This week, we speak with Brian Kelly, better known as “The Points Guy.” Kelly took an interest in credit card and airline points, and turned it into a substantial media business, with 60 employees and 7 million unique visitors a month.
When he was 12, Kelly booked a trip for his family to the Grand Caymans using only the points his father, who travelled for work. He eventually began charging friends $50 to book their travel. But TPG was a side gig, until a NYT article launched the site into another level. That eventually led to their first million in revenues, and he the sale of the company for a “life changing amount of money” to BankRate.com (now owned by Red Ventures).
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.
We also discuss Kelly’s travel gear secrets: 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. He also explains “How to pack” — his approach is called “stack & fold” Kelly explains why this is better than the roll method.
Kelly performed a “Wallet Audit” on me: He liked my Amex Platinum (TPG: Best business card) and of course, the Chase Sapphire Reserve (TPB: Best personal card / 3X points on travel, hotel). He suggested changing my basic Chase card for the no fee Chase Freedom Unlimited card, because its 1.5X on everything else.
His favorite books can be seen here; A transcript of our conversation will be 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 at Vontobel’s Quality Growth boutique, managing $33 billion (Note he replaced prior MiB guest Rajiv Jain as CIO) . Vontobel manages $110 billion and has 1,700 employees.
Brian Kelly’s Favorite Books
The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger
Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac
Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War by Leymah Gbowee
Books Barry Mentioned
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou