The only 3 credit cards we use as we travel Europe


As we’ve been traveling Europe, there are really only 3 credit cards that we actually have been bothering to use, and trust me, we try to use them for as many spends as we can.  Money costs!  Well…taking money out of the ATM in a foreign country costs, but paying with a credit card doesn’t have to and in fact, comes with some great benefits.

The only 3 cards we’ve been using as we travel Europe tend to be the Chase Ink Bold charge card, the Hyatt credit card, and the IHG card.

Really though, we try to do all of our spending on the Chase Ink Bold while abroad.  It’s the only card that we actually prefer to use, but travel always presents unique and unpredictable circumstances, so there are a few situations for which we use the other two cards mentioned above, which I’ll explain here:

Reasons we use Chase Ink Bold as we travel:

1.) Chase Ink Bold has no foreign transaction fee.

2.) We live out of hotels and every now and then we have to pay for those hotels.  The Ink Bold happens to earn 2 points per dollar for hotels.

3.)  Because Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to United Miles at a 1:1 ratio, we essentially earn United miles (which we love and depend on) whenever we use our Ink Bold card. This is probably the biggest reason we favor this card.

Reasons we use the Hyatt credit card:

1.) Hyatt’s credit card has no foreign transaction fee.

2.)  Hyatt’s credit card is available with a chip, which Europe seems to prefer in its cards.  If a card reader is acting finicky about your credit card abroad, try the card with the chip.  Seems to be the preference and in some card-readers, is your only option.  That’s honestly the main reason we use this card.

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Reasons we use the IHG credit card as we travel:

1.) Again, IHG’s credit card has no foreign transaction fee.

2.) If we pay for a stay at an IHG property using our IHG credit card (excluding StayBridge Suites and CandleWood Suites) we’ll earn 20 points per dollar. (10 points per dollar for spending at an IHG property, 5 points per dollar for being a Platinum member, (a status that comes with the card), and another 5 points per dollar for using the IHG credit card.)  So this card gets used when we’re making spends at IHG properties.


To give an accurate idea of what we use, I have to re-emphasize that we’re really aiming to use the Ink Bold card.  Basically know that we tend to favor earning miles rather than hotel points when it comes to earning via credit card spends.  Why?  Because hotel points can be earned other ways pretty easily.  Promotions are a great way to earn points and with IHG, you can really make this promotion earning go a long way (as you can read about in this post.)


Honorable Mentions: Cards whose PERKS we constantly use

IHG Credit Card

I know the IHG Credit Card is already mentioned above, but in addition to the reasons mentioned for using the card, even if you never use it or even if you leave it at home, there’s still a benefit to being a card-holder that becomes quite significant in our travel earnings.  In addition to the perks already mentioned, it also gives back 10% of redeemed points.  So card-holders are given back 10% of all the points they use, and as PointBreaks fans, we use a lot of IHG Rewards points.

Club Carlson card

I have to mention the Club Carlson card not because we use it while we travel, but because having it gives us a perk that has been so massively helpful.   This post gives a run-down of the credit card’s perk.

Basically, having the Club Carlson card will automatically give you the last night of any stay 2 nights or more free.  We treat this as a buy one get one of sorts, pretty much using it for two night stays (1 night paid, 1 night free), or two sets of two night stays with a paid stay in the middle to get us 5 nights (3 paid, two free.)



Know that this is not necessarily a list of the cards I think you should go out and get.  I mean, maybe this is the set of cards you should go apply for depending on what you’ve already got but really I’m just trying to provide some insight into how the spends on the stats page are being allocated and why.

It basically goes like this: Every spend we are allowed to make by credit card, we do.  And every spend made by credit card that can be put on a mastercard or a card without a chip gets put onto our Ink Bold except spends made at IHG properties, in which case we use the IHG credit card.  And when we have to use a card with a chip, that’s when we go for the Hyatt Card (which so far seems to be spends made at certain metro stations.)

Hope that either helps you think about how to allocate your own travel spends, or satisfies some curiosity. 🙂


How about you? What cards do you use as you travel and why?

2 Comments on “The only 3 credit cards we use as we travel Europe

  1. Curious why you wouldn’t just alternate cards? So pay 1 night, get 2nd night free using one account. Then do the same using a second account. Then the same with a third account (business accounts)

    • That’s the eventual plan but for now only I have the Club Carlson card. But when Drew gets the card we’ll definitely start doing it that way. Especially if they have more great promotions!

      You make a great point though- that is a great strategy I should have mentioned for those who DO have multiple card-holders in their party.

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