Best Credit Card For Overseas Spending – For Americans, payment can seem universal and shocking to go abroad and difficult to pay. My wife and I spent a few months in the United Kingdom, mainly in Scotland. Delivery in Scotland and England is basically the same experience, but it may not work as expected. This guide will help you avoid extra fees and confusion when traveling to the UK. Most of these tips apply to world travel and EU travel in particular, but there are some country exceptions.
Before you do anything, make sure you have a valid credit card. The card must have the following features:
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Make sure you sign your card with something you won’t erase. Otherwise, you will be asked to remove the photo ID permanently. Unlike in the US, your signature
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Some cards may also offer chip and PIN functionality. This PIN is a transaction PIN and should not be confused with your previous cash PIN. It’s much like the PIN that people used on their credit cards before everyone knew you could pay with a credit card. In fact, debit cards work well for this unless you run out of rewards. Chip-and-PIN cards are rare in the United States, and will be marketed almost exclusively as international travel cards. These cards allow you to act like a local and use your PIN at the terminal without having a printed and signed receipt. If you don’t plan to travel to this region much, it’s not worth applying for a new card to get chip and PIN functionality – especially when you can use Google or Apple Pay to do the same thing (see #2).
Be sure to tell your credit card company about any travel plans to avoid being locked out. Some have online forms in the members section for this, and some you have to call.
Without further ado, here are the best credit cards for US travelers. None of these cards have foreign transaction fees, as it is a fast travel credit card deal. Interest rates will depend on your credit and payment history, so you’ll want to check your existing credit cards yourself. We have no financial incentive or partnership with any of these cards or banks. It is only here for your information.
You don’t see the Prime card popping up very often because it’s not marketed as a “travel” or airline credit card. It’s an amazing card with great travel benefits, though, especially if you don’t want to be tied to an airline or hotel chain. “Points” translate directly into dollars on Amazon.com. You must be an Amazon Prime member, though
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. It’s also probably the easiest card on this list to get. You’ll get 5% back on Amazon, making it a great card to get anyway for regular Amazon shopping. Benefits also include 2% at gas stations, restaurants and drug stores, and 1% on everything else. Car rental cover varies, but in the UK we have basic cover: another great benefit we didn’t even know we had. We had the card to save on Amazon, but we were very impressed with this card abroad. Note that it is especially important to notify Chase (which manages the Amazon card) of any travel plans. If you fly a lot and fly often
If you’re not a Prime member, don’t travel frequently, and want to avoid the annual fee, this is the next card we recommend. It’s also great for vacationers who won’t be able to pay right away, as it offers 0% interest on new sales for the first 12 cycles (approximately one year). Rewards top out at some 1.5 points per dollar spent, or about 1.5%. Airlines are not listed outside of the chart which is “not tied to a specific airline”, but in practice Alaska and Virgin seem to be the most reliable partners. Car rental coverage varies, and is often not listed. You need to call to see what the insurance is for the country or countries you are visiting. This is always a good idea, but we cannot guarantee any benefits in this area. All told it’s a balanced travel card for people who don’t like recurring fees.
This card is intended for frequent travelers who use multiple airlines. It is a travel card designed to be used by travelers, especially for travel expenses. Cardmembers earn 1 point (basically 1%) per dollar spent and 2x points on all travel and dining expenses. Points can be transferred to other hotel rewards programs (IHG, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz Carlton) and airlines (United, JetBlue, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest, and some smaller airlines) . When you book directly on the Chase Rewards site, you’ll get an extra 25%. Rewards on hotel, flight and dining expenses are up to 2.5 points (basically 2.5%). Additional benefits include rental car insurance as basic coverage at no extra cost, making it a great card to rent a car. There are some additional benefits with baggage delay insurance and travel insurance, but the terms are very strict. The downside to the Sapphire Preferred card is the $95 annual fee that kicks in after the first year. This is especially desirable for a frequent traveler who flies many different airlines.
The CapitalOne Travel Card is a great option for people who like to travel and don’t want to manage switching cards every chance they get to earn an extra percentage here or there. Earn 2 points (2%) for every purchase. There are no limits or types of purchases to manage, but you can earn a little extra (up to 10%) when you book an eligible hotel on your Hotels.com CapitalOne partner site. Airline partners include Aer Lingus, Air France/KLM, British Airways, Iberia, JetBlue, Singapore, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic, with many working partners. These rewards are on par with some of the best non-travel credit cards, and only a $95 annual fee (waived the first year) makes this a great choice for travelers.
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It’s not a bad idea to use a travel card specifically for the airline you fly most often. Not only do you often get free perks like waived baggage fees, but you’re eligible for discounts and free upgrades on certain flights. For example, a Delta flight with Delta American Express cards costs the same $1,457, but only for 124,000 miles plus $48 in taxes and fees. This was a real example, and it translates into a bonus of about 12% for the use of miles. This creates a strange market where buying miles for things like mileage actually makes sense. Every time you use the card you get closer to a higher level, which means more benefits and a higher chance of a free upgrade. Of course, there are various disadvantages of the card. Generally, there are annual fees and some of these cards (such as AmEx) have coverage outside the US that requires a deposit. Here are the cards and quick information on each:
As a final thought, use the benefits of these cards, but use them responsibly. If you have to pay the same amount, not using a rewards credit card is a waste of money. However, after you choose the best card(s), try to do your best to ignore the rewards and use them as you spend money while avoiding balance. Even if you get 5% back, you are still spending 95% of the money. Spending more to earn or get higher is a fool’s errand. Beware of annual fees, and beware of the instant sense of prestige that wearing a different color of paper can give you.
I highly recommend using Google Pay as much as possible. In the UK this worked about 95% of the time and made everyone’s life a lot easier. This requires that your phone has NFC (near field communication) enabled, but this is almost universal for phones made in the last 5 years. Paying by phone saves a lot of time, and your customers will prefer it. Most businessmen are not used to signing. Only Americans have to sign, and it annoys them every time they have to collect the signature, check it, and then look at the receipt. Residents pay quickly with a contactless card or by entering their PIN into the terminal instead of logging in. You know you can pay on Google almost every time you see this icon on a credit card terminal:
If paying by phone seems insecure, remember that you can enable fingerprint authentication on support phones, or you can always use PIN authentication. Some merchants don’t allow you to pay by phone for large transactions, but every time I saw this feature, I was able to pay with Google Pay. Here’s how you do it
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Important: Some merchants will tell you that only contact is allowed