Travel tip: One credit card is good, but here’s why two can be a lifesaver

Taking off on vacation? It's a good idea to take at least two kinds of credit cards. Don't carry them in the same wallet or purse, though, in case of theft.

Taking off on vacation? It’s a good idea to take at least two kinds of credit cards. Don’t carry them in the same wallet or purse, though, in case of theft.

(Catharine Hamm/ Los Angeles Times)

You’re on vacation with your spouse or partner, with whom you share everything in life, including credit cards. All is going well — and then one of you is mugged.

It happened to one San Bernardino reader and his wife — and it reinforced a valuable lesson.

They were in Quito, Ecuador. “My wife carries one credit card in her purse and I carry a different one in my wallet,” Kenneth Mantei said in an email. “Her purse was stolen.”


But they were OK because each carried a different brand of card. “The card in my wallet was still safe and working,” Mantei said.

“Had my wife carried a duplicate of my credit card we would have had to kill them both and been left with no credit cards.

“I’m not sure why this point is not stressed more often because neglecting it can be devastating on a trip.”

Two points I would add: If you’re traveling solo, it’s a good idea to keep at least one credit card locked up somewhere else; the hotel room safe is a good place. Travel colleagues have told me they avoid leaving things behind in the room safe by putting one shoe from the pair they plan to wear inside the safe.

Second, somewhere you need to have a copy of your credit card numbers, CVV (Card Verification Value, the three- or four-digit sequence that supposedly determines whether you are in possession of your card), the expiration date of the card and, perhaps most important, the telephone number of the credit card company where you direct a lost or stolen report. And it needs to be very, very secure.

Some travelers carry an encrypted flash drive with that information (including copies of passports and other important documents). Other people use a credit card registration service. Still others leave financial information with a trusted relative or friend who is easy to reach (and won’t leave the info lying around).


Smart travelers don’t plan on trouble, but they do plan for it.

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