Best Credit Cards for International Travel

Earn valuable rewards you can use to fund international travel adventures this year with a top travel rewards credit card. Below are our top picks for the best international travel rewards credit cards for consumers and small business owners.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is usually among the best rewards credit cards, no matter the list. 

Aside from the enormous welcome offer, the card unlocks access to one of the most versatile rewards programs in existence, Chase Ultimate Rewards. Through Ultimate Rewards, you can redeem your points for almost anything, including statement credits, gift cards, online shopping, and more. 

You can also use points to book travel directly through Ultimate Rewards. If that's not enough, you can always transfer your points to one of Chase's 13 airline and hotel partners, including Aer Lingus, British Airways, Emirates, Air France KLM, JetBlue, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic, IHG, Marriott, and Hyatt. 

The Preferred card also comes with a host of travel insurance protections, including primary auto rental collision coverage, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, and baggage delay insurance. 

Travelers who want flexible rewards they can use in multiple ways, including traveling internationally.

  • $95 annual fee
  • Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on your card in the first three months
  • 2X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services
  • 2X points on travel
  • 1X points on all other purchases
  • Partner benefits with Lyft, Peloton, and DoorDash.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred travel insurance.
  • 13 airline and hotel travel partners
  • No foreign transaction fees

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Another versatile travel rewards card that lets you transfer miles to travel partners is the Capital One Venture Rewards card. Capital One miles are transferable to 15 airline partners like Turkish Airlines, Air Portugal, JetBlue, British Airways, Emirates, Air Canada, Aeromexico, and more. 

Other travel perks featured with the Venture Rewards card include Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit, 24-hour travel assistance, and travel accident insurance.

Travelers who want to earn versatile rewards for international travel without paying an annual fee.

  • $0 annual fee
  • Earn 20,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 on your card in the first three months 
  • 1.25X miles on all purchases
  • 15 airline transfer partners
  • Travel accident insurance
  • No foreign transaction fees

Citi Premier® Card

Not only does the Citi Premier® Card come with a large welcome offer, but it also gives you access to ThankYou Rewards, Citi's loyalty rewards program. Through ThankYou Rewards, you can use your points to book travel directly or transfer points to one of its many travel partners, like Emirates, JetBlue, Qantas, Turkish Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and many more. 

International travelers who want to fly overseas through one of Citi's partner airlines.

  • $95 annual fee
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on your card in the first three months
  • 3X points at gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets, on air travel, and hotels
  • 1X points on all other purchases
  • $100 annual hotel savings on select bookings made through Citi ThankYou rewards program 
  • No foreign transaction fees

United Explorer Card

The United Explorer Card is among the best airline credit cards, especially for international travelers. The card comes with several valuable travel perks, including two annual United Club one-time passes, a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit, free first checked bag on United flights, and 25% back on United in-flight purchases, like WiFi, food, and beverages. 

Don't forget that United is part of the Star Alliance, so you can also use your miles towards flights on partner airlines too. 

Travelers who frequently fly United or one of its Star Alliance partner airlines.

  • $95 annual fee, waived the first year
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on your card in the first three months. Also, earn an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 total on your card in the first six months
  • 2X miles on United Airlines purchases
  • 2X miles on dining, including eligible delivery services
  • 2X miles on hotel accommodations when booked directly with the hotel
  • 1X miles on all other purchases
  • 2 United Club passes
  • $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
  • 25% back on United in-flight purchases
  • Free first checked bag on United flights
  • No foreign transaction fees

The Platinum Card® from American Express

We can't have a best international travel cards list without including a luxury travel card. The Platinum Card from American Express carries one of the highest annual fees at $550, but the card offers more than enough value to cover the cost. You name the travel perks, and it's probably included with the Amex Platinum Card, including airport lounge access, various fee credits, elevated hotel loyalty status, and more. 

Luxury travelers who want access to travel perks beyond the basics offered with other credit cards.

  • $550 annual fee
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on your card in the first three months 
  • 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel 
  • 5X points on prepaid hotels booked via amextravel.com
  • 1X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Airport lounge access
  • Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status
  • Up to $200 annually in Uber Cash for Uber rides and Uber eats
  • Valuable travel insurance protections
  • No foreign transaction fees

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

If you own a small business, you can earn rewards for business purchases you can use to travel internationally. The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card comes with a huge 100,000 welcome bonus and earns high rewards rates in spending categories that make sense for most small businesses.

Like the Sapphire Preferred card, Chase Ink Business Preferred comes with access to the Ultimate Rewards program and all of Chase's travel transfer partners. Don't forget that you can also book international travel directly through Ultimate Rewards, where your points are worth 25% more. 

The business rewards card comes with other helpful travel perks like trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance and primary auto rental collision coverage. 

Small business owners who want to earn valuable rewards they can use to fund international travel.

  • $95 annual fee
  • Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on your card in the first three months
  • 3X points on the first $150,000 combined spent on shipping, advertising, internet, cable and phone services, and travel
  • 1X points on all other purchases
  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
  • Auto rental collision coverage
  • 13 airline and hotel travel partners
  • No foreign transaction fees

Best Prepaid Credit Cards for International Travel

If you don't want to use a credit card overseas, a solid prepaid card is another option to consider. Prepaid cards are safer than carrying cash and also don't require a credit check. 

Netspend Visa Prepaid Card

The Netspend Visa Prepaid Card is among the best-prepaid cards available. 

As a Visa card, it's accepted nearly everywhere worldwide. The card also comes with an early direct deposit which allows you to get your direct deposit up to two days early. It also earns cash back on eligible purchases with offers you activate online. 

Like many prepaid cards, the Netspend card carries a foreign transaction surcharge on purchases made outside the U.S. There's also a $1.50 fee on signature and pin purchases unless you sign up for a monthly plan ($9.95/month) or reduced monthly plan ($5.00/month). 

Individuals who want an alternative to credit cards and carrying cash when traveling internationally.

  • No credit check required
  • 4% foreign transaction surcharge
  • Direct deposit up to two days early
  • Mobile check deposits available

PayPal Prepaid MasterCard

You know PayPal because of its online payment system, but it also offers a prepaid card that's perfect for traveling internationally. You can load money onto your card at more than 130,000 locations worldwide. The PayPal Prepaid MasterCard comes with direct deposit up to two days early and free money transfers from PayPal accounts. 

The PayPal Prepaid MasterCard carries a simple $4.95 monthly charge for unlimited purchases. There's no activation fee but may carry an additional fee if you purchase the card from a retail location. 

Individuals who want a prepaid card for travel with low fees.

  • No credit check required
  • $4.95 monthly fee
  • 4% foreign transaction surcharge
  • Direct deposit up to two days early

Not all travel rewards cards are created equal, and if you travel internationally, you need a card that rewards your purchases and doesn't charge extra fees when traveling abroad. The best international travel rewards credit cards not only earn rewards towards free travel but come with access to valuable perks that enhance your trips outside of the U.S. 

This guide walks through the best credit cards for international travel and what to look for in a card so you can determine the best rewards card for you. 

What to Look for When Choosing an International Travel Credit Card

There are several factors to consider when looking for the best international travel credit card. Here are a few things to look at when comparing travel rewards credit cards. 

Welcome Offer

One of the quickest ways to earn rewards you can apply towards international travel is through credit card welcome offers. The best cards usually offer sizable bonus rewards for hitting minimum spending requirements, typically within three to six months, depending on the card. 

Travel Redemption Options Worldwide

The best international travel cards offer flexible travel rewards you can redeem for travel anywhere in the world. Many top credit card loyalty rewards programs allow you to book travel directly through a portal or transfer your points to partner travel programs like airlines and hotels. 

Fees

Credit card fees can cut into your rewards balance and the value of the card. Most -- but not all -- travel rewards credit cards carry an annual fee. Luxury travel rewards cards can carry annual fees topping $250 or more. 

For international travelers, you also want to find a good travel credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees. These are fees charged for purchases made outside of the U.S. and typically cost roughly 3% of the purchase amount. 

Airport Lounge Access

Airport lounges are a great way to enjoy luxury travel and wait out airport layovers. Lounge access usually comes with amenities like free WiFi, snacks and beverages, and a more comfortable spot than other areas of the airport terminal. Lounge access is sometimes reserved for luxury travel rewards cards and isn't a standard perk among all travel cards. 

Other Travel Perks 

There's more to a good international travel card than just earning points or miles. The additional travel perks included often end up being the most valuable (and most used) benefits to cardholders. Other travel perks may include: 

  • Global Entry/TSA Precheck Fee Credit

  • CLEAR credit or discount 

  • Priority boarding

  • Free checked bags

  • Companion passes

  • Car rental insurance

  • Lost luggage insurance

  • Trip delay and trip cancellation insurance 

Always look beyond the welcome offer and rewards rates to see what other benefits are included with an international travel rewards card before choosing the right one for you. 

Summary

If your future includes traveling internationally, signing up for a top travel rewards credit card should be on your to-do list. Not only can you earn valuable points and miles you can use to fund your adventures, but you can gain access to a host of other travel benefits. 

Bottom CTA BG Image

Find the Perfect Credit Card

If you want to find the perfect credit card match, fill out a simple form and then browse a personalized selection of credit cards designed for your financial needs.

Editorial Disclosure

All of the opinions expressed herein are the author's alone, and not those of any bank, brokerage, credit card issuer, lender, insurance company, outside financial institution, or any other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post or any other third parties.