Best credit cards for international travel – Don’t pay foreign transaction fees

The average credit card will charge you a 3% transaction fee. So $90 for every $3000 you spend.  For this reason, you should take a serious look at getting a no foreign transaction fee credit card.

I suggest either Capitol One Venture or Chase Sapphire for your no fee credit card. They also have some great travel rewards, as they cater to those going abroad.

To go into some further details, if you withdraw cash from an ATM, you will be charged a “cash advance fee” which is either 3.0%  of the amount withdrawn or $10.00. Whichever is greater. But, if  its a transaction at a business, there’s no fee.

Nerd Wallet does a phenomenal job breaking down the advantages of Capitol One Venture and Chase Sapphire.

I used a Capitol One credit card in 2008 for a previous round the world trip that took me to 14 different countries. I had no issues with it in any location and NO FEES!

Make sure you let the credit card companies know which countries you are visiting. If you don’t, your card will likely be deactivated due to fraud protection.

Further credit card tips from experience:

  • Best to travel with two cards, just in case one is deactivated, lost, or stolen. I travel with my capitol one credit card and my local debit card.
  • If you are traveling with a card that has transaction fees, you naturally want to take out more cash than needed when you withdraw, so you don’t need to take out money as often. From my experience, I did not feel comfortable walking around the streets with often a few hundred dollars in my pocket, depending on the destination.  Much better to withdraw smaller amounts, so you don’t have such a large portion of your budget sitting in your pocket.
  • Make sure you don’t withdraw too much of one countries currency if you are thinking of crossing the boarder into another currency. Never fun the have the currency converter take a good-sized chunk out of your cash.
  • Write down the credit card contact number and the last 4 digits of your card in case your card is lost or stolen. You need the ability to cancel your card a.s.a.p. I see a lot of tips saying you should make a photocopy of you credit card, but don’t like to have copies of sensitive info (excluding copies of my passport).
  • Be aware that many overseas merchants will ask if you want your foreign transaction to be converted from the foreign currency into US dollars (so you have a better idea of how much you’re taking out). As nice as this sounds, it is much cheaper to do your own calculation. Often, they will charge up to 7% for the transaction inquiry.

One thought on “Best credit cards for international travel – Don’t pay foreign transaction fees

  1. I’ve used Capital One for all of my overseas travel since 2005 and they have been great, but your tip about notifying them of the countries you will visit is very important. They are much more secure than other cards I’ve used and if you try to use the card in an airport on a layover, it won’t work if that country isn’t on your list. Also, when taking down their phone number in case the card is lost, be sure to take down the number that is not the toll free number as it may not work overseas, and also usually accepts collect calls. Their customer service was also really good when a restaurant in Germany charged me twice for the same meal. They took care of everything.

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