Brian Kelly, additionally accepted as “The Credibility Guy,” appointed his aboriginal cruise application credit-card credibility at the age of 12. His ancestor was a health-care adviser who catholic for assignment and Kelly begin on the internet that he could use the points—then a almost new invention—to book a ancestors vacation. He busy a house, application the biking armpit VRBO, in the Cayman Islands, which Kelly had aloof apprehend about in the John Grisham acknowledged abstruseness The Firm, and appointed the flights for the ancestors of six online.
“It concluded up actuality the best amazing trip—basically bonding for my dad and I because he capital to try and amount out how to use his miles,” Kelly reminisced. “I was affectionate of this advanced 12 year old.”
When Kelly got older, he turned his obsession with credibility into a abounding time gig as a biking hacker. He started ThePointsGuy.com, a biking armpit that reviews acclaim cards, area he helps readers get the best out of their credit-card rewards and alike use points to book luxury biking on the cheap.
Kelly honed those abilities during his days as a campus technology recruiter at Morgan Stanley. He wasn’t authoritative a lot of money—during the recession he said his accomplishment were either brackish or decreased—but he catholic extensively, becoming millions of credibility and auberge promotions, and took advantage of them. At Morgan Stanley, Kelly was accustomed to transfer the credibility on his accumulated agenda to a claimed card.
“In lieu of a absolute cash bonus, points were my alleviation prize,” Kelly said. “I learned how to assignment the corporate-card system.”
In 2010, he started blogging about credibility and answering biking questions on a frequent-flyer appointment alleged FlyerTalk, consistently apropos users aback to his site. A year afterwards his aboriginal blog post, he quit Morgan Stanley to pursue the site full time.
Kelly became an “online influencer” afore influencer business was a thing. He attracted thousands of readers by autograph a few blog posts a day, and was admired as article of an expert. He was featured in the New York Times and gave interviews to CNN and added TV networks and account outlets.
The site was additionally bringing in absolute money. With the advice of an associate banker acquaintance of his, Kelly added links to credit-card offers to his armpit in 2011 and would get paid if readers active up through them. At first, Kelly didn’t apperceive if he’d anytime see a dime. But then a column that affiliated to a British Airways Visa advance went viral, and he estimated that if aloof 10% of his roughly 25,000 readers at the time active up he could accomplish six figures. From again on, Kelly started autograph added and added posts anniversary day, borer out at about 15—a responsibility he now shares with his 8-person beat staff. Many of ThePointsGuy’s best accepted posts are additionally the best profitable, he said.
“We actualize agreeable that makes people’s lives bigger and accord it to them for chargeless and in acknowledgment they get acclaim cards through our site,” Kelly said. “People biking smarter, bodies see their families more, bodies save bags of dollars because they came beyond ThePointsGuy.com. And, in turn, if you’re activity to get the acclaim cards that we allocution about anyway, use our link.”
Today, The Credibility Guy brings in added than 3 actor altered visitors a month, Kelly said. It additionally has 1.5 actor brand on Facebook and hundreds of bags of followers on both Twitter and Instagram.
Kelly has austere rules on how he deals with marketers and credit-card companies to accumulate the site’s credibility intact. He pays for all of his own travel, covers his advisers credit-card fees, and doesn’t do absolute credit-card deals.
“The credit-card companies, all of them pay us and its up to us to adjudge which ones we appetite to use,” said Kelly. “My candor is my cardinal one asset and you can’t buy it… I anticipate our readers account that.”
Kelly has about 30 acclaim cards, 10 of which he uses regularly—some for business and others for different bonuses like biking rewards—and a acclaim account of over 800 because he pays off the balances in abounding anniversary month.
While Kelly said there’s no archetypal day for him, he did accord Quartz a glimpse into his agenda for one accurate day:
The best allotment for Kelly, he said, is that he gets to biking for a living. Kelly said he splits his time between Miami, New York, and traveling. As of this November, he had spent 100 nights in hotels during the year. “That’s probably added than I absolutely should,” he joked. “But at the end of the day I’m a accustomed born traveller.”
Every cruise is a admixture of business and pleasure. He went to Africa alert this abatement for alms work, spent Christmas in the Maldives, area he approved out two altered resorts and spent time filming and autograph reviews. He’s spending three weeks in Indonesia over New Years.
In 2017, Kelly hopes to biking a little beneath while he continues to abound his business. He’s preparing to move the company into a new appointment in New York’s Flatiron District, and says a all-around amplification may be on the horizon.
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