Our credit card is going to get a lot of use as we circle the globe, so we were careful to make sure we’re taking the best credit card for a round the world trip. A Masterful Mastercard. A Visionary Visa. Some Prize Winning Plastic. Since we’re traveling light, we wanted to have one primary card that can satisfy all of our needs.
Among thousands of options, we quickly found that NOT all credit cards are created equal. For starters, American Express and Discover are not widely accepted in Europe and even less so in other parts of the world so those options were tossed out immediately. Also, the goal was to find a card that has a very low or no foreign transaction fee. An average card may have a 3% to 5% transaction fee per international purchase. An additional three percent on just about everything you buy can add up quicker than parking violations on a NYC based FedEx Truck.
We searched, read reviews and looked at fine print until our eyes bled. We decided on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. The Chase card had quite a few things going for it. First, they offer a somewhat-rare 0% Foreign Transaction Fee on all purchases. Nice. Chase also offers a 24-hour customer service line to help when you’re in a pickle. Better than dealing with this person. Next, the card is a Visa managed card meaning near universal acceptance. They also have a generous rewards program that amounts to 2% cash back or 2.5% towards travel rewards along with an introductory offer that allows you to earn the equivalent of $500 in travel vouchers if you spend $3,000 in the first three months. We’ve never been big on the credit card rewards and don’t quite fully understand the ins and outs, but this might change that. And finally, the card is actually made out of pure Sapphire gems. Making it both the heaviest and most valuable item we’re bringing with us. Okay, that’s not true, but it is a cool looking card made of a deep dark blue.
Worth pointing out that there is a pesky $95 Annual Fee, but the fee is waived for the first year you own the card. And we’re pretty likely to cancel the card next June if they insist that we pay that full amount. Also the current rate on the card is pretty lousy 15.24% so it is in our best interest to pay the balance every month.
Last but not least, since this is a bit of a higher tier card, the application is a bit more stringent. Brooke and I both applied just in case there was a delay in the processing (Chase had indicated it could take up to 30 days) or some other problem. I was satisfied when I found that I had been approved with a solid credit limit. That was until we found out just minutes later that my wife was approved with a credit limit that was five times that of mine. Not that credit standing is a competition, but I certainly felt a bit snubbed knowing that I am 1/5th as desirable from a credit point of view as my wife. Our friend Jack, who works in risk management at HSBC, pointed out that since I had already left my job when I applied for the card, that may have impacted my credit. Words of comfort for my woeful credit limit indeed.