When it comes to travel credit cards, there are lots of good options to choose from. But ultimately, the right option for you should fit your spending habits while making your trips more comfortable and rewarding.
With the right rewards credit card, you can score valuable travel perks, like airport lounge access and expedited airport security. Some cards even come without any foreign transaction fees, making them a good choice for international travel. The top travel cards may also enable you to earn points and miles to redeem for free flights, hotel stays and more.
As you’re searching for a card to help you on your next trip, it’s helpful to compare all the best credit cards for international travel to see how may fit with your travel style and goals. To help you get started, here are some of the best credit cards for travel overseas and information on what they offer in terms of perks and rewards.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best credit card for international travel
Why we picked it: The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is widely considered one of the top travel credit cards on the market today, and for good reason. This card offers you 10X points on hotel and car rental purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5X points on air travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3X points on other travel purchases. Plus, you can earn higher rewards on all travel purchases immediately after earning the $300 annual travel credit. It also offers 3X points on dining and 1X point on all other purchases.
Redemption options are flexible, too. You can redeem your rewards as statement credits toward any travel purchase, or for travel through the Chase portal, which offers a 50% redemption bonus (making your points worth 1.5 cents apiece). You can also transfer your points at a 1:1 rate to 14 travel partners, including Air France and Aer Lingus.
$550 annual feeLower rewards value for merchandise
Who should apply: If you’ve been waiting for a chance to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, now is your time.
Who should skip: If the $550 annual fee doesn’t fit in your budget, you can skip this one. Or, if you prefer to redeem your rewards for merchandise (like Amazon.com purchases), you may want to look elsewhere.
Tip: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers many of the same benefits as the Sapphire Reserve for a lower $95 annual fee. However, if you do the math, you’ll find that the Sapphire Reserve is usually the better value if you travel often, despite its higher fee.
The Platinum Card from American Express: Best credit card for international lounge access
Why we picked it: Frequent travelers who want superior perks may want to consider The Platinum Card® from American Express. This card offers 5X points (on up to $500,000 per year) on airfare booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel, as well as 5X points on prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel. You also earn 1X points on other purchases, plus 100,000 points when you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months.
While the Platinum card is more limited in terms of acceptance in foreign countries, you may find that it’s a good choice for comfortable travel to your destination. It’s just piled with perks, including access to one of the largest lounge networks in the world, encompassing Amex Centurion lounges, Delta SkyClub lounges and the Priority Pass network.
Access to American Express Global Lounge Collection100,000 points if you spend $6,000 in the first six monthsGenerous amount of statement credits on Clear membership, hotels and moreTransfer points to Amex travel partners
Credits tricky to apply$695 annual fee
Who should apply: If the idea of joining the largest airline network is appealing, it may be worth it to apply. Or, if you want to join the luxury travel card space, this card is a great option to consider.
Who should skip: If you find it difficult to justify the annual fee, you may want to skip this one. Or, if you only travel infrequently, you may find it difficult to maximize returns on this card.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for flexible international travel
Why we picked it: The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers an interesting rewards structure and miles that can be used in more than one way. This card offers 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and a flat 2X miles on everything else. And, it also offers 75,000 miles (worth $750 in travel) if you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
You can redeem Capital One miles for any type of past travel on your credit card statement at a rate of 1 cent per mile. Or, if you’re a bargain hunter and want to get a little extra value out of your miles, you can transfer them to a number of airline and hotel partners at a transfer ratio that varies based on the program.
Various redemption options75,000 miles when you spend $4,000 in the first three monthsMay redeem Capital One miles retroactively for past (last 90 days) travel purchasesEarn unlimited miles
$95 annual feeLacks common travel insurancesNo major U.S. airlines among airline partners
Who should apply: If you want greater flexibility in terms of booking travel on third-party sites, you may like this card. Or, if you’re looking for a beginner travel credit card, this may be a good option to consider.
Who should skip: If you don’t travel enough to make it worth the annual fee, it may be worth skipping this card.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best credit card for infrequent international trips
Why we picked it: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a top option because it allows you to transfer your points 1:1 to popular airlines for international travel, including Emirates, United Airlines, British Airways and more. You can also book international travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards for 25% more value when you do.
This card offers a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points, worth $750 in travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, when you spend $4,000 within three months. You’ll also earn 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 31, 2025), 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3X points on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2X points on other travel purchases and 1X points on general purchases.
$50 annual Ultimate Rewards hotel credit10% anniversary points bonus (based on total spend from previous year)Points worth 25% more on Chase Ultimate Rewards portal60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months
Who should apply: If you want to earn rewards for international travel but you don’t take many trips abroad, this card may be worth a look. This card is also great if you’re a travel card beginner who wants an introduction to earning travel points.
Who should skip: Cardholders who want a no-annual-fee credit card should skip this one. Also, anyone who travels once every few years will find it difficult to maximize the benefits on this card.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Best no-annual-fee card for international travel
Why we picked it: If you’re searching for a travel card with no annual fee, consider the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card. This card offers 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 1.25X miles on all other purchases and doesn’t charge an annual fee. The rewards have no blackout dates, no expiration dates and no mile limits. You can even transfer your miles to Capital One’s 15+ travel partners.
The Capital One VentureOne also comes with a welcome offer of 20,000 miles after you spend just $500 in the first three months. Depending on which travel partner you transfer your miles to, your sign-up bonus could end up being worth even more.
No annual fee20,000 miles if you spend $500 in the first three monthsMay redeem Capital One miles retroactively for past (last 90 days) travel purchasesNo foreign transaction fee
Lacks common travel insurancesNo major U.S. airlines among travel partners
Who should apply: If you’re looking for your first no-annual-fee travel card, this may be a good candidate. Or, if you want greater flexibility and don’t want to be tied to booking with a specific travel site, you may like this card.
Who should skip: This card doesn’t come with travel insurance, so if that’s a perk you’re looking for, you may want to skip it.
Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students: Best international credit card for students
Why we picked it: If you’re a student who wants to qualify for a travel card, you may want to check out the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students*. This card doesn’t charge an annual fee or any foreign transaction fees, and it offers an exceptionally good rewards program for a student travel card. You get the same 25,000-point sign-up bonus as the regular Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card and the same 1.5X points rate, allowing you to rack up lots of points on every purchase, which you can use to fund your travels.
5X points on general purchasesNo blackout dates, point limit or point expiration date0% intro APR on new purchases for 12 billing cycles (14.24% to 24.24% variable thereafter)10% point bonus for Bank of America account holders
High penalty APR (up to 29.99%)Penalty APR (up to 29.99%)Late payment fee (up to $40)
Who should apply: Students who are preparing to study abroad may find value in this card. Or, if you’re planning a post-graduation, international trip, consider whether it makes sense to sign up for this option.
Who should skip: If you aren’t traveling internationally anytime soon, you may want to skip this one. And, if you’re not a student, you should skip this one.
Comparing the best credit cards for international travel
CardsRewardsAnnual feeChase Sapphire Reserve10X points on hotel and car rental purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards10X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022)5X points on air travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards3X points on general travel and diningEarn elevated rewards on all travel purchases immediately after earning the $300 annual travel credit1X points on other purchases$550The Platinum Card® from American Express 5X points (on up to $500,000 annually) on airfare booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel5X points on eligible prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel1X points on other purchases$695Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel2X miles on every purchase$95Chase Sapphire Preferred Card5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards3X points on dining2X points on other travel purchases1X points on other purchases$95Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked with Capital One Travel1.25X miles on every purchase$0Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students1.5X points on every purchase$0
How to choose a card for international travel
When choosing a card for international travel, you’ll want to look for rewards and benefits that match your travel plans and preferences. Most important, you need a card that you can use where you’re planning to travel. Here are the key features to consider:
Global acceptance:Visa and Mastercard are most likely to be accepted around the globe, though American Express is also widely accepted in some parts of the world. Make sure you select a card that will be accepted where you travel the most.No foreign transaction fees: Choosing a credit card with no foreign transaction fees will save you from paying an additional 3% or more on every purchase you make abroad.Chip and PIN technology: Chip and PIN technology is immensely helpful when traveling abroad, but not all travel credit cards offer this perk. See which cards have chip and PIN technology before you choose a card.Earning categories: The best credit cards for international travel tend to offer bonuses on certain categories of spend. Search for cards with category bonuses that match your spending patterns.Good redemption options: The top cards in this realm let you redeem for travel directly or transfer points to airline and hotel partners at a good value (1 cent per point or mile is standard). The more options you have and the more value you get from your points and miles, the better off you’ll be.Travel insurance benefits: The best travel credit cards offer free travel insurance like trip cancellation/interruption coverage, auto rental coverage, lost baggage insurance, baggage delay coverage and travel accident insurance.Airport lounge access: Look for cards that let you enter a range of airport lounges at airports around the globe, but specifically in destinations you travel to often.Global Entry/TSA PreCheck: Look for credit cards that offer a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit. Both these benefits let you enjoy expedited airport security, saving you time and stress when you travel.Hotel or airline preferences: If you travel frequently with certain hotels or airlines, you’ll find that certain cards are a better fit for you. On the other hand, if you aren’t loyal to any airline or hotel program, you may be better off with a more flexible travel card.Origin or destination of travel: Make sure the card’s rewards and benefits fit with your travel plans. For instance, some cards may offer better lounge options along your route, or you may find that certain rewards cards don’t offer good redemption options where you’re planning to travel.Customer service: Having a card with excellent customer service could come in handy in case of an emergency.
Tips for using credit cards while traveling internationally
Notify your card issuer that you will be out of the country to reduce the chance of having your account frozen at an inconvenient time.Bring multiple credit cards (preferably from different payment networks) in case a merchant doesn’t accept your main card, or your card gets declined.Rotate your cards to get better rewards on certain purchases.Have plenty of cash on hand for situations when you can’t use your credit cards.If you are traveling to a country with chip and PIN cards, see if your issuer will allow you to add a PIN to your card.Have your card information and your issuer’s emergency card services phone number on hand in case your card gets lost or stolen.Opt to put your charges in the local currency to avoid paying more for the currency conversion.Use your credit cards instead of cash where you can – as long as you are charging in the foreign currency, you can get a better exchange rate.Avoid using your cards for cash advances, unless it’s an absolute emergency.Use your credit card instead of a debit card to make purchases – not only can you avoid foreign transaction fees, but your purchases are also more secure.
At the end of the day, picking the best credit card for international travel for you is an especially complicated choice. It all depends on what’s important to you.
While you may have your eye out for a card with a large sign-up bonus and lots of points, you should have some travel goals in mind before you choose a card. If you know where and how you intend to travel, you’re more likely to find a card that can take you far in your travels.
*All information about the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card for Students has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. This offer is no longer available on our site.
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