What’s The Best Credit Card for a Trip to the World Cup?

by on June 8, 2014 · 16 comments

in Arrival Plus, Barclays, Chase, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Credit Cards, Starwood, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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Things are heating up in the Southern Hemisphere as the World Cup gets ready to kick off in Brazil; TPG reader Justin emailed me with a question about his upcoming trip to Rio:

“I’m soon off to Brazil for the World Cup, and I’m thinking of getting a new card specifically for the trip. I currently only have a Starwood Business Amex, which I use for domestic business travel and points, and as you know, the foreign fees are quite high. I’m looking for the best foreign travel card with no fees, easy cash access and great fraud protection at ATMs. Do you have any recommendations?”

When traveling abroad, you want to bring a debit card and a credit card with you. You never want to use your credit card for cash advances, or you’ll be hit hard with fees and interest. Most debit cards are protected both at home and abroad in the event that your information is stolen, but be sure to double check with your bank before you travel.
The 2014 World Cup will soon be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - which card should you bring with you to watch the soccer action?

The 2014 World Cup kicks off on June 12 in Brazil. Which credit card should you bring along, and which ones get the boot?

For foreign travel, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is a no-brainer. In addition to no foreign transaction fees, it has Chip and PIN capability, making it easy to use train ticket kiosks and other machines that require this technology. It comes with a bonus of 40,000 Arrival Plus points (after a spend of $3,000 in the first three months) that can be redeemed for travel at 1 cent apiece with a 10% rebate, resulting in a cash value of about $440. 

I also never leave home without my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, as in addition to no foreign transaction fees and Chip and Signature capability, it earns double Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all travel and dining – and I can assure you, you’ll want to be dining out a lot in Brazil! The card also earns a 7% bonus at the end of the year, meaning you essentially earn 2.14 valuable Chase points per dollar spent.

But don’t use either to get cash from an ATM! I always use my Chase debit card to get cash from foreign ATMs because the fee is relatively low and the exchange rates are cheaper than what you’d get from an exchange bureau. Here’s a post on minimizing your fees when withdrawing cash abroad.

I think either of these two cards – or even both – would be good for your trip to Rio de Janeiro. Enjoy the World Cup!

Let me know if you have any other questions by messaging me on Facebook, tweeting me @ThePointsGuy, or emailing me at [email protected]

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • LarryInNYC

    Unquestionably the Chase Sapphire in its heavy, metal incarnation. It’s most likely to deflect the knife point when someone tries to stab you!

  • Barbara

    Sapphire is chip and sig. Arrival chip and pin.

  • Kelly Michelle

    I don’t know what Chase debit card you have? Mine charges $5 a transaction at a non chase ATM and 3% forex, plus fee from the other bank. Get a Charles Shwab, no ATM fees or trnsaction fee.

  • Curtis

    CSP does NOT have chip and pin, yet.

  • dd

    Haha awesome

  • Brian C. Lee

    As long as you get stabbed in the pocket. :)

  • Brendon M

    Those are 2 cards I’m taking. I just picked up the Barclay Arrival because almost everyone in Brasil uses Chip+Pin and the restaurants prefer that. For ATM there is only one awesome option: a Charles Schwab account. Absolutely 0 fees and automatic 100% rebate on ATM fees. Schwab doesn’t pay referral fees or provide direct links so just Google it.

  • did

    i have the one from jpmorgan private bank. no fees.

  • Paul

    Tested the Barclaycard Arrival Plus throughout both Rio and Sao Paulo two weeks ago using the pin and chip functionality. Worked without issue.

  • Bill U

    Hey Brian: I am relatively new to the game. Last Fall I spent 3 weeks in Spain. I was able to tie my Amex Platinum to my personal bank account and use it as a debit card. Amex sent me a pin # to use. Now with Amex offering chip and pin, this might work well for our World Cup traveller.

  • A. S.

    Whichever card you bring, do yourself a favor and don’t flash it around.

  • carry

    Isn’t me but does he really come up as some sort of mafia guy? Soft voice, “I’m the dude” attitude? Terrible.

  • MK

    Watch out for credit card fraud. I’ve been to Brazil several times and almost always get back with strange charged on my card…. Make sure to have waiters bring credit card reader to your table.

  • lance

    Agreed… Charles Schwab refunds all atm fees anywhere around the world and trades at a good rate. I also would recommend (if you don’t already have one or two ;) the Citi Executive. There is still plenty of availability on AA and US for 60k roundtrip, and ~$65 in taxes for most of the cup. I’m going the 5th-15th GRU-GIG, then to the north for a week. I still found plenty of availability today. The Citi card will get you there once now, and again in off peak for 40k. You’ll also enjoy lounge access, and GRU and GIG have decent lounges… $250 is a good deal for 100,000 bonus miles at any rate…

  • TravelorSEA

    So i just received a BarclayCard Arrival+ World Elite MC but in Barclay’s on-line set up information it very clearly states that this is a Chip & Signature (priority) card — NOT Chip & Pin priority — as i had hoped. No pin tin having yet another one of those, so back to the drawing boards …

  • chris

    Just returned from the WC. Stayed in Rio and Brasilia. Had my newly minted CSP with chip (+sig). Worked everywhere I used it. FYI, most of the WC sponsored vendors only accepted Visa (FIFA fan fest store, etc) as it is one of the main sponsors for the event. So the best advice I would give anyone is to have a visa chip card (with no forex fee of course) or cash (reais) when attending WC sponsored events.

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