After two years of pandemic restrictions, international travel is more in-demand than ever — and travel costs are through the roof.
Which is why it’s all the more important to have the right credit card in your wallet. With the right card, you can not only save money, but also have a more pleasant experience overall. That’s because you can skip out on travel insurance, check your bags without worrying about fees, enjoy an elite status boost on hotels, and avoid pesky fees when swiping your card abroad.
There are lots of great credit cards that will offer these perks and more, which can make it hard to pick the right one for you. But thankfully, we’ve done the work for you!
Here’s a look at the best travel credit cards for international travel.
Overview: Best credit cards for international travel
With so many travel rewards cards out there, picking the right one for your trip abroad might feel overwhelming. The best card for you comes down to your personal preference and needs.
To help you decide, we’ve broken down the best travel credit cards based on various benefits:
- Best for travel insurance: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Best for travel perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Best for widespread acceptance: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Best for earning points: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
- Best for small business owners: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
- Best for no annual fee: Bilt Rewards Mastercard®
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
In A Nutshell
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® rewards travel spending with extremely generous cash back options. It’s ideal for frequent travelers and also offers rewards for day-to-day recreational spending.Read review
What We Like:
60,000 point sign-up bonus when you spend $4,000 in your first three months
$300 annual travel credit
Huge multipliers on points rewards for purchases including air travel, car rentals, dining, hotels, and more
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
In A Nutshell
Capital One’s leading product is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and it shows. A one-time 75,000 mile bonus after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months is flat out AWESOME, and 2X miles per dollar spent is about as good as it gets with a travel rewards credit card.Read review
What We Like:
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
2X miles earned for $1 spent on all purchases
Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
- Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
- Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
- Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
- Enjoy two complimentary visits per year to Capital One Lounges or to 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges through the Partner Lounge Network
- Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
- Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
- Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
In A Nutshell
With a high annual fee and rewards that come as miles (not cash back), the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card and its buffet of travel benefits will be most rewarding to travelers who already spend $5,000+ annually on flights, hotels, and rental cars.Read review
What We Like:
10x miles on hotels and rental cars, and 5x on flights when booked via Capital One Travel, and 2x on all other purchases.
75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel
- Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
- Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
- Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
- Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
- Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
- Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
- Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
- Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
- Elevate your stay at luxury hotels and resorts from the Premier Collection with a $100 experience credit, daily breakfast for 2 and complimentary WiFi on every booking, plus other premium benefits like room upgrades, early check-in and late checkout when available
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
In A Nutshell
The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card blows you away with a 100,000 point bonus after you spend $15,000 in the first three months and keeps you coming back with 3 points per dollar spent on travel and select business categories for the first $150,000 spent each account anniversary year.Read review
What We Like:
100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 in the first three months (Worth $1,250 in travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®)
3 points earned per $1 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
No foreign transaction fees
Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best for travel insurance
- Welcome bonus:60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Rewards: 10x points on Chase Dining, hotel and car rental bookings through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 5x points on flights booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3x points on other travel worldwide; 3x points on dining (including eligible delivery services); 1x points on all other purchases
- Annual fee: $550 and $75 per authorized user
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card checks several boxes when it comes to international travel. For one, it has no foreign transaction fees (like many other cards on this list), but it also offers plenty of other travel perks, too.
Most notably, it provides valuable travel insurance that can come in handy should things go awry while you’re abroad. When you charge your trip to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® you get:
- Auto rental collision damage waiver — Covers up to $75,000 in theft or damage to rental vehicles in the U.S. and abroad.
- Trip cancellation/interruption insurance — Provides up to $10,000 reimbursement per person ($20,000 per trip) if your trip is canceled or cut short due to weather, illness, or other covered reasons.
- Lost luggage reimbursement — Receive up to $3,000 per passenger for lost or damaged luggage.
- Trip delay reimbursement — Offers up to $500 per person towards unreimbursed travel expenses caused by delays of six hours or requiring an overnight stay.
- Emergency evacuation & transportation coverage — Covers up to $100,000 in medical services and transportation in case you or a family member become ill while traveling away from home.
With all that insurance included, you can skip out on buying separate travel insurance and save that money for other (more fun) things on your trip.
- Extensive travel insurance benefits
- A significant welcome bonus can offset the cost of international travel
- The $300 annual travel credit offsets most of the annual fee
- High annual fee
- The card requires excellent credit and is subject to the 5/24 rule
Learn more/apply or read our full Chase Sapphire Reserve® review.
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for travel perks
- Welcome bonus: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $6,000 within the first six months
- Rewards: 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels; 1x point on all other purchases
- Annual fee: $695
The Platinum Card® from American Express is an ideal international travel credit card, packed with valuable travel protections and money-saving benefits.
What kind of benefits? Well, cardmembers receive over $1,500 worth of statement credits every year that can offset the cost of international travel:
- $300 Equinox credit
- $240 digital entertainment credit
- $200 hotel credit
- $200 Uber cash
- $200 airline fee credit
- $189 CLEAR credit
- $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit (every four years)
- $100 credit with Saks Fifth Avenue
- $155 Walmart+ credit
In addition to these benefits, cardmembers get access to over 1,400 airline lounges worldwide, which can make even your longest layovers much more pleasant. Instead of waiting by a busy gate, you can hang out in a dedicated space with free food and drinks.
The card’s benefits also go beyond flying. Cardmembers receive complimentary Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status. Elevated status can get you perks like bonus points, room upgrades, and even complimentary breakfast.
Aside from the high cost, one significant downside to this card is that American Express cards are less widely accepted than Visa and Mastercard. So the various benefits may not be as useful if your card isn’t accepted. If you’re bringing your Amex Platinum abroad, having a backup card is definitely a good idea.
- Over $1,500 in annual travel and dining credits help offset the annual fee
- Excellent travel and purchase protections
- Large welcome bonus that can cover a flight abroad
- High annual fee
- Travel credits are subject to various restrictions and rules
- American Express is less widely accepted than Visa and Mastercard
- Subject to Amex once-per-lifetime rule
Read more: Are Amex cards worth it?
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for widespread acceptance
- Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
- Rewards: 5x miles on hotels and rental cars booked with Capital One Travel; 2x miles on all other purchases
- Annual fee: $95
When considering the best credit card for international travel, widespread acceptance is critical. After all, there’s no sense in bringing a card that’s packed with travel perks if you can’t use it! Visa is more widely accepted than Mastercard and American Express, in over 200 countries worldwide.
If you’re looking for a Visa card with a low annual fee, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is an excellent choice.
The 2x-mile base earn rate is also great for maximizing all purchases abroad, while the 5x bonus on hotels and rental car bookings made through Capital One Travel can help you earn more on your travel bookings.
The card’s Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit is unique for a $95 annual fee card and can make your travels abroad more convenient.
Overall, this is an excellent option if you just want a simple rewards credit card with travel bonuses and perks and no foreign transaction fees.
- Generous welcome bonus and earning structure
- Low annual fee
- Visa is widely accepted
- Capital One pulls your credit score from all three credit bureaus upon application
Learn more/apply or read our full Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Best for earning points
- Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
- Rewards: 10x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel; 5x miles on flights booked with Capital One Travel; 2x miles on all other spending
- Annual fee: $395
If you want to earn lots of points abroad, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is a great option.
The card earns an unparalleled 10x miles on rental cars and hotels booked through Capital One Travel. And the 2x earn rate on all purchases is especially useful abroad, where some credit cards don’t extend their category bonuses.
You’ll also earn 5x miles on Capital One Travel flight bookings, which is one of the highest flight bonuses you’ll find.
The Venture X Rewards Card’s $300 annual travel statement credits, Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit, and 10,000-mile anniversary bonus can make your trip abroad more affordable and convenient. The card’s $395 annual fee isn’t nothing, but it is much less than other premium cards, making the Venture X Rewards Card a solid choice.
- High earn rate on select travel categories and non-bonus spending
- $300 travel credit partially offsets the annual fee
- High welcome bonus for a reasonable spending requirement
- Travel bonus categories are limited to Capital One bookings
- Capital One pulls your credit from all three bureaus
Learn more/apply or read our full Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card review.
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card: Best for small business owners
- Welcome bonus: 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Rewards: 3x points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines, internet, cable and phone services; 1x points on all other purchases
- Annual fee: $95
The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card is a great choice if you want a card that rewards your business spending and provides benefits when you travel abroad.
The card earns 3x points on travel, alongside a string of business spending categories. Not only will you earn lots of points abroad, but you’ll generate rewards towards future trips by using the card for everyday spending.
The Ink Business Preferred® also offers trip cancellation/interruption insurance and primary rental collision damage waiver. This is immensely useful, as the auto rental collision damage waiver is valid in most countries and lets you bypass your own travel insurance if you’re involved in an accident.
The card’s cellphone protection benefit comes in handy if you ever damage your phone while traveling or just going about your daily life. The benefit reimburses up to $1,000 per claim against cellphone theft and damage for you and your employees. This benefit is valid for primary cardholders and employees. You can file up to three claims per 12-month period, subject to a $100 deductible.
The Ink Business Preferred® earns Ultimate Rewards® points, which you can redeem towards travel abroad or domestically. If you’d rather not deal with maximizing one of Chase’s 14 transfer partners, you can instead redeem them through the Ultimate Rewards® Travel portal at 1.25 cents each. Either way, you have flexibility in how you redeem points and will get solid value out of them regardless of which option you choose.
- Generous travel and cellphone protection
- Earns valuable Ultimate Rewards® on broad travel spending
- Free employee cards
- Subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule
- Annual fee might be hard to justify beyond the first year
Learn more/apply or read our full Ink Business Preferred® credit card review.
Bilt Rewards Mastercard®: Best for no annual fee
- Welcome bonus: None
- Rewards: 3x points on dining; 2x on travel; 1x on rent payments
- Annual fee: $0
The Bilt Rewards Mastercard® is a great pick if you want a credit card for international travel without the annual fee.
In exchange for no annual fee, you’re giving up a welcome bonus, but the card earns 3x points on dining, 2x points on travel, and 1x on rent payments. The dining and travel bonuses extend to purchases made abroad, which means you can earn a lot of points while using this card during international trips.
On the first of every month, Bilt offers double points on all spending, excluding rent. If you’re traveling abroad during this period, you can squeeze even more value out of your points. You’ll earn 6x points on dining and 4x on travel, which is pretty tough to beat.
The Bilt Rewards card also offers additional peace of mind with a slew of travel protections. Cardmembers who charge travel expenses to the card receive trip cancellation and interruption protection, trip delay reimbursement and auto rental collision damage waiver. All of these will come handy if you experience any travel delays or issues while traveling abroad.
One major disadvantage is that you have to make at least five transactions in a month to earn points. These can be small purchases here and there, but it’s something you have to pay attention to.
- No annual fee or foreign transaction fees
- Solid travel protections
- No welcome bonus
- Requires five transactions per month to earn points
Learn more/apply or read our full Bilt Rewards Mastercard® review.
How to choose a credit card for international travel
When deciding on a credit card for international travel, there are a few benefits you should look for. The most important one is no foreign transaction fees.
Some credit cards charge fees of up to 3% when you use your card abroad. That’s an extra $30 for every $1,000 in spending. Imagine how much that adds up when you pay for your flights, hotels, meals, and activities! There’s no sense in paying an extra fee to earn credit card rewards.
Read more: How to avoid foreign transaction fees wherever you go
You also want to look for a card that offers bonus points on travel and some level of travel protection. If you’re spending thousands of dollars on travel, you want peace of mind in case of unexpected travel delays or cancellations. Many travel rewards cards offer trip interruption/cancellation coverage, alongside baggage insurance and emergency evacuation.
Having these benefits will give you comfort when traveling abroad, knowing you’re covered in case things don’t go as planned. And while you can get these benefits from travel insurance, many travel credit cards offer it free of charge.
Read more: Is travel insurance worth it?
What’s the best credit card for international travel?
The best credit card for traveling abroad depends on your travel needs. But at the very least, your card should offer some travel protections, no foreign transaction fees, and bonus points on travel.
Wide acceptance is also important, so if Amex is your primary card, you should bring a Visa or Mastercard as backup.
What are foreign transaction fees?
Foreign transaction fees are charged by banks when you use your card abroad. They range from 3% to 5% in most cases and can quickly add up if you’re paying for all your travel expenses with a card.
Many travel rewards credit cards waive foreign transaction fees completely.
Read more: Best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees
Should I get a credit card to travel internationally?
If you don’t already have a credit card, you should get one before traveling internationally. You’ll need a credit card to check into hotels and book activities online. Not only that, but in some destinations, such as western Europe, many shops and restaurants have turned card-only, especially since the pandemic.
Paying with a credit card also offers a higher level of protection than cash. You can save on foreign transaction fees with select credit cards and get valuable insurance perks to protect your trip.
Read more: How to manage your money when you travel
What kinds of travel credit cards are there?
There are mainly three types of travel credit cards:
- Ones that earn hotel points
- Ones that earn airline miles
- Ones that earn transferable rewards
Hotel credit cards are good for earning free nights and hotel benefits.
Airline cards are ideal for travelers who want to earn more frequent flyer miles and save on checked baggage fees.
Transferable rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Capital One Venture Rewards are ideal because they provide more flexibility. You can convert your rewards to hotel points, airline miles, or redeem them at a fixed rate on direct bookings.
Read more: Best travel rewards credit cards
The bottom line
Credit cards can provide tremendous value when you’re traveling abroad. Whether you’re looking for high-value perks at a premium, or a no-annual-fee card that covers the basics, there are lots of great cards to choose from.
Hopefully, this round-up gives you an idea of the best cards available and which one might be a good fit for your next trip abroad.
For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.