Buenos dias everyone. I thought you might be interested in which credit cards I carry and which ones live in my sock drawer – I know I’d be interested in learning about what my fellow authors use! I’ll start it off, and hopefully Grant, Shelli, Bill, and Whitney will chime in when they get a chance. This will be a multi-part series – I’ll start with what’s in the wallet I carry every day, and later I’ll tell you about what’s I keep in my passport holder, what I keep in my backpack for special occasions, and the cards I use exclusively online or not at all.
I carry a SlimFold Original Soft Shell Wallet that I purchased from Amazon in February 2016. It’s made in San Francisco out of a synthetic material that’s advertised as 2-3 times thinner than leather, waterproof, stain proof, machine washable, and suitable for 8-20 cards. It sells for $50 on Amazon. They also have an RFID-blocking version that goes for $53, a miniature version (up to 8 cards) for $45, and Tyvek models of both that are just $20. It’s held up very well over the past 14 months, and since it comes with a 5-year warranty, hopefully it will keep up the hard work for years to come.
My Credit Cards
I have six credit cards in my wallet right now – and it definitely looks different than it did when I lived in the US.
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve is my go-to everyday card since it earns 3 Ultimate Reward Points per dollar spent on travel and at restaurants.
- The Citi Premier is basically a backup in case my Sapphire Reserve doesn’t work somewhere, since it earns 3 Thank You Points per dollar on travel and 2 points per dollar on restaurants (it’s my boyfriend’s primary card for these categories, since I don’t want to pay $75 to add him as an authorized user on the Sapphire Reserve). I probably won’t pay to keep this card after the first year unless I get rid of my Citi Prestige.
- The Barclays American Airlines AAdvantage Aviator card lives in my wallet when there’s a relevant spending bonus. Right now, I get 2 (or maybe 3?) AAdvantage miles per dollar spent on groceries, home improvement, and restaurants, up to 2,500 bonus miles, through June 30. I can also get 3,000 EQDs if I spend $25,000 on the card this year, which will help me with my switch from Alaska’s Mileage Plan to American AAdvantage this year. I get 10,000 bonus miles every year with this card, so I’ll be keeping it for a long time.
- The Barclay Arrival+ is my backup card for non-bonused spend at places that don’t accept Amex cards. I also use it at Costco and Sam’s Club in Mexico since they accept all credit cards, but charge about 2% more if you don’t use cash, a Mexican debit card, or the store’s credit card. I probably won’t keep this past the first year unless I get a retention offer.
- The Avianca LifeMiles card will be my go-to for grocery spend once I confirm that it works in Mexico. I definitely won’t be keeping this card past the first year though.
- Spending that doesn’t fall into one of the above categories goes on one of my SPG cards (I have both the SPG Personal and Business). Having the Business card on hand occasionally comes in handy if I need to make a purchase at a merchant that participates in the OPEN Savings program.
My Debit Cards
I carry two debit cards: Charles Schwab Bank and Alliant Credit Union. Schwab is my primary card outside the US, since it has no foreign transaction fees and reimburses any ATM fees charged by other banks. Alliant is where almost all of my money is – I just move a few hundred dollars to Schwab when it’s running low – so I mostly carry it as a backup in case my Schwab card doesn’t work or has insufficient funds. Alliant reimburses up to $20 per month in ATM fees from other banks, but charges a 1% fee for foreign transactions.
My Other Cards
I also have my US Passport Card, my voter registration card, my Anchorage Museum membership card, my Costco and Sam’s Club memberships, my health insurance card, and the appropriate transit card for whatever city I happen to be in. The US Passport Card is more recognizable when I’m out of the US than either my Alaska state ID or my NEXUS card (though unlike my NEXUS card it’s only in English); my voter registration card is the only document I have with my official US residence address on it; and the Anchorage Museum is part of the ASTC Passport Program, so I can use that card to get free general admission to hundreds of museums around the world.
Did any of my choices surprise you, or is there anything you think I’m missing? Are any of these cards in your wallet? I’d love to hear your thoughts – and stay tuned for Part 2 soon!