Middle Age Miles

What Card to Get? Student Leaving for Study Abroad Program (Case Study)

Barclays Uber Visa card

Case Study Question – What Card to Get?

A friend recently came to me with the following question – My daughter is leaving soon for a study abroad program.  We need to get her a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, and we greatly prefer a card with no annual fee?  Other benefits such as a sign-up bonus are helpful, but the “no fee” benefits are the core requirements.  What card should we get?

Analysis and Recommendation

I’ll start the analysis with a few additional assumptions/facts.

  • First, this is a student who is under Chase 5/24 and has no issues with any velocity limitations from any other banks – so all no-fee cards are options for us.
  • Second, another option would be to add the daughter as an authorized user on a card held by a parent that has no foreign transaction fees, where the AU card would not incur an additional fee.  For purposes of this case study, we’re going to rule out that possibility as there is an expressed preference for the daughter to be the primary cardholder.
  • Third, this is a student who is not likely to be running up against Chase 5/24 within the next two years, so we’re not going to feel constrained to push her toward a Chase card like we would with someone else starting off in the points-and-miles world.
  • Fourth, with the cardholder being a student, we’re going to assume that there would be challenges hitting minimum spend requirements as high as even a few thousand dollars.
  • And fifth, there are several good cards that have the annual fee waived the first year but have annual fees thereafter, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Citi ThankYou Premier.  At the time of this post, both of these cards have generous 50,000-point sign-up bonuses.  Thus, if there is tolerance for a card with an annual fee after the first year plus if the minimum spend requirement for the sign-up bonus is achievable, either of these cards could be good alternatives.

With these thoughts in mind, Middle Age Miles’ recommendation to our friend was to have the daughter apply for the Barclays Uber Visa card.  Here’s why:

  • The Barclays Uber Visa meets our core requirements
    • The card has no annual fee (ever) and no foreign transaction fees
  • This card has a decent sign-up bonus that should be achievable – $100 bonus after spending $500 in the first 90 days
    • And, at least if my college-aged kids are a true read, there’s nothing students like more than getting a cash bonus.  This they know how to use!
  • The Barclays Uber Visa has good bonus categories (it is a cash-back card)
    • 4% on dining (including Uber Eats)
    • 3% on airfare and hotels
    • 2% on Uber, online shopping, and video/music streaming services
  • The Barclays Uber Visa also has a benefit of up to $600 in mobile phone protection if you use the card to pay your mobile phone bill
    • This would seem to be a benefit that could help a young person, although perhaps the situation is complicated if the student’s mobile phone is on her parents’ cell phone bill
  • One other added benefit for the student traveling abroad is the chip+PIN functionality of Barclays cards.
    • This will allow the student to use the card at kiosks for things like train and bus tickets, which can be very helpful when traveling abroad.  I can personally vouch for successfully using my Barclays AA Aviator Silver card many times abroad to buy train and metro tickets.

Hopefully our friend’s daughter can get approved for the Barclays Uber Visa card, and here’s hoping she has a great experience in her study abroad program!


Do you agree or disagree with our recommendation?  If you disagree, what would you recommend instead and why?  Let us know in the comments!


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