A man who’s visited over 100 countries shares his 2 favourite credit cards to earn points

Gary arndt
Gary Arndt has travelled to all seven continents and over 100 countries. Courtesy of Gary Arndt

Gary Arndt is an experienced traveller.

He sold his house nearly nine years ago and has been on the road ever since, having visited all seven continents, over 100 countries, and all 50 US states.

While he used a debit card exclusively during his first six years of travel — “I’m not saying it’s a wise thing to do, I’m just saying I did it,” he tells Business Insider — he now uses two credit cards for all of his purchases: the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Starwood Preferred Guest Card.

“I use the Chase Sapphire card for most daily purchases because you get double points and it’s flexible for how you can spend them,” he explains. It allows you to earn two rewards points per $1 spent on travel and restaurants, and one point per $1 spent anywhere else (you can transfer your points to a participating frequent flier programs at a 1:1 rate).

Arndt isn’t the only fan of the Chase Sapphire. Brian Kelly — a former Wall Streeter who now travels the globe virtually for free, thanks to credit-card rewards and frequent-flyer miles — calls it the best.

As Kelly explained in an interview with Vice, “[With] most airline or hotel credit cards, you get two points for that airline or that hotel, but with the Sapphire, you get two times [back] on every single airline, hotel, car rental, and subways, parking, campgrounds, and amusement parks — it’s this huge category.”

When it comes to non-travel or non-food related purchases, both Arndt and Kelly like the Starwood Preferred Guest. It earns you five “Starpoints” for every dollar you spend at a Starwood Preferred Guest hotel, and one “Starpoint” for every other dollar spent elsewhere. You can then use Starpoints to redeem free nights at certain hotels and resorts, and free flights on certain airlines.

“I use the SPG for any recurring payments I have set up — for example, Netflix,” Arndt tells Business Insider. “I’ll put recurring payments, things that aren’t food and travel-related, on the SPG and accrue points that way.”

Kelly does a similar thing, he told Vice: “Basically, travel and dining I put on the Sapphire because I’m getting double, but for everything else — clothing, and purchases where I’m not going to get a bonus — I put on the Starwood.”

Both cards have a $95 annual fee (waived the first year) and don’t have foreign transaction fees.

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