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The best credit cards for international travel go beyond waiving the foreign transaction fee. They make it possible to enjoy elite travel benefits. Plus, you can also get more mileage from your rewards points by booking international award travel which usually cost more than domestic flights.
For near-universal acceptance, choose a Visa or Mastercard product. But, you might decide to also travel with an American Express product to enjoy upscale travel benefits that other credit cards struggle to offer. Read on to learn about what some of the best credit cards for international travel have to offer.
The Best Credits Cards for International Travel:
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Arguably the best travel rewards card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred recently raised its bonus to 60,000 points ($750 at least in travel) which is the largest public bonus offered on this popular travel card. You will also receive 2x points on travel and dining purchases making it a great option for purchasing airline tickets. The $95 annual fee isn’t waived for the first year, but the increase in bonus points makes up for the annual fee since 10,000 points have a $100 cash value or $125 travel credit. But you can get even more value if you transfer your Sapphire Preferred points out to an Ultimate Rewards travel partner. To receive the bonus of 60,000 points you must spend $4,000 in 3 months on eligible purchases.
Apply here and see more details on Chase’s site: Chase Sapphire Preferred
You earn 2 points per $1 on every travel and dining purchase and 1 point per $1 on all non-bonus categories. But the real value for the Sapphire Preferred lies in its two valuable travel redemption options:
- 25% travel redemption bonus
- 1:1 point transfers to airline and hotel loyalty programs
The 25% redemption bonus applies to any award travel you book on the Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Having each point worth 1.25 cents each is awesome, but you might find more value in the 1:1 point transfers.
Some of the international 1:1 transfer partners include United Airlines, British Airways, Aer Lingus and Singapore Airlines. You might transfer your points to British Airways to intra-Europe award flights that start at 4,500 Avios. Or you can fly United or Aer Lingus to avoid the fuel surcharges that most global airlines charge all passengers.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also has a budget-friendly $95 annual fee ($0 the first year) and earns the extremely valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Apply here and see more details on Chase’s site: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Capital One Venture
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has always been a solid credit card for international travel, but you have three more reasons to use this card on your next world tour:
- Global Entry application fee credit
- Airline transfer partners
- 10x points on Hotels.com purchases (through January 2020)
You still earn 2 miles on every dollar you spend. You can also redeem your miles for travel statement credits or future award travel.
The current signup bonus is 50,000 bonus miles worth $500 in award travel by spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. The $95 annual fee is also waived for the first year.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
When you want to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points but want a few premium travel perks, get the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
It has a $450 annual fee (vs. $95 for the Sapphire Preferred), but these benefits can more than offset the cost of owning a premium rewards card:
- $300 annual travel credit
- Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership
- Free Global Entry
You also enjoy a 50% travel redemption bonus instead of the Sapphire Preferred’s 25% redemption bonus. This makes the 50,000-point signup bonus worth $750 in award travel after spending $4,000 in the first 90 days.
You also have access to the Chase 1:1 airline and hotel transfer partners.
Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express provides an impressive array of air travel perks including a $200 air travel credit, fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, and access to several lounge networks like The Centurion and Priority Pass.
You also get 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on airfare purchases purchased directly from the airline, which is higher than other travel credit cards.
Your points are worth one cent each when booking award flights on Amex Travel. But you will probably find more value in the 1:1 airline transfer partners that offer many international award flight options.
Some of the international transfer partners are:
- Aer Lingus
- Asia Miles
- Avianca Lifemiles
- Singapore Airlines
With this lineup, it’s possible to book award flights to any part of the world. You can also earn a 60,000-point welcome offer worth $600 in award travel after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of account opening with this premium credit card.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus
The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® does a fine job of providing simplicity and peace of mind for international travel.
Regarding simplicity, you earn 2x points on every dollar spent. You can redeem your point for travel statement credits and get 5% of them back for a second redemption. So if you redeem 50,000 points on travel purchases, you get a $500 statement credit now and 2,500 points back ($25 value) for your next redemption.
For peace of mind, the Arrival Plus is a Mastercard with international chip and pin technology. Having chip and pin capability means you won’t get stuck at a self-pay kiosk that requires a pin number to complete the purchase.
For a limited time, you can also earn a whopping 70,000 bonus points with this card’s highest-ever signup bonus. This bonus is worth $700 in award travel before the 5% travel redemption bonus. You can earn it by spending $5,000 in the first 90 days.
British Airways Visa Signature Card
When flying to Europe, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card can help you book short-haul flights or TransAtlantic flights sooner. Right now, you can by earning 4 bonus Avios on the first $30,000 spent in the first year.
Spending $30,000 annually also gives you the Travel Together ticket. You only pay the fees and taxes for your travel companion’s seat when you use Avios to buy a roundtrip ticket that originates and returns within the United States.
You can redeem your Avios for long-haul flights but watch out for hefty fuel surcharges and taxes that can cost around $1000 each way. Another option is redeeming your points for intra-Europe or intra-Asia short-haul flights that are short enough to avoid the fuel surcharge fees. These flights start at 4,500 Avios.
If you prefer flying Aer Lingus or Iberia, these two co-brand Avios cards also offer the 120,000 bonus Avios opportunity.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card
This freshly rebranded premium hotel credit card can be used to book your airfare and hotel rooms. The earns:
- 6 points per $1 on Marriott Bonvoy purchases
- 3 points per $1 at U.S. restaurants and airfare purchased directly from the airline
- 2 points per $1 on all other purchases
You can redeem your points for Marriott Bonvoy award nights that start at 5,000 points. Plus, you can transfer your points to 40 different airlines or book air travel or car rentals with the Air+Car partners.
Other premium card benefits include one free anniversary night valid at Bonvoy properties costing 50,000 points or less. They also credit your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee, Marriot Bonvoy Gold Elite status, and a $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit.
This card has an enhanced welcome offer of 100,000 bonus Bonvoy points worth up to 20 free nights after making $5,000 in card purchases in the first 90 days. This bonus offer ends April 24, 2019.
Summary on the Best Credit Cards for International Travel
Point transfers, travel redemption bonuses, and annual travel credits. Each of the best credit cards for international travel provides different travel rewards. More importantly, they can all help you have a great trip.
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