The Pre-Trip Wallet Shuffle

Before going on a trip, there’s a ritual I go through involving our wallets. I need to go through them, remove cards we won’t need when traveling and replace them with the cards we will or might need when we’re out of town. Unlike packing, where I have a list I’ve perfected over the last 20 years, when it comes to our wallets, I have to wing it and make choices for each trip because every time is different.

Here are some of the questions I ask. Did I use a certain card to book something during the trip and need the card for confirmation? Are we flying on an airline where using the card for onboard purchases will give me a discount? Do I need a specific card to get into an airline lounge? Will we be buying groceries during the trip or will we be eating out all the time? Will we be renting a car? If so, I’ll need to bring a card that has primary LDW coverage as well as one that earns a good return on gas purchases.

While I’ve read about making a dedicated travel wallet so you don’t forget to bring any of the cards you only need when traveling, I’m more afraid I’d forget to put something in the travel wallet like my drivers license or my insurance card. I don’t think I’d ever hear the end of it if that happened (Note from Sharon: No. No, you wouldn’t BWAHAHAHA!). As usual, I take two approaches to making our wallets because while I will bring a different card for each category, Sharon will only allow me to give her one to two cards at the most for her to use, hereby named the card in the front of the wallet she’ll use for everything and the card behind it for if the first one doesn’t work somewhere.

Joe’s Wallet

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For this trip, my wallet is pretty straightforward. Here are the credit cards I’m bringing and what charges I’ll use them for:

  • Citi AT&T Universal Rewards – Currently earning 5X Thank You points for Restaurant, Grocery Store, Gas Station, Drug Stores and Mass Transit
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – 3x on Travel (This will be the card I use for taxi/Uber)
  • World Of Hyatt – Non-Bonused Spend to hit the spending requirement to earn the signup bonus. It’s also a contactless card.
  • JetBlue Plus Card – 50% rebate on purchases onboard JetBlue flights
  • Delta Gold SkyMiles AMEX – Ability to buy access into Delta SkyClubs, if needed
  • My Bank ATM Card – which charges no ATM Fees and refunds me any additional charge from an ATM.

I also added these cards to my wallet:

There’s one more thing I added to my wallet: Plenty of singles

Captain Obvious Make It Rain

No, I’m not headed to go make it rain. I need money to tip the airport shuttle driver and to leave a tip for housekeeping. It’s one of the things I always forget to bring with me.

Sharon’s Wallet

I loaded Sharon’s wallet with the cards we’ll be using most this trip:

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  • Barclays Arrival+ – I put this in front because when we’re together, I can tell her which card to use. When she’s off on her own, she’s not spending money in any bonus categories so earning 2x cash back is acceptable in that circumstance
  • Citi Prestige – This is the card we will be using for the heavy lifting on this trip. It is the card we’re using at the hotel because we’re staying on a fourth-night-free reservation. It will be the card we use for our dining expenses because it earns 5X Thank You points for those charges. I used this card to book tickets for events during our stay so we might need to show it to pick them up.
  • Discover – Ok, you can stop reading here if you want. I just wanted us to have a card in case Chase or Citi shuts our cards down as we had happen during a trip to Texas. Besides that, it will never leave the wallet.
  • American Express Green Card – Don’t adjust your color on the screen, it’s not a Platinum card. It’s a green card. Sharon has the number memorized and has no intentions of ever getting rid of the card. I tolerated it much better when we could load AMEX offers onto it but now I realize that since she lets me shuffle around her wallet, I should just keep paying the annual fee for a card we’ll never use (Note from Sharon: remember the old saying, my love: “Happy wife, happy life.” The green Amex STAYS) (Note from Joe: Yes, dear).

I’d also add that I would normally bring along any cards for Mass Transit in a large city, like an MTA Metrocard or London Transport Oyster card, if I thought they would be needed.

The last thing I need to do is update our dining program accounts to make sure the cards we are bringing with us are set up to earn extra miles in case we happen to stop at an eligible location.

What do you before you travel? Do you need to rearrange your wallet or are a person who carries all of your cards with you all of the time?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

2 thoughts on “The Pre-Trip Wallet Shuffle”

  1. I do a credit card shuffle, but for a slightly different reason.
    My usual wallet holds my cards and dollars fine, but it’s too small to fit any currency that’s taller like yen bills.
    I have a passport holding wallet (which is huge and I don’t want to use it as an everyday wallet), so every time I go on an international trip, all my cards and cash go into that one and the card(s) without the foreign transaction fee goes on top.
    Otherwise everything tends to stay put on domestic travel.

  2. I just have a ziplock bag full of all my travel cards that I never use in day to day life: hotel cards, PP card, passport, etc. If traveling international then I remove Chase Freedom or any other card that charges FTF from my wallet, and I’m on my way. No shuffling needed.

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