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Sunday Reader Question: Which Wallet To Use For Travel

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TPG reader Dani asks an interesting question regarding what wallet to use while traveling: “Considering you love to carry so many credit cards, what wallet do you use when you travel?  Do you just carry the bare minimum in cash when traveling since you use your cards so frequently?”

I do have more credit cards than any reasonable-sized wallet can handle – about 16 active credit cards, although only a couple of them are used on a daily basis. The four main cards in my wallet are the Chase Freedom, Ink Bold, Sapphire Preferred and American Express Premier Rewards Gold (though I did just apply for 4 new cards, so I’ll be swapping in those as I meet minimum spend). However, when I travel abroad I switch things up and carry 3 main cards, all of which have no foreign transaction fees, and a back-up wallet with all my extra cards that I always keep locked up in the hotel safe.  This larger wallet holds all my credit cards, foreign coin/cash and my passport.

My “abroad” wallet.

When I’m abroad, my primary card is the Sapphire Preferred because it earns double points on all dining and travel (hotel, airfare, car subway, parking, etc.) and has a 7% bonus. My back up Visa is the British Airways with chip and signature, which earns 1.25 Avios per dollar spent. Once I get my Hilton Reserve Card, I’ll replace the spending I would normally put on my BA Visa on that card instead.  Lastly, I always carry my Amex Platinum card, which has great emergency travel insurance coverage as well as purchase protection for any big-ticket items in case they get lost or stolen along the way.

In terms of carrying cash, I like to have at least $120 worth in the local currency on me even though I prefer to use credit cards as much as possible to earn points.  In many countries it is sometimes just not possible to charge transactions so its always smart to have back up cash. I’ve been in some countries that try to charge fees of up to 10% for using a credit card, totally not worth it – I would much rather use cash in that type of situation.  The main reason why I don’t like to carry too much cash is if I ever were to be pick-pocketed, I’d lose all that money – luckily that is something that has never happened to me (knock on wood). The idea of a money belt doesn’t really appeal to me – both for practical and fashion reasons! – and my current strategy has worked pretty well for me so far, so I won’t be changing it up anytime soon. I’d love to hear how other people manage their cards and belongings when abroad so feel free to comment below!

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