Find the Best Credit Cards for International Travel
7 minutes read
Most of us love to travel - to explore cities via its streets, cobblestone roads and footpaths. Traveling to countries starkly different from our own is what makes us global citizens. However, international travel can quickly become muddled beneath fees, costs and the headaches of trying to keep it all straight. After all, banks are in business to make money, not to fund your wanderlust!
Never fear: credit cards have read the playing field loud and clear and they see us travel addicts in a desperate search for a card that fuels our lifestyle instead of draining it. Foreign transaction fees exist because banks want money - it’s as clear as day. The claim behind these fees is that banks require these additional funds to process charges made outside of the United States. Well, credit card companies have become all the wiser to this pointless charge and now are able to offer credit cards that scoot around these inane foreign transaction fees.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase nailed this international credit card when it was first released in 2016. With Chase Sapphire, you can expect to earn 3x points on all of your travel spending, so you can go nuts when you’re abroad. This includes your tickets, hotels, car rentals and a ton of other travel related purchases. The 3x point earning rate is also good for all dining. For everything else, the earning rate is 1x.
Get the most out of your credit card with Chase by visiting Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Travel Center, where you can book your travel needs directly through them and earn 1.5 cents towards your purchases. Other perks with Chase Sapphire Reserve include a generous $300 travel statement credit each year, a $100 Global Entry application fee credit and their Priority Pass Select membership.
There’s an annual fee of $450 for Chase Sapphire Reserve, but you won’t see any foreign transaction fees. If you’re constantly on the move from one country to the next and most of your purchases are travel related, then there’s no reason why this card wouldn’t be the right choice, high annual fee aside.
Wells Fargo Propel® American Express Card
Here’s another beneficial travel card that can grant you the freedom to bounce between foreign countries with no annual fee and 3x points for every dollar you spend on travel, including plane tickets, hotels, rental cars and cruises. They even handle travel agencies and campgrounds, hitting the spot for whatever kind of traveler you imagine yourself to be.
Not only that, but Wells Fargo Propel offers certain travel benefits that other cards don’t, like emergency assistance, collision insurance for auto rentals, and $1,000 coverage for lost luggage. For travelers that prefer to have a safety net, this card is for you.
Discover it® Miles
Discover’s very own travel card is hidden among the bunch, but it’s actually packed full of godies that can benefit any type of traveler. There’s no annual fee, which in itself is a perk, no foreign transaction fees, and you’ll earn 1.5x miles on every purchase.
The nice surprise that Discover it Miles credit card has to give you is that at the end of your first year as a cardholder, Discover matches all of the miles you’ve earned. If you’ve racked up 50,000 miles in your first year, guess what? With Discover matching your miles, you’ll have 100,000. You can redeem these miles at a rate of 1 cent on the dollar for all of your travel needs.
Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®
With Barclaycard, you can eliminate travel purchases with the miles you earn in Barclay’s reward system. The rate of 1 cent per 1 mile can allow you the ability to make purchases at smaller businesses like bed and breakfasts that can’t be booked with points or miles - you’ll still earn. For all of your spending with Barclaycard, you’ll earn 2x miles, and every time you redeem your miles, you’ll get 5% back.
The sign-on promotion for Barclaycard is extremely attractive, gifting its first-timers with 70,000 miles upon sign-up after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days. The card usually has an $89 annual fee, but for new cardholders, the fee is waived in their first year.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
There are no foreign transaction fees with this card by American Express, but that’s not the only feature it has going for it. The Platinum Card is your secret weapon in international airfare purchases because you’ll be getting 5x Membership Rewards points for all of your tickets you buy direct from the airline.
You will also be getting an annual airline fee credit of $200, a $100 Global Entry fee credit, with a pass to Delta Sky Clubs, Amex Centurion and Priority Pass Select lounges - not bad for a weary airport-bound traveler. You’ll receive Gold status with Hilton Honors and Marriott Rewards for good measure, too. With the Platinum Card from American Express, there’s a slight downside with the hefty annual fee of $550. The question will be: how much traveling will you be doing to make this fee worth it?
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Since Capital One doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee on any of its credit card lineups, you really can’t go wrong when you use a Capital One card internationally. There’s one that stands out among the collection as ideal for international travel: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. This card will reward new applicants with a whopping 75,000 bonus miles after they spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening the account.
The earning rate for Capital One Venture is 2x miles on all purchases, but you can actually rake in 10x miles when you use this card to book hotels at Hotels.com (be sure to use its designated link). For this card, there’s an annual fee of $95.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
With Bank of America’s travel credit card, you won’t be seeing any annual or foreign transaction fees. The earning rate is 1.5x points for every dollar spent on all of your purchases, and good news - points don’t expire. The sign-up bonus is alluring, with 25,000 bonus points when you have $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days, which totals to be a $250 statement credit towards your travels.
If you’re already a Bank of America customer, then seriously consider this card because you can get an additional 10% points bonus on your purchases with an active Bank of America account (either checking or savings). For Preferred Rewards Bank of America customers, you can earn even more than this.
Your Card for Any Country
The best international credit cards are narrowed to ones we’ve listed, not just because of the trend of no foreign transaction fees (and sometimes, if you’re lucky, no annual fee either), but because they’re accepted nearly everywhere. The last thing you want when visiting another country is to be stuck with a credit card that isn’t accepted at most places you visit.
Depending on what type of traveler you are, you might find that some work better for you than others. All of these major international traveler’s cards have their strengths, some with a strong rewards program, some with a generous sign-on bonus and others that are better for those times when you could use some insurance when you travel. There’s a credit card for campers, solo travelers, frequent fliers and casual adventurers - the question is: what kind of traveler are you?