A New York City startup pays for 2 of its employees to go on vacation every year without spending a dime, thanks to a trick involving Amazon and a credit card


CB Insights software engineer Alex Parayannilam vacations in Medellin, Colombia.

CB Insights software engineer Alex Parayannilam vacations in Medellin, Colombia.
Courtesy of CB Insights

CB Insights, a software analytics company based in New York City, pays for some of its employees’ vacations, according to a blog post published by the company Monday.

While that might seem like an example of startup excess, the nearly 200-person startup explained that it does so without undue cost thanks to some creative expensing.

Twice a year, the company gives out “peer awards” which allows employees to recognize their teammates for doing good work. The winners are gifted a flight and hotel accommodations paid for by CB Insights.

“It’s a big deal to win a peer award because it is a strong endorsement from your teammates that not only are you doing crazy good work but that you’re also a crazy good teammate (helpful, humble, happy, and hungry),” the company wrote on its blog Monday.

The company uses a Starwood American Express business credit card to pay for their massive spend on Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s on-demand cloud computing platform that forms the backbone of many new and developing startups.

By using the card, the company racks up Starpoints through Starwood’s Preferred Guest program. Those points can be used on Starwood’s hotel properties – Starwood is a subsidiary of Marriot, with an extensive network of hotels and resorts – and is transferable to airlines for airfare.

The company said the arrangement has already allowed them to send seven employees on paid vacations to Spain, Italy, Oregon, Mexico, Costa Rica, Paris, and London.