A Good Example Of Why You Should Have Number Of Different Credit/Debit Cards

a group of credit cards

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On 1 June 2018 Visa had an unexpected and somewhat dramatic IT failure which saw businesses across Europe unable to accept payments made by Visa debit or credit cards and a lot of people appear to have been caught out.

A lot of readers are already probably aware of the benefits that come with having a number of different credit cards (a broad spectrum of bonus categories, access to various airport lounges, status with multiple hotel brands etc…) but I suspect that some may not have considered the importance of diversifying which payment processors are linked to the cards in their wallet.

There are three primary credit/debit card processors – Visa, Mastercard and American Express – and it’s wise to ensure you’re carrying at least one card from each processor in your wallet at all times.

The recent Visa issue in Europe was exacerbated by the fact that a large number of European businesses do not accept American Express so, when Visa’s systems imploded, a lot of people without a Mastercard in their wallet were left unable to pay for their goods.

Some shoppers were able to go to a nearby ATM and get cash out to pay for their goods but for others this simply wasn’t practical. A lot of people had to either dump their shopping and go home empty handed or rely on trusting vendors…like the lady who tweeted this:a screenshot of a social media post

The whole meltdown lasted around 6 hours so waiting around for the systems to come back online wasn’t an option for most.

I hold a whole host of credit cards and, although I certainly don’t carry them all around with me every day, I always have at least one Amex, once Visa and one Mastercard with me at all times.

Right now I have the following cards in my wallet:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve (Visa)
  • Chase Freedom (Visa)
  • Starwood Preferred Guest credit card (Amex)
  • Amex EveryDay Credit Card (Amex)
  • Chase Ink Business Plus (Mastercard)
  • AAdvantage Aviator Red (Mastercard)

Admittedly I don’t have all of these cards in my wallet just in case one of the processing companies has a meltdown – I carry them to make sure I can earn bonus points/miles on as much of my every day spending as possible – but I am protected should that actually happen.

a hand holding a credit card

Another reason to carry cards from multiple processors is so you can make the most of any special offers you come across as you go about your day. Various shopping malls I know often have Mastercard offers running and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Amex, Visa and Mastercard all running promotions at the airports I pass through.

Don’t forget that you don’t have too open yourself up to high annual fees if you want to have a mixture of credit cards in your portfolio…you can get by pretty well without having to pay a single cent in annual fees.

Take this combination of credit cards as an example:

  • Amex EveryDay credit card (Amex)
  • Blue Cash Everyday card (Amex)
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited (Visa)
  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (Visa)
  • Citi Double Cash Card (Mastercard)
  • Citi ThankYou Preferred (Mastercard)

a hand holding a credit card

Most of those cards come with no annual fee (or the annual fee is waived in the first year), you’ll earn bonus points/cashback on grocery purchases, gas station purchases, eating out and entertainment and you’ll earn between 1.5% and 2% back on all other purchases.

Added to that the Capital One Venture card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees (more info here) so you’re covered when you go abroad too.

Bottom Line

There are a number of reasons why people who know how to manage their credit should have a diverse portfolio of credit cards at their disposal….but they don’t have to cost a fortune.

The cards I’m carrying in my wallet right now cost me $735 in annual fees every year (although I get all of that and more back in benefits) but not everyone needs those

There are a lot of very good no annual fee credit cards that are worth considering and, as I’ve shown above, you can easily put together a diverse collection that will reward you on your everyday spend.