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What is an international credit card? Which ones are the best?

Avoid foreign transaction fees and get travel-centric perks.

Updated . What changed?

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Our pick for a travel card: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve® logo

50,000-point

Signup bonus after spending $4,000 in first 3 months

  • Signup bonus worth $750 with Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Airport lounge access
  • Visa Infinite Concierge
Apply now
If you’re going to use a credit card to make purchases abroad or on foreign websites, avoid paying more than you need to. You can do this by using an international credit card, which usually comes with no foreign transaction fees and a bevy of travel-centric perks.

What is the best 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, which we’ll cover below.

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.

Best premium card for flexible rewards

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve® logo
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (740-850)
Apply now
on Chase's secure site
Rates & fees

740
Min. credit score
$550
Annual fee
50,000
Points welcome offer
Up to 10x
Points
With an excellent annual travel credit, you can easily offset much of this card's annual fee. You'll like the strong 3x points you'll earn on travel and dining after you receive your travel credit. What's more, you get to earn 10x points on Lyft rides until March 2020, and you get a one year complimentary Lyft Pink membership, which comes with a 15% discount on Lyft rides among its many perks.Other card's benefits include, complimentary 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.
  • 3x points on travel and dining after you earn your $300 annual travel credit. 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 $550
Purchase APR 16.99% to 23.99% variable
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases

Best for flights

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$550
Annual fee
60,000
Points welcome offer
Up to 5x
Points
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 complimentary airport lounge access, and you have one of the best travel cards, bar none.
  • 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • 5x points on eligible flights and hotels.
  • $200 annual airline fee credit, $200 annual Uber Cash, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit.
  • Complimentary airport lounge access - including the Centurion Lounges.
Annual fee $550
Purchase APR See Pay Over Time APR
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months
Rewards 5x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases

Best for flat-rate rewards

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
Rates & fees

670
Min. credit score
$95 ongoing
Annual fee
50,000
Miles welcome offer
5x
Miles
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.
  • 50,000 miles after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • 2x miles on every purchase.
  • $100 Credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Annual fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Purchase APR 17.24%, 21.99% or 24.49% variable
Foreign transaction fee 3% of the transaction value
Welcome offer 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 5x miles on Uber Eats and 2x miles on all purchases

Best cobranded hotel card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (740-850)
Read review
Rates & fees

740
Min. credit score
$450
Annual fee
75,000
Points welcome offer
Up to 6x
Points
This hotel credit card is loaded with benefits, including strong rewards, an annual Free Night Award and complimentary Gold 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.
  • 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
  • 6x Marriott Bonvoy points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. 3x points at US restaurants and on direct-book flights. 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Annual Free Night Award and complimentary Gold Elite status.
  • Annual $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit and $100 Marriott Bonvoy property credit.
  • $100 Credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.
  • Priority Pass Select.
Annual fee $450
Purchase APR 15.74% to 24.74% variable
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
Rewards 6x points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3x at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2x for all other purchases
Please note: All information about Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has been collected independently by Finder and this card is no longer available through this site.

Best for travel perks with no annual fee

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card logo
Finder Rating: 3.2 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
25,000
Points welcome offer
1.5x
Points
The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has no annual fee and offers solid rewards and a nice signup bonus.
  • Signup bonus. You'll get 25,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in your first 90 days of card membership.
  • Earn points. Earn a flat 1.5x points on all eligible purchases.
  • Intro APR on purchases. Enjoy a 0% intro APR period on purchases for the first 12 statement closing dates, reverting to 14.99% to 22.99% after.
Annual fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 12 statement closing dates (then 14.99% to 22.99% variable)
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer 25,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
Rewards 1.5x points on all purchases

What is an international credit card?

This is a credit card that’s ideal for use abroad and on international websites.

You’ll typically find no foreign transaction fees and bonus rewards on travel purchases. You may also find benefits such as travel insurance, travel credits, airport lounge access and chip-and-PIN capability.

How to choose the best international credit cards

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.

  • Chip-and-PIN capabilities.

    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.

    Research whether the country you’ll visit is a chip-and-PIN area. If so, look for card providers that let you request a PIN, such as Barclays travel cards, Bank of America credit cards or PenFed Credit Union cards.

  • 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.

What are the pros and cons of using an international credit card?

Pros

  • 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, complimentary insurance and airline lounge access.
  • Security of credit. When you’re traveling overseas, it’s wise 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.

Cons

  • 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 an international 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, you should avoid doing so at any ATM, period. This is because 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.

One of the best options to withdraw cash abroad is using a debit card — specifically one that waives all ATM fees and gives you the true exchange rate. Consider a service like the Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account, which comes highly recommended by Finder staff.

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 click “Show cards” to start comparing card features side-by-side.

Name Product Foreign transaction fee Annual fee Purchase APR Filter values
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
None
$95
15.99% to 22.99% variable
This popular travel card's signup bonus is worth up to $750. Get even more value out of your travel, dining, and Lyft rewards by transferring them to miles.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
None
$550
16.99% to 23.99% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
None
$0
15.24% variable
Earn valuable cash back on everyday purchases at gas stations, restaurants and Costco as well as eligible travel with no foreign fees.
Luxury Card Mastercard® Titanium Card™
None
$195
14.99% variable
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
The World of Hyatt Credit Card
None
$95
15.99% to 22.99% variable
Earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. 25,000 points after spending another $6,000 in the first 6 months.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

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.

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