I have been traveling through Southeast Asia—namely Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam—for a little over three weeks now. I plan on spending a little over three months exploring this region and when it came to packing I wanted to travel light. Packing light also meant to carry only the right credit cards for this trip.
I am traveling with a total of six cards that include three credit cards, two debit card, and one lounge membership card. It is nice to have the right card during the trip to earn the points, but on the other hand it can be headache if the card is lost or stolen.
The credit cards I chose have no foreign transaction fees and will earn me miles. One of the debit cards I have will help cover my ATM fees (up to $15 per month), and the membership card will get me free lounge access while transiting airports.
Which Cards Did I Choose – and Why?
I brought the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® to compliment the Chase Ink card to cover all my spending. With no foreign transactions fees and earning 2X per dollar on every purchase, it is a great card for everyday purchases. The card has among the highest return rate of 2.28% back to cover travel expenses for everyday purchases. Along with the 40,000 mile sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 within the first 90 days you will get 10% back on any redeemed miles for travel. This is a card that any traveler should keep in their wallets for high rewards earning and ultimate flexibility.
I plan on using the Arrival miles in my account to cover cheap last minute airfare during my trip. This is one of the best uses for Arrival miles, and so far I have used my miles to cover the cost of two short flights within Southeast Asia.
For anyone traveling to Europe this card is also a no brainer since it has a real Chip and PIN, so you will not have any problems making purchases while abroad.
Along with the Arrival Plus World MasterCard I brought along my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. This card also has no foreign transaction fees and earns 2.14X points per dollar spent on travel and dining. Since most of my spending along the trip will fall into those categories I will be earning close to what the Arrival Plus earns. However, the Ultimate Rewards points I earn with this card can be transferred to valuable transfer partners such as United, Hyatt, and British Airways.
Pairing the Sapphire Preferred card with the Arrival Plus is a great way to earn maximum miles while traveling, yet keeps things simple and efficient. Being that the Sapphire Preferred is a Visa it may also have a leg up when it comes down to worldwide acceptance, but I have found that it really comes down to what region of the world you are traveling.
Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card
I recently applied for the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card which came with 70,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 within the first three months. I wanted this card not only to earn the bonus, but to get the card’s amazing benefits which include:
- $300 annual travel credit for airline incidentals
- 3 Ritz-Carlton Club Level upgrades
- $100 hotel credit for each 2 night or longer stay
- Complimentary LOUNGE CLUB™ membership
- Automatic Gold elite status for the first year and each year after when you spend $10,000 or more
- Chip and signature technology and no foreign transaction fees
The card does have a $395 annual fee, but if you can use the card perks, they can easily justify paying the annual fee.
The main reason I brought this card along is to use it for paid Marriott stays. With the card and Gold elite status I will earn 19.25 points per dollar spent at Marriott hotels!
Umpqua Bank Debit Card
I brought along my debit card through my local bank, Umpqua Bank. With my Thrive Interest Checking account I get reimbursed for up to $15 in ATM fees when I make 15 transactions using my card. The account also earns interest, however the rate is quite low at the moment. The reason I have this card mostly comes down to the fact that I have been a customer with the bank for several years and have always been happy with their service. Plus they have their own roast of coffee beans which you can get a small bag of during a branch visit!
This card is not as great as the Charles Schwab debit card which allows you to use ATMs abroad and without any fees.
Chase Debit Card
I always like to bring along a second debit card to fall back on if something happens to my primary debit card. If you have ever been on a longer trip and had your debit card lost or stolen, you know how difficult it can be to get cash.
Lounge Club Membership Card
Lounge Club membership and unlimited lounge access came with my Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card. With the membership card I can enter airport lounges worldwide within the program. So far I used it to access lounges at the Portland (PDX) and Narita (NRT) airports. The membership card also lets you bring in one guest for free, so I will put it to good use over this next year while traveling full-time.
Well, those are the cards I decided to bring on my trip to Southeast Asia. Which cards are you favorite to travel with and why?