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Travel Budget, Money Matters, Financial Talk Mom, can I borrow ten grand?! Gimme yo mastercard! How the heck can I pay for my trip?! Ideas for making money. How much dough do I need?

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Old 10-17-2006, 07:17 AM   #1
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In trying to keep myself as "debt-free" (in quotes because I'm a student, so debt free is debt almost free really) I only have one credit card. I'm looking at getting another one just in case, while I'm traveling. I'm shooting for the cash back bonus cards, just because every little bit helps. Does anyone have opinions on the best credit cards? Has anyone ever gotten screwed over by a type of card (like, the whole time you were abroad, NO ONE would take Mastercard or something)??

AND, hope upon futile hope, is there some sort of secret super travelers plus credit card that perhaps sends me on all-expenses-paid, fare-included trips to Iceland or Latvia (or anywhere!) if I pay for two weeks of $7/night hostels on it???

(Totally kidding on that last one...or not...but everything else was completely serious.)
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Old 10-17-2006, 11:40 AM   #2
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Go with a Visa if you can. While Mastercard is about 99.9% as widely accepted as Visa, there are some places that won't take it. (I've run into them in both Costa Rica and Czech.) Oddly enough, there are some places that take MC but not Visa, but those are even fewer. Whatever you do, avoid Discover and Diners Club. Hell, JCB is more accepted than those, simply because so many Japanese tourists have them. American Express is also one to avoid - while they're worldwide, many merchants don't like them because of higher fees on their end, and a higher risk of chargebacks. Visa. Visa. Visa. (Or Mastercard.)

Also note that in some places (see: Costa Rica again) you'll get slapped with a massive surcharge (up to 20%) for credit card usage. 'Course, I guess that's a way to earn more points.

As for earning cash back, points, etc. - get one that's linked to an airline and you can earn miles. If you have a favorite airline that you're already earning miles with, find out if they offer a Visa card. Usually, these cards have slightly higher interest rates and whatnot than cards without benefits, but if you're good at keeping it paid up, that shouldn't pose a problem. I've heard good things about the United MileagePlus Visa, though they're plagued with blackout dates. The CapitalOne No-hassle card also has gotten some rave reviews.

Otherwise, there are other benefit cards - for instance, a couple of my gold cards give me full travel insurance if I book my airfare with them. There's stuff out there like the Sony CitiBank card where you can use your points to get free Sony products - you can always eBay the stuff off later to get some travel $$$.
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Old 10-17-2006, 01:54 PM   #3
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Thanks omisan! I know it's kind of a lame question, but the idea is overwhelming. And people I normally go to for financial guidance don't know beans about traveling. (Prolly why they're so good with money - they save theirs for the future and not for whirlwind backpacking epics! Goodbye house downpayment!!!! Sorry, future children, no money for your braces; snaggletooths add character!!)

Anyway, CapitalOne has been bombarding me with offers, doing everything but placing an armed goon outside my apartment to muscle me into signing up, so I'll have to go with it!
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Old 10-17-2006, 05:13 PM   #4
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I often find points too restrictive, so I prefer the ones with CA$H back, like Citibank.
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Old 10-17-2006, 06:08 PM   #5
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I find cards that dont charge you foreign transaction fees are better value abroad than cash back or points cards. I know in the Uk card companies charge something like 2.75% a transaction but there are a few cards out there that dont.
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Old 10-18-2006, 08:03 AM   #6
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I have a United Mileage Plus Visa because I travel a lot for work on United and am able to put all my work expenses on there as well and so earn a lot of miles from it. I do not find their blackout dates particularly restrictive. I have used my miles so far to fly to Australia, Thailand and Seattle for free (from New England in the U.S.). Major holidays would be hard to use the miles for a free ticket, but other than that, you can use the miles on ALL Star Alliance airlines (Air Canada, United, USAir, Lufthansa, Thai Air, Singapore Air.... to name a few. There are more). You also get soemthing like 20,000 miles just for signing up for the card, so if you combine that with a trip to Europe or Asia, you may have enough miles for a free R/T domestic ticket right off the bat.

The only issue with most airline frequent flyer Visa cards is that they come with an annual fee, usually around $35 or $40 US. If you charge enough dollars/earn enough miles each year, its worth it, but if you don't, then it might not be worth it. Many other cards, including the Capital One card I believe, do not charge an annual fee. That might be a better bet. Most frequent flyer cards also allow you to redeem miles for merchandise as well.

Lastly, whatever Visa you decide to get (and I agree with Omi to only consider a Visa), make sure you get a PIN assigned as well so you can use it at ATMs in an emergency. Good luck!!
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Old 10-18-2006, 08:10 AM   #7
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<div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(BelfastFlyer @ Oct 17 2006, 08:08 PM) [snapback]142672[/snapback]</div>
Quote:
a few cards out there that dont.[/b]
Any idea which ones these are (but US brands, though)?
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Old 10-19-2006, 01:22 AM   #8
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this forum covers it in depth

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=401958
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