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I landed in Brazil a few minutes ago to see the World Cup in person. It’s a short trip, so I packed lightly including when it came to which cards to bring.

I only brought four cards:

  • Two credit cards
  • One debit card
  • One membership card

The cards are going to earn me miles, get me lounge access, and save me ATM fees in order to make my trip cheaper and more comfortable.

  • Which cards do I carry for international travel?
  • Why did I bring each one?

The four cards I brought were:

Arrival Plus

I brought the Arrival Plus to put all my spending on the card. Of my no-foreign-transaction fee cards, the Arrival Plus has the highest return at 2.28% back toward travel on all purchases.

This is a must-have card for more reasons than just the 40,000 mile sign up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days.

Learn more about the card in “Why I Got the Arrival Plus.”

Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® 

Citi Executive AAdvantage World MasterCard

I brought the Executive AA card because I am meeting its minimum spending requirement, and it gives me free lounge access to American Airlines Admirals Clubs.

The card has foreign transaction fees The card does NOT have foreign transaction fees (thanks, commenters), so I will not be using it in Brazil, and I used it on my all-day layover in Washington DC.

I also used the card to get into the Admirals Club in Honolulu on the day of my departure. Flying United Global First gave me free access to United lounges, but I needed to hang out in an area of the airport nearer to the Admirals Club, so free access there was nice.

I wrote about this card in “100,000 Mile Sign Up Bonus.”

Charles Schwab Debit Card

I opened a Charles Schwab bank account to get free ATM withdrawals worldwide. Not only does Schwab not charge a fee, but it refunds me the ATM owner’s fee.

I wrote about how and why to open the account in How to Pay Zero ATM Fees Worldwide.

Priority Pass Select Membership Card

Priority Pass Select membership comes free with all Platinum cards–I have the Business Platinum Card.

Priority Pass Select gives me free access to airport lounges worldwide. There are three affiliated lounges at Sao Paulo (GRU), and possibly more at the domestic Sao Paulo (CGH) and Rio de Janeiro (SDU) airports I’ll be using. I always carry this card when I travel.

Learn more from “Get the Most Out of Your American Express Platinum Card.”

What cards do you carry internationally?

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!

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