Having a credit or debit card on hand when you’re away is a must-have travel convenience. With credit cards, you can access a wide array of deals and complimentary extras that cut the cost of your travel. Expect perks such as travel insurance, flight and accommodation discounts, lower foreign currency conversion fees and more.
So if you’re planning for your next trip, use this guide to compare credit cards with travel promotions and learn about the different card features and perks available.
We’ve chosen the cards on this page based on the providers available through Finder. These cards are not representative of the entire market. Our top credit cards for travel promotions offer the following:
A wide array of travel deals to reduce your expenses.
No annual fees for at least the first year of card usage.
Attractive rewards including air miles, cash credit and deals with merchants all over the world.
No single card will be the best choice for everyone, so compare your options before picking your new card.
Compare credit cards with travel rewards
*The products compared here are chosen from a range of offers available to us and are not representative of all the products available in the market. There is no perfect order for the products we list on our site, so we enable you to re-order and compare products. The initial display order is influenced by a range of factors including commercial partnerships, product costs and conversion rates, so please don’t interpret the listing order as an endorsement or recommendation from us. We’re happy to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions, and we encourage you to make your own decisions and compare and assess products based on your own needs, preferences and circumstances.
What do I need to know about credit card travel promotions?
If you’re a globetrotter who travels frequently for business or pleasure, owning a travel card can help you score free travel perks. Some of the benefits and privileges you can expect from owning a travel credit card include:
Worldwide acceptance. The majority of Singapore credit cards are issued by Visa, Mastercard or American Express, which are all widely accepted internationally.
Zero or low currency conversion fees. While most credit cards charge 2-3% on currency conversion, many travel credit cards offer no fees for transactions made overseas or online with an international retailer.
Complimentary travel insurance. A wide range of credit cards offer complimentary travel insurance, that can save you money and get you the extra peace of mind when you travel overseas. Usually, you’ll need to charge your full fare or other travel costs using the card to activate the cover, so make sure you check what’s required for any card you choose.
Emergency card replacement. If your card is lost, stolen or damaged when you’re travelling overseas, you may need to request an emergency card replacement. This sometimes attracts additional fees, so look for a travel card that waives these costs if that’s something you want to avoid.
ATM withdrawals and balance check. Many travel credit cards offer free ATM withdrawals and balance checks to help you save on fees. But keep in mind that using a credit card to withdraw cash overseas will still attract a cash advance fee worth around 6% of the transaction. You’ll also be charged interest at the prevailing cash advance rate from the time the transaction is made.
Accelerated miles or reward points accumulation. Most travel credit cards can help you accumulate miles or points at a faster rate than regular cards, such as 2x rewards on overseas transactions.
Travel perks. Travel credit cards generally offer trip benefits such as airport transfers, lounge access to select airport lounges worldwide and priority boarding at certain airports.
Complimentary airport lounge and golf course access. Enjoy fee waivers or discounts on green fees at some of the leading and most popular golf courses around the world.
Dining and hotel deals. You’ll generally find a variety of attractive promotions on hotel and restaurant dining options.
What should I consider when using a travel credit card?
Keeping these details in mind can help you avoid extra charges and hassles when you’re using a credit card overseas.
Avoid dynamic currency conversion (DCC). Some overseas establishments and ATMs may offer you the option of paying in the local currency or in Singapore dollars (SGD). If you choose SGD, the transaction will be processed using dynamic currency conversion, which is an expensive practice that typically cost way more than paying in the local currency. So if you’re given the choice, opt to pay in the local currency instead.
Find out what fees and charges may apply. Besides foreign transaction fees and cash withdrawal fees, remember to take note of other potential fees. These may be the cash advance fee, prevailing cash advance interest rate and purchase interest rate.
Inform your bank that you’re going overseas. To help prevent fraudulent transactions, you may need to activate your card’s magnetic stripe for overseas use and inform your bank prior to going overseas. Otherwise, your card may be blocked and you may not be able to access your funds overseas.
Check for any restrictions. Credit cards may have pre-set limits for daily withdrawals or transactions. Make sure you check and change these limits if necessary before going overseas.
Make a copy of your provider’s contact details. Always keep a copy of your credit card provider’s emergency contact details on hand. In the case of an emergency, you can contact your provider for assistance as soon as possible.
How to compare travel credit cards
There are a lot of credit cards available in Singapore that offer many travel-related perks, ranging from free travel to achieving elite member status with hotels and airlines. However, every traveller has unique reward goals, so consider your priorities when choosing a travel rewards card. Here are some tips to consider:
Signup bonus. Most cards offer one or more perks when you sign up for them. These welcome gifts typically vary from one card to another, so consider one that gives you a bonus that is beneficial to you.
Features and benefits. Choose a card based on the type of benefits it offers and whether these perks actually benefit you. Card privileges vary on different categories of spends and some might not suit your lifestyle and spending habits.
Annual fee. Some cards charge a high annual fee that may cost you more than the benefits it provides in the long run. Consider the features and privileges and see if they outweigh the costs of owning. You’d want to avoid a situation whereby you’re paying out of your own pocket just to own the card.
Alternative co-branded cards. Providers often collaborate with certain brands or merchants to offer exclusive cards. Look up such cards and see if they offer you better rewards.
What other travel money options can I take with me?
When you’re overseas, it’s always a good rule of thumb to have more than one travel money option for extra flexibility and security. Some other options you can consider include:
Cash. Having sufficient cash on hand is a must regardless of where you’re travelling to as you may find that some establishments have limited options or impose hefty fees for card payments.
Debit cards. Bringing your everyday debit card overseas grants you direct access to your cash, rather than a credit limit. Even though withdrawing cash from an overseas ATM will incur a fee (typically S$7 each time), you can avoid interest charges and overspending while you’re away.
Travel cards. Prepaid travel cards allow you to load and spend money in multiple currencies. This means you’ll be able to avoid foreign transaction fees and can lock-in the amount of foreign currency you have before you go overseas. As you load your own money onto the card, you also won’t have to worry about interest charges or cash advance costs if you withdraw money from an ATM. Read more about how prepaid cards work.
Traveller’s cheques. Traveller’s cheques used to be a popular travel money option, but they are no longer widely accepted. So remember to check if there will be places you can cash them out on your trip before ordering your traveller’s check.
Three tips to protect your travel money when you’re overseas
Following these precautions should help ensure your trip runs smoothly:
Don’t carry too much cash. Avoid carrying a lot of cash or wearing expensive jewellery to prevent attracting unwanted negative attention.
Store your cards, cash or cheques in various secure areas. It is not advisable to carry all your cards and cash in a single location or wallet in case you lose it. Always distribute these items among your secure belongings and carry an alternative wallet which can store excess cash and other important items.
Report any emergency situations immediately. Make a copy of all your necessary contact numbers so you can get in contact with the relevant people in the chance of an emergency. This should include those of your personal emergency contacts, your credit card providers and your insurance provider.
Taking a little time to choose your travel money options – including any credit card travel promotions – before you leave can help you avoid extra costs and unforeseen issues, meaning you can spend more time enjoying your trip with peace of mind.
Frequently asked questions
Are there requirements I need to meet to get complimentary credit card travel insurance?
This depends on the card and the complimentary insurance policy. Check your credit card’s complimentary insurance policy document or contact your issuer directly to find out exactly what’s required and the type of cover available. Plus, you’ll want to be aware of exactly how much cover you’ll actually get – as you may find a free travel insurance deal won’t offer you full coverage against the risks you may face on your trip.
Is there any catch for credit card welcome bonuses?
Yes, credit card welcome bonuses are typically reserved for new sign-ups only. This means that you either never owned a card from that bank, or have cancelled your card at least 12 months ago. Some credit card issuers also require you to hit a minimum spend (for example, S$500 in the first month) before you’re qualified for the freebies. If you’re unsure about your eligibility for the credit card’s introductory freebies, be sure to check the terms and conditions before applying.
Is there a drawback to signing up for more credit cards?
Many cardholders are tempted to sign up for extra credit cards just for the welcome bonuses without considering that having too many cards may bring unintended consequences. With any additional credit cards that you don’t utilise, you may find yourself not having the time to keep track of them, causing you to be more susceptible to credit card fraud and incurring an annual fee if you forget to cancel them after the first year. Also, having too many unused credit cards may also affect your credit score.
Zyane Tan is an associate editor at Finder. An experienced copywriter and content creator, Zyane enjoys writing on a wide array of subjects. When she’s not busy typing away, she’s reading and musing over a pint.
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