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The best credit cards for international travel for December 2019 go beyond just having no foreign transaction fees. They make it possible to enjoy elite travel benefits in addition to earning a great sign up bonus. And all the best international travel credit cards have bonuses over $500 like the Chase Sapphire Preferred 60k bonus, which is worth at least $750 in travel. And of course, the best international credit cards have no foreign transaction fees and have smart chip technology so they are perfect for international travel. 

Best Credit Cards for International Travel
Best Credit Cards for International Travel

What is the Best Credits Card for International Travel 2019?

For near-universal acceptance, choose a Visa or Mastercard international credit card product. But, you might decide to also travel with an American Express product to enjoy upscale travel benefits that other credit cards struggle to offer. Read on to learn about what some of the best credit cards for international travel have to offer.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card – Best Credit Card for International Travel

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card has always been one of the best cards for international travel, but you have three more reasons to use this card on your next world tour:

  • 50,000 miles bonus
  • Global Entry application fee credit
  • Airline transfer partners
  • 10x points on Hotels.com purchases (through January 2020)
  • Annual fee waived for the first  year

You still earn 2 miles on every dollar you spend. You can transfer your miles to several airlines and also redeem your Capital One miles for travel statement credits or future award travel. The current signup bonus is 50,000 bonus miles worth $500 in award travel by spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. The $95 annual fee is also waived for the first year.

Learn more: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred – Best International Credit Card

Arguably the best travel rewards card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The Chase Sapphire Preferred review recently raised its bonus to 60,000 points ($750 at least in travel) which is the largest public bonus offered on this popular travel card. You will also receive 2x points on travel and dining purchases making it a great option for purchasing airline flight tickets.

The $95 annual fee isn’t waived for the first year, but the increase in bonus points makes up for the annual fee since 10,000 points have a $100 cash value or $125 travel credit.

But you can get even more value if you transfer your Sapphire Preferred points out to an Ultimate Rewards travel partner. To receive the bonus of 60,000 points you must spend $4,000 in 3 months on eligible purchases.

Apply here and see more details on Chase’s secure site: Chase Sapphire Preferred

You earn 2 points per $1 on every travel and dining purchase and 1 point per $1 on all non-bonus categories.

But the real value for the Sapphire Preferred and what makes it the best international credit card lies in its two valuable travel redemption options:

  • 25% travel redemption bonus
  • 1:1 point transfers to airline and hotel loyalty programs

The 25% redemption bonus applies to any award travel you book on the Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Having each point worth 1.25 cents each is awesome, but you might find more value in the 1:1 point transfers.

Some of the international 1:1 transfer partners include United Airlines, British Airways, Aer Lingus and Singapore Airlines. You might transfer your points to British Airways to intra-Europe award flights that start at 4,500 Avios. Or you can fly United or Aer Lingus to avoid the fuel surcharges that most global airlines charge all passengers.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also has a budget-friendly $95 annual fee and earns the extremely valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

See more details on Chase’s site: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve – International Credit Card for Frequent Travelers

When you want to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points but want a few premium international travel credit card perks, get the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. It has a $450 annual fee (vs. $95 for the Sapphire Preferred), but these Sapphire Reserve perks can more than offset the cost of owning a premium rewards card:

  • $300 annual travel credit
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership
  • Free Global Entry

You also enjoy a 50% travel redemption bonus instead of the Sapphire Preferred’s 25% redemption bonus. This makes the 50,000-point signup bonus worth $750 in award travel after spending $4,000 in the first 90 days. You also have access to the Chase 1:1 airline and hotel transfer partners.

Platinum Card from American Express – Best Premium International Travel Card

The Platinum Card® from American Express provides an impressive array of air travel perks including a $200 air travel credit, fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, and access to several lounge networks like The Centurion and Priority Pass. You also get 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on airfare purchases purchased directly from the airline, which is higher than other travel credit cards.

Your points are worth one cent each when booking award flights on Amex Travel. But you will probably find more value in the 1:1 airline transfer partners that offer many international award flight options. Some of the international transfer partners are:

  • Aer Lingus
  • ANA
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca Lifemiles
  • Emirates
  • Etihad
  • Singapore Airlines

With this lineup, it’s possible to book award flights to any part of the world. You can also earn a 60,000-point welcome offer worth $600 in award travel after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of account opening with this premium international travel credit card. Here’s the credit score needed for the Amex Platinum. 

Editor’s Note: Some of the offers below may have expired or are no longer available on our site. 

British Airways Visa Signature Card – Best Airline Credit Card for International Travel

When flying to Europe, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card can help you book short-haul flights or TransAtlantic flights sooner. Right now, you can earn 100,000 bonus Avios. New cardholders can earn 50,000 Avios by spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. They can then earn an additional 50,000 Avios by spending $20,000 total on purchases within the first year of account opening.

Spending $30,000 annually also gives you the Travel Together ticket. You only pay the fees and taxes for your travel companion’s seat when you use Avios to buy a roundtrip ticket that originates and returns within the United States.

You can redeem your Avios for long-haul flights. However, watch out for hefty fuel surcharges and taxes that can cost around $1000 each way. Another option is redeeming your points for intra-Europe or intra-Asia short-haul flights that are short enough to avoid the fuel surcharge fees. These flights start at 4,500 Avios (or 4,000 Avios for off-peak flights).

If you prefer flying Aer Lingus or Iberia, these two co-brand Avios cards also offer the 100,000 bonus Avios opportunity. It’s one of the best airline credit cards for international travel. 

Learn more: Airline Credit Cards

What Credit Cards Have No International Fees?

The Sapphire Preferred, Capital One Venture, and Amex Platinum don’t have international fees when using them abroad. 

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

This freshly rebranded premium international hotel credit card can be used to book your airfare and hotel rooms. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express earns:

  • 6 points per $1 on Marriott Bonvoy purchases
  • 3 points per $1 at U.S. restaurants and airfare purchased directly from the airline
  • 2 points per $1 on all other purchases

You can redeem your points for Marriott Bonvoy award nights that start at 5,000 points. Plus, you can transfer your points to 40 different airlines or book air travel or car rentals with the Air+Car partners. Other premium card benefits include one free anniversary night valid at Bonvoy properties costing 50,000 points or less.

They also credit your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee, Marriot Bonvoy Gold Elite status, and a $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit. This card has an enhanced welcome offer of 75,000 bonus Bonvoy points after spending $3,000 in card purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

What Are the Best Credits Card for International Flights?

Best Business Credit Cards for International Travel

Whether you want cash or travel rewards, one of these small business credit cards for travel can be a perfect fit for your business. Despite being business credit cards, only apply for them if you don’t have at least 5 new credit cards in the last 24 months to stay below the “Chase 5/24 rule.” You will also need a 740 credit score to qualify for these cards.

Chase Ink Business Preferred – International Business Credit Card 

The Chase Ink Business Preferred earns 3x points on the first $150,000 on combined spending for travel, shipping, internet advertising, and telecom services. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1 spent. Your points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel and can be transferred to the 1:1 Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners.

The annual fee is $95 and no foreign transaction fee. This card has a whopping 80,000 bonus point signup offer worth $1,000 in award travel. You get the bonus after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.

Chase Ink Business Cash – Best Business Card for Internation Travel

If you don’t want to pay an annual fee the Chase Ink Business Cash offers 5% back (on the first $25,000 in combined spending) office supply store, internet, phone, and cable services. You get 2% back (on the first $25,000 in combined spending) at gas stations and restaurants. All remaining purchases earn an unlimited 1% back.

Each point is worth 1 cent each when redeeming for travel, cash, gift card, and Amazon.com rewards. The signup bonus is $500 bonus cash after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months making the Ink Cash easily one of the best Chase Business credit cards.

Capital One Spark Miles for Business Offers Extra Bonus Points

The Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business is a top choice in the corporate credit card world due to its many extras. New card applicants can take advantage of the ability to earn up to 200,000 bonus miles (worth up to $2,000 to spend on travel-flights, hotels, and more). They will first earn 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. Then, they will earn 150,000 bonus miles after spending $50,000 in the first 6 months of account opening.

Cardholders also earn an unlimited 2x miles earned per dollar spent, everywhere.

There are no foreign transaction fees and cardholders receive up to $100 statement credit for one Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.

Furthermore, Capital One has announced several new Capital One airline partners to its lineup.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus (Expired)

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® does a fine job of providing simplicity and peace of mind for international travel. Regarding simplicity, you earn 2x points on every dollar spent. You can redeem your point for travel statement credits and get 5% of them back for a second redemption. So if you redeem 50,000 points on travel purchases, you get a $500 statement credit now and 2,500 points back ($25 value) for your next redemption.

For peace of mind, the Arrival Plus is a Mastercard with international chip and pin technology. Having chip and pin capability means you won’t get stuck at a self-pay kiosk that requires a pin number to complete the purchase.

Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards for International Travel

Best No Annual Fee Credit Card

No annual fee travel credit cards can be good primary or secondary credit cards because you pocket all of the rewards. These cards don’t come with all the bells and whistles but make it easy to earn rewards points. Having a credit score of at least 680 means you can qualify for these cards.

Wells Fargo Propel – No Annual Fee International Credit Card

The Wells Fargo Propel is a good card for cash and travel rewards. It’s easy to earn bonus points on your daily spending as you earn unlimited 3x points on travel, dining, gas and transit, and popular streaming services. All other purchases earn 1 point each. This card doesn’t have travel transfer partners but your points are worth 50% more when redeemed for award flights.

Cash and gift redemptions are worth 1 cent each. This credit card for international travel has no foreign transaction fee. The current signup bonus of 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 is worth $300 in cash rewards.

Chase Freedom Unlimited (Expired)

Flat-rate cash rewards aren’t the most exciting but they are the best credit cards when you prefer simplicity. For a limited time, the Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 3% back on the first $20,000 spent during the first year. You will earn up to $600 cash rewards with this year-long bonus. All other purchases earn the standard 1.5% back on every purchase.

Best Cash Back Credit Cards for International Travel

Cash rewards offer flexibility as you can receive a statement credit or bank deposit. Cash back credit cards can also be easier to qualify for than travel rewards cards as you only need a “good credit score” of 680 or higher for the best approval odds.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

Maximize restaurant and entertainment spending with the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card. You get unlimited 4% back on dining and entertainment and 1% back for everything else. Capital One is also waiving the monthly fee on Postmates Unlimited through December 2019 and giving 8% back on Vivid Seats purchases through May 2020.

New cardmembers can also get $300 bonus cash after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months and the $95 annual fee is $0 for the first year.

What Else to Consider When Getting an International Travel Credit Card?

While free travel is great—it also makes sense to consider your own hotel and airline brand preference and hotel price preference. You want to make sure that you’re choosing a credit card that makes sense for your own personal spending habits and travel needs. A premium travel credit card may not make sense if you’re typically a budget traveler.

It’s also important to take a look at the point system that is in place. Are you going to get a good return on the points that you earn? Finally, don’t forget to look at fees and other costs, like the card’s APR (in case you ever carry a balance). You want to make sure that you’re getting great value with the card of your choosing.

The Best Loyalty Programs For Lounge Access for International Travel

Airport lounges can differ in quality and amenities, but nearly all of them offer one primary perk — a getaway from the crazy hubbub of the airport and a quiet respite for a little bit of relaxation or possibly some work. However, accessing airport lounges can be pricey, especially if you don’t have the right credit card. Which international credit cards are best for your flying habits and lounge preferences?

American Express Membership Rewards

The American Express Membership Rewards program comes with a variety of international credit cards, but there’s one in particular that you’ll want if you’re a member of this loyalty program. The Platinum Card from American Express offers some great benefits, but it also comes along with a hefty $550 annual fee.

Don’t take this annual fee at face value, though. The international card comes with lots of credits and fee waivers, that, if taken into consideration, reduce the fee nominally. For example, you’ll receive $200 worth of Uber credits each year, a $200 statement credit for airline fees, a $100 statement credit for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue and a $100 statement credit for Global Entry.

If you take full advantage of all of the above, that more than covers the $550 annual fee.

But what about the lounge access? The Platinum Card gives you access to its own American Express Centurion Lounges. You will also get access to Delta Sky Clubs when you’re traveling with Delta. How do you know if both of those are a good fit for you?

If you fly Delta frequently, but do not have a Delta co-branded credit card that allows you Sky Club access, this might be an appealing option. The Centurion Lounges are quickly becoming the crème de la crème of airport lounges. But, they are in limited airports thus far.

You can currently find them at Dallas (DFW), Hong Kong (HKG), Houston (IAH), Las Vegas (LAS), New York (LGA), Philly (PHL), Miami (MIA), Seattle (SEA) and San Francisco (SFO), with more in the pipeline.

Hilton Honors

You might not necessarily think that being a member of a hotel loyalty program would grant you great lounge access, but Hilton Honors may make you think again. Just being a member of the loyalty program is not enough, though. You will need the Hilton Honors Aspire Card to get in.

It also comes with several benefits. You receive a $250 Hilton Resort credit as well as a $250 airline credit annually. As far as lounges go, you’ll receive unlimited access to Priority Pass airport lounges. This is perfect for some travelers.

Many credit cards that offer Priority Pass lounge access only give a certain number of visits per year for free.

For example, the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card gives you a Priority Pass membership. But, only 10 visits per year are free. This will be used up quickly if you fly frequently. With the Hilton Honors Aspire Card though, you receive unlimited access to more than 1,000 Priority Pass lounges around the world.

Plus, you can bring up to two guests with you. This option is good for those who are loyal to the Hilton brand. The other perks associated with the loyalty program and the card are tied directly to staying with Hilton.

United MileagePlus – Airline International Credit Card

What if you’re not a frequent traveler, but you want to visit a lounge on occasion when you do fly? If that’s the case, United MileagePlus may be a good fit. The United MileagePlus Explorer card grants you access twice each year to a United lounge. This is convenient, mainly because most airports have a United lounge and are serviced by United.

This means if you’re not a frequent traveler, it won’t impact you much to start flying United and take advantage of the lounges. If you only fly a handful of times per year, the likelihood of you having multiple long layovers to really enjoy a lounge is slim. You won’t feel like you’re wasting your two passes when you do use them.

In addition, United lounges are often above and beyond satisfactory, with free dining, drinks, WiFi and plenty of space and privacy.

How to Expedite a Pending Credit Card Decision

Ok, so you’re ready to apply for your international credit card, but you got a pending decision. Here’s how you can expedite your approval. Most banks provide instant decisions when you apply for a new credit card. But, there are times when your application requires further review.

While you can impatiently wait for the bank to manually review your application, there are ways you can speed up a pending credit card decision. Let’s review how.

credit card decision

Why You Might Have a Pending Travel Credit Card Decision

Reading the words “Your application is pending further review” is frustrating. In most cases, the bank will also go on to state that it can take seven to ten days to reach a final decision. After that, it can still be another five business days before your new card arrives in the mail.

Pending credit decisions cause more delay than you think. This can be especially frustrating if you need a card ASAP because you’re hoping to qualify for a signup bonus.

Every credit card company has its own approval criteria. By no means is this list all-encompassing. However, these are a few common reasons why your application is pending.

Too Many Recent Credit Card Applications

If you’re a travel rewards junkie, you most likely have several credit cards in your wallet. It is recommended that you keep tabs on how many applications you have in the most recent 24 months. After 24 months, the credit card inquiry drops off your credit report.

Usually, if the bank decides you have too many recent applications, your application gets declined. The only thing you can do is wait until your hard inquiry count drops. These are two of the bank rules you should know about:

  • Chase: The “Chase 5/24 Rule” is the most well-known rule. If you apply for at least 5 credit cards in the last 24 months, your application for select Chase cards is declined. Being listed as an authorized user counts as one of the 5 applications too. And, it doesn’t matter which bank is offering the credit card. Some of the cards subject to the 5/24 rule include the Sapphire Reserve and Preferred application rules, Ink Business Preferred, and some of the co-brand credit cards.
  • Bank of America: The BofA has a”2/3/4 rule.” You can’t apply for more than 2 BofA credit cards every 2 months. You also can’t apply for more than 3 cards in a year or 4 cards in two years.

Must Verify Your Identity or Income

Other banks want to review your identity and income to prevent credit fraud. In most cases, you can clarify this information with a phone call or by submitting an additional online form. In extreme cases, you may have to mail a copy of your tax return to prove your income or other official documents.

One example can be applying for a premium income with a relatively low income or net worth. Another example is if you’re self-employed (which makes any credit card or loan application slightly more difficult).

A Low Credit Score

A “low” credit score and a “bad” credit score aren’t always the same thing. You can have good credit, but it might not be good enough for the best credit cards yet. Maybe this is the first credit card you’re applying for. Or perhaps you’re in the process of rebuilding your score. Some cards that require an excellent credit (a score above 780) may review your application if your score is slightly below that mark.

Whether you receive an instant decision or get flagged for further review depends on your other personal and credit factors too. If you still only have good credit, it can be better to apply for a credit card for good credit. Your approval odds are higher so you have a better chance of receiving instant approval.

A FICO credit score above 700 is considered good, but scores in the 600's still offer options for travel reward credit cards.
A FICO credit score above 700 is considered good, but scores in the 600’s still offer options for travel reward credit cards.

Recent Missed Payments or High Card Balances

Even if you’re credit score is still within the range of most applicants, a history of recently missed payments or high balances put your approval odds at risk. The bank might be unsure if these two negative factors were one-time accidents or the start of a new trend. They may pass your application to a manager for review.

The Bank Has Too Many Applications

Sometimes, new credit cards go “viral.” If so, the approval department has to work more hours to process applications. Once the backlog clears, you will receive your pending credit card decision.

How to Speed Up Your Pending Credit Card Decision

While you probably won’t see the reason why your application is pending review on the application screen, the bank has a note in their records. The review team may contact you about the review. Or, they may do the research themselves without calling you. However, you don’t know when they may call.

Basically, the only way to receive a decision sooner is to call the banks customer service number. You can call the number provided on the application screen.

Most banks now give you the capability to track your application status in real-time. If you don’t receive an update in one or two business days, you should call the bank. The person you talk to usually has the option to approve your application. Or, they can transfer you to their manager who can make the final decision.

Chase is the one large bank that doesn’t let you track your card application status in real-time. You must call their reconsideration line to receive updates:

  • Personal Credit Cards: 1-888-270-2127
  • Business Credit Cards: 1-800-453-9719

Call the Bank

When calling the bank, ask for the credit reconsideration department. At most, wait two days before you call if they don’t contact you first. Once you’re talking with the credit representative, remember to always be kind. Kindness can go a long way in these conversations.

If you also happen to have another credit card, loan, or bank account with the bank, have this information handy. You can use it to verify some personal questions they may ask.

As the conversation progresses, you may be put on hold as the agent reviews your file. Or, they may have to get secondary approval from their supervisor before they can say “Yes” or “No.” To get approved, you may have to accept a smaller credit limit.

This concession makes you a less risky credit card owner. Plus, you at least still get approved and have the chance to build your credit score with your credit card. Once you receive verbal approval, you may have to return online to add an authorized user. But, your new credit card will print in the next batch.

Summary on the Best Credit Cards for International Travel

Here Are The Best International Credit Cards:

Point transfers, travel redemption bonuses, and annual travel credits. Each of the best credit cards for international travel provides different travel rewards. More importantly, they can all help you have a great trip.

Related Posts: 

Chase Sapphire Preferred or Capital One Venture

Best Credit Cards for Travel Miles

Chase Sapphire vs Sapphire Preferred

FAQs

What is the best airline credit card for international travel deals?

The Platinum Card from American Express earns 5 points per $1 spent on flights booked directly through the airline or on AmexTravel.com. You can also redeem points for award flights or transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to domestic and international frequent flyer programs. Select partners include Delta SkyMiles, Emirates Skywards, and British Airways Executive Club.

The Platinum Card also gives you an annual $200 airline fee credit and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit. Plus, you get complimentary airport lounge access to some of the best networks including The Centurion, Priority Pass, Delta Sky Club, and Plaza Premium.

What is the best Chase credit card for international travel?

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the Chase credit card with the most international travel benefits. You earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel and dining. Your points are worth 50% more when booking award flights. You can also transfer them at a 1:1 ratio to airlines including United, Emirates, Air France KLM, and Southwest Airlines. 

Other benefits include an annual $300 travel credit, Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, and a Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee credit.

What is the best Wells Fargo credit card for international travel?

The Wells Fargo Propel is the best Wells Fargo credit card for international travel. It has no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. You also earn 3x points on travel, gas, rideshares and transit, dining, and popular streaming services.

Your points are most valuable when redeeming points for award flights. In fact, your points can be worth as much as 50% more when booking award flights on the Wells Fargo Travel Center.

How do I inform my credit card provider that I’m traveling internationally?

You must notify your credit card provider before leaving your home country. One option is to call the credit card provider customer service number on the back of your credit card. A second option is logging into your online account. Then create a new travel notification stating your destination(s) and travel dates.   

When should I notify my credit card company that I’m traveling internationally?

Most banks let you create a travel notification up to one year in advance. You should set your notification as soon as you finalize your travel plans to avoid forgetting. If you are within 72 hours of starting your trip, you may most likely have to call to create a notification.

Johnny Jet Editorial

The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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