Which Credit Card is Best for International Use?

Updated on May 18, 2016

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

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As you get ready to head off on the trip overseas, you may be thinking about passports and managing the costs of airline baggage. Have you thought about your credit cards? Many individuals use credit cards when they are traveling because of the protections in place against fraud. According to the FTC, consumers paid over $1.7 billion in fraud complaints in 2009. When traveling overseas, the risk of fraud is higher, but credit cards cut down that risk.

Because credit cards have built in security features, they often are the go to choice. The problem is - many have exchange fees. These foreign conversion fees can slice into your traveling budget considerably. The ideal credit card still depends on other factors - APR, credit limit, fees and billing cycles - but for now, consider just foreign exchange fees.

What's This Fee All About?

When you use a credit card overseas - for any reason - additional fees apply. According to the Foreign Exchange Report 101 Report, Visa or MasterCard will charge a fee of about one percent of the transaction total. Then, your US bank will likely charge another fee, of two or more percent. Don't think that travelers checks are any better, though. For these, you could lose five to ten percent in fees. What can you do?

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire PreferredSM Card is our pick for the greatest credit card for international travel.  The thought process behind this decision is quite straight forward ...

  • No fees for international use, which makes this card a must use when your abroad
  • 40,000 bonus points for signing up after you've spent $3,000 in the first three months of owning the card - That's $500 toward travel booked through ultimate rewards.
  • Every year, a 7% annual dividend in points is earned meaning you earn just that much more.
  • 24/7/365 customer service with no automated machines.  Only real people to help you out every second of every day.

Basic Fee Guidelines

While most credit card companies allow for international credit card use, most charge a fee. First, realize that the lender will tell you how much this fee is if you ask (or you take the time to read the long Terms and Conditions accompanying your credit card.) Here's a look at what some of the lenders are charging in conversion fees (keep in mind that MasterCard and Visa may add even more to these totals.)

And, don't forget about additional fees. If you use a foreign ATM, you could pay as much as five percent. Cash advances like these can be expensive. The only way to know for sure what your credit card offer charges is to contact your lender. Or, if you don't want to pay any fees, consider applying for the Capital One credit card instead.  Credit cards for international use are out there. In fact, most companies allow you to use these. If you don't like paying those high conversion fees, look for an offer that's lower.

*Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.

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