Best Credit Card for Expats 2019

Best Credit Card for Expats 2019
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What is the best travel credit card with a no foreign transaction fee for someone who is not just planning a short term vacation, but living abroad for several months? Should I just follow nerd wallets general recommendations?


Welcome to the community, @alec.evan.jonas! NerdWallet’s recommendations should steer you to the right cards. I’d recommend having more than one, in case one gets compromised or something else goes wrong.

We took a summer-long sabbatical in Europe a few years ago, and we had one credit card company that froze our account for fraud (despite our filing a travel alert before we left), as well as a debit card that never worked, despite the bank’s assurance it would (and a few international phone calls that failed to solve the problem). I’d always traveled with 2-3 credit cards, and now I make sure to have access to checking accounts at two banks, as well. If your bank charges foreign transaction fees and doesn’t reimburse ATM fees, you might want to pick one that does:

I also have automatic payments enabled, so I didn’t have to worry about missing a credit card payment and trashing my credit scores.

Have a great time!


Any good no-transaction-fee card will probably suit you. See our list of the best travel cards and the best no-foreign-transaction-fee cards for options. A few tips:

  • Take more than one card. If something goes wrong with your U.S.-issued card while you’re abroad long-term, it’s going to take time to straighten out. You don’t want to be cut off.
  • Take at least one Visa or Mastercard. Amex acceptance is continually improving, but it can still be spotty overseas, so it helps to have a backup if your go-to card is an Amex. Discover has significant acceptance limitations outside the US.
  • Set up automatic payments from your bank account. You don’t want to risk creating problems that it will be difficult to sort out thousands of miles from home. While you’re traveling, it can be easy to miss due dates, or you might be unable to access your U.S. bank accounts when you need to make manual payments.
  • Say no to dynamic currency conversion. This is when a merchant offers to process your credit card transaction in dollars rather than the local currency so that you can see what something “really” costs. The exchange rates used for DCC are terrible and amount to a heavy tax on your purchases.


Ugh! I hate dynamic currency conversion…we got that “euros or dollars” question on almost every transaction on our latest trip. It used to be only occasional.