An international credit card is ideal for making purchases abroad and on international websites. They typically have no foreign transaction fees and come with bonus rewards on travel purchases. You may also find benefits such as travel insurance, travel credits, airport lounge access and chip-and-PIN capability.
Top international credit card
There are many excellent credit cards for overseas travel. And truth be told, there is no “best” card — only the one that fits your needs most effectively.
Nevertheless, some cards are consistently ranked among the top travel credit cards.
We compared credit cards for different travel niches, adding standout products to our list. We gave heavier weight to cards with best-in-market travel rewards rates. Also, we highlighted each international credit card that delivered excellent value through their travel benefits, such as credits and airport lounge access.
With an excellent annual travel credit, you can easily offset much of this card's annual fee. You'll like the strong points you'll earn on travel and dining after you receive your travel credit, which is boosted when you book through Chase. What's more, you get to earn 10x points on Lyft rides until March 2021, and you get a one year complementary Lyft Pink membership, which comes with a 15% discount on Lyft rides among its many perks. Other card benefits include complementary airport lounge access and a $100 credit for your Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee.
50,000 points after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
Earn 5x points on flights booked through Chase, 10x points on hotels and car rentals booked through Chase, 10x points on Chase Dining, 3x points on all other travel and dining and 1x points on everything else. Plus you get 10x points on Lyft rides until March 2021. All points are worth 50% more when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
$300 annual travel credit.
Airport lounge access.
Credit for your Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee.
Annual fee. You'll pay $550 annual fee for the card.
No intro APR period. Like many other travel cards, you won't get a 0% intro APR period on purchases, balance transfers or both.
Excellent credit score required. Being a premium card, your chances of approval greatly increase with a credit score of 740 or higher.
16.99% to 23.99% variable
Balance transfer APR
16.99% to 23.99% variable
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $750 through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
This hotel credit card is loaded with benefits, including strong rewards, an annual Free Night Award and complementary Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program. You'll also receive credits that can offset a large portion of your annual fee, as well as airport lounge access through Priority Pass Select after you enroll.
For a limited time, you'll earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after spending $3,000 in eligible purchases in the first 3 months. You can also earn up to $200 back in statement credits on eligible US restaurant purchases made within your first 6 months.
6x Marriott Bonvoy points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. 3x points at US restaurants and on direct-book flights. 2x points on other eligible purchases.
Annual Free Night Award and complementary Elite status.
The Amex Platinum Card offers a market-leading rewards rate on flights. And if you transfer your Membership Rewards points to certain travel partners, they could be worth twice as much. It's a lucrative combination. Add invaluable travel credits and complementary airport lounge access, and you have one of the best travel cards, bar none.
100,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.
Earn 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel on up to $500,000 annually (then 1x points) and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked at American Express Travel. Other eligible purchases earn 1x points. Redeem points for Uber gift cards at a value of 0.7 cents a point.
Enjoy $200 annual airline fee credit after you select an airline and enroll, $200 annual Uber Cash, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR membership, $155 in credit on Walmart+ subscriptions and more.
Complementary airport lounge access - including the Centurion Lounges.
Annual fee. As a luxury card, the Amex Platinum Card requires a $695 annual fee for use.
Narrow reward categories. This card is only particularly strong at earning rewards on travel and dining.
Potentially limited acceptance abroad. American Express cards are not as widely accepted worldwide as Visa or Mastercard.
Can't always carry your balance. Most credit cards let you carry your balance by paying interest. The Amex Platinum Card, however, lets you carry your balance on some purchases, but not on all of them.
See Pay Over Time APR
Balance transfer APR
100,000 points after spending $6,000 in your first 6 months
With more than 6,000 Hilton locations worldwide, having a card like the no-annual-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card could make your international travel a rewarding experience. Earn a generous welcome offer with this card and spend it on hotel stays.
Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 3 months of card membership. You'll also earn 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $5,000 in purchases on the card in the first 6 months.
7x points on eligible purchases within the Hilton Portfolio of hotels and resorts, 5x points when you spend at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, and 3x points on other eligible purchases.
No annual fee.
No intro APR period. You don't get a 0% intro APR period on purchases or balance transfers.
Penalty APR. A missed or returned payment could cause Amex to impose a penalty APR of up to 29.24% variable.
15.74% to 24.74% variable
Balance transfer APR
Earn up to 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points. Earn 80,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. Also, earn another 50,000 points after spending a total of $5,000 in the first 6 months.
If you don't want to worry about bonus categories, consider this reliable international credit card from Capital One. You'll earn a consistent 2x miles on every purchase. Call Capital One and a representative can assign you a PIN — perfect if you'll travel to a chip-and-PIN destination. Plus, enjoy more flexibility with your miles by transferring them to Capital One's 15 travel partners.
Signup bonus. Earn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $20,000 in your first 12 months of account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months.
$100 Credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.
$95 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Annual fee. You'll pay a $95 annual fee for this card.
No intro APR period. You don't get a 0% intro APR period on balance transfers or purchases with this card.
15.99% to 23.99% variable
Balance transfer APR
15.99% to 23.99% variable
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
This is one of the leading credit cards for international travel because you can earn and redeem your miles for flights anywhere across the globe. As a member of the SkyTeam alliance, you can fly with partner airlines, such as AeroMexico, Air France, Korean Air, Virgin Australia, Aeroflot, China Airlines and more.
Earn 50,000 miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months your account is open.
3x miles on eligible Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2x at restaurants and US supermarkets and 1x miles on all other purchases.
Get a domestic main cabin round-trip companion certificate each year you renew your Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card. This allows you to take a guest along on a round-trip domestic flight for only the price of the taxes and fees.
Get a intro APR on purchases, which is rare for an airline card. The intro APR lasts for from when you open the account, and then reverts to a variable APR of 15.74% - 24.74%.
Annual fee. Expect to pay $250 annually for the card.
Companion certificate fees. To use the companion certificate, you'll have to pay taxes and fees of up to $75.
15.74% to 24.74% variable
Balance transfer APR
50,000 miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $2,000 in your first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
What’s changed in 2022? With travel largely suspended in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, travel cards didn’t see many changes affecting travel abroad. With a vaccine on the horizon, we will update and evolve our list throughout 2021.
How do I choose the best international credit card?
The hallmark of an international credit card is its no-foreign-transaction fee benefit and travel perks, making it a great choice for spending on international trips and on foreign websites. Here are a few factors to consider while looking for your next card:
Foreign transaction fees. These are fees applied when you use your card abroad or on a foreign website, and they’re typically 3% of each transaction. The vast majority of travel cards will not charge you these fees.
Most cards in the US are chip-and-signature cards. You’ll use your card, and if necessary, you’ll provide a signature. In many international destinations — Europe, for example — chip-and-PIN cards are common. After using your card, you’ll be asked to input a PIN to verify your transaction.
Merchant acceptance. Visa and Mastercard are accepted far more widely than Discover and American Express. If you’ll use cards from the latter two providers, consider having another credit card as a backup.
More ways to find your next international credit card
Decide whether a card will deliver enough value to justify paying for it yearly. Consider whether the bonus rewards will offset the price. And take into account travel credits and extra benefits.
Look for an international credit card that offers bonus rewards for your preferred spending categories. If you’re a loyal Marriott customer, for example, a cobranded hotel card from the chain might be a great pick. If you’re not particular about the hotel you stay in, however, you might like a general travel card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
Extra benefits can add tremendous value to your card. Look for travel credits, which reimburse you for eligible spending. You might also find perks such as airport lounge access, elite upgrades, priority boarding and free checked baggage.
For peace of mind on your next trip, you might want protections like travel insurance, auto rental collision damage waivers, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement, and emergency evacuation and transportation. You’ll find more of these protections with premium travel cards. However, mid-tier travel cards may also offer these benefits to some degree.
What are the pros and cons of using an international credit card?
Global acceptance. If you’re using a Mastercard or Visa credit card, you’ll be able to use your credit card in millions of locations around the world. American Express and Discover cards are also accepted worldwide, though in fewer places than Visa or Mastercard.
Travel perks. An international credit card usually offers travel-related benefits such as frequent-flyer rewards programs, complementary insurance and airline lounge access.
Security of credit. When you’re traveling overseas, it’s advisable to have more than one way to access your cash. Even if you have a prepaid card or debit card for everyday spending, you can use a credit card as a backup.
Fees. Depending on the card, using your credit card overseas can come with many costs. Understand exactly what you’ll pay when using your card for foreign transactions before you apply.
Temptation to spend. While a credit card can provide you with peace of mind, it might also tempt you to spend money you don’t really have. Remember that you’ll have to pay back everything you charge, plus interest if you plan on carrying a balance.
Do I really need a credit card with 0% foreign transaction fees?
This largely depends on how often you travel abroad and how much you spend. For example, spending $5,000 annually abroad will cost you $150 in foreign transaction fees. Getting a no-annual-fee card with no foreign transaction fees can save you that money.
That said, spending $500 with your card abroad will only cost you $15. Sometimes, trying to avoid a $15 fee may not be worth the hassle of getting another card.
Should I use my international credit card to withdraw cash from international ATMs?
Not only should you avoid withdrawing cash with your credit card from international ATMs, but you should avoid doing so at any ATM, period. You’ll be hit with a cash advance fee, and your transaction will immediately start accruing interest. The local ATM provider may even charge you a withdrawal fee.
International credit cards with 0% foreign transaction fees
Save on unnecessary costs abroad with one of these international credit cards. Select your credit range below and choose Show cards to start comparing card features side-by-side.
The ideal international credit card is one that meets your individual needs. Given the wide variety of options, take your time and compare several cards you like. For help narrowing your options, check out our guide to travel cards, as well as our airline cards and hotel card guides.
Is there any way to find out which countries accept a given card? One easy way to find out if the card you want will be accepted in the country you’re traveling to is to visit the website of the payment system that supports the card, which can be Visa or Mastercard.
Why is it important to avoid foreign transaction fees? While foreign transaction fees can be relatively small — typically 3% of each transaction — they can add up over many purchases. To avoid surprises after your international trip, strongly consider a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
Do I have to pay an annual fee for an international credit card? No. You’ll find plenty of great no-annual-fee travel cards. If you’re willing to pay, you’ll find strong cards around the $95, $200, $450, and even $1,000 price point.
Sally McMullen is Finder's credit cards and frequent flyer editor by day and a music maven by night. She's also one half of the Pocket Money podcast. Her byline can be spotted on Yahoo Finance, Dynamic Business, Financy and Mamamia as well as Music Feeds and Rolling Stone. Sally has a first-class Honours degree in Communications and Media Studies (majoring in Journalism and Professional Writing) from the University of Wollongong.
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