“Own the exact right credit cards for you.”

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Welcome to the next interview in our interview series where renowned mile and point gurus share their insights on having Big Travel with Small Money!

Miles & Points Interview:  Glyph

Mike left his consulting job to develop an easy way to determine which credit card to use while shopping, so I was looking forward to our Friday chat!

Glyph – Interview with Mike

My Wife Holding a Baby Lion in South Africa

How and when did you start collecting miles and points? 

Prior to Glyph, I worked at Accenture.  After five years of heavy travel, you can bet points became near and dear to my heart.  Over time, my friends and I developed excel files that tracked the best cards, where to use them, and how much money each reward point was worth.

Why did you start Glyph?  What’s special about it?

Well, my co-founder, Tyler Felous, and I recognized there was an obvious problem.  Rewards programs offered great rewards, but it was difficult to know A) which cards were best for you, based on your own individual spending patterns, and B) which card would give you the best deal when you’re out away from your computer.  With Glyph, we’re giving people the confidence that their financial interests are looked after on every purchase – we call that “Peace of Wallet”.

It’s special for two main reasons: 1) we are able to quantify down to the dollars and cents which card portfolio is best for our individual users – we are the only company that does this – and 2) we provide accurate, real-time, location-based recommendations.

I’ve been testing Glyph and I don’t understand how you assign values to each point currency.  I also don’t agree with all the valuations so is Glyph still useful to me?

The short answer is yes.  A few reasons on why that is:

– The currency values we show are those generally available to the public at normal redemption levels.  Having said that, it’s possible for points redemption experts to achieve a better rate than the one we’ve shown.  However, our results will usually be directionally accurate.  Obviously, we don’t deal with these issues for cashback cards, since a dollar is a dollar in those situations.

– In the next few weeks, we’ll be releasing an updated app that allows the Glyph community to comment on specific cards, and let others know their tips and tricks on how to redeem best!  In addition to that, we have many added features, such as up to three card recommendations shown in the Guru recommendation screen, in addition to the ability to link Glyph to their bank accounts so their credit balances and APRs are always up to date, similar to budgeting sites.

What’s the one single thing people can do to get more miles?

Ah – glad you asked. My simple answer:  Own the exact right credit cards for you.  The next step is using them at the right place!

But, we also have some secrets to share on that point.  For the first time ever, by using Glyph’s new website, you can find the perfect credit card portfolio for you, based on your own spending behavior.

How does it work?  We will allow users to securely link their bank accounts to Glyph – via the same process as other personal finance websites.  Then, based on our analysis of your spend patterns, we report your ideal credit card portfolio, including exactly how much money you’ve left on the table by having the wrong cards.

From there, you can further personalize your selection by selecting from a list of available features, such as no foreign transaction fees, for example.  We think it’s the best credit card tool that’s been created yet, because it’s focused 100% on helping each individual user.  That’s Peace of Wallet, baby!

But … we haven’t launched quite yet.  If you like us on facebook (facebook.com/paywithglyph) or follow on twitter (@PayWithGlyph), you’ll be the first to know when we launch!

What’s your most memorable travel experience?

Glyph – Interview with Mike

Mike & His wife in Cape Town, South Africa

There are many, but the most memorable travel experience has to be South Africa.  My wife, Jennifer, and I traveled there in May 2012.  We spent four nights on the Simbavati game reserve, near Kruger National Park, and then 5 nights in Cape Town.

One the first night of our safari, we were sleeping in a “luxury tent” in the bush.  I woke up at midnight to my wife slapping my face as she heard the sound of lions growling and roaring not too far from our tent.  No fences, just a cloth tent separated us.

After a sleepless night, the guides told us that one lone-lion was impeding on another lion pride, causing a fight.  All that took place less than 100 meters from our tent.  That made cage-diving with Great Whites seem like a piece of cake.

This is my wife, Jennifer, holding a baby lion in South Africa.  We are from Detroit and we love our Lions, even though they can tear your heart out.

Glyph – Interview with Mike

We Love Our Lions!

What do your family and friends think of your miles & points hobby?

Well, my parents love watching our dog, so in some ways it makes them happy.  They were less happy when we told them about the Lion incident above.

Is there any tool or trick which you’ve found especially useful in this hobby?

Glyph.  That was easy!

What was the least expected way you’ve earned miles or points?

It’s not earth-shattering, but I found out last year that Starwood hotels will give you points if you host conferences at one of their properties.  Yay Starwood.

What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?

You should be earning 5% in points on almost every purchase.  It’s all about having the right card portfolio, and knowing when to use each card.

What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

Maybe just a word on what building a company in Detroit means to us at Glyph.

Fundamentally, Glyph’s brand is about helping consumers improve their financial position.  That’s something that many people in Detroit can get behind, and I think the same is true in many parts the country.  Most importantly, every single person on our team is committed to helping improve the city we love.

While Detroit lacks the infrastructure you might find in San Francisco or New York, we have found awesome people wanting to move to Michigan to join the team.  We’re excited to take part in the rebirth of a hugely important city in American and world history.  If you want to pitch in or get involved in Detroit more generally, please send me an email, listed below, and we can chat.

Any parting words?

Glyph – Interview with Mike

Mike and Jennifer in Rome, Italy

Stay tuned for the upcoming product launch.  If anyone has any questions, feel free to email me at [email protected] or Tyler Felous, my cofounder, at [email protected].

Mike – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on having Big Travel with Small Money!

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54 responses to ““Own the exact right credit cards for you.”

  1. If only his hair wasn’t so douchey…

  2. I dont get why anyone would need a site for this. Lets say you figure out hot to spend 50k a year all on ccs and our genius figures out how to get you 2 percent cash back on every purchase. that would be 100k points… Thats a lousy day applying for cards. To me there is one simple rule in the miles game. ALWAYS BE SPENDING TOWARDS MEETING MIN spend on a cc for 40k or more bonus points. If you follow that rule then every other rule is either obsolete or just gravy. It doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out that If you got approved for the 100k amex bonus for 3k spend that the best way to spend your next 3k is using that platinum card rather than try to get 1.6 as opposed to 1.3 per dollar.

  3. Is this app only for iPhone or can I get it on my Droid? I searched for it and could not find it.

  4. you should permit users to enter their own values for their points. The programming isn’t difficult to spit out the optimized answer with that as the input rather than a value you assign to points.

  5. Basically agree with Mike Fein –

    I cant go crazy every time thinking which card gives 1 or 2 points –

    accumulated 1.8 million for wife & I with sign ups, 5 point quarterly chase, 5 point business chase, & here & there large promotions such as 5,000 aa points for rental car.

  6. @Mike that method is fine for those who want to keep churning w/a new card but most people don’t want to open up new accts every time after meeting min spend reqts and rather put spend on existing cards after meeting the minimum.

  7. An additional point – a savvy player in this realizes that he will constantly be needing to meet a minimum spend – untill all good offers are done 🙂

    Therefore as Mike said mimum spend is always to be the card to use – unless there is a promotion to fulfill.

  8. I think “normal” people would find this helpful I use my own techniques of cc and gc churning.

  9. Brent Musburger

    Hel-loooo Jennifer

  10. goes jennifer have a blog of her own?

  11. Whoa! If you’re a youngster in Alabama, start learning about redeeming credit card points………….

  12. @Brent Musburger lol

  13. I think many people do not understand that more and more people are getting into this points/bonus/miles game. Any programs that make it easier to understand and maximize the points/bonus/miles is needed.

  14. Hello Jennifer……..! Can we have more pictures?

  15. My problem with his system is that it doesn’t matter if one of my cards pays five points versus two points per dollar spent if it isn’t a good card. That is to say if I have already topped off at the right amount for a round trip ticket then I won’t waste points by using it again.

    For instance I got the British Airways and a couple of others for the sign up bonus which will be usable, if not easily usable for me. But I’m not going to add a few hundred points each year to those cards as they would be points wasted.

    If I’m not working on a minimum spend, then all goes on my Chase Sapphire card. This works for me.

  16. @ Mike Fein As usual, + 1

    @Matt C Makes as much sense as saying most people don’t want to bother with cc signups, and just prefer to get a few points and miles from spend on rooms and flights. True, of course, but still irrational….assuming you want to do more and better travel than your normal income allows. Since those sort of people also don’t want to spend their time reading travel game blogs, that doesn’t seem to really apply here.

  17. Thanks for this post about something I was not aware of. And as a UM alum, I appreciate Mike’s shout-out about Detroit. He could have answered that question in lots of ways and chose to share some info on Detroit that people may not know. Finally, comments about hair and looks are really not helpful. Nor are they funny. Please folks, let’s be grownups. Thanks.

  18. I’m in constant pursuit of the next sign up bonus. As a churner, I doubt Glyph would benefit me. But out of curiosity, what will the subscription costs be?

  19. @Anne Basically agree, except about Saphire. Its great for foreign transactions without a fee, and 2 points on travel and dining. Otherwise, my no fee AMEX HHonors gives 6 points per dollar on gas, groceries, cable/phone/internet, which I find really adds up each month. Of course, meeting minimum spend trumps everything.

  20. Using the Glyph App, why are office supply stores like Office Depot showing up as only 4% with my Chase Bold Ink card? Did Chase change the points earned?

  21. @Eugene: The other 1% is in the basic spend.

  22. Gotta love the internet. Guy posts pictures of his attractive wife and it starts in the comments section. LOL. As for the company I like the app. Props to Mike for starting this venture, I only started to tool around on it but it seems I can get some use out of it.

  23. @Mike and @ih I have lots of excess spend each month and usually max out min spend in first couple of days. So knowing which card to use is helpful, but would only really matter for large transactions. Most people who would need this app already know the answer to which card is the best anyway.

  24. Very interesting. And a big thumbs up for Detroit! It is amazing when people find out about the start up scene in South East Michigan!

    Interesting take on the credit card scene. This is obviously not for us seasoned credit card users, eerr, churners I mean. But it could fill a need for the vast “other” market…I think, like all startups, it will be in the execution and raising funds and makig funds last:-)

    But I am starting to wonder if everyone is missing the potential goldmine in this whole venture:

    “we have many added features, such as up to three card recommendations shown in the Guru recommendation screen”

    For some reason we may start seeing the cards that pay the highest commission in here? Like BA and the Ink cards??

    The valuation is a sticking point as we are all so different. Then again, for the newb target market, it could be a lifesaver or “peace of wallet” (I like that! as what I do for a living…I like to call “Peace of mind”) [Hint: It sure is NOT blogging, lol]

    The innovation explosion continues in this space….I think it is wide open….it is exciting.

    For more, you have to read my blog tomorrow;-)

    Mike and Jennifer: I am in Ann Arbor, all the best in your venture!

  25. Beyond the fact that many people will be meeting minimum spend, most people’s spend patterns are constantly changing, particularly if they’re not big spenders. While groceries and gas will remain constants, things like retail clothing, travel, charity, or even food can vary greatly month-to-month. It seems great for people that don’t give a crap about points, but if you really know the cards you’ll probably already know which ones are best to use. Also, even if you optimize your cc point earning strategy, they may just go into accounts that you’re not interested in. If you’re earning tons of SPG points and there’s no SPG hotel where you like traveling, for example, how does this account for that?

  26. There are multiple players in this game, like Wallaby. I apply for cards frequently but only have minimum spends a few months of the year. The rest goes to category bonuses for the cards I do have.

  27. @justin martin @Matt and @everyone else- if you aren’t constantly meeting min spend youre really leaving MILLIONS OF POINTS ON THE TABLE a year. Justin, If you meet min spend “right away” consider having 5 cards to be meeting min spend on. or if youre married consider having 9 with the same 3-4 pulls. THATS what this should be about. I will give you two blogs to read. one is how to spend 100k a year and earm 1.5 mil points a year and one is how to spend 40 k a year with no less “out of pocket” at days end than the 100k “yearly spender” and end up with 250k points but you spent them all in “max catergory”. You guys go read the second blog. In case 100k seems a lot its called 60k bluebird a year and 12k amazon payments a year. now you only “need” to spend 28k to meet the 100k. And if you have a partner thats 144k per year in nearly “free” spend. If youd like a tutorial of how 144k spend equals over 2 million points very easily, now THATS where it is at. In this framework any other advice other than say 5% advice is simply as shakespeare might have written “much ado about very little” lol.
    I joke with Daraius ALL THE TIME about opening a consulting business in which I guarantee you get approved for 15 of the 20 cards you choose per year per person for anyone starting with a credit score above 740 and net at least a million points in year 1. The more I read “expert advice” on how to maxamize getting 32000 points instead of 28,745 points the more I realize…… but hey- whatever makes a guy a living

  28. Mike Fein,
    You make good points. But it’s still worth considering that some people aren’t comfortable opening up gazillion of credit cards. They also aren’t comfortable dealing with the business card angle. They might not have the organizational skills.

    Not me though. I’m in your camp. I’m off to a fast start. 9/9 in 2013 and I only had to make one call too.

  29. The other thing no system is going to do is account for targeted offers. B of A sent me a 4th quarter offer, spend $500 on my 9 month old Virgin Atlantic Amex at Department stores, and get a bonus of 5K VA points, which transfer to 10K HHonors points. In additon to the usual point per $, which = 2 more HH points.

    Spending $500 at Nordstrom and Sears at Christmas is no problem in my house, yet small enough to not interfere with my min spend from my end of Nov churn.

    Now add in that one of the airline shopping portals was giving 6 bonus points for Nordstrom purchases and 5 for Sears. Plus an additional 2500 bonus points for spending $500 thru them, and I was getting around 32 points and/or miles per dollar for gifts I was going to buy anyway. I doubt Glyph could have advised me to do all this….

    Of course, Mike Fein is correct, this was just icing on the cake compared to the 200K AA miles my wife and I got for getting 2 more AA Visa and AA Amex cards apeice 6 weeks ago 😀

  30. David, 9/9 in the last 11 days? Do you by any chance blog for Points Envy? 😀
    I thought I was doing well until I read that. No Travel Hacker Pro Bowl nominations for me this year…

  31. @robert- why not 3nm for chase same for amex, 2 citi and usairways from barclays… sounds like a good couple of hours in front of a computer.

  32. @robert- money is on the fact that david had to call chase…

  33. @matt- one last point.. I agree one shouldnt open up new cards CONSTANTLY to have min spend… one should open 9 at a time and use the 3 month window most provide SIMULTANEOUSLY. then start over.

  34. MMS’ new page “Blogger Wives” Maybe a calendar too?

  35. I forgot to add in my original comment that I absolutely agreed with Mike Fein!

    Scott: Can I steal your “MMS’ new page “Blogger Wives” Maybe a calendar too?” – Love it!

  36. Yes, Chase was the one I had to call in on. But fortunately it was the personal, not the business, since they are easier phone calls.

    I went for 6 cards at once. And then later that evening I figured add another one. Then a week later the amex deal came, and I figured I couldn’t pass that up, so bingo…couldn’t help myself, and went for the same am ex delta deal later that night (bonus restrictions had nothing to do with the big amex one). I’ve been getting a lot of mail the last few days…

    It’s going to be wallet roulette at CVS for the next few months.

  37. @Mike Fein, I think the real ‘money to be made category’ is where I give you control of all my credit cards and let you maximize my point earning potential. I’d glad pay you a fee! I for one don’t have the time to waste (other than reading the blogs). Teehee.

  38. @dhammer53- I happen to have a day job as well lol. But chase is starting to get smarter and preempt this possiblity by asking very detailed seemingly tedious points like “when was last deposit and for what amount” ? (If you have a chase account) so youll have to turn over your bank accounts also lol In which case I can first “stake out” my “clients” ability to pay the commission !

  39. My only problem w relying just on CC apps for my point earnings is that once I get the cards it stops my earning on those programs. Thats why the ability to zero in on 5-6 programs and grind out monthly points/miles is necessary. I dont want to be spread out all over the mileage world. Much better to earn my 3-4m miles/yr on the few programs I focus on.

  40. @Mileage update. I have no idea why you presume im all over the map.
    focusing only on UR, MR, AA, United, USairways, SW. Starwoods and hilton there is an almost never ending ability to churn. I havent even bothered applying for almost any other card except the priority rewards 80k offer with first spend. No need to grind out anything else except 5x options.

  41. @Mike. Sorry I wasnt presuming you were all over the map.

  42. So…when is the premiere of Blogger Wives? 🙂

  43. What a douche bag! and what a stupid app idea! Agree with Hot Wife comments…please upload more pics and some cleavage please…

  44. Well that’s the better app idea… Blogger Hot wives…;) I would like more legs though.

  45. wow, what a freaking cool idea. I can’t wait to see how it works. I love the baby lion photo!

  46. David this was the best comment I’ve seen in a long time:

    “It’s going to be wallet roulette at CVS for the next few months”

    You had me really chuckling…too bad I am in Canada and can’t take advantage of all these U.S. deals…anyone with any Canadian great cc offers..please post..thx

  47. What a complete waste of time, effort and blather – GLyph is destined to be an immediate flop.

    Like others have said, use your cash on meeting minimum spend on CC bonuses. And yes, after you are done meeting spend, get 5x on everything else.

  48. Hi All –

    Thank you for your feedback, positive and negative. With regard to a few of the questions and observations above:

    @Nick: Currently, we’re iPhone only, but we’ll be releasing an Android app in the next few months. We’ll keep MMS posted when that happens.

    @Mike Fein: I understand your criticism and take it seriously. If you’re amenable, let’s get on the phone to discuss. I have a few questions for you.

    @TravelBloggerBuzz: I’m in A2 often. Perhaps we could meet for coffee? Always want feedback from Travelers!

    Thanks again!

  49. @Mike Fein Where’s the link to those blogs. I’m interested. Thanks.

  50. @mikefein I think you’re missing the point that most people are trying to make is that a good number do not want to open (and continue to open) multiple credit card accounts. Clearly not the most advantageous way to earn points but hey to each their own.

    For those who say only want 1-2 new cards per year (hold for gasps) it doesn’t hurt to have a tool to know how to maximize spending on it. Granted analyzing one’s spending can be done pretty easily manually with a little time in Excel. But I know plenty of people that would be just fine with getting 50K UR and/or AMEX 50K MR in a year.

    Not everyone wants to open up multiple cards per year.

  51. @matt- and why wouldnt “anyone” want to open up 6 cards for the same 2 “hard” inquiries as 2 cards a year if the spend is “free” in doing so ? Actually I think YOU are missing that this is EXACTLY my point. This “program” is a program for people whod embrace being penny smart and pound foolish. Which means its a program for……

  52. @Diane – Mike was joking about the blogs. The first blog is his plan, i.e., always be meeting min spend. The second blog is less aggressive, i.e. don’t apply for as many cards and max out categories (what other people here are saying to do instead).