We talked to Brian Kelly, expert on all things travel points, on which credit card offers the best rewards, whether hotel points are worth it, and how to become a points freak in the first place.
Brian Kelly’s livelihood started as many an influencer’s: His friends gave him a weird nickname in 2010, he decided to make an eponymous blog with said nickname, and then companies started flooding his inbox with emails with words like “commission” and “profit” and “affiliate marketing.” It was just the beginning of what would become his everyday life.
None of the world travel Kelly has done—taking his parents to Beijing and East timor to celebrate their retirement, becoming a chief in a Ghanian village— would’ve been possible had Kelly not become addicted to racking up frequent flier miles and credit card points, and bought the domain for The Points Guy, his blog-cum-profitable-website that now beckons 4.5 million visitors a month. Looking for updates about the TSA’s electronic ban? The Points Guy’s got you covered. Have a spare $500 and want to know the furthest you can get away from New York City? Round-trip ticket to Amman, Jordan: $499, baby.
As someone who has dedicated his livelihood to the art of travel, points, and deals, Kelly has the insight and advice that could put money in your pockets and your butt in a lounge chair in the San Sebastián. So, we asked him about credit card rewards, the worthiness of hotel points, and whale sharks.
GQ: Let’s ask an extremely basic question first: What exactly are points and miles, and why am I supposed to care about them?
Kelly: simply put, they’re a form of currency. You can get them from traveling, but nowadays, more and more points come from credit cards and everyday spending. You literally just have to spend money to get them. Most people have them; most people don’t know how to use them.
How did you get into this relatively unconventional hobby or…