Best Credit Card To Use In Thailand

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Travel hacking is an increasingly popular way to use credit card points and miles to get free flights and hotels. Even with modest annual expenses, you can easily get free flights and hotels for an international vacation every year.

Best Credit Card To Use In Thailand

People have many travel hacking systems and the most complex ones use a combination of different cards. It can get pretty serious and people who really commit to it can reap great rewards.

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But if you are new to travel hacking or don’t want to juggle multiple credit cards, I have a really simple system that will give you 90% of what even the most advanced travel hackers get.

Pro tip: For more resources for Americans living abroad, including a free checking account that pays all your ATM fees, see our post on the best financial resources for Americans living abroad and frequent travelers.

The best all-around credit card for people who travel but aren’t luxury travelers is Chase’s Sapphire Reserve. This card offers many benefits that easily justify the annual fee for most travelers.

Important, this card has no foreign fees and you earn the same points when you use the card abroad as you do in the US.

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It is not so easy to get a card. To get a card you usually need at least 720 credit points. A lower clearance than is possible, but to be safe, you should actually go higher.

This is a premium credit card with an annual fee of $550. However, there is an automatic rebate that replaces the first $300 you spend on travel, so the actual annual fee is only $250.

When you sign up, you will receive 50,000 bonus points once you have reached the minimum spend. When you redeem this for travel the easy way I describe below, that’s effectively $750 for flights, hotels, cruises, etc.

This $750 alone covers the actual annual payment of $250 over three years. Even without this, I find as a frequent traveler that the card pays for itself every year, many times over.

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In addition to all the value you can earn in points, paying with a credit card gives you valuable protection. When dodgy merchants try to deny you the refund you deserve, if you paid by credit card, you can dispute the charge online in minutes, get the money into your account instantly while the bank investigates, and if it’s right , the debit must be canceled permanently.

I had booked plane tickets to Nepal from a Southeast Asian airline. The airline canceled the flight due to covid-19 but tried to give me a refund trip. I gave them a chance and when they didn’t give it to me I contested the charge and won. No need for long painful phone calls.

Important: The reason US credit cards offer so many benefits is because Americans are so bad at using credit. People who collect all the points and benefits are able to do so because many others are paying so much interest and late fees. Only get a credit card if you plan to pay it off in full each month, and never buy anything on credit that you wouldn’t pay for in cash. Don’t think of a credit card as free money.

The biggest single advantage is the points. You earn three points for every dollar you spend on travel and dining anywhere in the world. Everything else earns you one point per dollar.

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You can transfer these points to points on different airlines, and if you spend enough time you can find a good value, but I would never bother.

Instead, I book through the Chase travel portal, which is really just a whitewashed version of Expedia. From there you can book flights and hotels, as well as things like cruises and experiences. Your portal points are worth 1.5x.

There are ways to earn more than 1% when you spend in other categories. For more information, see the last section on scaling this system

The next big benefit of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is free membership in the Priority Pass airport lounge program. This gives you unlimited visits to more than 1300 airport lounges worldwide. You can enter two guests for free on each visit.

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I should note that this is a benefit that comes with many premium cards. The lounges are often the lowest level of any airport lounge and most savvy business travelers turn their noses up at them.

A major drawback is that when lounges are full (or expected to be full), Priority Pass members are often denied entry. Lounges are not usually owned by Priority Pass and often have to save space for business class passengers and others who have paid more for access than simply registering a credit card.

It’s true that most Priority Pass lounges in US airports aren’t that nice, but they’re undeniably better than being in a lounge. They all tend to have free food (which is usually a skirt) and free alcohol (often with premium alcohol options). I usually buy food from the terminal to bring into the lounge and get free coffee, beer, wine, cocktails from the lounge and seating and work areas that are quieter and more comfortable than the public areas of the terminal.

Unlike in the US, these salons never seem to fill up and in dozens of visits I have never been turned away. Not all saloons have alcohol, but I think they all have at least beer.

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Most of the major Asian airports you fly through on your flights out of Thailand have a Priority Pass lounge. These are usually the best of the whole program and offer good food, clean showers, comfortable seats, and some even have free massages and recliners made for the most comfortable sleep.

I feel like it’s worth the money with the Chase Sapphire Reserve when I visit these salons four times a year. A hot shower and a few drinks in transit make the long journey between the US and Asia much more bearable.

When you book travel with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you usually get a lot of travel insurance coverage. There is some health insurance and emergency evacuation coverage, but it is not enough. You must have separate health insurance, but if you have this card, you can only get health insurance because you already have a pretty good travel insurance.

Pro tip: When you book trips with points on a travel portal, you must always choose to pay with points and money on the card. The travel insurance protection is not valid if you only use points, but is valid as long as you put at least one dollar on the card.

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Note that this card doesn’t really offer very good travel health insurance, which is probably the most important type you need. Currently, during the coronavirus pandemic, you must have travel health insurance with at least $100,000 in coverage and no COVID restrictions to enter Thailand.

For more information on this, see our Thailand travel health insurance. Also see our Thailand COVID-19 travel requirements post for more information on all the different travel restrictions.

Another of my favorite benefits is getting TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry. With Global Entry, you skip the US immigration line and go through screening to the baggage claim area, usually in a matter of minutes.

With Advance Check, you get an expedited security line at US airports. Although they don’t have their own line setting, you can usually still keep the shoes on, which is nice.

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You also get a lot of random credits. Right now you can get $60 in free food delivered to your door per year. You can also earn 10 points for every dollar spent on Lyft until March 2022, which is a huge amount if you use Lyft regularly, although unfortunately it is not available in Thailand. When you redeem rides on the portal, you essentially get 15% of your Lyft spend as free rides.

Four times a year you can get reimbursement for road service (flat tire, jump start, locksmith, gas, etc.), up to $50 per incident.

You also get Executive Emerald Club status with National Car Rental. Unfortunately, renting from National in Thailand won’t do you any good, but in the US and some other countries, you can reserve the cheapest car available and upgrade as often as you like.

Many people prefer to handle only one credit card and this system is by far the best for those people. But it’s also pretty easy to start scaling for people who want to dip their toes deeper into travel hacking

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