Maximizing Delta Miles, Award Chart Sweet Spots and Tips for Military Travelers with Richard Kerr

Jul 31, 2019

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On this week’s Talking Points, TPG’s latest full-time hire, Loyalty and Engaement Editor Richard Kerr, chats about some of his favorite points and miles topics.

Kerr explains the latest news surrounding resort fees, including the recent lawsuit against Marriott filed by the DC attorney general. You’ll learn tips on how to avoid these deceptive fees, where to invest your loyalty if the Marriott Bonvoy program has caused you more than enough headaches, and why you should be transferring your Marriott points to certain airlines.

Kerr also reveals his favorite way to redeem Delta SkyMiles and why he typically uses his Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card when booking hotels:

“You get 3x points. They’re worth 1.5 cents each, so 4.5% cash back towards flights. That way, when I have to fly domestically, I’m not worried about saving award space. I can just book a cheap flight, and then I end up paying nothing for it, and I earn redeemable and elite qualifying miles on a free ticket.”

And that’s not all. Kerr explains what his new job as TPG Loyalty and Engagement Editor involves, which includes curating more events for our readers, building a stronger community, and assisting with the development of TPG’s Points Lab. Plus, stay tuned till the end to find out one of the most underrated destinations you and your family should travel to this fall.

You can play this episode of Talking Points above, or wherever you get your podcasts. Please make sure to subscribe, rate and review!

Liked hearing Richard Kerr on this episode? Check out Talking Points episode 3 where he dishes out on insane redemptions using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles.
Full Transcript:

Brian Kelly: Welcome to today’s Talking Points. We’ve got our first repeat guest today. He is new full-time to The Points Guy. Please welcome our new loyalty and engagement editor, Richard Kerr.

Brian Kelly: Richard, thanks for joining us.

Richard Kerr: Hey, Brian, always a pleasure.

Brian Kelly: What exactly does a loyalty and engagement editor do?

Richard Kerr: Quite a few things, as it turns out, as we get started here, just the first week on the job. First of all, is to make sure that our readers are being heard, which you know more than all of us is really important, to make sure that we keep the tone of the information we’re putting out correct, to make sure that the readers get what they want, which is valuable information to help them on their travels. And second, is to continue to write the nerdy things I’ve always written over at The Points Guy, and to dig down deep into those award charts and find the best information that nobody else is covering to make the points and miles go further than ever before.

Brian Kelly: Your stuff is some of our most popular content. Can you give our listeners on Talking Points a sense of some of the things … What are some of your favorite past columns that you’re really proud of?

Richard Kerr: Yeah, I think the expose I did on resort fees was, I think, one of the first articles that now a series have been written about, where I went to the Great Wolf Lodge here in Georgia that charges an undisclosed resort fee. Never during the booking process is this resort fee disclosed, even on the final checkout page. The feedback we got from that I think has really gotten some momentum and things going.

Richard Kerr: That was definitely one of the favorite things I’ve ever written about, as well as some of the more simple things that folks overlook, like, hey, this is the right way to rent a car, get the best deal, and to make sure you’re covered in case of an accident. So things that are kind of hiding in plain sight as well, something you might do all the time but maybe you’re not doing it the best way you could do.

Brian Kelly: Well, let’s talk about resort fees, because I think in our world, resort fee is a four-letter word. Marriott recently is being sued by —  who is it? — the attorney general of DC, I believe, that’s suing them.

Richard Kerr: That’s correct.

Brian Kelly: I heard some more rumblings about Nebraska’s AG getting into this game. Do you think that these lawsuits are actually going to bring about change? Maybe, to take it a step back, for those listening who aren’t quite aware of what resort fees are, just give a little bit more of a background than you just gave.

Richard Kerr: Yeah, definitely. I wish they were only called resort fees. Essentially, what has happened is the resort fee, or charging a fee that is not optional, and then essentially saying, hey, in exchange for this fee, we’re going to give you some of these benefits, most of which people will never use at a stay, like notary services —

Brian Kelly: Come on, I use notaries every time.

Richard Kerr: Yeah, some of us have really wanted to save up all of our notary work over a couple of years and then go into a hotel that lists notary — especially in Vegas, they list notary service on the resort fees — and see how many things we can get notarized before they get upset at us.

Richard Kerr: These fees have taken off, and now they’re called “urban destination fees,” a “destination fee.” I feel like every time I’ve seen everything that they’ve ever been called, somebody comes up with a new way to maybe have it a little bit less of a bite. Listen, what they are are “second room rates.” They are taxed at the exact same rate as the advertised room rate, and depending on the hotel or hotel chain … in Great Wolf Lodge’s case, it’s never broken out or disclosed. Some other chains will do a better job disclosing it. But it’s just an ancillary revenue bump for hotels, and they don’t advertise it correctly in the price.

Brian Kelly: So it’s a way to trick consumers, but it’s also a way to not pay commissions on room rates to travel agents and OTAs, correct?

Richard Kerr: Very much. It also cuts down their tax rate a little bit as well, depending on the city. The folks over at KillResortFees.com have done some great data-collecting to see exactly how much they’re saving on taxes, as well as how much they’re saving on commissions paid to online travel agencies.

Brian Kelly: KillResortFees.com. I love it. What are some of the ways to get around … So some hotels don’t charge it on award stays or for elite members. What’s the current status of the chains doing it?

Richard Kerr: If you’re staying at a Hilton and you use points to book it, you’re not going to pay a resort fee. If you use Bonvoy points to book Marriott, you are still going to pay a resort fee. And this can be a sting.

Richard Kerr: I believe executive editorial director Scott Mayerowitz just stayed down at one of the properties in Grand Cayman, and I know the Ritz-Carlton there has a $95-a-night resort fee that you’re still going to pay.

Brian Kelly: $95. That’s crazy.

Richard Kerr: You get a “free” room, and you’re still paying $95 a night. It’s things like bike rentals, which may be … How many people are going to use the loaner bikes down there? That’s what it is.

Richard Kerr: Hyatt does it right. If you’re a top-tier Globalist, you’re never going to pay resort fees, even if you’re staying on a paid-room rate. And anybody who uses points is not going to pay a resort fee either.

Richard Kerr: Those are the big three there and how they’re doing it. Marriott definitely falling behind, which just seems a little bit silly. Again, could be a reason that the DC attorney general targeted them first because some of their properties do charge destination fees in big cities that have … They’re not a resort. There’s no value-added there.

Richard Kerr: Some of the ways to avoid it, folks have actually, and this is one of the things I tested in my column I wrote, is you dispute the charge with your credit card issuer, saying that this fee was not advertised in the price that I agreed to pay online when I booked the hotel and was only added afterwards. There are success stories of American Express actually coming back and crediting that resort fee back. Now I used a Wells Fargo card , and they found that they weren’t going to credit it back to me, but there are success stories out there.

Brian Kelly: Interesting. Wait, why are you using the Propel card to pay for hotel stays?

Richard Kerr: Yeah, so it was 3x points on travel, and I was really trying to boost my points up that can be used towards the revenue cost so I’m not subject to an awards space, which is what Wells Fargo points … You get 3x points. They’re worth 1.5 cents each, so 4.5% cash back towards flights. That way, when I have to fly domestically, I’m not worried about saving award space. I can just book a cheap flight and then I end up paying nothing for it, and I earn redeemable and elite qualifying miles on a free ticket.

Brian Kelly: Interesting. We’re going to get back into credit cards in a little bit, but let’s talk about Bonvoy. To a certain group of frequent travelers, Bonvoy is also a four-letter word, not just because people dislike the name. I know you’ve been a vocal critic. And look, a lot of people on staff have had terrible experiences with getting their points correct. Summer, our TPG family editor, had a nightmare story.

Brian Kelly: We’re almost a year now into Bonvoy program. Are we out of the woods with all of these technical glitches and everything? What’s your sense of what’s going on in that space?

Richard Kerr: Unfortunately not. We’re not out of the woods there. One of the most frustrating things that continues to happen are fees being added to award stays if you have more than one or two people in the room for occupancy. Families that are booking award stays, when you get to the final checkout screen, will sometimes have $1,000 of extra fees, and you have to contact the property individually through the Bonvoy assist team to get it figured out.

Richard Kerr: You’re going to need some help if you’re trying to do anything with certificates that’s a little bit outside of the norm. If you still have legacy seven-day certificates and you want to change a category, or you have it attached and you want to get that certificate back, points are deducted from your account rather any free-night certificates. Trying to get that corrected can be a disaster.

Richard Kerr: I still have the feeling in the bottom of my stomach — and because of where I’ve traveled over the last month, I’ve had to do five or six nights in Marriott properties — I just don’t have the confidence that this transaction is going to go well from start to finish. My certificate is going to be deducted, not my points. If it’s a paid night, I’m going to get the correct points in my account, and I’m not going to have to go back and forth with it; and really just am I going to have a good experience at this hotel compared to some of the other chains out there?

Richard Kerr: I was in LA last Thursday and stayed at the Sheraton Universal City. It’s a 25-story hotel. It had one working elevator. I waited 25 minutes to get down to the lobby in the morning, and I was late for a meeting. I don’t know what it is. It has nothing to do with the loyalty program, but my experiences right now with Bonvoy and Marriott just do not make me feel good.

Brian Kelly: Have you been shifting your loyalty? What other chains have you been looking at? I know Hilton just announced they had one of their biggest growth quarters ever for their Honors program. They’re approaching 100 million members. Have you shifted stays to Hilton or Hyatt? For people who are maybe not so happy with Bonvoy, what would you recommend?

Richard Kerr: Yeah, if you’re going to a place that has a Hyatt, that’s my go-to chain, really, because of the benefits for a traveling family or a traveling businessman or woman. Once you get those top-tier status benefits of a Globalist, it’s just a wonderful stay 95% of the time. If there’s a Hilton somewhere close by, those points seem to be so easy to get now because of the promotions, because of the credit card spend, because once you have elite status, the number of points you earn on a paid stay, I’m looking at Hilton, to go over there.

Richard Kerr: Really, in my mind right now, and I know a lot of people can agree with this, but Marriott points are airline miles. Taking advantage of the three-to-one transfer ratio and the 5,000-mile bonus, in a lot of programs that are hard to get otherwise, if I’m collecting Marriott points, those are going to be future airline miles, and I’m going to try and stay at a Hilton or at a Hyatt or at a Choice or something like that. That’s my current methodology.

Brian Kelly: If people want to transfer their Bonvoy to airlines, which three would you say would probably offer the most value?

Richard Kerr: Yeah, Alaska is definitely number one. Those are hard to get outside of the Bank of America Alaska card or flying Alaska, and their value is so high because of all the partners you can book for a few miles. So Alaska, number one.

Richard Kerr: Actually, JAL miles. There’s no other way to get JAL miles except for a credit card that only earns 1x on everything. You can do a lot of incredible things that continue to get overlooked with JAL miles. That would be number two.

Richard Kerr: Then once you go from number three, it’s really what do you need that you’re short anywhere else. Do I need more Etihad? Still gets overlooked, despite how much we’ve covered it on The Points Guy. Do I need more Virgin Atlantic because I want to save my Amex and my Chase for something else? What do I need right now?

Richard Kerr: If I got Marriott points, they’re going to Alaska, they’re going to JAL, and then after that it’s whatever I’m short elsewhere.

Brian Kelly: JAL, for those who don’t know, is Japan Airlines. Japan Airlines used to be unbelievable for Emirates and then one day they ramped up the fuel surcharges to crazy amounts. What are the sweet spots in Japan Airlines? Is it the routing rules? Is it other partners that we’re overlooking?

Richard Kerr: One of my favorite articles I’ve ever written is “Overlooking the Best Transatlantic Award,” and this is using Japan Airline miles to book Air France round-trip from the US to Paris and beyond — 63,000 miles for business class round-trip, 39,000 round-trip —

Brian Kelly: Round-trip, business class.

Richard Kerr: … 39,000 miles in economy. And if you’re saying there’s got to be a catch, there’s got to be huge carrier-imposed fuel surcharges, it’s not bookable online, no. It’s 85 bucks, 100 bucks round-trip. It’s bookable on the Japan Airlines online award-booking engine. You can do it all right there.

Richard Kerr: Then as you just mentioned, on top of that, you can do crazy routings with it, two stopovers, do an open jaw, and it’s just minimal amount of miles because it’s a distance-based award chart. So if you’re staying somewhere close, you want stopovers, you want to go see multiple destinations for that price, you can make it happen.

Brian Kelly: What is the current state of Air France award availability for that saver level, which is what you’d need for the Japan Airlines award? Is it something that it’s a needle in a haystack, or is Air France decent these days? I haven’t booked one in a while.

Richard Kerr: Economy is not a problem. Business class from Europe to the US is not a problem. From the US to Europe can be a problem. But if you have a flexible schedule, there are dates there. Also, if you’re looking into the places that have multiple flights per day, looking at some of the other lesser-flown Air France destinations, like a Houston instead of a Chicago or something like that, you can definitely find the availability.

Richard Kerr: Then the problem has always been, I can’t get JAL miles. Well, if you have Marriott Bonvoy points, you have no problem getting JAL miles, as well as booking domestic American tickets. You can do stopovers on that for far less than what American is charging, and the availability is there. If you find saver availability on American, then you can make it happen with JAL miles and you can build in multiple stops. You can fly the premium products from Los Angeles to New York or Boston, and you can add in stopovers. You can just do some wonderful things there.

Brian Kelly: Can you combine Air France and American on a Japan Airlines award or —

Richard Kerr: You cannot mix the carriers when they are not Oneworld partners.

Brian Kelly: Got it. Figured as much, but thought I’d ask.

Brian Kelly: One of these things about trends in award availability … we are going to be launching Points Lab, which you’re going to be a part of. Do you want to talk … I know you had a meeting recently with our ExpertFlyer counterparts now that we’re all part of the same parent company. What is The Points Lab, and how is that going to benefit TPG readers?

Richard Kerr: TPG, with all the work you’ve done over the last year, has just put some incredible resources together, both in the data and product with ExpertFlyer and then in the people. It’s run by Nick Ewen, who’s going to be my boss and points-and-miles guy. We’re going to sit down and take this data, and we’re going to do, essentially, research and development, if you will, on what are the best products that we can create from this incredible tool that we have that turns it into an easy-to-use, easy-to-understand interface for our readers and for the people who download our app.

Richard Kerr: What is the way that we can explain to people, if you want to fly to Hawaii with your family of four, this is the best time on this airline to make it happen, and this is how many points you’re going to need? If you want to find hotel availability at a difficult-to-find destination, or if you’re open to having your destination being defined by where the hotel availability is, how do we make the tools that allow that to happen? That’s where we’re starting right now.

Richard Kerr: I think we’re going to do a lot of projects outside of ExpertFlyer as well, a lot of deep dives into award charts and partnerships that are maybe getting overlooked, and do all the hard work for you so that, hey, if you want to use Citi ThankYou points on Turkish, this is the definitive best way to make it happen. You don’t have to do that research. We’re going to do it for you.

Brian Kelly: We’re going to do it all for you. Yeah, I’m excited for this evolution of The Points Guy. We’ve started as a blog and then became a travel website. You want to call it lifestyle brand, social media, video, podcasts.

Brian Kelly: When people ask me, “What is the future of The Points Guy?” In 2020, I think people look to The Points Guy as an indispensable resource. We can give you the net worth of your miles and points and help you make sure that you’re hitting every bonus and tier. The app is going to be a big piece of that, but also having a human brain trust in the company of the world’s top points expert is going to help us get there, and I couldn’t be happier to have you on board as part of that.

Brian Kelly: Let’s talk about community for a little bit. In your prior role before joining The Points Guy, you created your own Facebook group before that was a thing. You were a leader there. You’re known for your moderating a really lively discussion around miles and points and doing events. How do you want to change the sense of community at TPG? Let’s start there.

Richard Kerr: I think it boils down to a good problem that you have … is as you’ve grown and as our audience has grown so quickly a lot of times it’s hard to stay engaged and keep your fingerprint on what people are thinking and wanting and how they’re interacting with your brand. And it’s something that we can’t forget, because without the readers, without the information they need, we kinda lose our way a little bit.

Richard Kerr: I want to get us back down … It’s a word that’s used throughout a lot of different industries and things right now, but “grassroots.” How can I create a community to make sure that we have people, first, talking about TPG with their friends, family and coworkers, making sure that we know it’s a place where everybody’s going to come, but also a positive place where people are enjoying how they interact and get responses from the brand? It’s almost our version of customer service. That’s why every airline and hotel has a Twitter handle now. In my opinion, it’s the easiest way to get instant information if you don’t want to wait on hold for a phone and to interact with the brand and get things done.

Richard Kerr: We should have the same thing at TPG. If we put up some content that’s not up to the readers’ expectations, rather than have them tell their friends and family, “Hey, don’t read this site anymore,” they should know that, hey, if we come to the TPG Lounge, if we send an email to the TPG Tips, we’re going to get a meaningful response back. That goes a long way these days in ensuring people stay loyal to our brand, ensure we get a good conversation going on about TPG out there.

Richard Kerr: There’s just so many tools to make that happen these days. Facebook Groups is where I started it, and we have a great Facebook group going on now at TPG Lounge. It just needs to be a lot more — I would say “involved” is the word —  that I’m looking forward to over the next couple of weeks as I learn the processes going on there and some of the things we can do. I want people to know that if they reach out, hey, Brian and Richard and the whole team over there at TPG are going to interact and engage with us and we’re going to take your input in steering the ship in the way that we go forward into 2020.

Brian Kelly: Yeah, I’m excited to have you also help us elevate our events. One of my favorite parts of being The Points Guy, or the original Points Guy, is interacting with our readers. We do events here and there, but I think we need to more formalize our community meetups, what they mean, the different types.

Brian Kelly: One thing I’d love to see in 2020, and that I’ve challenged you to help spearhead, is also PointsCon, putting together an amazing conference of all the loyalty heads and programs and readers and our credit card partners in one space to allow people to get to the next level, because it can be really confusing for a beginner to go to The Points Guy to really try to find their way digitally. I know a lot of people really like that in-person interaction, and we do as well. So I’m excited to see … Do you think we’re going be able to do it in 2020?

Richard Kerr: I’m so excited about a lot of the events that I have planned that I haven’t had a chance to talk to you yet. PointsCon is definitely one of them. I think it’s something that only TPG can do, given our network and given the partnerships we have both in the industry and with our readers. There’s nobody else that’s going to be able to pull together the top talent, enter a room, and say, “Hey, look, readers, if you want to understand how this loyalty program works from the airline side, we have the head of JetBlue here. If you want to learn it on the hotel side, we have the head of Hilton here. To give you a panel that you can ask questions to, and you’re going to understand even better how this all works and how you can take advantage of it.”

Richard Kerr: And everything they want to know from the consumer side. You have the top experts in the world on points and miles in the same room that are going to give talks on elevating it, or to the beginners that just know that there’s something exciting out there and I can’t comprehend it yet. We’re going to make all of that happen. I’m telling you, we’re going to make it happen at PointsCon.

Richard Kerr: But the other reader events, we have reader events coming up. I think Atlanta and Chicago are coming next. We’re going to give some seminars out there. You’re going to get to talk to Brian in Atlanta. I think Julian is going to be there. Summer is going to be there. I’m going to be there.

Richard Kerr: So many things. Brian, I want to do a points-and-miles speed dating. I ran an Award Travel Singles Mingle Facebook Group. We had our first wedding last weekend where people met because of points and miles, and I think it would be —

Brian Kelly: Did you officiate it?

Richard Kerr: No. I got an invite, and I couldn’t make it.

Richard Kerr: There’s just so many things out there we can do to get people more excited about points and miles and meet like-minded people. I’m so amped up for that kind of stuff.

Brian Kelly: I don’t think I’ve let our readers know, but I’m actually an ordained minister. I forget what my affiliation is. It was an internet thing that we did. I’ve actually officiated four weddings, two TPG employees. Yeah, I actually haven’t officiated a TPG reader wedding yet, but now that I’m talking about it on the podcast, that’s another goal in 2020 we’ve got to make happen.

Richard Kerr: That would be great. The first people to meet at the TPG speed dating or whatever we set up, Brian is going to officiate your wedding. That’s going to be awesome. That’s going to get people excited.

Brian Kelly: It’s got to be somewhere warm, though, hopefully on a beach.

Brian Kelly: Let’s just get into the high level, your thoughts on this, game, industry. You’ve been in this for a while. There’s always a certain portion of people who say, “Oh, the game’s over. It’s not like what it used to be, devaluations, dynamic pricing.” What’s your take on that, when people say, “Hey, Richard, why do you bother? This isn’t as fun as what it used to be?”

Richard Kerr: A few answers. I actually get asked pretty often this question now, including in LA on Thursday, where I was speaking in front of a group of folks. There’s really two things I always say. Since I’ve been doing this, I still continue to travel at highly subsidized, discount, free prices just as much as I did in 2011 when I got into this. If the game is changing and it’s all over, I think I started hearing that in 2012, and now we’re seven years later and I’m still traveling at 95% off the vast majority of the time. So the proof is in the pudding. It’s not gone.

Richard Kerr: Second is people who are involved in this community and in this space, we tend to forget that we are still a vast, vast minority of people here in the US and in the world who spend the time and effort required to make this happen. The analogy I always tell is, pick the most busy interstate wherever you are, wherever you’re listening, if you’re on the road right now, and imagine if there was a traffic accident that stopped the entire interstate and you’re backed up for seven or eight miles. If you got out of your car and talked to everybody in those seven or eight miles and you said, “Hey, tell me the best use of a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club mile,” how many people on that interstate would be able to answer your question? I would wager none or one.

Richard Kerr: Nobody knows this stuff. Nobody is doing this. We lose awareness a little bit on how much this is still a niche community, to do something besides sign up for one card and get one free flight. People who say it’s over, it’s ending, everybody knows too much, that’s just not the case. It still isn’t. Just like you, I’m sure every family event you go to, everybody asks how your travel agency is doing and what it is exactly you do, even though you’ve been doing it for nine years.

Brian Kelly: Yeah. Even when I started The Points Guy nine years ago, people were like, “Oh, that’s the dumbest idea ever. This game is over.”

Richard Kerr: Right. It’s just not the case. If you want to look … If you’re a science person, if you’re a dollars-and-cents person, look how much money these loyalty programs are making. Now American Advantage is valued at more than the airline itself. Why would American say, “You know what, that’s right. Too many people are using this. We’re making too much money. Let’s stop all this?” It’s not going to happen.

Brian Kelly: You’re based outside of Atlanta. You fly Delta. How do you reconcile … We value Delta miles the least among the major carriers. Do you still get tons of value from Delta, or do you admit that it’s gotten pretty hard?

Richard Kerr: No, I get tons of value. Actually, another one of my favorite columns is Stop the Groupthink on Delta SkyMiles. SkyMiles still have tremendous value.

Richard Kerr: I do fly Delta. I do credit the flights to my SkyMiles account, not to Virgin Atlantic or any other partner. And I’m telling you, Brian, I cannot keep SkyMiles in my account. I am always hovering around zero or 1,000, because every time I need to go somewhere domestically in economy with my family, Delta has it for some silly good rate. We’re going to Fort Myers this weekend to the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort down there, flying my family of four back from Fort Myers to Atlanta, and it was like 6,000 SkyMiles a person. I’ve got to go to Houston in two weeks. I booked round-trip Atlanta to Houston on the nonstop, 15,000 miles. This happens all the time.

Richard Kerr: Do I want to book Delta One for 350,000 miles one-way to Europe? No. Do I need to fly economy domestically? I’m probably going to be able to find a good rate with SkyMiles as long as it’s not within the next seven days. Delta does not charge you a close-in booking fee, but they de facto just raise the SkyMiles price to where it makes it not a great deal.

Richard Kerr: Here’s what I’m saying. Is SkyMiles the best? Are they even close to the best program? Absolutely not. Do I find value flying domestically with SkyMiles? Almost on a weekly basis. I have no problem collecting SkyMiles. And quite frankly, flying a Delta flight domestically is the best experience that you have of any other airline out there, maybe except JetBlue.

Brian Kelly: Delta is pretty darn good. Let’s end with, first of all, thank you for your service to our country. You’ve written some stuff for us about how current active military and veterans can save by leveraging their status on travel and miles and points and credit cards. Can you end with maybe one or two tips for anyone listening that is in the military and how they should be upping their game?

Richard Kerr: Yeah, definitely. This is absolutely the community that I’m going to go after with the TPG brand. There’s going to be a TPG veteran’s network. We’re going to do awesome things with that, because [after] nine years in the Navy, passionate about my fellow servicemen and women.

Richard Kerr: Look, if you’re active duty right now, you do not need to be paying annual fees on any American Express cards. That applies if you’re an authorized user on your spouse’s card. Their fee will also be waived. And the same with Chase. If you open a new Chase card now, I believe they changed the rules September 2017, so not an existing account, but if you’ve opened an account after September of 2017, those fees are also waived through the Military Lending Act.

Richard Kerr: That’s the best advice right there. Get your Chase and Amex cards, utilize those points, and then take advantage of that great offer that the folks at those two banks are giving you. That includes $450 Chase Sapphire Reserve. That includes $550 American Express Platinum. No annual fees, and you get all the benefits.

Richard Kerr: Again, thanks to the folks at Chase and Amex who continue to do that. My wife and I certainly got incredible value from those cards.

Brian Kelly: That’s awesome. I think it’s the least we can do to help those who have served.

Brian Kelly: Richard, we’ve got to wrap it up now, but let’s just end it on a couple fun questions. With your family, what’s one destination that you highly recommend to other families with young children?

Richard Kerr: Here’s an off-the-wall destination, but we had an amazing time, the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. We went up there during the fall, flew into Albany, drove a car over, got this condo through the Amex hotels program, and drove around the mountains, went to fall festivals. My kids had a blast. The scenery was lovely. It was very affordable. And it’s someplace that was not even on my radar, but award availability led us there to Albany, and that was an awesome time. Since people have been asking me that question, I’m like, “Go to the Berkshires in the fall. Have a great time with your family.”

Brian Kelly: Love that. And final question, are you, when you’re traveling solo, aisle or window seat?

Richard Kerr: I am an aisle seat all the way. I’m not as tall as you, but I do have broad shoulders and I need that extra space every time.

Brian Kelly: But don’t you worry about people in the aisle whacking you with their backpacks? I don’t know, I feel like that always happens to me. Maybe I’m just —

Richard Kerr: No —

Brian Kelly: .–  being a diva.

Richard Kerr: Hasn’t been too big of a problem. Also, I’m telling you, if I’m flying a red-eye or something, and the middle and the aisle seat are asleep and you’ve got to use the lavatory, there’s just not a worse situation in the US to be in right now if you’re traveling, so I skip it and I sit in the aisle.

Brian Kelly: Good point. All right, so, Richard, where can people follow you? Obviously, you’re going to be writing on The Points Guy more than ever, but where can they follow you on social media?

Richard Kerr: Yeah, social media, Twitter and Instagram is @kerrpoints, K-E-R-R points. Super easy.

Brian Kelly: Love it. Richard, we’re so excited to have you on board at The Points Guy. We’ve got so much exciting stuff happening. Safe travels to you, my friend.

Richard Kerr: Thanks a lot. I appreciate everybody letting me be part of this community. Looking forward to it.

Brian Kelly: All right, that’s it for this episode of Talking Points. Thanks again to our super points expert guest Richard Kerr, our new loyalty and engagement editor at The Points Guy.

Brian Kelly: Thanks to my all-star podcast team, Caroline Schagrin and Margaret Kelley, as well as my awesome assistant, Christie Matsui. That’s it for this episode. Safe travels, everyone.

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CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.