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If you are planning a trip overseas, you are going to need at least one (and preferably two) Visa cards or MasterCards. The reason it is crucial to have MasterCard or Visa cards when you travel internationally is that, unlike Discover and American Express, these cards are accepted just about everywhere credit cards can be used. Unfortunately, not all MasterCard and Visa cards are created equally, and some are better for international travel than others.
A key drawback to using credit cards when you travel are foreign transaction fees. Most banks charge international fees of 2-4%, even if you use your card to book a hotel abroad from the U.S. International credit card fees can add up quickly. On a five night hotel stay, it is very easy to rack up $40 to $50 in these charges alone. If you spend $1000 while traveling, you can expect to pay yet another $40 or so.
Ultimately, the best credit cards for travel charge no international/foreign transaction fees. Unfortunately, only one major card company charges no fees. Any card from this company is likely to be the best card for travel.
Once you find a Visa or MasterCard (or one of each) that has no international fees, the next step is to get one that either offers a 0% interest rate, a low long term APR or good rewards. This shouldn’t be a problem. However, when selecting a new card, avoid tempting airline mile cards and instead look for a card that offers cash back rewards. While a travel oriented mindset may make a miles card seem appealing, cash back rewards are much more valuable, easier to use, and generally come with no fees attached.
Finding the best credit card for travel isn’t a difficult process. Because only one major card company charges no international transaction fees, there really is only one place to start and end your search for the best money saving deal.