I’m not much of an international traveler, but I do find myself traveling outside the United States on occasion. In fact, I was out of the country just last week, and I was once again reminded that none of my credit cards are particularly good for international travel.
As a reminder, my main cards are the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express and the Chase Freedom® card. I also have an Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express rewards card. The problem with these cards is that they charge foreign transaction fees.
In the case of American Express, there’s a 2.7% foreign transaction fee. For the Chase Freedom card, the foreign transaction fee is 3%. Neither is enough to make me shun my cards when traveling abroad, but it would be nice to have card with no transaction fee.
So which cards should I be looking at? The details vary from card to card, even within issuers. For example, while my American Express charges 2.7%, the Platinum Card from American Express has no foreign transaction fee. The same goes for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card.
For their part, Capital One charges no foreign transaction fees on their cards, and Discover looks similarly attractive, having ditched foreign transaction fees last fall. Unfortunately, Discover cards aren’t nearly as widely accepted.
Another possible consideration is whether you’ll be able to use a traditional credit card with a plain old magnetic stripe. There has been a strong movement toward so-called “Chip and PIN” cards outside the United States.
While it’s just a matter of time until this technology is widely adopted in the United States, you currently have fairly limited choices when it comes to compliant cards.