an East Village bar for three hours he booked a free flight that day to Brazil which saved him $1,000 and he was like hooked and then he wrote this post. At the time it was only digital and I was so mad I wanted to be in print New York Times to show my parents but digital was the best thing in the world for me because he linked to the points guy you know, the number one site every traveler needs. My site blew up literally I think it went down that day. So many followers and then there was also a big chase promotion at you know, at the time. 100,000 points for British Airways card. So all of a sudden, I’m just like, I remember being my Brooklyn apartment. I called off work that day. Because of this British Airways promotion. I was like, This is gonna be big, and then the New York Times hits, so it definitely was and I had an interview with him like six weeks before. I didn’t even know if he was I’m going to write a story but it just so happened on the day of this 100,000 point offer so it’s definitely a little bit of luck and then that day I just remember really understanding what it meant when content went viral because all the new york times you know high end travelers were all sudden consuming all this points guy content and then sending it to friends because what I was doing was translating don’t even go to London with the BA miles you can act at that time you could go to New York to Miami six times round trip for a single credit card signup or you could go to Easter Island because there were all these funky routing rules so all of a sudden everyone on the internet messaged me I just got this card thank you and I remember being like well what a business I’m in people are thanking me for making me money you know each you know I just sent this to 30 of my family friends we all got the car thank you and I’m like this is a business I want to do

Kara Goldin 15:49
it a lot of these cards and just start reaching out to you did they understand like the power that you had I mean this is like an accident we truly I call myself an accidental entrepreneur but and you know when it’s this is just a great story of not really even every day you’re just going along in the journey and like the puzzle just gets more and more interesting right?

Brian Kelly 16:14
Oh totally you know and originally I was rejected for a certain large credit card company and then you know I think rejection any entrepreneur and especially in your podcast series you hear rejection and like let that rejection fuel you and at the time it’s so hard but you know eventually all the credit card companies came on board in what I did, I saw ahead of it so there it was kind of like a gold rush here. All of a sudden every other blogger realize I tried to keep it a secret how much money I was making, but then it word got out and it was the wild wild west of credit card blogging, anyone could become a credit card blogger and then people started coming for me you know because I was the newbie blogger in 2010 you know my take was look this funking you know points in miles so many bloggers were getting so clinical with it. I was putting in a fun context I work in New York City, my readers don’t have time to go run to a target and buy 44 gift cards and then send an email you know, there’s like weird stuff you can do. I said here’s here’s what you need to do. So anyway, that’s like when the hater started coming out, which definitely, you know, took a toll on me I’m like, wait a minute, I’m trying to help people and you know, people are trying to come for me, but what I invested in was compliance because I worked for a bank and I needed the notion of it because what I saw happening was get rich quick you know people would blog and say sign up for this cart cancel, cancel cancel then sign up for another because they were creating our own paydays right that if you but I saw two steps ahead of that. And I said, Why are you gonna bite the hand that feeds you? Clearly this is gonna run you know, so the points guy has never been a let’s screw the bank. It’s we can all win together. And it’s not even about, you know, screwing the airlines airlines have programs of which I play within the rules. I educate consumers to get the most value. They sell billions of dollars worth of miles to credit card companies who charge merchants billions of dollars in fees like we can all win here. I’ve never I’ve taken an approach of like, yes, I’m going to, you know, recommend products and I’m getting paid on but I’m going to do it in a way that makes sense and it’s not punitive to anyone in that chain. I think that’s why the points guy has grown we’ve got over 100 employees now. So yes, it’s it’s been a wild ride and and then throughout the years now we’ve now launched credit cards. So you know, we’ll work with credit card companies, because we’re a one stop shop where we’ve got influencers built in, we’ve got social media, social media, you know, and our SEO presence, anything we write about in the credit card space is essentially, you know, very, more often than not page one, Google organic, which is simply put, I sometimes like tell people, I was just blogging on a goldmine. And I never even realized that

Kara Goldin 18:46
that’s a while. How do you think about your target market? Is that changed significantly since you first started?

Brian Kelly 18:52
So our target money, our core demo has always been 25 to 38? You know, 40, like urban dwelling millennials, consultants, you know, bankers, road warriors, of course, we’ve got, you know, we’ve got everyone from stay at home moms in Kansas, you read the points guy, there’s no, not just one. But you know, I know and it’s funny, like when I’m out in the wild, when I’m in an airport, I can see people like, I know that person reads the points guy, like, you know, there’s, you know, it’s like the the upwardly mobile younger, they’re not rich yet, because you know, they’re saddled with student loans, but they’re smart about their credit. But of course, as we take the brand to the next level, we’ve got to be more inclusive in our content. And there are so many demos, you know, retirees who have great credit and tons of time to travel, and to, you know, to the other end where we want to do a whole TPG college tour. We need to I’m passionate about teaching kids about credit. You don’t have to wait to get a job and get rejected for that first department and have to have mom and dad cosign you can actually build in credit smartly throughout college so that you’ve got a great score you know so so I believe you know at the points guy we’ve got you know we’re expanding our content team but the biggest thing that will help us get because it is just a lot of knowledge it takes time but it’s using technology now to bring more people into the fold and that’s you know, my biggest accomplishment I would say now over the next you know is our points guy app which is now available for download on the Apple App Store soon to come on Android you can just type in the points guy and the app is going to help you using technology figure out the right credit card and then once you amass your points we actually will give you your your points and networks what we value your points at today and people are always shocked at how much their points are actually worth and then more importantly getting people to use them and because it’s overwhelming you know, you’ve got Amex and chase points each of them has tons of partner Transfer Partners and those partners have partners I mean the mathematics of it can get overwhelming even for me so we’re bringing in you know, we’ve created these algorithms and tools to help consumers simplify it instantly and put goals you know in mind and actually achieve them

Kara Goldin 21:08
What do you think has been the hardest thing of not only the biggest surprises but just in building this company? I mean, you know, obviously the start out of a passion and an interest that you had and then it sort of grew now you said you have 100 employees and what’s been kind of the hardest thing in growing this and most surprising I

Brian Kelly 21:28
think the hardest being well firstly In the beginning I made the mistake of not hiring enough people I was you know, I never took an investor I had a $10 domain of which many people said oh the point Scott you’ll never be able to scale that because it’s just going to always be you and now we actually have more women that work at the company we’ve got a UK office we’ve got own you know, our family travel influencers all under the points guy, we’re gonna continue to grow that I think, you know, I didn’t have the scale and investing in the right people early enough, I kept it way too lean for years, which you know, I’m proud of the history of our company and what we’ve done but I think we by bringing in smarter people earlier, I was bringing in people that I knew and kind of that were below me in certain way like a lot of people I was hiring people that I knew would do what I wanted when in fact I should have been hiring people that were way smarter than me and made me uncomfortable with like the business plan because truly I mean, the business was profitable from day one essentially I’m super lucky and then I I sold in 2012 to a publicly traded company. We then were acquired in 2017 bank rate that company was acquired by a company called Red ventures so I’ve been on an interesting journey where most founders leave I had a three and a half year earnout so in 2015, I should have left this business but I was passionate I mean it’s I mean I have the best job in the world they get to travel around the world and and help people do the same but I would just say yeah, the challenge is where are we scaling it and bringing in people that would you know, I was always so nervous well the credit card referral fee you know, so focused on one lucrative stream which is a great revenue stream and highly you know, high margin but you know, 2020 hit and it was a whole different story. So we’re now pushing ourselves in ways that I think we should have years ago direct to consumer the TPG premium experience, and certainly rolling out our app and giving you know, personalized experiences is going to be the biggest next step and I think from that we’re going to be able to grow into a lot of different areas.

Kara Goldin 23:31
So you touched on this that 2020 the pandemic How did that change your business?

Brian Kelly 23:38
I mean it turned our business upside down you know, because travel fell off a cliff and with it, you know, credit cards which were still you know, our big you know, clients you know, they in you know, April May June of 2020 the risk departments at credit card companies were like we don’t know what you know, there were signs I remember the headlines depression looming, the great depression or the mega depression and it’s like, we you know, no one knew up from down so, you know, we’re in the credit card acquisition business, and no one wanted credit cards, we couldn’t give them away for free another credit card comes to like, stop. We don’t even want new customers until we can figure out what’s what’s going on. So luckily, I sold the company and we’re, you know, part of our adventures, which is a very profitable, highly diversified conglomerate of companies. So we rode out the storm, and we didn’t lay off anyone, we actually invested for the future, we double down on our app, and we’re able to do that. But I think emerging from this now travels back Of course, it’s taking some dips now, but with the launch of our app, and figuring out, you know, rich consumer experiences like how do we help people travel in this date when so many flights are canceled? You know, what travel insurance should you get, like there’s still a lot of big consumer problems that now we’re tackled. We want the points got to be the ultimate like from start to finish how to get you somewhere. And then we acquired Lonely Planet during the downturn that we’re really going to relaunch soon and it’s going to be a revitalized now, once you get there, this is how Lonely Planet will help you explore in this new postpaid network, we’re still in the pandemic age of travel.

Kara Goldin 25:17
I love it. So knowing what you know, now, you’ve been through, you know, some crazy times, I mean, starting your company during, you know, the Great Recession, right? And, and really, like continuing through the pandemic, what advice would you give entrepreneurs who are just starting out,

Brian Kelly 25:36
you know, I think, you know, the rejection thing is big, like, I remember so vividly, like just wanting to get on the today’s show, and time and time again, they’re like, No, you know, like, you’re not the expert and, and like, letting that rejection fuel you and even like, you know, I was writing hive, you know, February 2020, business is booming, you know, everything’s going and then we just, it was flipped on its head. But in those moments of our business, going from gangbusters to the first time in the history of the company losing a lot of money, I you know, but that allowed us and certainly, you know, there’s a lot of smart people at Red ventures who, you know, we all huddled in, we’re like, let’s take this time, let’s stop focusing on revenue, let’s take this, like downturn. And instead of twiddling our thumbs, like let’s plan for the future, even like our, our, our executive leadership planning, it was like 2022 was the name of the group that we started, because we just kind of wrote off even 2021. Like, let’s start longer term thinking. So I guess, letting those seemingly despair moments like truly fuel, like, the future, and it can be hard to see in that time, but like, just embrace it, and like use every doubt, you know, seeming failure as an opportunity to rebuild and regrow stronger.

Kara Goldin 26:54
I love it. And I think that’s how I think about it, too. I mean, for us, we started our company hint in 2005 and 2008 2009, were some of the most gnarly years for us. But I think more than anything, we, we didn’t do stupid deals, we made sure that we were, you know, looking at the entire company and figuring out what can we do. And it sounds like that was really you use the time wisely in order to figure out how to weather the next storm should have come along. And I think that that’s what entrepreneurs need to do. But more than anything, you just go and start and start to do something do something that you’re that you’re passionate about that you’re curious about. I mean, that’s what I see in your story. This was always I’m sure people say of course, you started the points guy. I mean, you were the points guy, you were always the points guy. And you know, and you you can be good at something, you just have to find that thing inside of you that you’re really passionate about. So I love hearing your story.

Brian Kelly 28:02
Thank you so much. It’s been an interesting ride, for sure. And actually, interestingly, I think I became more innovative on travel before the pandemic, I was on a plane nonstop. You know, I had a team in London, Austin Charlotte and then based in New York feeling like I had to have FaceTime with each of them all the time plus client plus we do a lot of charity work globally plus also trying to have a personal life. And even though I was constantly on a plane I was drained so like when the pandemic hit I stayed on the ground for 100 days, which I know many people were waiting longer than 100 days that didn’t get on a plane but for me that was a long time and you know, rescued a dog and learn to ride a horse and challenge myself in all these really interesting non travel ways but and learn to kayak kayak now almost every day when I have a chance to and just have this moment, then that I think, have helped me to like really refocus. You know, I think when we’re exhausted the level of innovation, I know we’re in a culture that values busy, busy, busy, but I’m hopeful that especially a lot of other people throughout the pandemic have realized you can actually do more by investing in yourself, you know, self care, not get it I was addicted to jetlag, I joke because it was it should travel can be an addiction and too much of anything’s not a good thing. So I’m hopeful to keep this kind of balance as I go forward. As the world’s not reopening. I find myself struggling with saying yes to everything again. And I told myself Well, just because you can doesn’t mean you should do I need to go to every single event that now you know. So it’s a challenge, but I think I’ll be a better leader and just healthier person as long as you know, just remembering to keep that balance.

Kara Goldin 29:44
That’s so true. What What is the biggest points deal that’s out there today? Obviously this won’t air for a couple of weeks. But I mean, as of today, what would you say is the most overlooked deal that’s out there?

Brian Kelly 29:57
Well, I think in general points people are Sitting on points are up to their gills use them because in general points lose value over time. So if you’re going to keep your points and think, oh, and a couple years, I’ll use them, you’re probably going to lose. Also, what happened over the pandemic is most loyalty programs waived cancellation fees for points, tickets, which is amazing. You can book a ticket and at the last minute now for whatever reason, you can get all your points and miles back and cancel. versus when you buy a ticket. Yes, they say no change fees, but you’re going to get a crappy voucher that you’re probably going to forget to use. So I in general, use points to book travel, especially if you’re not certainly want to go somewhere because it gives it’s like buying a refundable ticket, which we all know is super expensive. That being said, Europe, I mean, I’ve traveled to Europe extensively this summer, I’m going to France in October of this year. And I just use my Amex points. Amex now has transferred bonuses to 12 different airlines. And this is I’ll just give one example. So Air France, because there’s no business travel Air France has tons of business class seats for 57,500 miles one way, crazy. So 150,000 round trip business class, delta, for example, charges 500,000 on many of those routes for like an inferior product. Not only that with the 25% Amex transfer bonus means I’m only redeeming 45,000 Amex points one way business class to Europe. And it’s fully refundable. A couple $100 in taxes and fees. And there’s availability every day planes are empty, because people are afraid. And I’ll say delta is crazy in the US, but it’s not in Europe, I feel way safer in Europe, you know, in places, you know, where there’s 80% plus vaccination rates, and you know, you can easily eat outside and explore culture. So I know people are nervous to travel. But I mean, fall in Europe is spectacular, the crowds are fewer, it’s more Europeans traveling. So use your points to go to Europe.

Kara Goldin 31:52
How about the holidays? Are people do you see people using up their points and asking questions around, you know, Christmas, New Year’s, I mean, what seems to be the hotspots?

Brian Kelly 32:02
I mean, the hotspots are Hawaii, you know, Mexico, people want to stay closer to home, which I understand. The funny thing about staying closer to you know, staying closer to home. I mean, right now hospitals in many parts of the US, I actually would not travel to Miami now. I mean, I would but like I would, I would because my friend who lives in Miami in a very high end area had a routine medical procedure that he had to wait, there was no hospital rooms, right. And so I actually find it safer to go to places that are not overrun with COVID. But but basically I mean, people are going to the islands you know, even though the CDC is putting what I would recommend to people, if you’re going to a small Caribbean island, like look into the COVID numbers and the hospitals, even if you don’t get COVID or you’re not worried about it, if you you know, have something random happened to you, you don’t want to be a burden on their system or not be able to get care. So I would just tell people do your own research. Don’t let the media kind of panic you into making decisions, look at data where you’re going to vaccination data, and just know that when you’re traveling on a plane where people are wearing masks and if you’re vaccinated, you know there’s I hate when the government will say oh Turks and Caicos is level four you shouldn’t go there but what does that actually mean look at your own personal risk and where you’re actually going. And often I think we make irrational decisions based on like news headlines or whatever. And not just in fact, we push people to think independently about and I know it’s difficult with kids who are unvaccinated. At the end of the day everyone has to make a decision that they’re comfortable with anytime you leave your house there’s going to be a risk level but it’s got the day off talking about COVID

Kara Goldin 33:40
I know it’s so true what about hotels like any chains in particular that you think are just crazy like great great deals out there worldwide

Brian Kelly 33:50
I think high it’s done an amazing job there they’ve made some acquisitions their portfolios bigger and bigger their value props really great if you have chase points you can transfer to high at one to one for example, what this means is like you know the Park Hyatt Paris tonight Connick on plus mon dome it’s 30,000 points at night and even during the pandemic it’s $1,000 plus a night so you’re getting over three cents per point and value that to me is a great value I think so i think you know heighten has done a really good job they’ve got a I know at the points guy a lot of my editors everyone’s crazy for Hyatt they’ve got lots of good promotions and with elite status with their co branded credit card. So I kind of think of Hyatt as like the rising star throughout the pandemic.

Kara Goldin 34:32
I love it. Well this is so much fun. I’m going on to the points guy and going to try and figure all this out for myself for sure. And thanks everyone for listening. Please give Brian five stars. I’m so excited that you came on and everybody downloaded the app as well the brand new app and and thank you so much Brian. This is this has been so much fun and We are here every Monday and Wednesday again, if everybody would, please share this podcast with people and also if you have not picked up a copy of my book undaunted, overcoming doubts and doubters, I have my own entrepreneurial journey. It’s amazing how much crossover in some ways it is with Brian’s and just all of the kind of ebbs and flows along the way that he went through. I definitely chart that out in this book, too. So hopefully you’ll get a chance to read this. And where can people find you to Brian on social,

Brian Kelly 35:38
on social, so at the points guy on all channels, but then if you want to follow me personally, I detail all of my travels from start to finish at Brian Kelly. And as you mentioned, just download the points guy app in the Apple App Store. And please give us five reviews, five stars, to get the word saying that.

Kara Goldin 35:56
That’s awesome. Great. Well, thanks, everyone. Have a great rest of the week. And thanks again, Brian. Thank you. before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the book calm and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin Goldin thanks for listening