Best Credit Cards To Accompany You Abroad from our partners


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Find Your Cheapest Way To Shop Abroad in 2019

Author: Elizabeth Nelson
May 25, 2016

When planning a trip abroad, preparation is a key to make it go smoothly. And one of the first things to take care of is money: whether you are going to use cash or travel checks while abroad. Or maybe it will be more secure to have all your money on a credit card? Most frequent travelers use credit cards when travel internationally because they are convenient, secure, and give some perks. If you do not have a credit card or need an additional credit card for your travel expenses, then it is recommended to apply about two months in advance. Thus you will have enough time in case your first application is declined, and you will have plenty of time to receive your card in the mail.


Rewards Credit Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fee

Discover it® Miles*See Terms

• INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel!

1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases

No foreign transaction fee

Credit cards with travel rewards are probably number one choice when it comes to travel abroad, especially to air travel. As we use credit cards abroad, another feature is also important when we look for a travel credit card: no foreign transaction fees. A standard foreign transaction fee is 3% and when you travel internationally and use your card, this fee applies to each credit card purchase you make. Using a credit card without this fee, saves you a lot of money. You can freely shop with your card abroad without worrying about the added cost of foreign transaction fees.

Frequent flyers often use such cards like the Discover it® Miles card to earn miles towards future vacation and to save money on transactions in a foreign currency while shopping abroad. The Discover it® Miles gives 1.5x miles on all purchases. All miles you earn will be matched at the end of the first year which makes your sign-up bonus unlimited (provided you are a new cardmember). Thus, if you earn 35,000 miles by the end of your first year, Discover will give you 35,000 miles more with your Discover Match®, which makes a total of 70,000 miles for the first year.

This type of cards is also popular because cardholders get more freedom in terms of redemption options. The afore-named Discover it® Miles credit card, for instance, will allow you to redeem earned miles for:

  • airline tickets with any airline;
  • hotel rooms at any hotel;
  • rental cars;
  • cash.

Often the last option - cash - is the most convenient one as you are free to use cash for whatever you want.

The Discover it® Miles card allows you to earn miles. However, the miles you earn are not the airline miles. You won't be able to transfer them to any frequent flyer program. Basically, you will earn cash back rewards on all your purchases. Other travel rewards credit cards, like the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card, may allow you to earn other types of rewards. With such cards, the redemption ratio may vary depending on what you are redeeming for.

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit cardSee Rates & Fees

• Earn an Introductory 3% Cash Back on all purchases in the first 12 months from Account opening, up to the first $10,000 in purchases.

• Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on all purchases.

Another thing that distinguishes other travel rewards cards from the Discover it® Miles card, is the promo offer. For example, the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card allows to earn 3% cash back on all purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, but only on the first $10,000 in purchases. If you spend more, you will earn 1.5% cash rewards on those purchases. So, your first-year bonus earnings are actually capped at $300. Here the one-time bonus is already set and you cannot change it.


Credit Cards With Security Protections

All credit cards come with these or those security benefits - some have more, the others have less. However, all of them come with fraud coverage. Other security options that may come with a credit card are real-time security alerts, round-the-clock account monitoring, and concierge service. For example, Citi credit cards come with all these and other benefits.

Citi Rewards+℠ Card

Citi Rewards+ Card

2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year
Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back*See Terms

5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate

In addition to credit card benefits, there are payment network security benefits. Visa Signature credit cards, Mastercard World, and Discover credit cards will provide you with additional protection while you are traveling and doing shopping abroad.

Citi cards are loaded with benefits and perks provided by the Citibank itself and by a payment network. Citi cardholders also have access to rewards programs. For example, the Citi Rewards+ Card is easy to use, and there are no limits to how much you can earn. You can spend money at supermarkets and gas stations and you will earn 2x points for the first $6,000 per year and then 1 points per $1. All other purchases will earn 1 point per $1 spent.


Credit Cards With Travel Perks

Another type of credit cards that can help you to save on travels is a co-branded airline credit card. These cards may come with such perks like first checked bag free, priority boarding, complementary pass, complementary access to airport lounges, and of course enormous number of points for airline ticket purchases. Not all airline credit cards come with all these perks though. For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® allows cardmembers to receive their first checked bag free on domestic AA itineraries and to enjoy complimentary Admirals Club® membership. Another co-branded card from Citi - the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card - comes with fewer travel benefits.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card

Earn 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles and receive a $50 statement credit after making $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*

Co-branded cards are also different in the number of points you can earn. The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® card gives 2 AAdvantage miles on eligible AA purchases. And the American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card gives 2 miles for every dollar spent on AA purchases and at grocery stores. Not only the number of points you can earn vary, but also their value. The value depends on redemption options airlines offer, and different companies may have various redemption options as well as restrictions.


Let's Compare

The best and the easiest way to sift out the credit cards you do not like and to find the best one for you is to compare. The above comparison is based on basic and the most important credit card features. Start from basics: you can choose two or three credit cards and then dig into the chosen offers by reading their terms. Knowing all odds of your credit card is also a way to save money.


Wherever you travel or wherever you shop, having a right credit card is very important. The right credit card or cards may save you a lot of money every time you fly or do shopping. Moreover, it is always safer and more convenient to have one or two credit cards in your wallet than stacks of money all around you.

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Updated: July 17, 2019

Disclaimer: This editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer(s). Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer(s), and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer(s). Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all info is presented without warranty. Consult a card's issuing bank about the terms & conditions.

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