Top 10 Credit Cards for Traveling Abroad9/3/2009
I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 credit cards for overseas travelers. The criteria assumes one has either good or excellent credit. Benefits, prices, and percentages can vary for people with lower credit scores.
Capital One is far and away the best credit card to use for traveling. The main reason is because they reimburse you for any foreign transaction fee.
Mastercard and Visa charge a 1% transaction fee for switching currency, but Capital One pays you back for this charge. Other companies charge as much as 3%,not including additional fees if the card was issued by a bank. That alone is the #1 incentive to use Capital One. The benefits aren’t bad either
1. Capital One Miles Signature
The Miles Signature is the crown jewel of Capital One’s outstanding lineup of credit cards. There is no annual fee and you earn 1 mile for every dollar spent, 2 miles per dollar if you spend over $1,000/month. The approval process is quick and painless. If you apply over the phone, approval time takes less than a minute and you will have your card in about 2 weeks. The Miles Signature is ideal for people traveling overseas and rack up a ton of airline miles.
For all you math majors out there, Superb rewards and benefits + 0% Foreign Transaction Fees = The Best Credit Card for Travelers
Oh ya, and there is no limit on the miles you earn and they do not expire!
2. Capital One Miles Rewards
A close second is Capital One’s Miles Rewards Card. All the benefits are the same except a few small differences. The max number of miles per dollar you can earn is 1.25 and the APR is a bit higher on this card, 13.9% for Miles Signature and 16.9% for Miles Rewards. The reason is based on the approval process. Travelers with good credit can be approved for the Miles Rewards while the Miles Signature requires excellent credit.
3. Capital One Platinum
Are you a business owner that needs a card to best utilize your travel needs? The Capital One Platinum Card should be your plastic of choice. As with the other Capital One cards, there is no fee on foreign purchases. This card is ideal for business owners who make larger transactions on a regular basis. You receive 2 miles per $1 on ALL purchases domestic or international. There is a slight annual fee of $39, but that fee is waived during your first year of useage.
4. Capital One Cash Rewards
Rounding out my top 4 is…..Capital One!, again. Even without any rewards Capital One would still be in my top 4. Instead of receiving airline miles or extended hotel stays, sometimes the best option is cold hard cash. The Capital One Cash Rewards card offers 1% cash back on all purchases (more than my money market account at .85%), with no annual fee. There is no limit to the amount of cash you can receive and no expiration date. The Cash rewards is a great option for travelers who prefer flexible spending options.
5. American Express Gold
In the event that your Capital One card starts having issues, the American Express credit cards are a great second credit card to have for travelers. Amex is known throughout the world for their top notch support and security. The main difference between Capital One and American Express is the 2.7% foreign transaction fee. They are very upfront about their fees and you know what you are going to get with Amex.
The best credit card American Express has to offer for travelers is the American Express Gold card. Travelers can qualify for $100 cash back once a year for booking your vacations through one of about 20 airline carriers who support the rewards program. In addition you get insurance that covers theft, lost luggage, and travel accident insurance. The only drawbacks include a $125 annual fee after the first year and the 2.7% foreign transaction fee.
6. Discover Miles
If Discover was more widely accepted, their cards would probably be somewhere in my top 3. The fact of the matter is that very few European locations accept Discover. You will need to do some research on which places will allow purchases on this card. Discover, like Capital One, does not charge any foreign transaction fee and has superb benefits for travelers.
The Miles by Discover is their best card. The APR of 10.9% is better than any of the Capital One cards and you earn 1 mile for every dollar spent. The neatest thing about this card is that those miles aren’t exclusive to airlines, you can earn bonus miles for frequent travel via car and train as well! The miles can really add up and they never expire. The Discover Miles card is highly recommended for use in North America locations. (Canada and Mexico widely accept Discover).
7. American Express Blue Sky
The Amex Blue Sky caters to redeeming anything related to travel. You can receive points for airlines, hotels, and car rentals. There is no annual fee and there is a 0% APR for first 6 months. A big difference between this card and the American Express Gold is that the miles on Blue Sky can be redeemed on any airline.
8. American Express Blue
Amex Blue card is very similar to the Blue Sky, but with a few changes. You don’t get the same travel benefits as you would with the Blue Sky, but you have a much lower APR (8%) and the flexibility to pay over time. Travelers who aren’t in one location for more than a few days will find this card desirable.
9. Discover Open Road
The rewards on the Open Road card are amazing! Unfortunately, this card isn’t ideal for traveling outside the U.S. I included Discover’s Open Road credit card because it is a must for U.S. travelers who take road trips often. You can earn as much as 5% cash back on gas, car repairs, oil changes, parts, and anything else related to your car. In addition, there is no annual fee with a low 10% APR. Go get one now for your U.S. travels!
10. Citi Platinum Select
Lastly, ending my top 10 list, is a credit card for the traveler who desires peace of mind over cost. The Citi Platinum Select is not cheap. The foreign transaction fee can range anywhere from 3 – 8% depending on the merchant, but there is no annual fee. The Platinum Select has one of the strongest benefit packages for people who might need emergency assistance while traveling. If your looking for a safe, worry free trip, the Citi Platinum Select is the way to go.