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The Best Credit Cards for your Next European Trip

The Best Credit Cards for your Next European Trip

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This article was last updated Apr 10, 2018. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

Paris is calling, so it’s time to plan a trip. After buying a plane ticket and booking a hotel, the next thing to do before taking off is choosing the right credit card to take with you on your shopping spree on the Champs-Élysées.

Buried in the fine print of your credit card terms are all the fees it charges, and a big one is the foreign transaction fee. This fee, which can be up to 3%, is charged each time your card transaction goes through a foreign bank or is made in non-U.S. currency.

If your card charges a foreign transaction fee, you’re basically paying to spend your own money every time you swipe it abroad. For example, if you charge $300 on a card with a 3% foreign transaction fee, that will cost you $9. And every time you use your card, that fee will be charged, so depending on how long you’re traveling in Europe, it can really add up.

If your current credit card charges foreign transaction fees, you may want to leave it behind and get one that’s foreign transaction fee-free. Below is our roundup of credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees you may want to have, whether you’re traveling in Europe for business or for pleasure.

Cards with no foreign transaction fees

  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases

  • 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles

  • 16.74% - 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Highlights
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 25,000 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 purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases. After the intro APR ends, 16.74% - 24.74% Variable APR will apply
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more points on every purchase

See additional details for Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card

More Info

If you’re looking for a straightforward, no-frills card to take with you to Europe, the $0 annual fee Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card is a good option. Because you Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, this card is a blessing when traveling, thanks to the flat points you earn, so you won’t need to remember different spending categories with this card. It has a sign-up bonus of 25,000 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 purchases — that’s worth a $250 credit toward travel.

On the downside, we mean it when we say the card is no frills. It doesn’t offer as many points per $1 spent on popular categories like travel, dining, groceries and gas as a few other cards out there. Excellent/Good credit is needed to get this card, and it doesn’t come with any perks except for a free FICO® score.

  • 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

  • 0% intro on purchases for 12 months

  • 13.74% - 23.74% (Variable)

Highlights
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 13.74% - 23.74% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn

See additional details for Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

More Info

This $0 annual fee card is another flat rate rewards card — so you can swipe without having to remember points per $1 spent in different categories. You earn a simple 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day; new cardmembers can also earn a One-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening, equal to $200 in travel.

However, there are a few cons to consider with this card before you pack it for your trip. There are other travel credit cards with more generous sign-up bonuses and more miles per $1 spent on travel, dining, gas and groceries. Make sure you have Excellent/Good credit to get this card. And it doesn’t come with any real travel perks, except for an auto rental collision damage waiver and access to a concierge.

  • 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.

  • $300 Annual Travel Credit, Airport Lounge Access, and Flexible Redemption Options

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®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $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✓®

See additional details for Chase Sapphire Reserve®

More Info

If you want to take a luxury card to Europe, this one’s a good choice. The sign-up bonus allows new cardmembers to Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Because you receive 50% more value on the points you earn, that adds up to $750 that can be used for travel when redeemed at the Chase Ultimate Rewards® website. You can 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.

Perks like these come at a pretty steep price, so make sure it’s worth it first. The card carries a $450 annual fee. No surprise — you need Excellent credit to get the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

The travel credits you earn, plus the higher rewards rate on travel spend, might be just enough to make the fee well worth the price tag. Consider the other travel perks it offers as well: the card offers trip delay and cancellation insurance; travel accident insurance; lost luggage reimbursement; trip delay reimbursement; emergency evacuation and transportation; and rental car insurance and discounts. These can come in handy just in case things go wrong during your travels. Plus, you get a free Priority Pass™ Select airport lounge membership and a credit of up to $100 every four years to cover the enrollment fee for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card

With Marriott International’s 2016 acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, it now has the largest number of guestrooms worldwide among major hotel chains and is third for number of properties as of mid-2018, according to Statista. The company has a portfolio of more than 6,700 properties in 30 leading hotel brands in 130 countries and territories — in Europe alone, it has 569 properties in 41 countries and territories.

So having the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card in your wallet and booking a Marriott hotel brand while you’re in Europe is a good option. The card comes with automatic Marriott Rewards Silver Elite Status, which includes 10% bonus points on stays, priority late check-out, a dedicated reservation line, free Wi-Fi and no booking blackout dates. The only downside with this card is that it doesn’t come with the travel purchase protections that could come in handy in case you need help in Europe.

Cardmembers Earn 6X points for every $1 spent at over 6,500 participating Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels and 2X points everywhere else. New cardmembers Earn 75,000 Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening with the new Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card! You need Excellent/Good credit to get this card.

The information related to the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Note this offer is no longer available.

You get a lot with a card like the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card that has a $0 annual fee, which makes it a great one to take to Europe because of all its generous travel perks. You Earn 3X points on eating out and ordering in, 3X points on gas stations, rideshares and transit, and 3X points on travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. Earn 1X points on other purchases. New cardmembers Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. That adds up to a $300 cash redemption value that can be used in the Go Far® Rewards program. There are no limits on the points you can earn and your points don’t expire as long as your account stays open.

Travel perks include access to an emergency assistance program that covers medical, legal, personal and travel help, lost or damaged baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance and roadside assistance.

The bottom line

Now that you have our picks, it’s time for you to choose a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card that will work for you in Europe and beyond. Before you press that apply button, here are some questions you need to ask before you decide which card is best for you.

What’s the card’s annual fee? You want to make sure that benefits like no foreign transaction fees, points per $1 spent in the top categories and travel perks have you coming out ahead if the card comes with an annual fee.

Is there a sign-up bonus? If that’s important to you, weigh whether the money you need to spend on the card is worth the bonus points or miles being offered.

How can you redeem your rewards? You want a card that gives you many ways to redeem your rewards — cash, gift cards, direct deposit, statement credit, merchandise or travel. You also want a card that has points that don’t expire and doesn’t limit how many you can earn.

What travel perks does the card have? You want a card that gives you perks beyond just not paying a foreign transaction fee. Make sure the card you choose has travel benefits that you’ll actually use if that’s important to you.


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