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Popular credit cards for foreign travel

By Robin Saks Frankel · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Posted: 5 am ET

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You've dusted off your passport, booked the flights and hotel, and maybe even started packing. But have you stopped to consider which credit card to bring on your trip? These credit cards for foreign travel charge no foreign transaction fees and have the potential to earn travel-based rewards, too.

The experts at CreditCards.com have picked their favorite credit cards from a number of categories. Here are the credit cards on their list that could also make a world traveler smile.

Credit cards for foreign travel
Card Why it's good Annual fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve 3 points per $1 spent on travel and dining $450
Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard 2 miles per $1 spent on American Airline purchases $95, waived the first year
British Airways Visa Signature 2 miles for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases $95
Starwood Preferred Guest Earn up to 2 points per $1 spent at Starwood Hotels. Terms apply. $95, waived the first year
Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Earn 2 weekend nights free; 10 points per $1 spent at Hilton hotels $95

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Beloved by travelers and rewards aficionados alike for its generous sign-up bonus and travel perks, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has a hefty $450 annual price tag but the lengthy list of benefits might make it worth it for some. You can earn a whopping 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points if you meet the minimum spending requirement of $4,000 in three months.

Highlights:

  • Earn three points per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, one point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Receive up to $300 in statement credits annually as a reimbursement for travel purchases.
  • Get 50 percent greater value for your points when you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. For example, 50,000 Chase Ultimate Points can be redeemed for $750 worth of travel.

Who should get this card
If you spend big on travel and dining, the Chase Sapphire Reserve can be a good option.

It also offers top-of-the-line perks, as well, like access to more than 900 airport lounges worldwide and reimbursement for enrolling in TSA PreCheck.

Keep in mind that this card, like nearly all rewards cards, only offers value if you pay your balance in full each month. Otherwise the double digit variable APR on this card may cost you more in interest charges than the value of any rewards.

Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

If you don't mind being loyal to one airline, the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select will reward you for this devotion. The airline also offers a sweet sign-up bonus of 30,000 miles after you make $1,000 in purchases within the first three months.

Highlights:

  • Earn two miles back for every $1 spent on all American Airlines purchases and one mile for every $1 spent on other purchases.
  • Annual $95 fee waived for the first year.
  • Low minimum spending requirement to get the sign-up bonus.

Who should get this card
For travelers who are able to fly American Airlines almost exclusively, this card gives you a lot of reward bang for the buck. Not only can you earn double the AAdvantage miles back for American Airlines purchases, but you can also use those same miles towards reduced mileage awards, further extending their value. There's also a 10 percent rebate of all the miles you redeem, up to 10,000 back per calendar year.

British Airways Visa Signature

If you've had your eye on a trip overseas, the British Airways Visa Signature might help you get there. Along with a top-notch sign-up bonus, you'll also earn major reward points, called Avios, when you fly with British Airways.

Highlights:

  • Earn three Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases and one Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
  • Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you'll earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years. Applicable taxes and fees apply to the companion ticket.

Who should get this card
For international road warriors, the British Airways Visa Signature card's potential to earn high rewards could be tempting, even with its $95 annual fee. On top of that initial 50,000-point bonus, big spenders can tack on another 50,000 points. Earn 25,000 after you spend $10,000 on purchases within the first year. Earn an additional 25,000 after you spend $20,000 on purchases within the first year.

But if most of your travel is domestic, you may not get the maximum rewards value from this card as most of the airlines accepting Avios points are international carriers. Also note that rewards flights booked using Avios points are sometimes subject to fuel surcharge fees, which can run into hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars, depending on your destination.

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood's Starpoints are one of the most flexible, and thus valuable, redemption currencies available. The points can be redeemed at any of the company's 11 hotel brands or transferred into Marriott Rewards points to be used at their participating properties. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

Highlights:

  • Earn two points for every dollar spent at a participating Starwood hotel and two points for every dollar spent at a Marriott property. Earn up to three additional points per dollar as a member of the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Perks include free in-room Wi-Fi access, car rental and accident insurance and global assistance.

Who should get this card
As long as you don't mind being limited to stays at Starwood or Marriott properties, this card has one of the top hotel rewards programs out there. Traveling abroad, however, you might find you have less options within the brand than domestically.

The variable APR is between 16.24 percent and 20.24 percent.

Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve

The Hilton HHonors Reserve card comes with some significant bonuses and a rewards program tailored for travelers.

Highlights:

  • This offer is expired.
  • Earn 10 points per $1 spent at properties in the Hilton portfolio, which includes over a dozen brands like Waldorf Astoria, Doubletree and Embassy Suites.
  • Earn five points per $1 spent on airline and car rentals and three points per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn two free weekend night certificates after making $2,500 in purchases within the first four months of opening the account.

Who should get this card
If you're a frequent traveler and don’t mind staying within the Hilton portfolio, you can earn free stays, upgrades and get perks like free hotel internet access.

Although Hilton HHonors points tend to be worth significantly less than other rewards programs, the company has rolled out a flexible redemption program that allows you to use any combination of points and money to pay for a stay.

There is an annual $95 fee so unless you travel or spend enough to earn rewards worth more than the carrying cost of the card, you may want to consider a less-expensive cash-back card.

This editorial content is not provided or commissioned by any of the referenced financial institutions or companies. Opinions, analysis, reviews or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any financial institutions or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such entity. All products or services are presented without warranty. Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. This post contains references to our partners, and Bankrate may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on certain links posted on this website.

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