If you are an American who uses credit, you walk around with an average of 3.7 credit cards in your wallet. You’re probably using them all wrong.
So says Brian Kelly, who is better known as “The Points Guy.” At age 12, he booked a trip for his family to the Grand Caymans using only the points his father had amassed through work-related travel. As a side gig when we was in HR at Morgan Stanley, he charged friends $50 to book their points travel. He was running a modest website discussing his points strategies, when a New York Times article launched the site into another level. That eventually led to their first million in revenues, and the sale of the company for a “life changing amount of money” to BankRate.com (now owned by Red Ventures). Today, Kelly still runs The Points Guy site, with 100 employees serving 7 million unique monthly visitors.
The Points Guy.com was the launch partner for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card with JPM — perhaps the most successful credit card launch ever. The card not only sold out, JPM ran out of the metal used to make it. It was announced by JPM with a link to the The Points Guy site, and it helped blow up the firm even more.
Kelly travels professionally, amassing millions of miles and the highest status levels at his favorite airlines. We discuss his favorite travel gear: He always has a Laptop/iPad filed with movies, podcasts and TV shows — you cannot rely on the onboard entertainment system, and if you get stuck somewhere for hours you could keep yourself entertained. He has a Dual Sim iPhone 11, which allows him to use the phone just about anywhere in the world. Google Fi is his cellular provider abroad. Also important for stressful travel these days: a Guided Meditation App Insight Timer.
We did a “Wallet Audit,” and it turned out my cards are all pretty good (I read TPG site). According to TPG ratings, my Amex Platinum card is their favorite “Best business card” and the Chase Sapphire Reserve was their pick for best personal card (3X points on travel, hotel). But I should change my basic Chase card for the no-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited card, because its 1.5X points on everything else.
Figuring this out is complex, so TPB is launching a new app, that based on the cards you carry, will automatically direct you to use the card that generates the most points for each purchase. That launches later this year.
His favorite books can be seen here; A transcript of our conversation is available here.
You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on Apple iTunes, Overcast, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg, and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.
Next week, we speak with Matthew Benkendorf, CIO of Vontobel’s Quality Growth boutique, managing about $35 billion. (Note he replaced prior MiB guest Rajiv Jain as CIO). Vontobel manages $279 billion (6/30/19) and has 2,000 employees.