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Best Credit Cards While Backpacking (updated February 26, 2018)

I cannot believe that it has been 3 and a half years since I last wrote a post about credit cards for backpackers. As you probably know, quite a bit has changed in the industry since then. There is no question that I am way overdue for a update on this post.

There are many reasons to go backpacking, but I think that we can mostly agree that part of the reason is to keep costs down so that we can travel for a more extended period of time. But just because we want to keep costs down, does not mean that we cannot also earn rewards along the way.

Your best bet is to look for a credit card that reduces your foreign transaction fees, whether by waiving the fee or giving you an extra earning ratio.

Home Trust Preferred Visa

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees

Unfortunately, this is not available to Quebec residents.

Rogers Bank Fido MasterCard

  • No annual fee
  • Earn $50 cash back sign up bonus (earn $25 after your first purchase and earn $25 when you register your Fido bill for pre-authorized payments both within the first 3 months)
  • Earn 4% cash back on foreign exchange purchases
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases

This card would only make sense if you can take advantage of their specific reward options.

Brim MasterCard (see comments below: not live yet)

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 1 points for every $1 spent
  • Receive a Boingo membership
  • No foreign transaction fees

This is probably a better option than the Home Trust card due to the Boingo membership.

Rogers Bank Platinum MasterCard

  • $29 annual fee (waived the first year or waived so long as you have pre-authorized Rogers payments set up)
  • Earn $25 cash back sign up bonus
  • Earn 4% cash back on foreign exchange purchases
  • Earn 1.75% cash back on all purchases

This would only make sense if you can get you annual fee waived, otherwise, I would recommend going for one of the no annual fee cards instead.

There are other credit cards that have no foreign transaction fees, but in the spirit of keeping costs down for a backpacking trip, I would recommend the above cards.

If you are making significant foreign purchases, you can consider the other options, which I will have an updated post in the coming weeks.


  1. Don’t forget to call your card issuer and let them know when and where you are traveling so that the card will work., this is the case for the HomeTrust Card (which I use as a travel card).

    My getaways are pretty straightforward itinerary-wise, but a Backpacker may be a little more spontaneous, so I would recommend having an RBC or TD card as a back up for three reasons:

    1. It is NOT necessary to alert them of travel plans (in case you decide to zig, when you may have first planned to zag).
    2. Reasonable wait times for 24hr customer service (a 1pm phone call where you are could be a 4 am call back home).
    3. Ability to keep an eye on transactions against fraud by way of online banking.

    While I agree with the list in this post, it’s essential to have access to resources when you are far from home.

    **Bonus Pro Tip** Be sure that your debit card has only a four-digit PIN as six-digit PIN’s do not work on all ATM systems worldwide.

  2. BRIM hasn’t launched yet and it make so sketchy that they’ve been advertising things as they are like existing business..

  3. I have applied for a world elite card. The comprehensive insurance benefits, no fx, free boingo, double points, and ease of redemption won me over. I got an email stating that i am on a priority prelaunch list. They say they will launch in March so in few weeks.

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