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Best travel money options

Best travel money options

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Your one-stop guide to travel money

With so many options, finding the right travel money to take with you on vacation can be difficult. We explore the benefits and features of travel money cards, with comparisons between the different types. Here are a few to get you started:

Travel credit cards are just like any other credit card but they come with extra perks such as reward points, complimentary travel insurance and zero fees on foreign transactions.

Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®. This top of the line travel card boasts perks such as:

  • Complimentary travel insurance
  • No annual fee for the first year
  • 40,000 mile signup bonus if you spend $3,000 in the first 90 day
  • Earns 2 miles per dollar spent
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Opens the door to an array of Mastercard World Elite benefits

A credit score of 720 to 850 is recommended when applying for this card.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. This simple card is a heavy contender when it comes to travel-friendly credit cards because it:

  • Waives both the foreign transaction and annual fee
  • Earns 1.5 points for every dollar spent
  • 0% intro APR for the first year
  • Spend $1,000 in the first 90 days and you’ll be awarded 20,000 bonus points

A credit score of 720 to 850 is recommended when applying for this card.

Simmons Visa®. A few reasons this card is travelers handy sidekick when heading overseas are:

  • Complimentary travel insurance
  • No annual fee
  • Low APR

A credit score of 720 to 850 is recommended when applying for this card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card. This notorious card is a must-consider for travelers because:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 2x points on dining and travel and 1x points on everything else
  • Points can transfer to airline and hotel programs
  • Travel insurance
  • Purchase protection

A credit score of 720 to 850 is recommended when applying for this card.

This card can be preloaded ahead of traveling, which can be ideal when organizing your travel budget.

Travelex Money Card. One of the only available prepaid travel money cards on the market, the Travelex Money Card is worth a look because of its convenient perks:

  • Load up to six foreign currencies
  • No foreign transaction fees if you pay in local currency
  • No international or domestic ATM fees
  • No bank withdrawal fees
  • Load up to $10,000 and spend up to $5,000 per day

To get a Travelex Money Card, the only requirement is that you’re at least 18 years old (or younger in some states).

Promoted
Travelex Money Card

Why we like: Travelex Money Card

Load GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, JPY or MXN onto this prepaid travel money card and use it at millions of locations worldwide.

  • Not linked to your bank account for safety.
  • Convert currency with a 5.50% Foreign Exchange Fee
  • Contactless payments
  • Reload, withdraw, or replace your card for free.

    Compare travel credit cards

    Updated August 15th, 2018
    Name Product Currency Conversion Fee Annual Fee APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases
    None
    $195
    16.74% variable
    Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
    None
    $0
    14.74%, 18.74% or 24.74% variable
    Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees
    None
    $495
    16.74% variable
    Mastercard Black Card members receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
    None
    $995
    16.74% variable
    Earn points every time you spend. Luxury Card enhances your purchasing power by providing you with one (1) point for every one dollar ($1) you spend. Every purchase gets you closer to the rewards you want.
    None
    $0 annual fee for the first year ( thereafter)
    16.74%, 22.49% or 25.49% variable
    Get 4 points back on dining, 3 on travel, 2 on Uber rides and online shopping and 1 on other purchases, and redeem points for Uber credits, gift cards or cash back.
    None
    $0
    16.74% to 24.74% variable
    20,000 online bonus points offer. Ditch the restrictions of typical airline rewards cards. Any airline, any hotel, anytime. No blackout dates.
    None
    $0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
    14.74%, 21.24% or 24.74% variable
    Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
    None
    $0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
    17.74% to 24.74% variable
    Earn 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of your account opening, and an additional 30,000 points when you spend a total of $30,000 on purchases within the first year of your account opening.
    None
    $95
    17.74% to 24.74% variable
    Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
    None
    $450
    17.74% to 24.74% variable
    Earn 50,000 BONUS POINTS after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening* — that's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
    None
    $550
    None (Charge Card)
    Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
    None
    $450
    17.74% to 24.74% variable
    Enjoy United Club membership, Premier Access® travel services, free checked bags, plus earn miles on every purchase.
    None
    $75
    16.74% to 24.74% variable
    Buy one ticket, get one for just the taxes and fees ($0 fare plus taxes and fees from just $22) after you make $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of your account opening. There are no blackout dates.
    None
    $195
    17.49% to 26.49% variable
    Earn 70,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles(MQMs) after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    Compare travel credit cards

    How to select the right combination of travel money options

    There’s no such thing as the one perfect travel money card. The ideal option will depend on your financial situation, spending habits and vacation plans.

    For example, if you travel frequently, a travel-friendly debit or credit card could be a good way to spend and earn rewards. If you’re a student traveler, a prepaid travel money card could be a better way to access your own funds across multiple currencies.

    While one travel money option may be preferable over another, you should have a backup in case of an emergency — cash is always reliable. Consider your financial situation and how you’d like to use your money when you’re on vacation to determine which combination of travel money possibilities is right for you.
    Guide to traveling with money overseas

    Mistakes to avoid

    • Relying on one option. It’s better to not rely on just one option — who knows what could happen. A backup debit or credit card could be a trip saver if your prepaid card or cash is misplaced or stolen.
    • Reloading time. If you’re using a prepaid travel money card and need to load funds on the card, keep in mind that it could take a few business days to process.
    • Fees. Make sure you’re aware of all the fees involved, including interest charges, international ATM fees and foreign transaction fees so you don’t come home to a surprisingly large bill.
    • Accepted currencies and worldwide access. Check ahead of time whether the countries you are planning to visit will accept your card as an acceptable form of payment. It’s also important to confirm whether the local currency is supported by your card.
    • Restrictions. Check with your card provider before traveling to see if there are any current restrictions on using your card in the destination you’ll be heading to.

    Your card of choice comes down to what you feel would work best for you when traveling. Comparing your options will ensure that you know what’s available on the market and which is the right choice for you. Happy traveling!

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    Kyle Morgan

    Kyle Morgan is a writer and editor for finder.com who has worked for the USA Today network and Relix magazine, among other publications. He can be found writing about everything from the latest car loan stats to tips on saving money when traveling overseas. He lives in Asbury Park, where he loves exploring new places and sipping on hoppy beer. Oh, and he doesn't discriminate against buffalo wings — grilled or fried are just fine.

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