Best Rewards Credit Cards for International Travel.
All this talk about International travel (Euro trip in Sept. and Thailand trip in Jan.) has me thinking about the best rewards card for me to use while I’m there. You should definitely think about what rewards cards to bring with you on trips outside the States. And this should also have an effect on which rewards cards you are applying for- especially if you travel internationally often.
The days of carrying the “fanny pack” full of cash are over. Traveling with credit cards is simple, safe, and will save you money. But you need to know what to look for in a rewards card.
There are two things I look for when choosing a rewards card for an international trip.
1) Is there a foreign transaction fee?
Yep, some banks will charge you a fee to use your credit card out of the States. Bummer. The fee is usually between 2-3%. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot at first glance, BUT it is. Especially if you are in vaca mode and the cards are frequently leaving the wallet.
I work hard for my money and I know you do too, so paying a fee to use my credit card doesn’t sit well with me.
2) Does it have chip and pin/signature technology or smart technology?
Many establishments in Europe will accept only “smart cards” — cards that have a security chip in them and require a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to make the purchase go through. However, most chip and pin cards are really chip and signature cards. That means you will still have to sign for the transaction for it to go through. With a true chip and pin transaction, you will slide your card in a device, and it will read your chip technology (no magnetic swipe). There have been mixed reports of actually having to enter in a pin, but most reported transactions have gone through without the need to enter a pin.
Most places still accommodate our magnetic stripe cards, but they’re gradually drifting toward accepting only the new secure cards, just as some American card issuers are beginning to manufacture some form of the European-style chip cards. So, it’s something that you need to be aware of and plan for.
My Go-To International Cards
Wait for it….They are all Chase cards. Shocker. Amex is not widely accepted in Europe and they charge a foreign transaction fee. No thanks. The 3 Chase cards I have in my wallet and I take on international trips are:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® - The Sapphire Preferred is not a chip and pin card, but it does have a 0% foreign transaction fee. Plus, it gives me 2x points on dining (and I like to grub in style on vaca), and 2x points on travel, so any hotels (B&B’s) I’m not using points on will be going on the Sapphire Preferred. We all know I need to rebuild my Ultimate Rewards kingdom anyway.
You could also interchange the Sapphire Preferred with the Ink Bold® Business Card with Ultimate Rewards. The Ink has the same bennies, except it doesn’t offer 2x points on dining.
It’s good to have that chip and pin backup, though- so I turn to these two cards when the Sapphy isn’t getting it done.
British Airways Visa Signature Card® – Jordan just got approved for the British Airways Visa, so it will definitely be making the cut on our upcoming travels. It is a chip and pin (really signature card), and there is no foreign transaction fee. Double teamed it!
(The 100k British Airways Visa is expiring July 18th)
Hyatt Credit Card- The Hyatt card is also touted as a chip and pin card, and is a good option to have in your wallet. Especially if you are staying at any Hyatt properties. Paris Vendome, anyone? The Hyatt is also a rewards card that doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee.
Rewards travel cards not only earn you enough miles and points to travel for pennies- they can also save you $$$$ when you are at your destination! I like the sound of that. They offer ease and security and everyone should be utilizing their many perks.
Educate yourself on the right rewards card for you as you plan your travels. I would highly suggest having a rewards card or two that don’t charge a foreign transaction fee and are equipped with “smart technology”.
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. I’m not scared.
— Noob Master