There are two important things when it comes to wallets and travel: have a wallet that meets your needs, and fill it with the right cards.
I use my wallet as the main organizer for my expense reports. I went through a few wallets early in my travel career, but settled on one with multiple bill-length compartments. This allows me to easily keep work receipts separate from personal receipts. Business receipts go in the back compartment, personal receipts and cash go in the front. I also like a zippered coin compartment to keep control of parking meter money. Having multiple compartments also allows me to keep Canadian currency separate so I can quickly get the appropriate money.
I also like a wallet with slots for many credit cards so I always choose the correct one. The current cards I carry are: Hilton HHonors American Express, Citi PremierPass, Citi Professional, my local bank debit card, and my Charles Schwab Investor Checking debit card. In addition to these cards I have some that sit at home collecting dust.
- Hilton HHonors American Express: This card comes in a free version offering 6 points per dollar at Hiltons, gas stations, grocery stores, and a few other things and 3 points per dollar elsewhere. I use this card for all Hilton properties, my internet and phone bills, groceries, and some gas. It also gives Silver VIP status. There is also the Surpass level which gives 9 points per dollar at Hilton properties, 6 at the same types as the other card. The Surpass carries an annual fee of $75/year and it is possible to spend enough to get Diamond VIP status. Since I already get Diamond VIP on my own and the additional 3 points per dollar from Hilton properties take a while to be worth $75 I have stayed at the normal card. If the right bonus comes along I will probably upgrade. I took on the Hilton card originally during a 62,500 point bonus.
- Citi PremierPass: This used to be a good card when mileage rewards had a different redemption scheme. I mainly just use this card for personal expenses in categories I don’t have any other bonus in like clothing. I also use this card to book personal airfare due to the ability to earn Thank You points on miles also. I use my Thank You points for gift cards mostly. There is also a annual fee version of this card that gives a TYP per mile flown instead of 1 per 3 miles flown. I don’t purchase my business airfare and until recently didn’t purchase much personal airfare either. I’d rather have an airline card if I purchased my airfare though.
- Citi Professional: I can’t find a link for this card right now. It has a cash version and a Thank You network version. I have the Thank You version. It gives 3 points per $ at restaurants, gas stations, and rental cars. It is also part of the Mastercard small business rebate network which has rebates are fuelman network gas stations and Avis. I use this card for restaurants, rental cars, and fuel man gas stations (with other gas stations going on Hilton). Another nice feature is primary rental insurance.
- Charles Schwab Investor Checking: I tried to get the Charles Schwab Visa for its 2% cash-back and no forex, but I had a snag with FIA. Instead of a credit card, I have this debit card for my checking account with Charles Schwab. I’ve blogged about this card before because I use it to save on forex. As a debit card I just have to make sure I put money in this account before I go internationally. The checking account earns a paltry 0.75% so I pretty much just use this for foreign currency transactions.
- My local bank debit card: to me this is mostly an ATM card, but I have one of those “rewards checking accounts” which means if I make 10 debit transactions a month I earn 4.25% APR on balances less than $10,000. This means I find a soda machine that accepts credit cards and make a few transactions, then I use this for airport parking until I get to my 10 transactions.
I don’t like to change credit cards often so I’m not the person to emulate, but I have learned to keep track of which card to use in which situation. At first I tried to be a 1 credit card person putting everything on my PremierPass card, but I quickly grew out of that. I tried the Starwood American Express, but since I rarely had Starwood stays to supplement my earnings I was not earning much. That card has been filed away and I do use it when I stay at a Starwood.
The actual wallet I carry was purchased at Target 2 years ago. I am not a brand whore and I’d rather have more money to use for travel so I bought a $20 wallet instead of a $200 wallet.