When travelling abroad, one more hassle is added to the language barrier, dealing with unusual situations, and cultural differences: local currencies. In the past, travelers used to stop by a local foreign exchange office just after the airport gate and exchanged some of their money to local currency, being ripped off by fees and unfavorable exchange rates in the process.
Today it has been proven many times that the most cost effective way to exchange money while travelling is by just by using your credit card for all foreign purchases. The exchange rate that your card will offer you is determined by VISA or MasterCard payment systems and is much better than any local exchange offices will ever offer you.
The only big bump on the road is a foreign transaction fee (commonly around 3%) that most U.S. credit cards charge for every foreign purchase. Luckily, there is a good choice of cards that do not charge any FX fee. Have a look at our list of our best credit cards for international travel:
$95 annual fee, waived for the first year
or no annual fee for basic Sapphire card
2x points on travel and dining
1 point per dollar on all other purchases as usual
the card is made of metal
$89 - waived for first year
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit
Earn 2X miles on all purchases
Redeem for travel or cash back statement credits, gift cards and merchandise. Redemption values vary
Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.49%, 20.49% or 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Please note, there is a fee for balance transfers
no annual fee
20,000 miles bonus
1.25 mile/$1 for every purchase
0% intro APR for 12 months
In short, all Capital One credit cards do not charge any international transaction fee, along with some travel credit cards from Bank of America, Chase, Barclay’s, and Citi. You cannot go wrong with any of these offers. Just pick the one that caters better your needs.
Consider cards’ sign-up bonuses, regular rewards rate, annual fee, and credit level needed to apply.
It is advised that you do not use AmEx or Discover cards, despite that some of the AmEx cards don’t charge you an FX fee. These cards are not as widely accepted abroad as VISA or MasterCard and chances are you can stack somewhere without the ability to pay with your plastic.
It is also good to know that many VISA and Master Card credit cards offer you these essential travel benefits:
Yet another good piece of advice is to call a bank in advance to inform them what locations are you travelling – it can prevent triggering an unusual transaction flag and the blocking of your card when you need it most.