If you’re a frequent traveler, choosing a credit card that allows you to optimize your trips with travel rewards, no foreign transaction fees, and other similar benefits is crucial. Fortunately, there’s a host of providers out there looking to win your custom with a generous package of perks that will not only get you to your destination for less but also reward you for your spending while you’re there. Choosing a benefits package that suits your individual needs is key: some cards offer better benefits for hotel stays, others offer more comprehensive perks for flights. Along with opting for a benefits package that’s going to be relevant to your requirements, other keys considerations to bear in mind are the standard things like APR, annual fees and monthly charges- a card offering VIP lounge access and free onboard drinks might sound attractive, but if it comes with a $500 + annual fee, you’ll need to think twice about whether the costs outweigh the benefits. To help you filter through the options, see our recommendations for the 10 best credit cards for international travel.
1. Chase Sapphire Reserve
There’s a reason Chase Sapphire Reserve was voted "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY Magazine. The card comes with a host of very generous travel perks that go a long way to justifying the admittedly hefty annual fee of $450. Spend $4000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening, and you’ll be rewarded with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points (equating to $750 towards travel purchases redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards). You’ll continue to earn points for the life of the card at a rate of 3x point per $1 on travel purchases, 3 x points per $1 on dining and restaurants, and 1x points per $1 on all other purchases. Other benefits include no foreign transaction fees, a $300 annual travel credit, and a 1:1 point transfer scheme to participating airline and hotel loyalty programs.
2. Chase Sapphire Preferred
Another entry from Chase comes with the Sapphire Preserve. In contrast to the hefty $450 annual fee on the Reserve, the Preferred charges a comparatively minor $95 per year. For this, you’ll get 60,000 points when you spend $4000 in the first three months from account opening; 2X point per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar on all other purchases; no foreign transaction fees; and the option to add 25% to the value of your points when you redeem them for travel purchases on Chase Ultimate Rewards.
3.Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
With a reasonable APR of 17.99%-25.24% (V) and an annual fee of just $95 (with the added bonus that the first year is waived), the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has all the hallmarks of a great credit card. Key travel perks include a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔, a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles (equivalent to $500) if you spend $3000 within the first 3 months of sign up, 2 x miles on everyday purchases and 10 x miles on hotels booked through hotels.com/venture, and the option to transfer your miles to over a dozen leading travel loyalty schemes.
4. Platinum Card by American Express
If you can stomach the whopping $550 annual fee, signing up to the Platinum Card by American Express will get you some of the best travel benefits going. The main perks include a comprehensive membership points program, $200 airline credit to be used against incidental fees such as checked bags, access to over a thousand VIP airport lounges, a $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔, complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status, complimentary Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status, upgraded rental car membership status, and free access to the Boingo wi-fi network. As you’d expect, there’s also no fee for foreign transactions.
5. Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
With the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card, you’ll get 25,000 bonus points after spending $1000 in the first 3 months after account opening (equivalent to $250 towards travel purchases), 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases, and an introductory APR of 0% on all new purchases for the first 12 months. Best of all, there’s no annual fee.
6. Journey Student Rewards from Capital One
If you’re a student who’ll be spending part of your studies abroad, the Journey Student Rewards from Capital One makes a great option. Key perks include no foreign transaction fees, no annual fees, and a generous 1% cashback on all your purchases (and the chance to increase this to 1.25% if you pay on time).
7. Discover it Miles
The main perk on offer with the Discover it Miles is its very attractive intro offer. As well as offering 1.5 x miles for every dollar spent on all purchases (which can then be redeemed as a statement credit towards travel purchases), Discover will match all the miles you’ve earned at the end of the first year automatically. Other perks include an intro APR of 0% for the first 14 months on all purchases, no annual fee, and a reasonable APR of 14.24% - 25.24% (V).
8. British Airways Visa from Chase
If most of your travel is concentrated in Europe, the British Airways Visa from Chase makes for an attractive proposition. Along with 50,000 Bonus Avios when you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening (with another 50,000 Bonus Avios if you spend $20,000 within the first year), you’ll also earn 3 Avios per $1 spent on purchases with BA and another 1 Avios for all other purchases, a Travel Together Ticket if you spend $30,000 in a calendar year (giving you the opportunity to upgrade your traveling companion to the same class as you) and no foreign transaction fees.
9. Citi Prestige
The annual fee may be one of the highest (a whopping $495) but the list of benefits with the Citi Prestige is up there with the best. As well as earning 50,000 bonus Thank You points when you sign up (which redeem at $500 against travel purchases), you’ll also enjoy a loyalty scheme that rewards you at 5 x point for air travel and restaurants, 3 x point for hotels and cruise lines, and 1 x point for all other purchases. VIP Lounge access, complimentary 4th-night hotel stay, and a $250 travel credit every calendar year are among the other notable benefits.
10. Wells Fargo Propel
If you’re looking for a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee but still comes with a comprehensive list of benefits, the Wells Fargo Propel might be just the ticket. With no annual fee, a 16.24%-28.24% variable APR, no foreign transaction fees, 30000 bonus points if you spend $3000 in the first month, 3 x points on food, travel, gas stations, transit, and streaming services, and 1 x point on everything else, it’s certainly worthy of consideration.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson