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Best credit cards for international travel

The right card might include valuable travel perks like airport lounge access and expedited airport security

Summary

The best credit cards for international travel can make traversing the globe a more comfortable and rewarding experience. Compare our top picks to see how they work for your travel style and goals.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

The Bank of America content was last updated on April 1, 2022.

A solid travel credit card that fits your spending habits can make your journeys more comfortable and rewarding experiences, and in more ways than one.

The right rewards credit card can help you score valuable travel perks like airport lounge access and expedited airport security. Some cards even let you avoid paying unnecessary foreign transaction fees. The top travel cards in the market also enable you to earn points and miles you can redeem for free flights, hotel stays and more.

If you’re searching for a card to help you on your next trip, you’ll want to compare all the best credit cards for international travel to see how they might work for your travel style and goals. Keep reading to learn about the best credit cards for travel overseas and what they offer in terms of perks and rewards.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best credit card for international travel

Why we picked it: The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is frequently listed as the top travel credit card on the market today, and for good reason. It gives you 10X points on hotel and car rental purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5X points on air travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3X points on other travel purchases (earn elevated rewards on all travel purchases immediately after earning the $300 annual travel credit). Plus, earn 3X points on dining and 1X point on all other purchases.

Redemption options are very flexible: You can redeem rewards as statement credits toward any travel purchase, or for travel through the Chase portal to get a 50% redemption bonus (making your points worth 1.5 cents apiece). Also, you can transfer your points at a 1:1 rate to 14 travel partners, including Air France and Aer Lingus.

Pros

Cons

  • $550 annual fee
  • Lower rewards value for merchandise

Who should apply: Cardholders who’ve been waiting for their chance to begin earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points, now is your time.

Who should skip: If the $550 annual fee doesn’t fit into your budget, you can skip this one. Those who prefer redeeming for merchandise (like Amazon.com purchases) should also look elsewhere.

The Platinum Card from American Express: Best credit card for international lounge access

Why we picked it: Frequent travelers who want superior perks should seriously consider The Platinum Card® from American Express. It earns 5X points (on up to $500,000 per year) on airfare booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel, as well as 5X points on prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel. You also earn 1X point on other purchases, plus 100,000 points when you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months.

While you may not want to go solo with the Platinum card due to its more limited acceptance in foreign countries, you’ll find that it’s is a great choice for getting to your destination comfortably. It’s just piled with perks, including access to one of the largest lounge networks in the world, encompassing Amex Centurion lounges, Delta SkyClub lounges and the Priority Pass network.

Pros

  • Access to American Express Global Lounge Collection
  • 100,000 points if you spend $6,000 in the first six months
  • Generous amount of statement credits on Clear membership, hotels and more
  • Transfer points to Amex travel partners

Cons

  • Credits tricky to apply
  • $695 annual fee

Who should apply: If the idea of joining the largest airline network makes your ears perk up, you should definitely apply. Anyone who wants to join the luxury travel card space will get a taste of the high life with this choice.

Who should skip: Those who do the math and know it’ll be difficult to justify the annual fee should skip this one. Infrequent travelers will also find it difficult to maximize this card.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for flexible international travel

Why we picked it: The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers an interesting rewards proposition and miles you can use in more than one way. Once you sign up, you’ll rack up 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and a flat 2X miles on everything else. The card also offers 75,000 miles (worth $750 in travel) if you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.

You can redeem Capital One miles for any type of past travel on your credit card statement at a rate of 1 cent per mile. Or, if you’re a bargain hunter and want to get a little extra value out of your miles, you can transfer them to a number of airline and hotel partners at a transfer ratio that varies based on the program.

Pros

  • Various redemption options
  • 75,000 miles when you spend $4,000 in the first three months
  • May redeem Capital One miles retroactively for past (last 90 days) travel purchases
  • Earn unlimited miles

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks common travel insurances
  • No major U.S. airlines among airline partners

Who should apply: Cardholders who want greater flexibility in booking travel on third-party sites will like this card. Anyone looking for a beginner travel credit card also can’t go wrong with this one.

Who should skip: Those who don’t travel enough to make the annual fee worth it should skip. Also, if you’re an anxious traveler (who always worries about things going wrong), you should look at other cards that provide more travel insurances. Those who plan to fly mainly domestically (and probably can’t avoid U.S. airlines) should opt for another card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best credit card for infrequent international trips

Why we picked it: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the best options out there due to the fact you can transfer your points 1:1 to popular airlines for international travel including Emirates, United Airlines, British Airways and more. You can also book international travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards for 25% more value when you do.

This card starts you off with 80,000 points, worth $1,000 in travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, when you spend $4,000 within three months. You’ll also earn 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 31, 2025), 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3X points on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2X points on other travel purchases and 1X points on general purchases.

Pros

  • $50 annual Ultimate Rewards hotel credit
  • 10% anniversary points bonus (based on total spend from previous year)
  • Points worth 25% more on Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • 80,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months

Cons

  • $95 annual fee

Who should apply: If you want to earn rewards for international travel but you don’t take many trips abroad, you should consider signing up. This card is also great for travel card beginners who want an introduction to earning travel points in general.

Who should skip: Cardholders who want a no-annual-fee credit card should skip this one. Also, anyone who travels once every few years will find it difficult to maximize the benefits on this card.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Best no-annual-fee card for international travel

Why we picked it: If you’re searching for a travel card with no annual fee, consider the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card. At no cost to you, it provides 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 1.25X miles on all other purchases. These rewards have no blackout dates, no expiration dates and no mile limits. You can even transfer your miles to Capital One’s more 15+ travel partners.

The Capital One VentureOne also has an achievable welcome offer of 20,000 miles after you spend just $500 in the first three months. Depending on which travel partner you transfer your miles to, your sign-up bonus could end up being worth quite a sum.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • 20,000 miles if you spend $500 in the first three months
  • May redeem Capital One miles retroactively for past (last 90 days) travel purchases
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Lacks common travel insurances
  • No major U.S. airlines among travel partners

Who should apply: Cardholders who were looking fora no-annual-fee first travel card are good candidates for this one. If you want greater flexibility and don’t want to be tied to booking with a specific travel site, you’ll also like it.

Who should skip: Because the card does not have travel insurance, those who like that perk to soothe their worries should skip it.

Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students: Best international credit card for students

Why we picked it: If you’re a student with no credit history trying to qualify for a travel card, you should check out the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students*.  It doesn’t charge an annual fee or any foreign transaction fees, and it offers an exceptionally good rewards program for a student travel card. You get the same 25,000-point sign-up bonus as the regular Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card and the same 1.5X points rate, allowing you to rack up lots of points on every purchase, which you can use to fund your travels.

Pros

  • 5X points on general purchases
  • No blackout dates, point limit or point expiration date
  • 0% intro APR on new purchases for 12 billing cycles (14.24% to 24.24% variable thereafter)
  • 10% point bonus for Bank of America account holders

Cons

  • High Penalty APR (up to 29.99%)
  • Penalty APR (up to 29.99%)
  • Late payment fee (up to $40)

Who should apply: Students who are preparing for study abroad will love this card. If you’re planning a post-graduation, international trip,  sign up for this option.

Who should skip: Cardholders who do not foresee themselves traveling internationally anytime soon should skip this one. Forward-thinking planners who want to rack up points before their next big trip should instead get cards with higher earning rates. And of course, if you’re not a student, you should skip this one.

Comparing the best credit cards for international travel

CardsRewardsAnnual fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • 10X points on hotel and car rental purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 10X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
  • 5X points on air travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3X points on general travel and dining
  • Earn elevated rewards on all travel purchases immediately after earning the $300 annual travel credit
  • 1X points on other purchases
$550
The Platinum Card® from American Express 

  • 5X points (on up to $500,000 annually) on airfare booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel
  • 5X points on eligible prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel
  • 1X points on other purchases
$695
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 2X miles on every purchase
$95
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
  • 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3X points on dining
  • 2X points on other travel purchases
  • 1X points on other purchases
$95
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
  • 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked with Capital One Travel
  • 1.25X miles on every purchase
$0
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students1.5X points on every purchase$0

How to choose a card for international travel

When choosing a card for international travel, you’ll want to look for rewards and benefits that match your travel plans and preferences. Most important, you need a card that you can use where you’re planning to travel. Here are the key features to consider:

  • Global acceptance:Visa and Mastercard are most likely to be accepted around the globe, though American Express is also widely accepted in some parts of the world. Make sure you select a card that will be accepted where you travel the most.
  • No foreign transaction fees: Choosing a credit card with no foreign transaction fees will save you from paying an additional 3% or more on every purchase you make abroad.
  • Chip and PIN technology: Chip and PIN technology is immensely helpful when traveling abroad, but not all travel credit cards offer this perk. See which cards have chip and PIN technology before you choose a card.
  • Earning categories: The best credit cards for international travel tend to offer bonuses on certain categories of spend. Search for cards with category bonuses that match your spending patterns.
  • Good redemption options: The top cards in this realm let you redeem for travel directly or transfer points to airline and hotel partners at a good value (1 cent per point or mile is standard). The more options you have and the more value you get from your points and miles, the better off you’ll be.
  • Travel insurance benefits: The best travel credit cards offer free travel insurance like trip cancellation/interruption coverage, auto rental coverage, lost baggage insurance, baggage delay coverage and travel accident insurance.
  • Airport lounge access: Look for cards that let you enter a range of airport lounges at airports around the globe, but specifically in destinations you travel to often.
  • Global Entry/TSA PreCheck: Look for credit cards that offer a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit. Both these benefits let you enjoy expedited airport security, saving you time and stress when you travel.
  • Hotel or airline preferences: If you travel frequently with certain hotels or airlines, you’ll find that certain cards are a better fit for you. On the other hand, if you aren’t loyal to any airline or hotel program, you may be better off with a more flexible travel card.
  • Origin or destination of travel: Make sure the card’s rewards and benefits fit with your travel plans. For instance, some cards may offer better lounge options along your route, or you may find that certain rewards cards don’t offer good redemption options where you’re planning to travel.
  • Customer service: Having a card with excellent customer service could come in handy in case of an emergency.

Tips for using credit cards while traveling internationally

  • Notify your card issuer that you will be out of the country to reduce the chance of having your account frozen at an inconvenient time.
  • Bring multiple credit cards (preferably from different payment networks) in case a merchant doesn’t accept your main card, or your card gets declined.
  • Rotate your cards to get better rewards on certain purchases.
  • Have plenty of cash on hand for situations when you can’t use your credit cards.
  • If you are traveling to a country with chip and PIN cards, see if your issuer will allow you to add a PIN to your card.
  • Have your card information and your issuer’s emergency card services phone number on hand in case your card gets lost or stolen.
  • Opt to put your charges in the local currency to avoid paying more for the currency conversion.
  • Use your credit cards instead of cash where you can – as long as you are charging in the foreign currency, you can get a better exchange rate.
  • Avoid using your cards for cash advances, unless it’s an absolute emergency.
  • Use your credit card instead of a debit card to make purchases – not only can you avoid foreign transaction fees, but your purchases are also more secure.

Bottom line

At the end of the day, picking the best credit card for international travel for you is an especially complicated choice. It all depends on what’s important to you.

While you may have your eye out for a card with a large sign-up bonus and lots of points, you should have some travel goals in mind before you choose a card. If you know where and how you intend to travel, you’re more likely to find a card that can take you far in your travels.

*All information about the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card for Students has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. This offer is no longer available on our site.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

Credit Card Rate Report
Reward
16.39%
Student
17.07%
Airline
16.04%
Business
14.62%
Cash Back
16.51%

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