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The Best Credit Cards for International Travel – October 2020

The Best Credit Cards for International Travel – October 2020

*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It 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.

This article was last updated Oct 01, 2020. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

Having the right travel rewards credit card at hand when traveling abroad can make a world of difference.

In addition to saving you money on foreign transaction fees, these cards can offer rewards on the purchases you make, as well as access to valuable benefits, such as hotel credits, auto rental collision waivers and trip cancellation insurance.

Based on our research of cards available through CompareCards, as well as top cards offered by major issuers, we compiled a list of the best credit cards for international travel for the following categories:

Comparing best credit cards for international travel

When choosing a credit card to use abroad, you’ll first want to establish that the card offers worldwide acceptance — this means ensuring the card uses chip-and-PIN technology, which is often required in countries outside of the U.S.

Secondly, you should make sure the card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, which often run around 3% of the amount of each transaction. Additionally, the card should offer rewards on travel purchases, as well as a variety of redemption and/or transfer options for those rewards.

The following cards meet those criteria and more. See how they stack up side by side:

Best international travel credit cards

 Welcome bonusRewards rateAnnual fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.$550 ($450 if renewed between July 1 and Dec. 31)
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire$0
The Platinum Card® from American Express60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.$550
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit CardEarn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day$95
American Express® Gold Card35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery. Additionally, earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), and 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.$250

Best overall credit card for international travel: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • One Year Complimentary Lyft Pink ($199 minimum value). Complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash after activating by 12/31/21.

Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • One Year Complimentary Lyft Pink ($199 minimum value). Complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash after activating by 12/31/21.

See additional details for Chase Sapphire Reserve®

More Info

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® card wins the best overall category, thanks to its lucrative sign-up bonus, variety of travel transfer partners and extensive travel benefits.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardmembers earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s worth $750 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Cardholders also earn 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Additionally, from July 1 through Sept. 30, 2020, cardholders earn 5X points on Instacart pickup orders and deliveries on up to $3,000, as well as a $50 statement credit on Instacart Express membership. Also earn 5X points on gas purchases on up to $1,500 and 10X points on participating streaming services on up to $1,500 during that same time period.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for cash, gift cards, travel and merchandise. While points are typically worth 1 cent each, the value increases to 1.5 cents each when redeemed for hotel stays, airfare, car rentals or cruises through Chase’s travel portal.

You can also transfer points at a rate of 1:1 to 10 airline partners and three hotel partners, including British Airways Executive Club, JetBlue TrueBlue, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, United MileagePlus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy, World of Hyatt and more.

Additional Chase Sapphire Reserve® benefits:

  • $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Free Priority Pass Select membership, which includes complimentary access to Priority Pass lounges for you and up to two guests, upon activation.
  • Up to $300 in statement credits as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card annually.
  • Up to $100 in statement credit to cover you Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee every four years.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement of up to $3,000 per passenger if your luggage is damaged or lost by the carrier.
  • Emergency evacuation and transportation of up to $100,000 if you or a member of your immediate family is injured or becomes sick during a trip that results in emergency evacuation.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance of up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip.
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver to cover theft and collision damage for most rental cars in the U.S. and abroad.
  • Baggage delay insurance of up to $100 per day for five days.
  • Trip delay reimbursement to cover meals, lodging and more, up to $500 per ticket.
  • Purchase protection to cover new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft.

What to look out for. The Chase Sapphire Reserve®’s premium benefits do come at a cost: The card charges an annual fee of $550.

That said, the value you can get from the card’s annual credits and complimentary Priority Pass Select membership can offset that amount each year. Also, in an attempt to offer some relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, Chase has lowered the annual fee to $450 for card members who renew their card membership between July 1 and Dec. 31.

If you want many of the same benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card — but with a much lower annual fee — the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a great alternative.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card card offers the following sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Additionally, the card offers $0 in foreign transaction fees, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, travel and emergency assistance services and more — all for a $95 annual fee.

Best international credit card with a $0 annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card is a good option for travelers who want to earn a solid rewards rate while paying a $0 annual fee. The card offers a flat rate of 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.

If you are a Bank of America® Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% to 75% more points on every purchase – meaning, you can earn up to 2.62 points per dollar on every purchase you make.

Along with using points to book trips, points can be redeemed for statement credits to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage fees.

Additional Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card benefits:

  • Foreign transaction fees: None.
  • Overdraft protection when you link your eligible Bank of America checking account to your credit card.
  • Free access to your FICO® Score when you opt-in.

What to look out for. In order to earn the highest rewards rate possible (2.62 points per dollar), you must have Preferred Rewards Platinum Honors status, which requires a three-month average combined balance of $100,000 or more in qualifying Bank of America banking accounts and/or Merrill Investment accounts.

Best airline credit card for international travel: The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Apply Now

on American Express's secure site

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

  • 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.*

  • Up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees & more at one qualifying airline*

  • No foreign transaction fees & exclusive airport lounge access*

Highlights
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more when you select one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for The Platinum Card® from American Express

More Info

If international travel is your passion, The Platinum Card® from American Express provides a generous rewards rate on flights, a variety of travel transfer partners and premium airline benefits, including complimentary access to more than 1,200 airport lounges worldwide.

Cardholders earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. Plus, earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.

Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards or merchandise. You can also use points to cover previous charges or pay for purchases at several retailers, including Amazon and PayPal. The value of Membership Rewards points varies depending on how you redeem them.

For example, if you use your points to book a flight through American Express Travel or upgrade travel, they are valued at 1 cent each — making the sign-up bonus worth $600. But if you use points to purchase flights or hotel stays on Expedia.com, they will be worth 0.7 cents each, valuing the sign-up bonus at $420.

Or, you can transfer Membership Rewards points — mostly at a rate of 1:1 — to 22 airline and hotel transfer partners, including AeroMexico Club Premier, Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Executive Club, Delta SkyMiles, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and Marriott Bonvoy.

With The Platinum Card® from American Express, cardholders also receive access to American Express’s Global Lounge Collection, which includes The Centurion® Lounge, The International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club® and Priority Pass™ Select lounges.

Additional The Platinum Card® from American Express benefits:

  • Foreign transaction fees: None.
  • $200 airline fee credit per calendar year to over incidental fees, such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments.
  • Up to $100 credit every four years to cover your Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee.
  • Fine Hotels & Resorts program benefits valued up to $550, including complimentary daily breakfast for two, room upgrade upon arrival (when available), guaranteed late check-out and Wi-Fi.
  • $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa and resort activities, as well as room upgrades (when available) when you book at least two consecutive nights at participating hotels through The Hotel Collection.
  • Automatic Marriott Bonvoy™ Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status.
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance to cover damage to or theft of a rental vehicle in a covered territory.
  • Trip delay insurance of up to $600 per trip, up to two claims per 12 consecutive month period.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance to reimburse you for covered expenses up to $10,000 per trip and $20,000 per 12 consecutive month period.
  • Terms apply.

What to look out for. The Platinum Card® from American Express charges a hefty annual fee of $550. However, the annual credits and lounge memberships easily help cover that amount.

To see rates & fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express please click here.

Which American Airlines Credit Card Is Best for You?

Best hotel rewards card for international travel: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is our top hotel credit card pick, since it doesn’t restrict you to earning or using rewards at one particular hotel brand — as many hotel rewards cards do.

Along with 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card lets cardholders earn a earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Venture miles can be redeemed for hotel stays, airfare, car rentals, ride-sharing apps, cruises and more. They can also be transferred to a variety of airline and hotel loyalty partners, including Accor Live Limitless, Air France KLM, JetBlue TrueBlue, Wyndham Rewards and more at a rate of 2:1.5 or 2:1, depending on the transfer partner.

Capital One Adds Hotel Transfer Partners, Increases Transfer Value for JetBlue

Additional Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card benefits:

  • Foreign transaction fees: None.
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck application credit of up to $100 every four years.
  • Travel accident insurance for a covered loss when you use your card to purchase your fare.
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver to cover damages due to collision or theft when you rent an eligible vehicle using your card.

What to look out for. The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card comes with a $95 annual fee card. Additionally, if you’re loyal to a specific hotel, you may want to consider one of their co-branded cards, since you’ll most likely have the opportunity to earn more miles per dollar on hotel purchases.

For example, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card offers the following rewards rate: Earn up to 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

IHG points can be redeemed for free night stays at more than 5,000 IHG Hotels and Resorts worldwide, as well as merchandise, gift cards, charitable donations and more.

Best dining credit card for international travel: American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Apply Now

on American Express's secure site

Terms Apply

Rates & Fees

  • 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.*

  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, and 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

  • Up to $100 per year for incidentals*

Highlights
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for American Express® Gold Card

More Info

While some dining credit cards limit cardholders to only earning rewards on dining purchases in the U.S., the American Express® Gold Card offers a generous rewards rate at restaurants worldwide.

Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery. Additionally, earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), and 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Cardholders also earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.

American Express Membership Rewards® points can be redeemed for statement credits, travel, merchandise, gift cards and more. Points can also be transferred to several travel loyalty programs, including Delta SkyMiles®, Emirates Skywards, JetBlue TrueBlue, Marriott Bonvoy™ and more, mostly at a rate of 1:1.

Additional American Express® Gold Card benefits:

  • Foreign transaction fees: None.
  • Baggage insurance coverage of up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked bags.
  • Car rental loss or damage insurance to protect against loss, damage or theft of a rental vehicle in a covered territory.
  • $100 airline fee credit per calendar year (when you select one qualifying airline) to cover incidental fees, such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments. Note, you can change your qualifying airline one time each year in January.
  • $120 dining credit when you use your card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed and participating Shake Shack locations.
  • $100 hotel credit and room upgrades upon arrival whenever available when you book The Hotel Collection with American Express Travel.
  • Terms apply.

What to look out for. The American Express® Gold Card charges an annual fee of $250. However, the value you can get from the card’s airline fee, hotel and dining credits can more than cover that amount each year — if you take advantage of those benefits.

To see rates & fees for American Express® Gold Card please click here.

International travel credit cards FAQs

What are foreign transaction fees?

Foreign transaction fees, also known as foreign exchange fees, are charges incurred by the cardholder when they use their credit card to purchase items outside of the U.S. Foreign transaction fees are typically 3% of the amount of each transaction or $5, whichever is greater.

Our list of Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards

What is chip-and-PIN technology?

With chip-and-PIN credit cards, also referred to as EMV cards, credit card data is stored on a tiny computer chip instead of a magnetic strip — making the cards more secure. Additionally, the cards require a four digit PIN instead of a signature and come with a small microprocessor chip embedded in the credit card. While credit cards that offer chip-and-PIN technology are typically required abroad, they are gaining in popularity in the U.S.

What credit level is required for an international travel card?

Each of the travel rewards cards in this post require good to excellent credit. According to FICO, this means your credit score must range from 740 to 799 for good credit and 800 to 850 for excellent credit. Keep in mind that issuers also use other parameters to determine an applicant’s creditworthiness, such as income, length of credit history and credit utilization ratio.

What is international customer service like?

International customer service varies by card issuer. Just know, when you call customer service from abroad, you will call a different number than if you were calling from the U.S.

Here are the international customer service contact numbers for the following credit card issuers:

 American ExpressBank of AmericaBarclaysCapital OneChase

International contact number

1.715.343.7977

1.315.724.4022

1.704.719.1515

1.804.934.2001

1.302.594.8200
Twitter @AskAmex@BofA_Help@AskBarclaysUS@AskCapitalOne@ChaseSupport

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