Vacation Time: Our Most Recent Pre-Trip Wallet Shuffle

by joeheg

Before going on a trip, there’s a ritual I go through involving our wallets. I need to go through them, remove cards we won’t need when traveling and replace them with the cards we will or might need when we’re out of town. Unlike packing, where I have a list I’ve perfected over the last 20 years, when it comes to our wallets, I have to make choices for each trip, because every time is different.

Here are some of the questions I ask:

  • Did I use a card to book something during the trip and need it for confirmation?
  • Are we flying on an airline where using the card for onboard purchases will give me a discount?
  • Do I need a specific card to get into an airline lounge?
  • Will we be buying groceries during the trip or will we be eating out all the time?
  • Will we be renting a car? If so, I’ll need to bring a card that has primary LDW coverage as well as one that earns a good return on gas purchases.

While I’ve read about making a dedicated travel wallet so you don’t forget to bring any of the cards you only need when traveling, I’m more afraid I’d forget to put something in the travel wallet like my driver’s license or my insurance card. I don’t think Sharon would ever let me hear the end of it if that happened (Note from Sharon: No. No, you wouldn’t BWAHAHAHA!).

As usual, I take two approaches to make our wallets because while I’ll bring a different card for each category, Sharon will only allow me to give her one to two cards, at the most, for her to use. So she’ll have one card in the front of the wallet that she’ll use for everything, and the card behind it if the first one doesn’t work somewhere.

Most importantly for any international trip, none of the cards we bring charge a foreign transaction fee.

Joe’s Wallet

For our upcoming trip, my wallet is pretty straightforward. Here are the credit cards I’m bringing and what charges I’ll use them for:

  • Capital One Venture X – earns 2x points everywhere + access to Priority Pass and Plaza Premium lounges.
  • Sapphire Reserve – earns 3x on travel and dining worldwide. I used this card to pay for some flights, so I want to have it in case there are any problems during the trip.
  • World of Hyatt – earns 4x points for Hyatt expenses.
  • American Express Platinum – I’m bringing this card for the lounge access and because I paid for some of the flights and hotels with the card. It only earns 1x points so I’m not using it for any expenses unless necessary.
  • Bank ATM Card – which charges no ATM Fees and refunds me any additional charges from an ATM.

I also added these cards to my wallet:

There’s one more thing I added to my wallet: Plenty of singles

Captain Obvious Make It Rain

No, I’m not headed to go make it rain. I need money to tip the airport shuttle driver. It’s one of the things I always forget to bring with me.

Sharon’s Wallet

I loaded Sharon’s wallet with the cards we’ll be using for most of this trip:

  • Barclays Arrival+ – I put this in front because earning 2x cashback is acceptable. It’s also one of the only true Chip+PIN cards we have. In addition, I like to have cards from different banks if one shuts an account for a fraud alert.
  • Sapphire Preferred – this card earns 3x on dining and 2x on travel expenses.
  • American Express Green Card– I let Sharon use this card for dining expenses as it earns 3x Membership Rewards points for those expenses. Might as well keep AMEX and Sharon happy at the same time. (Note from Sharon: remember the old saying, my love: “Happy wife, happy life.” The green Amex STAYS) (Note from Joe: Yes, dear).

What do you do before you travel? Do you need to rearrange your wallet or are you a person who carries all of your cards with you all of the time?

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