Best Credit Cards To Travel 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

Discover it® Miles

• INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 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 50,000 miles by the end of your first year, Discover will give you another 50,000 as a first year bonus.

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. Another travel rewards credit card - the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® - will allow you to earn miles as well. Moreover, you will earn 5% of your miles back every time you redeem them, to use toward your next redemption.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®See Rates & Fees

• Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days

• Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Another thing that distinguishes the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® card from the Discover it® Miles card, and that is common for most travel rewards credit cards, is the promo offer. The Arrival Plus® allows to earn 70,000 miles as a sign up bonus, provided you've spent $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. Thus, the number of bonus miles you can get is already set and you cannot change it. You can get it or you can fail to do so.


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, concierge service, and travel assistance. For example, Citi credit cards come with all these and other benefits.

Citi Premier℠ Card

Citi Premier Card

Earn 3 Points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations
Discover it® Cash Back

Discover it® Cash Back

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 Premier Card is easy to use, and there are no limits to how much you can earn. You can spend money at restaurants and on entertainment and you will always get 2 points per $1 spent. Travel expenses and gas purchases earn 3 points and 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: April 21, 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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