Monday , July 26 2021

The Greatest Credit score Card for Worldwide Journey (& Why I will By no means Journey With out It Once more)

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The summer time after I graduated school, I took my first unbiased backpacking journey. I’d received a trend design scholarship (RIP, my stitching expertise pre-blogging) so I made a decision to make use of the money prize to deal with myself to 2-week journey throughout Europe.

I rigorously deliberate my itinerary by 5 European nations (I had a lot vitality again then…) staying at hostels alongside the best way to stretch my cash as a lot as potential. I supposed to be as frugal as I may, figuring out that I would wish a few of that scholarship cash to maneuver myself to San Francisco to start out my first salaried job.

It was a really unbelievable journey which cemented my love for journey and planted the seed which might later bloom into quitting my job to travel and changing into a full-time travel blogger. However having an amazing journey is a boring story. The actual cause I’m sharing this story is as a result of this journey particularly had two main mishaps:

  1. Mishap #1: Though I deliberate and paid for the journey all by myself, I introduced alongside my school boyfriend. We then proceeded to interrupt up … in the course of the journey. Like, our breakup spanned the whole two weeks. Half of my recollections from that journey are having deep, tearful discussions concerning the state of our relationship in varied lovely European plazas. Massive yikes. Lesson discovered: journey could make or break a relationship, and breaking apart whereas touring is an effective way to wreck an in any other case superior journey. Decide your journey companion rigorously!
  2. Mishap #2: As fresh-faced, 21-year outdated school graduate, I wasn’t precisely absolutely versed in worldwide journey. I introduced alongside a Charles Schwab debit card to take out money from ATMs to pay for every little thing throughout my journey. However my journey companion (my boyfriend-turned-ex-boyfriend) introduced alongside an everyday, customary credit-union-issued bank card to pay for his share. He used that bank card to get money out of ATMs, to pay for meals and souvenirs, and to pay for tearful cellphone calls dwelling to his household and associates to allow them to know that we have been within the strategy of breaking apart. To my horror, I later discovered that this ended up costing him a whole lot of {dollars} in ATM charges, money advance charges, overseas transaction charges, and cellphone charges. MASSIVE yikes.

To at the present time, a decade later, I nonetheless really feel horribly responsible about the best way this journey went down for my poor ex. (He later ended up shifting to Europe together with his spouse, and I hope he was in a position to revisit every place we went to make new, much less painful recollections there.)

However let’s get to the purpose of this put up: that freakin’ bank card. What my ex didn’t understand was that his bank card was solely designed for use within the USA. Each single time he swiped it overseas, he racked up charges.

This was the primary time in my life I’d heard of the time period “overseas transaction charge.” So in case that is your first time too, let me prevent some cash: a overseas transaction charge is a surcharge in your bank card invoice that seems once you make a purchase order that both passes by a overseas financial institution or is in a foreign money apart from the U.S. greenback (USD). This charge is charged by many bank card issuers, usually starting from 1% to three% of the transaction. That implies that in case you spend $2,000 on a world journey, you’ll be paying something from $20 to $60. Not so terrible, proper?

However get this. His bank card additionally charged a “processing charge” on any buy made in a world foreign money. The charge? $10, with a further $10 charge for gadgets lower than $300 USD.

Which means each pack of gum, cup of espresso, prepare ticket, and memento he bought value him $20 – PLUS an additional 3% of the acquisition value – simply in charges. Did your blood simply run chilly??

Add that $20 and a 3% charge to ATM withdrawal charges, steep money advance charges (by no means, ever use your bank card to get money from an ATM in case you may also help it, y’all!) and $1-per-minute calls dwelling, and you’ll see how the price of the journey shortly sky-rocketed. It nonetheless provides me anxiousness to consider, and I’m now a completely grown married girl who travels for a residing.

However you’re right here now, and also you’ll by no means make that mistake. Proper?! Please, cease studying and PROMISE ME you’ll by no means make that mistake, as a result of you’ll deliver a bank card in your subsequent worldwide journey that’s designed for worldwide journey.

And for money withdrawal, you’ll use a debit card that has no overseas transaction or ATM charges, like Charles Schwab, and in case you can’t try this then you’ll deliver US money with you and go to a foreign money trade place as quickly as you arrive to get money to make use of in your journey, which you’ll then hold principally tucked away in your locked suitcase (subsequent to a backup journey bank card) and produce solely the quantity you’ll want every day secured in a money belt or bra pocket the place pickpockets can’t entry it (this can be a crucial travel safety tip).

Promise me!

Okay. Now that I can breathe just a little simpler, let’s get into it. On this put up, you’ll be taught all about my favourite bank card for worldwide journey, why I’ve been utilizing it for the previous decade for all of my journeys, the way it’s save my a** a number of occasions when issues went sideways, and the way I exploit bank card rewards to assist pay for journey (which helped me save up sufficient cash to give up my job and journey for a 12 months – here’s how). Let’s do that!

100k Signal-Up Bonus!

Heads up! There’s a REALLY epic sign-up bonus for our favorite travel credit card proper now that’s price $1,250 in journey factors.

That is really the most effective sign-up bonus we’ve ever seen, so … it’s type of an enormous deal. I imply, the place would you go along with $1,250?? (We’ve got some concepts…) Hurry up and snag one earlier than the supply expires!

Psst: Want some extra sensible journey recommendation? Check out a few of our different posts:


How to Plan a Trip: The Ultimate Practical Travel Planning Guide

Why Chase Sapphire is The Greatest Credit score Card for Worldwide Journey

The primary bank card I ever signed up for was a Chase Sapphire Preferred. I used to be contemporary off of that fateful backpacking journey and newly salaried, and I wished to check the waters out with a bank card that might reward me for my purchases – in order that I may go journey extra (as usually as potential, ideally.)

I used to be instantly swayed by a tantalizing sign-up bonus. On the time, the bonus for brand new sign-ups was valued at over $1,000 – sufficient for a spherical journey worldwide ticket, and them some. I used to be offered.

However through the years, nicely after my sign-up bonus was earned and spent, I’ve earned hundreds of {dollars} extra in rewards from that very same automotive. It’s not simply because of its 2x factors again on each eating and journey (my two prime spending classes after hire).

The largest profit I’ve gotten from the Chase Sapphire bank card isn’t the sexiest sounding perk in any respect: it’s the insurance coverage protection. (See? Not horny. Insurance coverage simply isn’t horny, a lot as I’ve tried to make it alluring with posts like my guide to travel insurance. Which, by the way, you positively shouldn’t journey with out.)

Through the years – and my many, many journey mishaps and disasters – I’ve filed a number of claims with Chase Sapphire, from journey cancellation to rental car auto collision. And I’ve obtained hundreds of {dollars} again in protection. A lot in order that I’m actually frightened they’re going to learn this put up and be like “um are you able to cease speaking about us, and in addition perhaps cease utilizing our playing cards? You’re … costly.”

Oh, after which there’s the shortage of overseas transaction charges. And the entry to soft lounges. And the journey portal. You realize what? I can’t actually summarize it. Let’s break issues down, level by level.

✔ No overseas transaction charges.

That is the place my story with Chase Sapphire begins, and that is how we discovered each other. I wanted a card that wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg only for touring internationally.

Chase Sapphire not solely doesn’t have any overseas transaction charges, however they really REWARD me for touring! Which brings me to my subsequent level.


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Fresh seafood at Wild Fish restaurant in Mendocino, California! Arrive early or make a reservation - there are only a handful of tables.
The one factor higher than incomes factors once you journey is incomes factors on eating out once you journey! Pictured: contemporary seafood at Wild Fish restaurant in Mendocino, California.

✔ 2x factors for eating and journey.

After my ludicrous Bay Space hire, my second largest spending classes are eating (cuz hiya, I wish to eat) and journey (to be honest, it’s my job. And most of my eating out is definitely travel-related!)

Chase Sapphire rewards me with money again for all of these purchases, from eating places to flights to motels to automotive leases and every little thing in between.

Typically I’ll purchase meals on the airport and discover myself pondering, “ooh, which class is that this going to be categorized as, eating or journey?” After which I perform a little chortle to myself as a result of I’m being a foolish billy and both method, I get 2x factors, however I’m actually nonetheless curious. I want I may say this was an exaggeration, however I spend a number of time sitting round in airports at odd hours of the evening, sleep-deprived and delirious. For proof, please watch my Instagram Italy highlight, throughout which I “sightsee” across the airport terminal at 4 am. In my protection, I had been touring for 30 hours at that time


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✔ Journey delay, interruption, and cancellation protection!

We’re no strangers to canceling and delaying our journeys. After canceling a number of months’ price of journey throughout our year-long honeymoon resulting from my grandfather faking his personal dying (the total, ridiculous story is in this post) solely to get again on the street and need to delay our journey once more as a result of I received a raging ear an infection, we by no means, ever journey with out journey insurance coverage.

However there are occasions after we neglect to buy a journey insurance coverage plan (we usually purchase ours from World Nomads or SafetyWing), or we don’t suppose we’ll want one as a result of we’re touring domestically. For these events, within the occasion of a lined situation (like sickness, extreme climate, and so forth) Chase covers every little thing that we’ve booked with our Chase Sapphire card.

Through the years we’ve used this profit a couple of occasions, most not too long ago throughout a country-wide strike that affected an upcoming journey to France. As a result of we’d buy our (non-refundable) flights by Chase, we have been in a position to get them cancelled and refunded – despite the fact that the airline wasn’t excited by serving to us out. That saved us a pair thousand {dollars} in refunded flights!

Personally, I nonetheless desire to have each my typical journey insurance coverage coverage and my Chase Sapphire protection to within the occasion of a mishap, simply because every coverage covers various things, and having two insurance policies with completely different protection provides me some peace of thoughts that it doesn’t matter what occurs, I’ll be capable to get assist. I’ve filed claims through the years with each Chase and World Nomads, and so they work properly in tandem!

✔ Main rental automotive auto collision protection.

I feel this is among the Chase Sapphire’s BEST advantages. I really I can’t let you know how a lot cash this profit has saved me through the years, however off the highest of my head I do know it’s at the least a couple of thousand as a result of that’s how a lot it value us after we returned a rental BMW with a damaged headlight after our disastrous road trip in France. (We additionally managed to get the BMW caught within a medieval fort, however miraculously, there wasn’t a scratch on it from that mishap. For some cause, France is only a place the place we appear to have really terrible luck.)

However even with no need to file a single declare, the profit saves us a whole lot of {dollars} every time we rent a car – each domestically and internationally – as a result of we’re in a position to decline the rental firm’s collision insurance coverage. We all know that so long as we pay for our rental automotive with Chase Sapphire each time, we’re absolutely lined with main collision/theft insurance coverage – AND getting 2x pack on factors for it, too!

Plus, it’s very nice to have a fast technique to get out of that inevitable 10-minute lengthy automotive insurance coverage protection gross sales pitch.


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Lia walking up to an Air Panama plane.
One other method to make sure you received’t lose your baggage is to not deliver any in any respect, and solely fly airways which have a 10lb or much less baggage weight restrict. I traveled the world for a 12 months with solely this tiny backpack! (No, I’m completely kidding. On my year-long honeymoon I schlepped round a 40lb backpack, a duffel bag, and a day bag. It was terrible.)

✔ Baggage delay & misplaced baggage reimbursement!

That is one other profit which has are available extremely helpful through the years! A few summers in the past, we introduced a gaggle of my husband’s highschool college students with us to Colombia for 2 weeks. For many of his youngsters, it was the very first time touring internationally – so think about how anxious all of us felt when THREE of their suitcases – AND Jeremy’s suitcase – have been all mysteriously lacking upon our arrival on the Bogota airport.

In between working across the airport utilizing my average-at-best Spanish to elucidate the state of affairs to numerous useful airline staff, I attempted to reassure everybody that dropping that a lot baggage is definitely not typical.

However all in all, it took three days for the lacking baggage to show up. Three days for highschool college students abroad on their first-ever worldwide journey is a LONG TIME to be with out their clothes, toiletries, and different private belongings.

Fortunately, we have been lined by baggage delay, which offers as much as $100 per day for 5 days to go in direction of important purchases like toiletries and clothes. So Jeremy took the youngsters on just a little mini purchasing spree in a Colombian division retailer. Their anxiousness was mitigated by the joy of shopping for new stuff, and Jeremy really received a very cute outfit that’s nonetheless one among his favorites!

Even when the luggage had not ultimately turned up, Chase Sapphire additionally offers misplaced baggage reimbursement, which covers each broken and misplaced check-on and checked baggage as much as $3,000. Which, frankly, is greater than my whole wardrobe at house is price.

We’ve by no means had to make use of it, however actually? I wouldn’t be made about having to go purchase an entire bunch of latest stuff, particularly someplace with actually good purchasing. ..OK. I don’t need to problem the Universe, particularly with my journey catastrophe report, so let me make this very clear: I’m simply kidding! Ha ha! Hilarious joke, me!


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✔ A number of methods to make use of your factors to pay for journey.

You realize these 2x factors I discussed for eating and journey? They’re referred to as Ultimate Rewards, and once you journey & eat out as usually as I do, they add up quick. And there are a couple of nice methods to make use of them to pay for journey.

One of the best ways is to spend them within the Final Rewards Portal, which is mainly a web-based dashboard the place you may spend your factors on every kind of stuff. One of the best ways to maximise your return is to spend them on journey (together with flights, automobiles, motels, and extra) which you’ll e book straight by the portal! Whenever you e book journey within the portal, your factors stretch additional and are price 25% extra.

Once I first received my Chase Sapphire card, I used my sign-up bonus within the Final Rewards portal and was ready stretch my factors to cowl a round-trip flight to Cartagena, Colombia – AND a lodge room.

One other profit I exploit often is the power to switch factors to different airline rewards packages. I switch a number of my factors to Southwest Fast Rewards, as a result of I stay close to a Southwest hub and e book most of my home flights on Southwest – and it’s normally straightforward to discover a Southwest flight for a comparatively low variety of factors. On the overwhelming majority of my home flights, I fly Southwest and pay with factors earned from both flying different Southwest flights (or my Southwest Airlines credit card) or transferred over from Chase Final Rewards.

The simplest method to make use of your factors, although, is simply to pay your self again for qualifying purchases utilizing money again. The classes which you could redeem factors on rotates often, and also you received’t all the time get nearly as good of a factors deal, so ensure you perform a little little bit of math to see what your factors are valued at for every transaction.

Usually, one of the best ways to take advantage of your Final Rewards factors is to switch them to a journey associate or to e book journey with them, however there are promotions sometimes that change that valuation – although to be honest, it could solely be bank card rewards hoarders like me, with a spreadsheet stuffed with my level values on every of my playing cards, who pay that a lot consideration as to if some extent is price $1 or $1.25. This guide has some nice recommendations on maximizing Final Rewards level values.

✔ An entire bunch extra advantages that I exploit often (and much more that I don’t)

This put up can be an entire lot longer if I went over each single profit that Chase Sapphire, however there are a couple of extra that I need to name out earlier than I wrap issues up.

  • 5x factors on Lyft. Dwelling within the San Francisco Bay Space the place Lyft rides, bikes, and e-bikes are a real type of public transportation, that is large. I exploit Lyft on a regular basis, and I get each reductions and factors again on all of my Lyft rides!
  • Journey & emergency help, together with roadside help. Misplaced, stranded, panicking? Chase will assist.

For all of that, you’ll pay a $95 annual charge, which I discover greater than pays for itself in factors, insurance coverage protection, and different advantages.

And now you realize why the Chase Sapphire Preferred card has a everlasting place in my bra pocket (after the year-long honeymoon, I by no means went again to utilizing common wallets, and now it’s been too lengthy to cease).

Plus, this card is tough to lose even for somebody as forgetful as me, as a result of it’s like … thicc. I feel it’s constituted of metallic? Anyway, it’s positively essentially the most epic card in my bra-cket, for a number of causes.

However there’s yet another card that’s on the prime of my journey bank card listing: the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I do know the title is tremendous complicated as a result of they rhyme and it kinda simply feels like the identical card, however it’s completely different. It’s like, ~fancier.

Let’s discuss why you would possibly need to go for the Reserve as a substitute of the Most popular.

Screenshot of Lia's Ultimate Rewards portal showing $477 worth of points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit card.
Right here’s what my present Final Rewards portal seems to be like! I can e book flights, motels, and automotive leases straight with my factors, or I can switch them to flight companions or redeem them for cashback rewards for a 50% level bonus. There are tons of the way to make use of these factors in direction of journey, and so they add up quick – particularly with my Reserve card!

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Most popular

A couple of years after I received my first Chase Sapphire Preferred card, they got here out with an excellent higher card: the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

This model of the Chase Sapphire card affords all the above advantages of the unique card, however with even higher factors bonuses and extra improbable journey advantages, together with:

✔ 3X factors on eating and journey, so you may assure I’ll all the time be the one providing to place dinner on my card and get everybody else to Venmo me.

10x factors on Lyft, so I by no means need to drive wherever once more.

50% factors bonus when reserving journey by the Final Rewards portal

✔ Free Priority Pass membership, which helps you to entry boujie airport lounges everywhere in the world – which I looooove on lengthy journey days! Lounges are one among my favourite long-haul flight survival tips.

$300 annual credit score again on journey bills. It will get utilized mechanically once you e book journey in your card, and it actually helps pay for the annual charge.

For all these bonuses, you’ll pay a $550 annual charge. I do know that feels like an entire lot, however once you subtract the $300 journey credit score, you actually solely must earn again $250 price of factors to make the cardboard price it, which I discover pretty straightforward to do as a frequent traveler and restaurant-goer!

The 100k Signal-Up Bonus

In June 2021, Chase Sapphire introduced its highest EVER sign-up bonus for brand new cardholders: 100k factors after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months after account opening. In the event you redeem these factors by the Final Rewards portal, they’re price $1,250.

I imply, y’all: that’s a whole-a** worldwide flight. Or a few home ones. Or perhaps a baller keep at a resort. Like, what would you do with $1,250? I’ve a number of concepts…

No person is aware of how lengthy this bonus is slated to final, so my very robust advice is to not miss out. Go snag this card ASAP, otherwise you’ll most likely find yourself with a powerful case of FOMO for a very very long time (sure, I converse from a lot expertise.)

So, now you realize why you completely can not simply deliver any outdated bank card together with you in your subsequent worldwide journey, and you realize all about my favourite journey bank card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred (or the Chase Sapphire Reserve in case you’re fancy).

However there’s yet another factor: there’s a REALLY epic sign-up bonus on this card proper now (as of June 2021) so hurry and snag one earlier than the supply expires! That is really the most effective sign-up bonus they’ve EVER supplied, and it’s price $1,250 in journey factors within the Final Rewards portal. The place would you go along with $1,250? Drop me a remark under!

Psst: in search of extra journey ideas? Try a couple of of our different posts:

xo Lia & Jeremy signature graphic


Disclaimer: Sensible Wanderlust has partnered with CardRatings for our protection of bank card
merchandise. Sensible Wanderlust and CardRatings might obtain a fee from card issuers.

Get the FREE Journey Planning Information

Want some assist planning your subsequent journey? Our FREE 25-page Journey Planning Information consists of every little thing it is advisable to plan a visit, plus 5 printable packing lists. We’ll additionally ship our favourite journey ideas straight to your inbox!

Our High Journey Ideas & Assets

Listed below are our favourite journey ideas & assets for saving cash and planning journey logistics! For extra ideas, try our complete guide to trip planning.

  • Reserving Flights: To attain flight offers, search on Skyscanner or Kayak. Cash-saving ideas: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on solely on a finances airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
  • Lodging: We normally keep in budget-friendly, trip leases, boutique motels or personal rooms in hostels. We use to e book motels (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to e book hostels (low deposit, straightforward change/cancellation, and glorious critiques). For trip leases, we desire to e book utilizing VRBO (they have decrease charges and higher help than Airbnb, and we’re not followers of Airbnb’s unethical observe report.) You can too e book trip leases on Expedia and We have additionally used TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our dwelling and our fur-child) and vacationers!
  • Journey Insurance coverage: We all the time, all the time, ALWAYS purchase journey insurance coverage for worldwide journeys, and we STRONGLY counsel it – go to our Travel Insurance Guide to seek out out why. We suggest both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is among the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, and so they have glorious month-to-month insurance policies which can be good for Digital Nomads and long run vacationers!
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the journey guides on the CDC website to analysis really helpful medicines and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We all the time suggest getting each vaccine really helpful by the CDC! You may get them at your main care physician’s workplace or a walk-in pharmacy.
  • Excursions: We love reserving guided excursions, particularly meals excursions and strolling excursions, to get an area’s perspective and a historical past lesson whereas sight-seeing! We e book our excursions utilizing Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to determine how one can get from place to put utilizing public transit. After we e book a rental automotive, we use Kayak to check rental corporations and discover the most effective deal.
  • Baggage Storage: At any time when we’re testing early or making the most of an extended layover, we use Stasher or LuggageHero to securely retailer our baggage whereas we’re working round. On Stasher, you need to use the code PW10 for 10% off your reserving!
  • What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we deliver on each journey. We even have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and lots of extra. Check out all of our packing guides!

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