Not much money, to be honest. But, we do have a useful set of credit / debit cards that make traveling more enjoyable and cost effective.
A few high-level points:
Here is a list of what we use and why:
This is the best travel card. 3% cashback on restaurants and travel expenses. Those two categories are probably 80%+ of what we spend when we’re on the road. No foreign transaction fees is also a must and this card delivers. The card also gets you a free “Priority Pass” and credit to cover TSA precheck registration.
Priority pass gives you access to airport lounges. It’s fantastic. Lounges are a great place to take a break during a layover, especially if you have kids because it’s a safer place for them to run around. In many airports, you can get meal credit (~$28/person) to certain restaurants as well. It’s all included in the priority pass.
TSA precheck is a game changer for domestic travel (especially with kids!). You don’t have to take off your shoes, or remove liquids / electronics and you get to go through the fast-track line. Several time i’ve walked straight through security without waiting at all. It will change your travel experience. The best part is Chase reimburses you for it when you have this card.
I didn’t think about debit card transaction fees until right before we left. I looked up Chase’s fees and they were crazy high ($5 + 3% of transaction). Googling around, I found that Capital One is the way to go. They charge no fees for atm withdrawals and no foreign transaction fees. Plus, it helped me diversify away from Chase so that I have 2 places to access my money in case one gets locked out.
Here are some other cards we have. We’re not using many of these while travelling, but they are great domestically
No fees. Rotating 5% back categories (one quarter will be gas stations, the next will be Walmart, etc.). This was the first card we got when we got married. Still a great card.
No fees. 1.5% back across the board. Our go-to card when we can’t remember which card has the best cash back for the purchase we’re currently making.
6x points back on Marriott. 100,000 sign on bonus. Automatic Silver status at Marriott. Annual free night. We mainly got this for the sign on bonus. Marriott is our hotel of choice while traveling, so it pays off. Otherwise I’d probably ditch this one after we used the bonus points.
30,000 bonus miles. Free buddy pass when you sign up. Free checked bags. Annual buddy pass for just taxes and fees. We travel a lot on Alaska, so the free checked bag ends up paying for itself. We used the free buddy pass to get to Hawaii. A great card IF you plan to fly Alaska a lot. Otherwise, stick to the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Thanks for reading!