What is the Best Credit Card* to use Overseas?
Avoid international transaction fees and enjoy complimentary travel insurance with a credit card on your next holiday.
There is a wide range of credit cards that offer you travel benefits such as complimentary extras. Depending on the card you choose you could enjoy perks such as credit card travel insurance, reward points or airline lounge passes.
Unfortunately, these cards aren’t entirely cost-free though. As the right credit card for you will depend on where you’re travelling, your spending plans and your financial situation, you can use this guide to compare your options and find the right travel credit card option for you.
How to compare credit cards for overseas travel
As few New Zealand credit cards on the market are designed for overseas use, here are some of the features you should compare to find the right one for you.
In your hunt for a credit card to use overseas, one of the first features to consider is international acceptance. Credit cards with affiliation to Visa or Mastercard find acceptance in most countries around the world, at ATMs and EFTPOS terminals alike. Acceptance of Diners Club and American Express cards is not as widespread and their use could attract higher fees. Make sure the card that you’re using isn’t restricted by economic sanctions before you travel.
Credit card fees
To understand how much your card could cost you, consider the following fees when comparing which cards to use outside New Zealand:
- Foreign transaction fees. When you make an international purchase using your card, your New Zealand dollars are converted to the local currency. When this happens, you’re usually charged a fee.
- Annual fees. If you have a card that comes with extra features, it’s likely that it could also come with a higher annual fee. Before you apply, make sure the value you get from the card outweighs the cost. Some cards also come with no annual fees for a promotional period or for the life of the card, so you should also factor this into your comparison.
- ATM withdrawal fees. If you If you use your credit card to withdraw funds overseas, you might be charged a few different fees. Firstly, most credit cards charge a cash advance fee when you use your card for ATM withdrawals (whether you’re in New Zealand or overseas). As well as the cash advance fee, you’ll immediately attract the cash advance interest rate. Secondly, many banks charge an overseas ATM withdrawal fee when using your card for this withdrawals outside of New Zealand. Thirdly, the local ATM provider might also charge a withdrawal fee.
If you’re travelling overseas, you’re going to have to organise international travel insurance. Using a credit card that offers complimentary insurance can help you save the time and money you’d otherwise spend on standalone cover. Depending on the card, the international travel insurance can includes overseas medical insurance, transit accident insurance and travel delay insurance to name a few. The cover might also extend to your spouse or any dependent children travelling with you. As well as travel insurance, some credit cards offer purchase security insurance and extended warranty so you can shop with peace of mind. Make sure the feature is worth the cost of the card before applying.
Compare credit cards with complimentary travel insurance
Frequent flyer rewards
Using frequent flyer credit card is an easy way to pick up reward points as you spend overseas. Depending on the card, you might be able to redeem these points for flights with a specific airline, accommodation with partner hotels, travel vouchers, cashback on your account or products from a rewards store.
What should I be aware of when using a credit card overseas?
- Consider other options. Using your credit card is not the only way you can spend money overseas. You can turn to traveller’s cheques and prepaid travel money cards. In fact, it’s wise to organise more than one travel money option before travelling to ensure you’re not stranded without cash in case your card is lost or stolen.
- Excessive debt. A credit card may tempt you to overspend while on holiday. It’s important to remember that you have to repay everything you charge (plus interest in most cases), so make sure that you’re spending with a budget in mind so that your balance doesn’t get out of control.
What are the pros and cons of using a credit card overseas?
- 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 Diners Club cards are also accepted worldwide, though in fewer places than Visa or Mastercard.
- Travel perks. Credit cards designed for overseas use often come with travel-related benefits such as frequent flyer rewards programs, complimentary insurance and airline lounge passes.
- Security of credit. When you’re travelling overseas, it’s wise to have more than one way to access your cash. Even if you have a prepaid card or debit card organised for everyday spending, a credit card can be used as a backup and the security of credit could come in handy in an emergency.
- Fees. Depending on the card, using your credit card overseas can come with many costs. Make sure you understand exactly what you’ll pay when using your card for foreign transactions before you apply.
- Limitations. Some cards come with limitations, including eligibility requirements, restrictions on how and where you can use the card.
- Temptation to spend. While a line of credit can provide you with peace of mind, it might also tempt you to spend money that you don’t really have. Remember that you’ll have to pay back everything you charge (plus interest if you don’t pay your balance in full).