BEST CREDIT CARDSBEST CREDIT CARDSBEST CREDIT CARDS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL OF APRIL 2024
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Best Credit Cards for International Travel of April 2024

Updated: Apr 14, 2024
Sara Rathner
Written by
Senior Writer/Spokesperson
Caitlin Mims
Reviewed by
Content Management Specialist
Erin Hurd
Edited by
Fact Checked
Assigning Editor
Fact Checked
Sara Rathner
Written by
Senior Writer/Spokesperson
Caitlin Mims
Reviewed by
Content Management Specialist
Erin Hurd
Edited by
Fact Checked
Assigning Editor
Fact Checked
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NerdWallet's Best Credit Cards for International Travel of April 2024

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Best Credit Cards for International Travel From Our Partners

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Find the right credit card for you.

Whether you want to pay less interest or earn more rewards, the right card's out there. Just answer a few questions and we'll narrow the search for you.

Find the right credit card for you.

Whether you want to pay less interest or earn more rewards, the right card's out there. Just answer a few questions and we'll narrow the search for you.

Our pick for

Flexibility and value

Our pick for

Simplicity

Our pick for

VIP travel

Our pick for

Flexibility and high-end perks

Our pick for

Rewards on everyday spending

Our pick for

Bonus rewards + no annual fee

Our pick for

Flat-rate rewards + no annual fee

FULL LIST OF EDITORIAL PICKS: BEST CREDIT CARDS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

Before applying, confirm details on the issuer’s website.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Our pick for: Flexibility and value

For a reasonable annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns bonus rewards (up to 5X) on travel, dining, select streaming services, and select online grocery purchases. Points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel booked through Chase, or you can transfer them to about a dozen airline and hotel partners. The sign-up bonus is stellar, too. Read our review. 

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Our pick for: Simplicity

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is probably the best-known general-purpose travel credit card, thanks to its ubiquitous advertising. You earn 5 miles per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked through Capital One Travel and 2 miles per dollar on all other purchases. Miles can be redeemed at a value of 1 cent apiece for any travel purchase, without the blackout dates and other restrictions of branded hotel and airline cards. The card offers a great sign-up bonus and other worthwhile perks (see rates and fees). Read our review.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Our pick for: VIP travel

The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with a hefty annual fee, but travelers who like to go in style (and aren't afraid to pay for comfort) can more than get their money's worth. Enjoy extensive airport lounge access, hundreds of dollars a year in travel and shopping credits, hotel benefits and more. That's not even getting into the high rewards rate on eligible travel purchases and the rich welcome offer for new cardholders. Read our review.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Our pick for: Flexibility and high-end perks

The high annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® gives many potential applicants pause, but frequent travelers should be able to wring enough value out of this card to more than make up for the cost. Cardholders get bonus rewards (up to 10X) on dining and travel, a fat bonus offer, annual travel credits, airport lounge access, and a 50% boost in point value when redeeming points for travel booked through Chase. Points can also be transferred to about a dozen airline and hotel partners. Read our review. 

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Our pick for: Flat-rate rewards + no annual fee

One of the best no-annual-fee travel cards available, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card gives you a solid rewards rate on every purchase, with points that can be redeemed for any travel purchase, without the restrictions of branded airline and hotel cards. Bank of America® has an expansive definition of "travel," too, giving you additional flexibility in how you use your rewards. Read our review.

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card

Our pick for: Bonus rewards + no annual fee

The Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card offers so much value, it's hard to believe there's no annual fee. Start with a great bonus offer, then earn extra rewards in a host of common spending categories — restaurants, gas stations, transit, travel, streaming and more. Read our review.

Citi Premier® Card

Our pick for: Triple points in multiple categories

The Citi Premier® Card earns bonus points on airfare, hotels, supermarkets, dining and gas stations. There's a solid sign-up bonus as well. Read our review.

• • •

HOW TO COMPARE CREDIT CARDS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

The factors that go into choosing a credit card specifically for international travel aren't that different from choosing a travel card in general. You'll want to look at such things as annual fees, rewards rates, cardholder perks and sign-up bonuses. But a few items take on outsize importance when picking a card to use outside the United States:

  • Foreign transaction fees. Many cards slap a surcharge on purchases made outside the U.S. The typical foreign transaction fee is 3% of the purchase amount. Any credit card you plan to use abroad should not have this fee — period.

  • International acceptance. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted internationally. If a place takes credit cards, it's probably going to take Visa and Mastercard. American Express is less widely accepted. Tourist-focused destinations will be friendlier to AmEx, but even then, take along a Visa or Mastercard as a backup. Discover lags way behind in international acceptance, although it does have partnerships with some foreign payment networks.

  • Travel protections. When you're far from home, a credit card becomes even more valuable if it offers coverage for things like trip delays or interruptions, luggage problems and rental car damage.

Understand that no travel rewards credit card — no credit card of any kind — is going to have everything you want. You're going to be disappointed if you expect to find high rewards rates, a generous sign-up bonus, top-notch perks and no annual fee. Each card delivers value through a different combination of features; it's up to you to compare cards based and choose the best credit card for international travel for your specific needs and preferences.

Our roundup of the best travel credit cards offers comprehensive guidance on choosing travel cards. Below, we'll hit the high points specifically as they apply to choosing a card for international travel.

Annual fee

Most of the best cards for international travel charge an annual fee. Fees around $100 are standard; for that, you can expect solid rewards and some useful benefits. Premium cards with extensive perks like airport lounge access and travel protections can have fees of $500 or more. Paying an annual fee isn't required, though. There are good cards on our list without annual fees (and we've rounded up more here). Just be aware that if you go with a no-fee travel card, you'll earn rewards at a lower rate, your sign-up bonus will be smaller, and you won't get as many (if any) perks.

Rewards

When looking at credit card rewards, there are two parts to the value equation: How much you earn when you make purchases with your card, and what you can do with those rewards.

  • Earning: The cards on this page all earn points of one kind or another. Some cards pay the same rate — for example, 2 points per dollar — on all purchases. Some pay bonus rewards in specific categories, such as travel, restaurants or gas stations. Don't just focus on the numbers, though. Pay attention to the details of the categories. For example, earning 5 points per dollar on airfare seems terrific. But there's a difference between earning 5X on airfare booked directly airlines (where you can hunt for the best deal) and earning 5X only on airfare booked through the issuer portal (where selection may be limited and prices inflated).

  • Redemption: Points are only as good as your ability to redeem them. Some cards give you a lot of options for using your rewards. Others, not so much. Can you use your points to book travel? Use them for statement credit to offset travel purchases? Redeem them for cash back? And what kind of value do you get per point when you redeem? The industry standard is 1 cent per point, but some cards give you more value for certain redemptions (and some cards give you less value for certain redemptions). Another consideration: Can you transfer points to partner airline or hotel loyalty programs to potentially get more value? If so, are those partner programs realistic options for you?

Sign-up bonus

Travel cards tend to have the biggest sign-up bonuses — tens of thousands of points that you earn by hitting a certain amount of spending. But there's more to consider when comparing sign-up bonuses than just how many points or miles you earn. You must also take into account how much you have to spend to claim the bonus. Never spend money you don't have just to earn a sign-up bonus. Carrying $3,000 in debt for a year in order to earn a bonus worth $500 doesn't make economic sense. The interest you'll pay could easily wipe out the value of the bonus.

Foreign transaction fees

Simply put, if a card charges a foreign transaction fee, it's not a good credit card for international travel. These fees are surcharges on purchases made outside the U.S. The industry standard is about 3%, which is enough to wipe out most if not all of the rewards you earn on a purchase. If you never travel outside the U.S., these fees aren't a concern, but anyone who travels abroad should bring a no-foreign-transaction-fee card with them. Some issuers don't charge foreign transaction fees on any of their cards. Others charge them on some cards but not all.

International acceptance

Not all travel credit cards are great companions for international travel. While Visa and Mastercard are good pretty much worldwide, you may encounter limited acceptance for American Express and, especially, Discover, depending on the destination. This doesn't mean world travelers should dismiss AmEx and Discover. Just know that if you take one of these cards with you overseas, you'd be smart to bring along a backup in case you run into acceptance problems. (Having a backup card is good advice within the U.S., too, really.)

Travel protections

Consider which travel protections — car rental insurance, trip cancellation coverage, lost baggage protection — are important to you.

Perks

"Rewards" are what you get for using a credit card — the points earned with each transaction and the bonuses you unlock with your spending. "Perks" are goodies that you get just for carrying the card. There's a very close correlation between the annual fee on a card and the perks you get for carrying it. Cards with no annual fee are all about rewards and go very light on perks. Premium cards with annual fees of $500 or more are laden with perks (although sometimes their rewards aren't too special). Midtier cards (in the $100 range) tend to have solid rewards and a handful of high-value perks. Assuming you take advantage of them, the perks can often easily make up for the annual fee on a card.

• • •

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

Last updated on April 14, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet's Credit Cards team selects the best credit cards for international travel based on overall consumer value, as evidenced by star ratings, as well as their suitability for specific kinds of travelers. Factors in our evaluation include each card's annual fee, foreign transaction fees, rewards earnings rates, ease of use, redemption options, domestic and international acceptance, promotional APR period, bonus offers, and cardholder perks such as automatic statement credits, airport lounge access and travel protections. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.

About the author

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Sara Rathner

Sara is a NerdWallet travel and credit cards expert. She has appeared on the “Today” show, Nasdaq and CNBC’s “Nightly Business Report.” Read more
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