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Up Bank Review: Is It The Best International Travel Card?

travelling overseas up bank

Are you tired of being hit with unexpected bank fees every time you travel or make an online purchase from abroad? You’re not alone. These seemingly minor fees can quickly add up, putting a strain on your budget and leaving you feeling frustrated. Enter Up Bank – a shining example of the innovative new wave of financial institutions known as neobanks.

Neobanks are digital-only platforms that leverage cutting-edge technology to provide enhanced convenience and savings for their customers. Let’s take a closer look at how Up Bank has disrupted the traditional banking model, particularly when it comes to international fees.

Up Bank: Your Key to Fee-Free Travel

Korea Street Food

Up Bank is revolutionizing the way people manage their finances while traveling the globe. When it comes to international fees and overseas ATM charges, Up Bank stands out as the smart choice for savvy travelers.

Up Bank’s International Fee Structure

Traditional banks often impose a myriad of fees when you use your card abroad or make online purchases in foreign currencies, siphoning off a percentage of your money with each transaction. This means every swipe or ATM withdrawal overseas can come with an unpleasant surprise fee.

While conventional banks may slap on fees up to 3% of the transaction value for international card usage, you might also encounter hefty $5 charges for each overseas ATM withdrawal, coupled with the 3% transaction fee. Additionally, overseas ATM operators may tack on their own fees. So, a $100 cash withdrawal could end up costing you over $10 in fees alone.

But with Up Bank, it’s a different story – zero international fees . Yes, you read that right – zero fees with Up Bank. It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not. Up Bank makes it easy to save money on your next trip or online shopping spree.

Up Bank’s Approach to International Transactions

travelling overseas up bank

Unlike traditional banks that typically add around 3% to the transaction value, Up Bank has abolished overseas transaction fees altogether. No hidden fees, no unexpected markups on exchange rates. With Up Bank, you receive the Mastercard® exchange rate without any additional charges. So, you’re always getting a fair deal on your purchases.

Overseas ATM Withdrawals with Up Bank

When it comes to accessing cash abroad, Up Bank continues to shine. They won’t charge you any ATM fees, regardless of how many times you withdraw money. However, please note that overseas ATM operators may impose their own fees, which are beyond Up Bank’s control.

Opening an Account with Up Bank

Getting started with Up Bank is quick and simple. Just visit their website and click “Join Up!” Their services are not only user-friendly but their website design is sleek and intuitive as well. Sign up using the link below and receive a $9 bonus.

Impressive Features for Discerning Travelers

Up Bank offers a suite of features to help you stay on top of your spending. Their convenient app puts you in control, regardless of the currency you’re using. Up displays your transactions in both Australian dollars and the foreign currency, making it easier to track your expenses while traveling abroad.

vintage tram on street in budapest

Streamlined International Money Transfers

If you need to transfer money abroad, Up Bank has you covered. They are the first Australian bank to partner with Wise, making international money transfers a breeze.

Tips to Avoid Overseas Fees

In addition to choosing Up Bank for your travel needs, here are a few extra tips to help you avoid those pesky overseas fees:

Convert Currency Before Traveling : The simplest way to avoid fees on every transaction is to bring cash in the local currency of your destination. You can convert your Australian dollars to the foreign currency easily online or in-store. Online money exchange services like S Money are often cost-effective and don’t have hidden fees.

Consider Travel Cards: Several travel-specific cards waive international transaction fees, offer competitive currency conversion rates, and provide free ATM withdrawals. Examples include the Wise Travel Card, Revolut, and Travelex Money Card.

With Up Bank, you have an excellent option for spending abroad and online, all while benefiting from their user-friendly app and, most importantly, zero international fees. Now that you’re aware of Up Bank’s fee-free travel perks, it’s time to start planning your next adventure!

When it comes to making the best financial choices for your travel plans, Up Bank might just be your ticket to significant savings.

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3 banks travelers should use to save money on fees

Andrew Kunesh

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here .

If you're an avid TPG reader, you already know that credit cards are an integral part of travel. But did you know that picking the right bank account can be just as important?

Having the right bank can help you save money and give you more flexibility in managing your money when you're on the road. But with so many choices out there, how do you find the right checking account for your travel style and lifestyle as a whole?

You'll want to start by looking at your banking needs. Do you want access to fee-free ATMs around the world? What about a premium mobile-banking experience? And if you mostly travel abroad, you'll want to keep fees in mind too. Foreign transaction fees can add up, and some banks will add hefty withdrawal fees at foreign ATMs.

To help you find the best bank for your travel needs, we teamed up with our sister website, Bankrate , to help you find the best bank for your travel needs. Bankrate publishes an annual study on the best banks in the U.S . and breaks its findings down into different categories, such as Best Big Bank, Best Regional Bank and others.

Bankrate gave us all its data, and we've looked through it to find the best banks for travelers in 2021. We then set our own criteria for what a good travel bank should offer and sifted through the data to find what we consider to be the best banks for travelers.

In the end, there was one clear winner and two solid runner-ups. In the article below, I'll discuss the criteria we used to find the best travel banks. Then, I'll introduce you to the three banks that stood out the most.

Let's get started!

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter .

The criteria for picking a good travel bank

travelling overseas up bank

As a frequent traveler, there are a couple of important things to consider when picking a bank.

When you're on the road, you want a bank that offers low fees, a great online experience and access to a large network of ATMs. These can make all the difference when you're traveling for work or pleasure and may even save you money at the same time.

Here's a look at the criteria we kept in mind as we looked for the best banks for travelers:

  • Number of ATMs: When traveling domestically, you'll want access to a large network of ATMs where you can withdraw money for free.
  • ATM fee reimbursements: Private ATMs and foreign banks often charge fees when you withdraw money. You'll want an account that reimburses these, so you don't have to think twice before using an ATM from a different bank.
  • Monthly fees: Just because you're a traveler doesn't mean you should be subject to a monthly maintenance fee. We focused on finding banks with either no monthly fees or monthly fees that were easy to waive.
  • Debit card foreign transaction fees: These fees are charged when you make a debit card transaction in a foreign currency. These can range from 0% to 5% depending on the bank, and we only recommend going with an account on the low-end of the spectrum.
  • Mobile and online banking experience: Traveling means being away from home — and likely your bank branch. You'll want a bank with a solid online experience that you can use to manage your account, pay bills and move money. We'll use the Apple App Store rating to assist with this metric.
  • Lockdown-ability: Unfortunately, traveling can make you the victim of fraud. You'll want an account that's easy to restrict if need be — namely, you want to be able to disable your debit card from the mobile app.
  • Mobile wallet support: You'll want a bank account whose debit card you can use with Apple Pay , Google Pay or another popular mobile wallet.
  • Contactless debit card: Contactless payments are on the rise in the U.S., but they're especially important abroad. Banks with contactless debit cards received a leg-up in this article.
  • Interest rate: Sure, you won't make much interest by keeping money in a checking accounts. That said, it's worth keeping this in mind as you shop around — especially if you keep a large sum of money in your checking account.

So without any further ado, these are the best banks for travel.

Related: Introducing Bask Bank, a new way to earn miles

Winner: Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking®

travelling overseas up bank

Charles Schwab Bank didn't win any awards on Bankrate's best banks list, but it takes the cake for the best checking account for international travelers. This is in large part due to its low-fees, unlimited ATM reimbursements and perks with American Express.

Here's how Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® account stacks up to our listed criteria:

The Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® account doesn't charge foreign transaction fees and includes unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide. This means you can use your included debit card anywhere in the world for cash withdrawals or charges without paying a penny more than you have to.

Another upside to Schwab is that it has physical bank branches around the U.S. This is something you won't find with many startup banks that offer ATM fee reimbursements. At these branches, you can talk with bankers about your accounts and investments.

Likewise, the bank had no monthly maintenance fees. There are no minimum balances either, and you don't even need a direct deposit to keep the account fee-free. This is a huge benefit if you open a separate checking account for travel.

Finally, there's one awesome perk for miles and points collectors: you're eligible to open an American Express Platinum Card® for Schwab once you open this checking account. This includes all the same features as a standard Platinum Card® from American Express, plus the ability to cash out Membership Rewards points at 1.25 cents per point to a Schwab account.

One of the downsides to this account, however, is its mobile app. It has good reviews in the Apple App Store and Google Play but looks dated compared to other banks like SoFi Money. You'll want to use the web interface to do more advanced tasks.

While a good online mobile experience is criteria for a good traveler's bank, we're willing to look past it for Schwab. No other bank offers quite as much flexibility when it comes to ATMs and foreign transaction fees as Schwab, and that's a far more important perk for your wallet.

Another downside to the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking® account is its interest rate. Rates are low right now due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic , but this account still only yields 0.03% APY. This is lower than many high yield checking accounts but better than what you'll find with many others.

Lastly, you need to open a Schwab One brokerage account to be eligible to open a Schwab Bank High Yield Checking Account. Thankfully, this is easy and fee-free, but it's an extra step and another account to manage.

Related: 7 ways to save on overseas ATM withdrawals

Runner up: Capital One 360 Checking

travelling overseas up bank

Capital One 360 is Capital One's premier online checking account, the winner of Bankrate's Best Big Bank of 2021 award. It turns out the bank is a solid option for travelers too — it has a solid mobile app and no foreign transaction fees. Plus, it has physical branches in some U.S. states.

One of the best parts of Capital One 360 is its mobile app. It's polished and well designed, making pretty much every banking task quick and easy. Plus, there's an intuitive ATM finder you can use to find fee-free ATMs around the U.S. — this is important since the account doesn't reimburse ATM fees.

That said, the bank has 2,000 ATMs of its own and access to 55,000+ ATMs in the AllPoint network. This should be more than sufficient for most domestic travelers as Allpoint ATMs are located in convenient places like Walgreens, CVS and Speedways. You should be able to find one wherever you travel.

The bank doesn't charge any foreign transaction fees either. This is good for using fee-free international ATMs and using your debit card for purchases. Of course, we recommend using a rewards credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees if you can.

Capital One's debit cards have support for popular mobile wallets such as Apple Pay. Likewise, they have contactless payment support on all new debit cards. This makes it easy to pay with a tap wherever you are in the world.

One major upside to Capital One is its physical branches around the U.S. This makes the bank a good option for travelers who want access to physical banking locations. Some of these locations are Capital One Cafes, which have coffee shops, free Wi-Fi and minimal banking service. Capital One cardholders get 50% off coffee and other purchases, which is a nice perk if you work or live near a cafe.

The biggest downside to using Capital One 360 checking is the lack of ATM fee reimbursements. Around the U.S., you'll want to stick with Capital One and AllPoint ATMs for your day-to-day ATM usage. There is no additional fee for using third-party ATMs, but you will be subject to paying the operator's fee. This can be a major issue in countries like Brazil, which can have large fees for international debit cards.

The bank also earns a very low interest rate of 0.1% APY. It's larger than Schwab's 0.03% but still lower than we'd like to see. Again, this isn't a huge issue unless you keep a large balance in your checking account.

Related: Dirty money: Could ditching cash keep you healthier this season?

Runner up: Axos Bank Rewards Checking

travelling overseas up bank

Axos has the potential to be a great bank for domestic travelers. Its Rewards Checking account gives unlimited ATM domestic reimbursements and allows you to earn up to 1.25% APY in interest if you meet certain requirements. Unfortunately, however, it charges a foreign transaction fee.

Axos Bank is an online bank based in San Diego. Its mobile-first methodology is apparent with high App Store reviews. The mobile app is polished and has all the features you'd expect in 2021, like the ability to lock down your debit card, move funds and keep track of where you move your money.

You also have access to unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements. This is helpful as Axos doesn't have physical branches or its own ATMs. Instead, use whichever ATM is most convenient for you, whether at another bank or your local deli.

Unrelated to travel, the bank offers up to 1.25% APY on purchases so long as you meet a set of requirements each month. Each of these things gives you an additional 0.4166% APY for the month — meeting all three will give you the full 1.25%.

  • Monthly direct deposits totaling $1,000 or more
  • Use debit card for 10 transactions, $3 minimum per transaction
  • Make 5 more debit card transactions, $3 minimum per transaction

This is a solid interest rate if you can meet the requirements every month. You'll earn this interest rate on balances up to $150,000. 1.25% APY is more than what most high-yield savings accounts earn, so this can be a good deal if you keep cash and can meet the requirements.

Like Schwab and Capital One, this account has no monthly fees.

The biggest downside to using Axos bank is that it charges a 1% foreign transaction fee when you pay in an international currency. This includes debit card purchases abroad, online purchases in another currency and ATM withdrawals. You'll pay an extra penny for every dollar you spend, meaning a $100 transaction would cost $101 in total.

This doesn't seem like a lot on paper — especially if you usually charge international expenses to a credit card — but it can add up. This is especially true if you travel to a country with a cash-based economy that will require you to withdraw money from an ATM regularly.

Likewise, the account only reimburses ATM fees in the U.S. and not at international ATMs. This makes you subject to potentially high ATM service fees abroad. This won't be a dealbreaker for domestic travel, but it can be a major headache for international jet setters.

We're also not sure if Axos includes contactless debit cards since the bank's website doesn't mention it. Thankfully, it does support mobile wallets like Apple Pay, so you're still covered if you need to make a purchase at an international kiosk.

Related: This sneaky debit fee could cost you on your next foreign transaction

Bottom line

Having a good checking account can make your travels a lot easier. With the right bank, you can leave foreign transaction and ATM fees behind and have a good mobile banking experience.

This year, we think Schwab is the best bank for travelers. It charges next to zero fees and will let you withdraw from as many ATMs as you like. Depending on how often you travel (or need cash), this can mean real savings. Plus, no monthly maintenance fee makes it a good option for a secondary travel checking account.

For those mostly traveling within the U.S., Axos' Rewards Checking account could be another good option. It has unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements, no monthly fee and earns up to 1.25% APY on your balance if you can meet the direct deposit and debit card transaction minimum. Unfortunately, it does charge a foreign transaction fee.

Capital One 360 can be a good option for those who want access to some physical banking locations around the U.S., but it doesn't reimburse any ATM fees. That said, it has access to nearly 60,000 fee-free ATMs around the country and doesn't add foreign transaction fees.

Feature photo by WAYHOME studio/Shutterstock

travelling overseas up bank

Best Banks for International Travel in USA: Monito's 2021 Guide

Byron Mühlberg, writer at Monito.com

Byron Mühlberg

Monito's Managing Editor, Byron has spent several years writing extensively about financial- and migration-related topics.

Links on this page, including products and brands featured on ‘Sponsored’ content, may earn us an affiliate commission. This does not affect the opinions and recommendations of our editors.

From the multitude of bank fees and ATM charges to hidden currency conversion fees, there's no question that travelling abroad can be a costly endeavor — and that's saying nothing of the cost of the holiday itself!

Fortunately, banks are becoming ever more competitive in the realm of low-cost overseas spending, with many interesting account offerings available in the US for travellers abroad. By comparing options and finding a bank with low wire-transfer charges, fair currency conversion rates, and competitive international bank ATM fees, you can save a surprising amount of money over the long run.

In this guide, we explore America's best banks for international travel, comparing the top choices along various criteria such as foreign ATM fees, transaction costs, ordering foreign banknotes, wiring money, and setting up an international business bank account .

If you're looking for an online bank-like account next to your everyday checking account, we recommend opening a  Wise Multi-Currency Account , which gives you multi-currency bank details in 10 countries as well as a debit card to spend in dozens of foreign currencies. On the other hand, if you'd like to stick with a formal bank account, we recommend Charles Schwab's High Yield Investor Checking Account if you already invest with Charles Schwab or Capital One's 360 Checking Account if not, as both accounts offer fee-free overseas ATM withdrawals and international payments.

What You'll Find in This Guide

  • 01. Best for international ATM withdrawals — Charles Schwab scroll down
  • 02. Best for foreign transactions — Capital One scroll down
  • 03. Best for currency exchange — Bank of America scroll down
  • 04. Best for international wire transfers — Citibank scroll down
  • 05. Best international travel coverage — TD Bank scroll down
  • 06. What banks are best for international business? scroll down

Charles Schwab — Best Bank for International ATM Withdrawals

travelling overseas up bank

ATM withdrawals outside of the US can be pricey, leaving Americans short on a few cents to the dollar for every unit withdrawn abroad. According to Condé Nast , for example, withdrawal fees typically range from $2.00 to $5.00 per withdrawal in addition to the fees that banks themselves already usually charge for this services ¹ .

Unique among US banks when it comes to low-cost cash, credit card, and debit card spending abroad, Charles Schwab's High Yield Investor Checking Account eliminates these pesky ATM expenses by charging $0.00 on withdrawals, no foreign transaction fees, and no monthly fees for account maintenance.

Opening a High Yield Investor Checking Account will get you a Visa Platinum debit card (mailed to your address), which can be used at around 61 million merchant locations in over 200 countries and territories worldwide ² for fee-free ATM withdrawals. Moreover, the most unique perk of the account, in our opinion, is that ⁠— in the event of being charged a fee by a foreign ATM network ⁠— Charles Schwab will refund the total fee amount to your account balance at the end of every month. If you're frequently outside the US, this could save you a lot of money over the long run that would otherwise have stacked up.

Additional perks include in-app spending tracking, travel accident insurance, and emergency assistance services. While the account comes with a low-cost fee structuring, here are a few fees* to be aware of:

  • Insufficient funds: A penalty of $25.00 per transaction where insufficient funds are in the account, up to a maximum of $100.00 per day.
  • Currency conversion: An exchange rate margin is charged by Visa for converting currency, usually ranging between 1.00% and 3.50% of the transfer value. You can see Visa's FX calculator to find out more. In addition, a dynamic currency conversion , or DCC, could be charged by merchants or ATMs on card payments to convert a foreign currency payment into the local currency. Because these fees can go as high as 10.00% per withdrawal, we recommend against paying in your home currency when given a choice ATMs abroad, as you'll be able to avoid this fee by doing so.

All remaining financial services come at no charge.

In our opinion, the account has only two major drawbacks. As the name implies, opening a High Yield Investor Checking Account will require your account to be linked to a Schwab One brokerage account, meaning you'll need the former to sign up for the latter. The other drawback is that the account doesn't offer international wire transfers , meaning you won't be able to use it to send money overseas.

* Fees quoted on 06/08/2021

We recommend Charles Schwab's High Yield Investor Checking Account if you're already a Schwab One brokerage account holder (or don't mind opening one) and if you don't need the ability to send bank wires internationally.

Capital One — Best Bank for Foreign Transaction Fees

travelling overseas up bank

Similarly to cash withdrawals, spending money in a foreign currency using your credit or debit card can be costly, with US banks typically charging conversion fees over and above those charged by the card issuer.

With Capital One's 360 Checking Account , you'll be charged no transaction fees on international payments ³ . This is especially useful if you're making many online payments in a foreign currency or debit card transactions while abroad. Like Charles Schwab, Capital One also charges no foreign ATM fees of its own (although it will not reimburse fees charged separately by ATM networks.)

The account is managed through mobile banking via a slick app and user platform and has a low-fee structuring. However, while most day-to-day services come at no costs, not everything is free. Other than fees associated with old fashioned checks, are the 360 Checking Account fees* to be mindful of for international travellers:

  • Wire transfer: A $30.00 fee for outgoing domestic wires.
  • Replacement card: An unspecified fee if you order a new card to replace your original one.
  • Currency conversion: As we saw above, a dynamic currency conversion , or DCC, is charged when merchants convert a foreign currency card payment into a local one. Because these fees can go as high as 10.00% per withdrawal, we recommend against paying in your home currency when given a choice by vendors and ATMs abroad, as you'll be able to avoid this fee by doing so.

We recommend Capital One's 360 Checking Account if you plan to use your debit card to make frequent international transactions, such as online payments and holidays abroad, as its fee structuring is straightforward, low-cost, and geared toward on-the-go digital use.

Bank of America — Best for Currency Exchange

travelling overseas up bank

Picking up a wad of foreign banknotes before a trip abroad is often an exciting first step in any overseas holiday. While many people exchange money at airports and at bureaux de change at foreign cities — both of which tend to come along with poor exchange rates — others prefer to collect money from their bank, which can sometimes be the cheaper option.

While currency exchange still tends to be rather pricey when done through the bank, Bank of America is a better bet than most for ordering foreign currency, offering more favorable exchange rates than other US banks, no fixed fees, and speedy delivery (if you order your cash before 2:00 PM the foreign currency will ship to your residence on the same business day.)

However, while Bank of America won't charge you any fixed fees for ordering foreign currency, it's worth reiterating that you'll still be paying a rather high exchange rate margin of between 5.00% and 7.00% of the transfer value to buy foreign currency with your US dollars. This means the service is far from free despite what the bank might advertise.

In addition, Bank of America charges a delivery fee of $7.50 on all foreign currency orders under $1,000.00 if you choose to have them sent to your address. This fee is waived for orders of $1,000.00 or more, which must be collected in-branch.

Because of the cost of ordering foreign banknotes in general, we recommend using Bank of America for currency exchange if holding a lumpsum of foreign currency is important to you. (Bear in mind that you could save a lot of money by withdrawing foreign banknotes directly from an overseas ATM using one of the banks mentioned above, or Wise — which we'll explore later.) If you do choose to order foreign banknotes, we recommend picking the cash up at a Bank of America branch, as the delivery fee for transfers of under $1,000.00 make the cost of the order very expensive when combined with the exchange rate margins you'd be paying anyway.

Citibank — Best Bank for International Wire Transfers

travelling overseas up bank

Wiring money overseas through the bank is an infamously expensive business. Unfortunately for many people, sending money to friends and family internationally or paying for one or another aspect of a trip abroad is necessary, meaning high fees are difficult to avoid.

When it comes to wiring money internationally, there are seldom cheap choices mong US banks, with most charging between $25.00 and $45.00 for these services. However, Citibank is one to consider if your beneficiary is also an account holder with one of its global subsidiaries. This is because of Citibank Global Transfers, a service that offers fee-free international wires to Citibank accounts in over 20 countries worldwide ⁴ . (However, you will still pay an exchange rate margin of around 5.00% to convert your dollars to your recipient's currency.)

If your beneficiary doesn't bank with Citibank (or if they do, but you still want to avoid paying the margin), we recommend comparing the market to find the cheapest way to send money internationally to suit your transfer needs. Run a search on Monito's real-time comparison engine below to get the job done quickly and easily:

Save Money on International Wire Transfers

Td bank — best bank for international travel coverage.

travelling overseas up bank

If you're looking for the best bank for international travel that offers a bit of everything, from good ATM withdrawals (with reimbursements) to foreign transaction fees, a card and digital banking, all while doubling up as an ideal everyday checking account, then we recommend TD Bank's Beyond Checking as a reliable all-rounder.

TD Bank's Beyond Checking account comes with a Visa debit card, which can be used for free withdrawals globally and no additional international transaction charges (both excluding the Visa FX margin). The bank also offers wire transfers. However, all of these services do come with a cost. The monthly maintenance fee on TD Bank's Beyond Checking account comes to $25.00 per month unless you hold a minimum daily balance of $2,500.00 in the account.

Therefore, we only recommend this account offering to those looking for all of these perks rolled into one and who have enough disposable cash to maintain the minimum daily account balance (which we find to be the major drawback of the account).

Best Banks for International Business

travelling overseas up bank

Let's face it: business banking can be complicated enough. But as soon as business banking takes on an international tune ⁠— with all of the foreign exchange costs, minimum balances, SWIFT fees, waiting times, ATM locations, and tax and accounting considerations coming into the picture ⁠— it becomes clearer than ever that having a bank that simplifies (rather than further complicates) the process is crucial.

Fortunately, there are several options to consider out there. Among the big-name US banks, Charles Schwab's High Yield Investor Checking Account offers businesses (just as we explored earlier with personal clients) fee-free ATM withdrawals, no minimum balance, or maintenance fees. In addition to Charles Schwab, we also recommend HSBC's Premier Checking account, which offers no transaction fees, a vast network of free-to-use global ATMs, and a dedicated relational manager. However, this account will incur a $50.00 monthly fee unless there's a $75,000.00 minimum daily balance (including investments) or at least $5,000.00 in recurring direct deposits per month to another HSBC Premier account.

Wise ⁠— A Cost-Conscious International Travel Option

travelling overseas up bank

If you already have a bank account but are looking for a savvy and low-cost solution for sending and spending internationally, then the best account for an international transfer to suit your needs could be  Wise's Multi-Currency Account . A much-loved London-based fintech, Wise allows users to send and spend money like a local in dozens of countries across the globe with a multi-currency checking account and an accompanying debit Mastercard.

After opening your account online, you'll only be required to verify your identity through Wise's interface. Once you're signed up, and your card has arrived (which takes up to 3 weeks in the US), you'll be able to take advantage of the following unique features with the Wise Multi-Currency Account:

  • Local bank details in the US, Eurozone, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Romania, Canada, Hungary, and Turkey;
  • Hold, exchange, and top-up up to 56 currencies;
  • A multi-currency Mastercard debit card that's handy for paying in foreign currencies without the hidden fees;
  • Access to Wise's powerful international money transfer service right from your account balance.

To get a sense of how useful Wise can be for international travellers of all kinds, let's say you just arrived in France on holiday from the US and you'd like to spend in Euros from the get-go. With the Wise Multi-Currency Account, you'll be able to:

  • Send US dollars from your bank account to your Wise Euro account via ACH or bank wire;
  • Buy Euros at a low fee (e.g. if you'd like to add €1,000.00 to your account, the total fee* would be $6.97 for ACH or $9.21 for bank wire — both of which are much cheaper than via the bank);
  • Pay with your Wise debit card, make or receive  SEPA  (and  SWIFT ) payments, and set up  direct debits .

* Conversion made 06/08/2021

We recommend Wise for those looking for a separate (and significantly cheaper) spending option to accompany their normal bank account as a low-cost and flexible way of sending money internationally and spending across borders.

Notes Used in This Guide

1. Where to Exchange Currency—and How to Be Smart About It : Condé Nast (20/7/17)

2. Visa Fact Sheet, Visa Inc. (31/3/20)

3. Capital One 360 Checking: Explanation of Various Key Services and Charges

4. Citibank: International Bank Transfer and Global Money Transfer

Other Guides To Manage Money Internationally

travelling overseas up bank

Why Trust Monito?

You’re probably all too familiar with the often outrageous cost of sending money abroad. After facing this frustration themselves back in 2013, co-founders François, Laurent, and Pascal launched a real-time comparison engine to compare the best money transfer services across the globe. Today, Monito’s award-winning comparisons, reviews, and guides are trusted by around 8 million people each year and our recommendations are backed by millions of pricing data points and dozens of expert tests — all allowing you to make the savviest decisions with confidence.

Monito is trusted by 15+ million users across the globe.

Monito's experts spend hours researching and testing services so that you don't have to.

Our recommendations are always unbiased and independent.

Nomadic Matt: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Better

How to Avoid Paying Bank Fees While Traveling

An ATM lit up at night against a purple brick wall

Saving money for travel is one of the biggest obstacles that keeps people from realizing their travel dreams.

And, when they finally save up enough for their trip and hit the road, what do they do?

Throw money away on avoidable bank fees.

Banking overseas is more than just putting your card in an ATM and taking out money. When you travel on a budget , it involves knowing three things:

  • How to avoid paying bank fees.
  • How to eliminate foreign transaction charges.
  • How to get a good exchange rate.

I know too many people who travel abroad and end up paying obscene ATM fees and credit card transaction fees.

These days, there’s absolutely no need to do that. You didn’t save up all this money in order to give it to the banks, right? I know I didn’t. I want to keep it all for myself because every avoided fee is more money for food, drinks, and activities on the road!

Here is how you eliminate ALL bank fees when you travel in 5 easy steps:

Table of Contents

  • Step 1: Eliminate ATM Fees
  • Step 2: Avoid Credit Card Fees
  • Step 3: Minimize the Exchange Rate “Penalty”
  • Step 4: Don’t Change Money at Airports
  • Step 5: Always Pick the Local Currency
  • Step 6: Don’t Get Currency at Home (and Skip Those Foreign Currency Cards!)

1. Eliminate ATM Fees

ATM fees can really add up — especially if you’re traveling for weeks or months at a time. Let’s think about it: While you’re on the road, you might withdraw money from an ATM twice a week.

If you withdraw money from an international ATM with your regular debit card, you’ll be hit with 3 different fees:

  • Your bank’s fee for using an ATM outside of their network (usually $2.50-5 USD)
  • The ATM’s fee (usually $3-5 USD)
  • An international conversion fee (usually 1-3% of the transaction)

As you can see, these fees very quickly add up. Fees vary around the world, but let’s say that you end up paying around $7 USD per withdrawal. That is $14 per week, $56 per month, or $672 per year! Do you know how many days you could spend in Southeast Asia for that amount? Almost 3 weeks!

Even if you only use the ATM once a week, that’s still $364 USD per year. And most travelers I know go to the ATM even more than twice a week, which only increases the amount in fees they pay. Why give banks money you need for travel? You worked hard saving your money — don’t waste it by giving it to a bank.

To help you avoid fees, here are four things you’ll want to do on your next trip to eliminate those pesky fees:

First, if you are a US resident, the best bank to use is Charles Schwab.

Charles Schwab has no fees and reimburses all your ATM fees at the end of each month. This is significant because, while there’s a growing number of banks that don’t charge ATM fees themselves, there are very few that offer unlimited reimbursement on ATM fees.

You need to open a high-yield checking account in order to qualify, but there is no minimum deposit required and no monthly service fee. Their ATM card can be used in any bank machine around the world, and you’ll never pay a fee. This is my primary bank card and I’ve been using it for years. Since getting it, I’ve avoided all ATM fees. It’s literally saved me thousands of dollars. If you just get this card, you don’t need to do anything else.

Another option is to pick a bank in the Global ATM Alliance. This is a network of large banks that have come together and waived fees, allowing for free ATM withdrawals. While they have the high fees ($5 USD per withdrawal) for banks outside their network, by using partner ATMs you can avoid ATM charges.

Below is a list of major banks in this alliance:

  • Bank of America (United States)
  • Barclays (England, Wales, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and certain countries in Africa)
  • BNP Paribas (France, Ukraine, Turkey, Poland, Morocco, Italy, New Caledonia, Réunion, Guyane, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Luxembourg)
  • Deutsche Bank (Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal and Italy)
  • Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (Italy)
  • Scotiabank (Canada, Caribbean, Peru, Chile, and Mexico)
  • Westpac (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands)

Be sure to check with your local bank on specific coverage areas. There are some exceptions, i.e., if you use your Barclays card in one country, there might not be a fee, but in another, there may be. Other fees, such as an international transaction or foreign currency fee, may also still apply so double-check before you go! Note: Bank of America charges a 3% foreign transaction fee on all withdrawals not in USD.

Finally, you can get a low-fee card. I use HSBC as my backup because HSBC has ATMs all over the world and charges only $2.50 USD per ATM transaction when you use a non-HSBC ATM. While it’s not as good as zero, it’s still better than what a lot of other banks charge. Additionally, Capital One doesn’t charge any withdrawal fees, but you do have to pay any fees charged by the local bank.

Be sure to ask your local bank or credit union too. Not charging fir ATM fees has become a widespread practice so make sure to ask your local bank as they might offer this too.

Here are some suggested ATM cards for non-US travelers:

Canada : Scotia or Tangerine are a part of the Global ATM Alliance. Australia : ING, Citibank, or HSBC have no fee cards. UK : Starling lets you avoid ATM fees abroad. Monzo has fee-free international transactions for your first 200 GBP withdrawn every 30 days.

If you are looking for other ways to cut wasteful expenses on the road, visit this collection of all my best tips for further money savings .  

2. Avoid Credit Card Fees

The next major fee we need to get rid of is the credit card foreign transaction fee. Most credit cards charge a 3% fee on purchases made overseas. That can add up since most of us use our credit card for everything. It’s become a lot more common for credit cards to have “no foreign transaction fees” so it’s unlikely you’ll have a card that does but be sure to ask.

My favorite no overseas transaction fee cards are the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Capital One, and Citi Premier. (For more suggestions, you can find all my favorite travel cards here .)

For non-US citizens, check the following websites that list cards that might not charge any overseas fees:

  • Australian Frequent Flyer (Australia)
  • Credit Cards UK (UK)
  • Prince of Travel (Canada)
  • Credit Cards Compare (New Zealand)

3. Minimize the Exchange Rate “Penalty”

Every time you use your card overseas, your local bank converts the transaction into your local currency for billing purposes and takes a little off the top for doing so. Thus, the official rate you see online is not what you actually get. That’s the interbank rate and, unless you become a major bank, you’re not going to get that rate. All we can do is get as close to that rate as possible. To do so, you need to:

Use a credit card  — Credit card companies get the best rates. Using a credit card will get you an exchange rate closest to the official interbank currency rate so avoid an ATM or cash if you can.

Use an ATM  — ATMs offer the best exchange rate after credit cards. They aren’t as good as credit cards since commercial banks take a little more off the top, but it’s much better than exchanging cash. Money exchange offices offer the worst rates because they are so far down the food chain, they can’t get the best exchange rate (plus, they usually charge a commission as well).

Don’t use ATMs in weird locations  — Using those ATMs you find in hotels, hostels, local 7-11s, or some other random place is a bad idea. They’re convenient, but you’ll pay for that convenience. They always charge high ATM fees and offer horrible conversion rates. Skip those ATMs and find a major bank.

4. Don’t Change Money at Airports

Most exchange bureaus in airports are so far down the financial food chain they don’t have the clout to offer good exchange rates. The rates you see at airports are the worst — never, ever use an exchange bureau there unless you absolutely have to.

Another tip: avoid using the company Travelex at all costs — they have the worst rates and fees. Never, never use them. Avoid their ATMs too!  

5. Always Pick the Local Currency

When you use your credit card abroad, you will often be given the option to be charged in your home currency (i.e., instead of being charged in euros, they will charge you in US dollars). Never say yes. The rate at which they are converting the currency is always worse than the rate your bank will give you.

Pick the local currency and let your credit card company make the conversion. You’ll get a better rate and save some money in the process.  

6. Don’t Get Currency at Home (and Skip Foreign Currency Cards!)

While buying currency at home might seem like a good idea, you’ll end up getting a worse exchange rate. Unless you are 100% sure you’ll need cash right on arrival, avoid exchanging money in your home country.

Airports all have ATMs where you can withdraw money if you desperately need it. (However, I suggest you wait until you get to your destination and withdraw money downtown/from an ATM away from the airport. You’ll get a much better rate and pay a much lower fee. Use your credit card on arrival and then get cash later.)

Additionally, avoid any “foreign currency cards” (like those offered from currency exchange companies) where you can pre-load money at a set exchange rate. The rates given are also terrible and they often have all sorts of additional fees.

Getting one of these cards is basically trying to predict the exchange rate and betting you can beat the market. You’re saying this rate is not going to get worse but what if it gets better? You don’t know! And, if you do know, you should be placing bets in the market. So, rather than try to hedge one way or the other, just use the ATM at whatever the current rate is when you travel!

Bank fees can add up to some serious money over the course of a long trip. If you want to save money, you need to be proactive when it comes to banking and currency exchanges. A little planning can go a long way and save you a ton of money over the weeks, months, and years of your travels.

Be smart and bank smart. I haven’t paid a bank fee while traveling the world in over fifteen years and you shouldn’t either.

And, with these simple tips, you’ll never have to again.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner . It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld . If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (best for everyone)
  • Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
  • Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)

Want to Travel for Free? Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation — all without any extra spending. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.

Need Help Finding Activities for Your Trip? Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace where you can find cool walking tours, fun excursions, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more.

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Hi, I’m Nomadic Matt, the New York Times best-selling author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day and Ten Years a Nomad, as well as the founder of this website! And I’m here to help you save money on your next trip.

Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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  • Introduction

Make sure you have the right credit card

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What is a Digital Wallet?

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Traveling abroad? Understanding payment methods and how to avoid transaction fees

Understanding the different ways of paying can save you money and help your trip run more smoothly

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Hidden costs and fees on your various cards can add up quickly in a foreign country, whether you’re withdrawing money from an ATM, buying souvenirs or settling your hotel bill. Many credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee—typically 2% to 3%—on every international purchase. And every trip to the ATM may also incur a fee. You can minimize or avoid fees by following these tips and resources—before you depart and while you’re traveling.

Article continues below

Credit cards are a widely accepted form of payment. They are easy to use, provide purchase-protection benefits and have favorable exchange rates. But some cards are better than others for international travel.

Find out if your card charges for foreign transactions either by calling the number on the card or checking your agreement. If it does, you may want to investigate applying for a new card that doesn’t. Also consider a credit card that will earn you rewards  for travel, dining or other purchases. Don’t wait to do this—the process of getting a new card can take six to eight weeks. And before applying, review any potential impact on your credit score .

You should also make sure your card has an EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) chip. These cards, standard in more than 130 countries, are considered more secure than credit cards with magnetic stripes. If your card only has a magnetic stripe or signature, it may not work in the country you’re visiting.

While you’re there

It’s a good idea to have a cash-vs.-card strategy. One solid rule of thumb is to pay for frequent small purchases, such as coffee and snacks, with cash. Save your credit card for more expensive purchases, such as pricey gifts, restaurant tabs and hotel bills.

Many establishments frequented by tourists will give you a choice of paying in local currency or U.S. dollars. You’re almost always better off going with the local currency. And remember that your credit card usually has a more favorable exchange rate and lower fees than local merchants can offer.

Searching for the right card? Research Bank of America credit card options.

Before you travel, set up alerts for unusual activity on your credit card. That way, you will be notified immediately by email, text message or through your mobile app if your bank sees anything questionable. For more travel tips, see our  checklist .

travelling overseas up bank

In many countries, merchants are moving to contactless payment. In fact, you may find that some stores and restaurants not only won’t take cash but may not even have a credit card reader.

Contactless payments are done through near-field communication (NFC) technology or quick response (QR) codes. NFC terminals at checkout counters use radio waves to read a physical credit card or one stored on a smartphone or smartwatch. QR codes can originate with the merchant or be stored on your phone. You might scan a merchant’s QR code with your phone’s camera and then tap on a link to complete the payment process. Or you might use an app to generate a QR code with your credit card information, and then the merchant scans it for payment.

A Digital Wallet  can help you navigate contactless payments. You will be able to pay in-store, online and in-app, receive payments and get cash from ATMs using only your smartphone.

Set up a Digital Wallet by adding credit or debit card information to your smartphone. You can do this through your mobile banking app or another pay app on your phone. If you are traveling to a country such as China, where QR code payments are common, make sure your app can generate QR codes.

See how to add your Bank of America credit or debit card to a Digital Wallet.

The benefits of using a Digital Wallet go beyond the convenience of contactless payments and include:

travelling overseas up bank

Most experienced travelers will recommend arriving at your destination with enough local currency to last at least the first 24 hours of your trip. This will make it easier to pay for services such as luggage carts, taxis and tips.

To get an advantageous currency exchange rate, purchase currency through your bank before you leave. Generally, larger banks offer more favorable rates and lower fees than other conversion services, such as airport exchange desks or kiosks at the destination. Some banks let you order currency online or through their mobile app. Allow three to five days before you travel to receive the currency.

Learn how to order foreign currency from Bank of America before you travel.

Did you know?

Currency exchange rates constantly change depending on markets as well as economic and geopolitical factors. Individual rates among banks, hotels, kiosks and other currency exchange businesses also vary due to profit, fees and other markups.

Even though it’s good to have cash on hand, try to limit ATM withdrawals. Using an international ATM can trigger unexpected fees, and some banks cap how much you can withdraw each day. You can minimize fees by using the ATMs in your home bank’s network or at a bank that partners with it. And remember that if you use your credit card to withdraw cash from ATMs, you may be charged cash advance fees and interest.

Find Bank of America’s international ATM partners.

Some international ATMs support only four-digit PINs and do not have letters on their keypads. Be sure your PIN doesn’t start with a zero and know it by its numbers.

If you have excess foreign cash at the end of your trip, you may be able to apply it toward your hotel bill or final meal. If you’d rather give the money to charity, look for donation bins at the airport. Or think about giving it to friends who plan to travel. You can also exchange foreign cash back into U.S. dollars, though the exchange rate will be different, you may pay a fee and banks typically won’t buy back coins.

The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial or investment advice. Bank of America Corporation and/or its affiliates assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional when making decisions regarding your financial or investment management. ©2024 Bank of America Corporation.

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travelling overseas up bank

The World’s Best Bank Accounts for International Travelers and Nomads

Updated: Feb 12, 2024 • by Thomas K. Running

Did you know that every time you swipe your card in a foreign country, your bank is charging you exorbitant fees and giving you a terrible exchange rate? Yet, you can save thousands every year by choosing the right bank.

If you travel abroad for a week or two per year, 3–5% in various foreign transaction fees and bad exchange rates for international card use is not really a big problem. But as a frequent traveler or digital nomad spending most of your time abroad, these fees add up quickly. In fact, you might be donating hundreds or even thousands of dollars yearly to your bank. I’m sure you could think of a better way to spend that money.

Table of Contents ↺ Nomad friendly banks available globally Wise Nomad friendly banks in Europe N26 Tomorrow Bunq Monzo Revolut Nomad friendly banks in North America Charles Schwab Bank Nomad friendly banks in Oceania HSBC Everyday Global Account Citibank ING Orange Everyday Other nomad friendly banks? Transferring money between banks

But what if I told you that there are banks out there that charge no monthly fees, 0% foreign transaction fees, 0% currency exchange markup, 0% ATM withdrawal fees and even refund fees imposed by ATM owners worldwide? Sounds like some sort of black magic right? Well, it’s not. I spent countless hours finding the best banks for nomads in North America, Europe, and Oceania, so you don’t have to. Read on to learn more about these incredible banks and how you can open an account with them today.

Update: In this article you’ll find personal bank accounts. If you’re a freelancer or business owner, don’t miss my article on the best business bank accounts you can open remotely . 🕴

Nomad friendly banks available globally

Man holding envelope with Wise debit card inside.

Wise, formerly Transferwise, is one of the biggest names in global fintech and international banking. Wise allows you to hold money in over 50 different currencies, and is probably the banking product that comes closest to offering a truly global service, earning it this special mention.

There are only about a dozen countries or so where you cannot use Wise at all (e.g. for cheap international money transfers), and only a few more where you cannot get their free borderless multi-currency accounts.

In many countries, you also get access to the Wise debit card which comes with some of the most competitively low fees for international spending.

Personally, the feature I like the most with Wise is that they provide you with local banking details in a range of countries (e.g. in Europe, US, Australia, Singapore and many more) making it easy to receive payments from clients or friends located all across the world without any extra charges or delays.

Another thing I especially like about Wise is that they have always been completely transparent about the low fees they do charge, including how much go to cover their direct costs as well as how much goes to improve their product. Unlike competitors who initially launched with too-good-to-be-true pricing which soon thereafter gets jacked up (classic bait-and-switch), Wise has tirelessly worked on improving their cost structure leading to even lower fees over time.

Wise at a glance

Things to note, nomad friendly banks in europe, n26 (eur — eu/eea: 🇩🇪🇦🇹🇪🇸🇮🇹🇮🇪🇸🇰🇬🇷🇫🇷🇧🇪🇪🇪🇫🇮🇱🇻🇱🇹🇱🇺🇳🇱🇵🇹🇸🇮🇳🇴🇸🇪🇩🇰🇮🇸🇵🇱🇱🇮).

Man holding N26 bank card and a phone with the N26 bank app open.

My favorite bank in Europe is definitely N26 . By now it’s one of the most mature of the user-friendly and innovative challenger or neo-banks that have revolutionized the European banking market in the last few years.

Having started out in Germany, N26’s EUR account is now available in most of Europe. Since late 2018, N26’s EUR accounts are also available to residents of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

But don’t worry if you’re not currently in Europe, dear nomad friends. One of the best things about N26 is that you can open an account from anywhere in about 5 minutes . You just need your smartphone, an internet connection, and your ID.

(If you’re unsure about the process, just read my article on how to open an N26 account remotely )

You’ll still need a delivery address in Europe (specifically in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia , Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal , Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, or Switzerland). If you’re not currently in any of those countries, don’t worry. As a global-minded citizen, I’m sure you can make some European friends that will allow to you use their address as a C/O address to open the account. You can easily change the address after receiving the card.

N26 is now offering a few different plans, but the free Standard plan is probably still the best bet for most—unless you can take advantage of the excellent travel insurance included with the paid plans. That’s the case if you’re mostly based in a European country and often make trips abroad of up to three months at a time.

N26 You (€9.90/mo) and N26 Metal accounts (€16.90/mo) give you medical, trip cancellation, luggage, winter sports, and even car sharing, e-scooter, and e-bikes hires covered for damages. N26 Metal plan also adds car rental insurance and phone insurance (up to €2,000 for theft and damage).

If you don’t need the travel insurance, but want a free physical card and like to use subaccounts for better budgeting and saving—their Smart plan (€4.90/mo) could be best for you.

N26 at a glance

* They add a low 1.7% exchange fee for ATM withdrawals only in non-EUR currencies for the Standard and the Smart plan. That’s still much lower than the competition (typically 2-5% on all foreign spend, including point-of-sale).

Tomorrow (EUR — EU/EEA: 🇩🇪🇦🇹🇮🇹🇪🇸)

Wooden visa card that comes with Tomorrow Zero.

Tomorrow is a German banking product focusing on sustainability, so a perfect option for nomads and other travelers who are concerned about their environmental footprint .

Although they are currently only available in Germany, Austria, Italy, and Spain, they make it easy to send, receive and withdraw money all around the world. For every 5 euros that you pay with your Tomorrow Visa card, they will restore one “wheelbarrow” full of healthy habitat.

With any money that you deposit, they will only use it to invest in renewable and sustainable products or resources.

They have three plans all at a monthly fee:

Now – at €3/month, with withdrawals costing €2 (but no additional fees on foreign exchange).

Change - at €7/month, with 5 free monthly withdrawals, optional shared account and no additional foreign exchange fees.

Zero – €15/month, a wooden card with unlimited withdrawals and no additional foreign exchange fees.

From 1st March 2024, the prices for the plans will be €4, €8 and €17, respectively.

Tomorrow at a glance

Bunq app and personal debit card

Dutch bank Bunq is a mobile only bank that offers both personal accounts and business accounts .

They offer many features with their personal accounts, including the option to have a shared account with a partner, an IBAN in either Germany, Netherlands, Spain, France or Ireland (or multiple IBANs in their more premium plans), and the possibility for a Maestro Card (particularly useful in Central Europe and the Netherlands).

While they do have a free version, it is quite limited and doesn’t come with a debit card, so the best option would be €2.99 a month for their “Easy Bank” plan.

To add 22 different currencies and investment features, you can upgrade to “Easy Money” for €8.99 per month, or €17.99 a month for “Easy Green”, which allows you to offset your CO2 emissions, similar to Tomorrow .

Bunq at a glance

Monzo (gbp — uk 🇬🇧).

Hot coral Monzo card and iPhone with the Monzo app open.

This fast-growing challenger bank is the closest thing to N26 in the UK. You get a free current account and debit card, a user-friendly app which makes it easy to stay on top of your spending, and just a few, low fees.

A Monzo Plus account costing £5/month adds credit score tracker and fee-free withdrawals abroad up to a certain limit—among other features. Monzo Premium costing £15/month also includes travel insurance, phone insurance, and discounted access to airport lounges.

The account is easily opened through their mobile app (including ID verification), and the debit card can be sent to any UK address.

Monzo at a glance

Image of Revolut's debit card.

This is a competitor to Wise that many people have probably already heard about. They got quite famous in nomad circles in the middle of 2010s when they launched with free unlimited currency conversion, free international money transfers, and free instant top-ups from debit and credit cards.

But these perks are no more.

Now you can only exchange up to £1,000 per month for free, all international transfers are paid, even on the Premium and Metal plans, and only non-commercial cards issued in the EU can be used for free top-ups.

While Revolut was initially available worldwide, they had to scale back to just the EU/EEA, though they have now added back support for a handful non-European countries, though usually with limited services.

The thing you’ll notice as you start using Revolut is that pretty much all their features has one or several asterisks attached to them, such as:

  • Free currency conversion (including international card spend) not being available for all currencies, nor on the weekends, nor for large amounts.
  • Or that their travel insurance you get with their Premium account which advertises cover for your whole family only really includes your kids (under 18), not your spouse.
  • Or that the 1% cashback on all your non-EU purchases for those splurging for the Metal plan is capped at what you pay for the plan—so it’s essentially just a discount, not a cashback.

That said, while they are no longer a clear winner on price, their app is probably the most feature-packed of all the big fintechs, including budgeting features, microsavings, investments, etc.

Revolut may also add value if you are a freelancer, sole trader, contractor, and self-employed in some other way, as they now have a Revolut Pro. This is essentially the same as Revolut Business, but can be accessed through their personal account app instead, to make things easier for solo business owners.

Revolut at a glance

Honorable mentions.

  • Monese (GBP & EUR — UK 🇬🇧): Free to use globally, but with certain limits. Affordable upgrade in case you’re a big international spender or need more than €/£200 in monthly ATM withdrawals. The EU customers can have EUR (Belgium) and RON accounts, and the UK customers can open these plus GBP accounts.
  • DKB (EUR — Germany 🇩🇪): Similar fee structure to N26, but I personally found their support to be quite hard to work with as a non-German speaker (insisting that you email them in German, not English for example, else refusing to respond). Could be a good option for Germans still.
Wise (formerly TransferWise) —the global, multi-currency account 🌍🚀 This isn’t your run-of-the-mill bank account. It’s worthy of a special mention because it’s a fantastic product for those of us that earn and spend in several currencies. You’ll get local bank details in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 (GBP), the Eurozone 🇪🇺 (Belgium or Germany—EUR), the United States 🇺🇸 (USD), Australia 🇦🇺 (AUD), New Zealand 🇳🇿 (NZD), Canada 🇨🇦 (CAD), Hungary 🇭🇺 (HUF), Romania 🇷🇴 (RON), Singapore 🇸🇬 (SGD), and Turkey 🇹🇷 (TRY), which makes it easy to get paid from all over the world. Pair that with a free debit card that can be used worldwide with very low fees, and the fact that it’s available to residents of most countries, and you have yourself a winner. They offer both personal and business accounts . Open Wise account

Nomad friendly banks in North America

Charles schwab bank (usd — united states 🇺🇸).

Charles Schwab Visa Card, which refunds your ATM fees in the US and abroad

By far my favorite bank for nomads in the US, and perhaps even in the world. Pretty much anything is free, from all card usage globally to unlimited free checks (if you still use those). They even refund you unlimited amounts of ATM fees imposed by ATM owners worldwide.

The only thing that leaves me wanting a bit more is their online banking solution and mobile apps. They have improved a lot in since I first started recommending Schwab, but I will still only characterize them as OK. Then again, most US banks suck in this area.

Like most US banks it also requires you to be a US resident. But as long as you keep a US address on file, they assume you are living there. If you don’t have a US address while traveling or living abroad, your account might be subject to closure. A mail scanning and forwarding service that offer street addresses (not P.O. boxes) can take care of this for a low monthly fee.

Charles Schwab at a glance

* You will be charged Visa’s official rate , which is pretty darn close to the mid-market rate.

Capital One 360 (USD — United States 🇺🇸): Quite similar benefits compared with Charles Schwab, but does not refund your ATM fees.

STACK (CAD — Canada 🇨🇦) : While not technically a bank, this prepaid Mastercard is the only Canadian option with no FX fees, no ATM fees, and no monthly fees. Highly recommended for Canadians who travel abroad!

Do you know any nomad friendly banks in Canada? Let me know , so I can add them here!

Nomad friendly banks in Oceania

Hsbc everyday global account (aud + 9 more — australia 🇦🇺).

HSBC Everyday Global Visa Debit Card

Launched in the spring of 2018, the HSBC Everyday Global Account is the first Australian multi-currency travel card and bank account without foreign transaction fees or “criminal” exchange rates.

Australian residents can apply to open an account online. Non-residents can try to apply through a branch, but you may not be accepted.

HSBC Global at a glance

Ing orange everyday (aud-australia 🇦🇺).

ING Orange Everyday Visa Debit card

Another recent contender in Australia, ING now refunds ATM fees (charged by the ATM owner) worldwide with their Orange Everyday account , as long as you meet the following two conditions:

  • Receive at least $1,000 in your account every month
  • Make at least 5 card purchases per month

The downside is that if you don’t meet the requirements, you don’t only miss out on the refunds, but you’re also charged a $5 international ATM fee, plus a 3% foreign transaction fee for both purchases and withdrawals.

Highlights 🌟

  • No monthly/yearly costs
  • No set-up cost
  • No ATM fees worldwide*
  • No foreign transaction fees*
  • No currency exchange markup**

* Only if you meet the $1,000 deposit + 5 card transaction requirement in the preceding month. ** You will be charged Visa’s official rate , which is pretty darn close to the mid-market rate.

Special thanks to Chloe R for the tip!

Open ING Orange Everyday account

  • Wise (formerly TransferWise Borderless) (NZD, AUD, EUR, GBP, USD + dozens more—Australia 🇦🇺 & New Zealand 🇳🇿): As previously mentioned , this is a fantastic product that give you local bank details in 10 countries (including Australia and New Zealand), and let you hold several dozens more currencies. You can convert between currencies at some of the best rates in the market, and you get a free debit card that makes spending around the world a breeze.
  • Air NZ OneSmart (NZD, AUD, SGD, HKD, JPY, GBP, EUR, CAD, USD—New Zealand 🇳🇿): This innovative prepaid card offer 3 free international ATM withdrawals per calendar month, and can hold a variety of different currencies. If you are in a country with one of the supported currencies, this card can be a good option. If you need to use the card for transactions in unsupported currencies, there is a 2.5% fee. There is now also a $1 monthly fee.

Other nomad friendly banks?

I have included all the nomad friendly banks I came across in my research, but if I missed a bank in your country please let me know , so I can update the article!

If you’re not able to open accounts with any of the banks listed in this article, check if there’s a bank in the Global ATM Alliance in your country. These banks usually waive any fees when you use your card in a partner bank’s ATM. Note that they often still charge foreign transaction fees of up to 3%.

Another alternative can be using a bank with a significant global presence, such as HSBC bank , and as much as possible use their ATMs abroad. Yet, tracking down the few ATMs you can use fee-free in a particular city can be quite impractical.

Transferring money between banks

If you successfully open one of the bank accounts that I’ve listed above, you might wonder how you can fund your account if your current account is in a different country. Usually, the fastest and easiest way is to use Wise (formerly TransferWise) and is what I would recommend in most cases. Even if your bank supports international transfers, you’ll most likely get a terrible exchange rate, plus loads of fees—especially if the transfer goes via the SWIFT network.

I hope this article was helpful! If you have any questions, please post them in the comments below. If you know of any other nomad-friendly banks, please send me a tip ! 🙌

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How to open an n26 bank account—from anywhere, the best business bank accounts to open from anywhere, my top resources for nomads, travelers, & expats, portugal golden visa guide: pros & cons in 2024, the world's best travel insurance for long-term travelers, the ultimate retirement savings guide for expats & nomads.

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5 Things to Do Before Traveling Overseas With Your Credit Card

Erin El Issa

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

Heading on an overseas excursion? Before you pack up your travel pillow, make sure your wallet is ready for the trip. Here are the five things you need to do before you take your plastic overseas.

1. Make sure your credit card has the right features for overseas travel.

Just because your credit card works fine in the States doesn’t mean it’s the best option for traveling abroad. There are several features you should look for in a credit card to take overseas, but two stand out — EMV capability and no foreign transaction fees.

An EMV chip is more secure than a traditional magstripe. That makes it an ideal option for traveling anywhere because travel opens you up to fraud. More importantly, EMV chips are the norm in many countries around the world. Issuers in the United States that don’t want to incur liability from credit card fraud have to implement EMV chips by October 2015, but many cards already have them. Here are some of our top picks for EMV chip-and-signature cards .

Foreign transaction fees are typically 3-4%, which can add up quickly if you’re making a lot of purchases internationally. Instead, choose a credit card without foreign transaction fees and save your money for more important things, like eating all the amazing food your destination has to offer.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s Best ‘EMV With Signature’ Credit Cards

2. Pack more than one credit card.

Having a card with an EMV chip and no foreign transaction fees is great, but you should always have a backup. Not sure that’s necessary? Well this Nerd received a call that her primary credit card was compromised minutes before boarding an international flight. Have a backup card in case your first card is lost or stolen, because it will be harder to get a replacement card sent to a possibly unknown foreign address in a timely manner.

3. Research where you’re going and which cards are accepted there.

Not all credit card networks are commonplace in every country. In general, Visa and MasterCard are usually safe bets, but Discover and American Express credit cards may or may not be accepted. Check out this article on credit card acceptance around the world .

» MORE: 7 Ways your credit card could save you money on holiday travel

4. Contact your issuers about the trip.

Credit card issuers watch out for transactions that seem fraudulent, so tell them you’re leaving the country. Otherwise, an adult beverage purchase made in Spain will likely be flagged as fraudulent, which could result in your current card being canceled. To keep this from happening, inform your issuers about where you’re going and when you’ll be there. Some issuers allow you to do this online, but you may have to call and speak to a customer service representative.

5. Bring cash.

Yes, even the credit-card-loving Nerds carry some cash when traveling. It shouldn’t be your primary payment method — and you should only use it when credit cards aren’t accepted — but it’s useful to have just in case. Keep cash carrying to a minimum and know where your bank’s closest ATM is in relation to your hotel to avoid paying ATM fees abroad.

While you can probably take a cash advance on your credit card, it’s not the best option. Between the cash advance fee and the higher APR, you’ll end up wasting money. Bring a reasonable amount of cash for the place you’re going and call it a day.

Bottom line: Before you head overseas, make sure you have a credit card with an EMV chip and no foreign transaction fees, a backup card and cash. Also check to see what credit card networks are prevalent in the area you’re traveling to and let your issuer(s) know you’re leaving the country. Whew, that’s it — have a great trip!

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024 :

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

travelling overseas up bank

Geek For The Win

Geek For The Win

Going On An Overseas Trip? Here Are 20 Financial Tips You Need To Remember

Posted: June 4, 2024 | Last updated: June 4, 2024

<p>Preparing for an overseas trip is like preparing for war: Meticulous planning and strategic foresight are essential to ensure not just success but also safety. Just as a general considers all potential scenarios on the battlefield, a savvy traveler must anticipate various financial challenges that might arise.</p> <p>From managing currency exchanges to safeguarding against fraud, being well-prepared can make the difference between a smooth, enjoyable journey and a stressful ordeal. This guide offers crucial tips to help you manage your finances effectively while traveling internationally, ensuring that you’re ready for anything your adventure may throw your way.</p> <p>If you’re going on an overseas vacation soon, here are 18 things you need to do to safeguard your finances:</p>

Preparing for an overseas trip is like preparing for war: Meticulous planning and strategic foresight are essential to ensure not just success but also safety. Just as a general considers all potential scenarios on the battlefield, a savvy traveler must anticipate various financial challenges that might arise.

From managing currency exchanges to safeguarding against fraud, being well-prepared can make the difference between a smooth, enjoyable journey and a stressful ordeal. This guide offers crucial tips to help you manage your finances effectively while traveling internationally, ensuring that you’re ready for anything your adventure may throw your way.

If you’re going on an overseas vacation soon, here are 18 things you need to do to safeguard your finances:

<p>Hanging out with a customer service representative is never enjoyable, but believe it or not, you have more power than you think when you’re on the phone with them. </p> <p>Here are 12 simple yet powerful tricks to make customer service interactions a breeze. </p> <p>From savvy communication tips to clever negotiation tactics, these tricks can help you get exactly what you want. </p> <p>How many of these are you already doing?</p>

Notify Your Bank Before Traveling

Before you embark on your overseas trip, inform your bank about your travel plans. This prevents your card from being flagged for suspicious activity and getting blocked. Provide the bank with the dates and destinations of your trip. Some banks allow you to do this online, via their mobile app, or through their hotline.

It’s also wise to ask about any international transaction fees that may apply. This step ensures smooth transactions and access to your funds while abroad.

Understand Currency Exchange Rates

Familiarize yourself with the exchange rates for the countries you will be visiting. Knowing the rates helps you budget better and avoid unfavorable exchanges. Use reputable sources or banking apps to get real-time rates.

Avoid exchanging large amounts of money at airports where rates are often less favorable. Consider using a travel card that offers competitive exchange rates. Understanding these rates can save you money and provide better value for your currency.

<p>Carry a mix of payment methods, including cash, credit cards, and debit cards. Relying solely on one form of payment can be risky in case of theft or card issues. Credit cards are often the safest for large purchases and offer fraud protection. Debit cards are useful for ATM withdrawals, though check for any associated fees. Keep a small amount of local currency for small purchases or tips.</p><p>Diversifying your payment methods ensures you’re prepared for various situations.</p>

Use a Mix of Payment Methods

Carry a mix of payment methods, including cash, credit cards, and debit cards. Relying solely on one form of payment can be risky in case of theft or card issues. Credit cards are often the safest for large purchases and offer fraud protection. Debit cards are useful for ATM withdrawals, though check for any associated fees. Keep a small amount of local currency for small purchases or tips.

Diversifying your payment methods ensures you’re prepared for various situations.

<p>Legal fee financing can be a significant concern for many. Paying in cash is fine if you can afford to pay the full amount upfront. Still, you miss out on the convenience of settling invoices or retainers quickly and easily when you don’t pay your legal fees with a card.</p><p>Even if you aren’t paying it off immediately, paying with a card makes it easier to keep track of your legal expenses over time.</p>

Know Your Bank’s Fees

Research your bank’s fees for international transactions and ATM withdrawals. These fees can add up quickly, impacting your travel budget. Some banks offer partnerships with international banks that reduce or waive these fees.

Consider getting a travel-friendly card with low or no foreign transaction fees. Ask your bank about any additional charges that may apply, such as currency conversion fees. Being aware of these costs helps you avoid unpleasant surprises on your statement.

<p>ATMs are convenient for obtaining local currency but choose your machines wisely. Use ATMs located inside banks or reputable areas to reduce the risk of skimming devices. Check if your bank has partnerships with foreign banks to avoid extra withdrawal fees.</p><p>Limit the number of withdrawals to minimize transaction fees and carry a safe amount of cash. Avoid standalone ATMs in tourist areas, which often charge higher fees. Using ATMs wisely ensures security and cost efficiency.</p>

Use ATMs Wisely

ATMs are convenient for obtaining local currency but choose your machines wisely. Use ATMs located inside banks or reputable areas to reduce the risk of skimming devices. Check if your bank has partnerships with foreign banks to avoid extra withdrawal fees.

Limit the number of withdrawals to minimize transaction fees and carry a safe amount of cash. Avoid standalone ATMs in tourist areas, which often charge higher fees. Using ATMs wisely ensures security and cost efficiency.

<p>Keeping your money and valuables secure is essential while backpacking through Europe, where crowded tourist attractions and bustling city streets can present opportunities for theft or loss. Invest in a money belt or hidden pouch that you can wear under your clothing to store your passport, cash, credit cards, and other valuables securely. Avoid carrying large sums of cash or flashy jewelry that may attract unwanted attention. Instead, carry only the essentials for the day and leave the rest securely locked in your accommodation.</p><p>Divide your money and cards between different locations, such as your wallet, money belt, and backpack, to minimize the risk of loss or theft. Regularly monitor your accounts for any unauthorized transactions and report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately. By practicing safe money management habits, you can protect your finances and enjoy peace of mind during your European backpacking adventure.</p>

Secure Your Cards and Cash

Keep your cards and cash in secure locations to prevent loss or theft. Use a money belt or hidden pouch for larger amounts of cash and spare cards. Store the majority of your funds in your hotel safe and carry only what you need for the day. Be cautious when using your cards in public to avoid revealing your PIN. Consider using RFID-blocking wallets to protect against electronic pickpocketing.

Securing your valuables ensures peace of mind and reduces the risk of financial loss.

<p>Regularly check your bank accounts and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions. Use your bank’s mobile app to easily monitor your finances from anywhere. Set up alerts for transactions above a certain amount to quickly detect any issues. Report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately to prevent further unauthorized use.</p><p>Keeping an eye on your accounts helps you stay on top of your finances and detect fraud early. This practice ensures your funds remain safe throughout your trip.</p>

Monitor Your Accounts Regularly

Regularly check your bank accounts and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions. Use your bank’s mobile app to easily monitor your finances from anywhere. Set up alerts for transactions above a certain amount to quickly detect any issues. Report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately to prevent further unauthorized use.

Keeping an eye on your accounts helps you stay on top of your finances and detect fraud early. This practice ensures your funds remain safe throughout your trip.

<p>Prepare for the possibility of losing access to your primary funds by having a backup plan. Keep a backup credit card in a separate location from your main wallet. Memorize or securely store your bank’s international customer service number for emergencies. Consider having a trusted friend or family member as a point of contact for financial assistance.</p><p>Know the procedures for reporting lost or stolen cards in the countries you’re visiting. A backup plan ensures you have options if things go wrong.</p>

Have a Backup Plan

Prepare for the possibility of losing access to your primary funds by having a backup plan. Keep a backup credit card in a separate location from your main wallet. Memorize or securely store your bank’s international customer service number for emergencies. Consider having a trusted friend or family member as a point of contact for financial assistance.

Know the procedures for reporting lost or stolen cards in the countries you’re visiting. A backup plan ensures you have options if things go wrong.

<p>Look for banking services designed specifically for travelers. Some banks offer accounts with no foreign transaction fees and competitive exchange rates. Consider prepaid travel cards that can be loaded with multiple currencies. These cards often come with added security features and are accepted worldwide.</p><p>Research any additional services your bank might offer, such as travel insurance or emergency cash advances. Travel-friendly banking services can enhance your financial convenience and security abroad.</p>

Use Travel-Friendly Banking Services

Look for banking services designed specifically for travelers. Some banks offer accounts with no foreign transaction fees and competitive exchange rates. Consider prepaid travel cards that can be loaded with multiple currencies. These cards often come with added security features and are accepted worldwide.

Research any additional services your bank might offer, such as travel insurance or emergency cash advances. Travel-friendly banking services can enhance your financial convenience and security abroad.

<p>Understand the banking norms and practices in the countries you’re visiting. Some places might prefer cash over cards, especially in rural areas. Be aware of local banking hours and public holidays that might affect your access to services.</p><p>Familiarize yourself with the appearance of local currency to avoid confusion or counterfeit money. Research whether tipping is customary and if it’s done in cash or added to the bill. Staying informed about local practices helps you navigate financial transactions smoothly.</p>

Stay Informed About Local Banking Practices

Understand the banking norms and practices in the countries you’re visiting. Some places might prefer cash over cards, especially in rural areas. Be aware of local banking hours and public holidays that might affect your access to services.

Familiarize yourself with the appearance of local currency to avoid confusion or counterfeit money. Research whether tipping is customary and if it’s done in cash or added to the bill. Staying informed about local practices helps you navigate financial transactions smoothly.

<p>Utilize technology to manage your finances efficiently while traveling. Download banking and budgeting apps to track your spending in real time. Currency converter apps can help you make quick and accurate calculations. Consider using mobile payment options like Apple Pay or Google Wallet for secure transactions.</p><p>Some apps also offer offline access, which is useful in areas with limited internet connectivity. Leveraging technology ensures you stay organized and in control of your finances throughout your trip.</p>

Leverage Technology for Financial Management

Utilize technology to manage your finances efficiently while traveling. Download banking and budgeting apps to track your spending in real time. Currency converter apps can help you make quick and accurate calculations. Consider using mobile payment options like Apple Pay or Google Wallet for secure transactions.

Some apps also offer offline access, which is useful in areas with limited internet connectivity. Leveraging technology ensures you stay organized and in control of your finances throughout your trip.

<p>When making purchases abroad, you may be offered the option to pay in your home currency instead of the local currency. This service, known as dynamic currency conversion (DCC), often comes with unfavorable exchange rates and additional fees. It’s generally better to decline DCC and pay in the local currency.</p><p>Always check the receipt before authorizing the transaction to ensure you are billed correctly. Understanding DCC can help you avoid unnecessary charges and get a better exchange rate. Being aware of this practice ensures you don’t overpay for your purchases.</p>

Be Aware of Dynamic Currency Conversion

When making purchases abroad, you may be offered the option to pay in your home currency instead of the local currency. This service, known as dynamic currency conversion (DCC), often comes with unfavorable exchange rates and additional fees. It’s generally better to decline DCC and pay in the local currency.

Always check the receipt before authorizing the transaction to ensure you are billed correctly. Understanding DCC can help you avoid unnecessary charges and get a better exchange rate. Being aware of this practice ensures you don’t overpay for your purchases.

<p>Before you travel, research the financial regulations and banking norms of your destination. Some countries have strict controls on currency exchange and the movement of funds. Understanding these regulations helps you comply with local laws and avoid penalties. It’s also useful to know the limits on how much cash you can bring in or take out of the country.</p><p>Being informed about local regulations ensures a hassle-free financial experience. This preparation allows you to focus on enjoying your trip without financial worries.</p>

Research Local Financial Regulations

Before you travel, research the financial regulations and banking norms of your destination. Some countries have strict controls on currency exchange and the movement of funds. Understanding these regulations helps you comply with local laws and avoid penalties. It’s also useful to know the limits on how much cash you can bring in or take out of the country.

Being informed about local regulations ensures a hassle-free financial experience. This preparation allows you to focus on enjoying your trip without financial worries.

<p>Insurance provides financial protection against unexpected events such as accidents, illnesses, or property damage. However, many people underestimate the importance of insurance or overlook certain types of coverage. Evaluate your insurance needs regularly and ensure you have adequate coverage for health, auto, home, life, and disability insurance.</p><p>While insurance premiums may seem like an additional expense, they offer peace of mind, knowing you’re financially protected in case of emergencies.</p>

Consider Travel Insurance with Financial Protection

Investing in travel insurance that includes financial protection can provide peace of mind. Look for policies that cover lost or stolen money and fraudulent charges. Some insurance plans offer emergency cash advances if your funds are compromised. Review the coverage limits and exclusions to ensure it meets your needs. Having travel insurance can also provide assistance with replacing lost cards and navigating foreign banking systems.

This additional layer of protection ensures you’re financially secure in case of unexpected events.

<p>Exchange rates can fluctuate, impacting the value of your money abroad. Monitor these fluctuations, especially if you’re planning significant expenditures. Consider exchanging money when rates are favorable or use tools that lock in rates beforehand. Be aware of geopolitical events that might affect currency stability. Using a multi-currency travel card can help mitigate the impact of sudden changes.</p><p>Understanding these fluctuations allows you to make informed financial decisions and optimize your spending power.</p>

Understand the Impact of Exchange Rate Fluctuations

Exchange rates can fluctuate, impacting the value of your money abroad. Monitor these fluctuations, especially if you’re planning significant expenditures. Consider exchanging money when rates are favorable or use tools that lock in rates beforehand. Be aware of geopolitical events that might affect currency stability. Using a multi-currency travel card can help mitigate the impact of sudden changes.

Understanding these fluctuations allows you to make informed financial decisions and optimize your spending power.

<p>Maintain a list of emergency contacts, including your bank’s international helpline. Include the contact information for local embassies or consulates in case you need assistance. Know the local emergency numbers for medical or police services.</p><p>Having these contacts readily available can expedite resolving any financial issues you encounter. Ensure you can access these contacts even if you lose your phone. Keeping emergency contacts handy provides a safety net for any unforeseen financial emergencies.</p>

Keep Emergency Contacts Handy

Maintain a list of emergency contacts, including your bank’s international helpline. Include the contact information for local embassies or consulates in case you need assistance. Know the local emergency numbers for medical or police services.

Having these contacts readily available can expedite resolving any financial issues you encounter. Ensure you can access these contacts even if you lose your phone. Keeping emergency contacts handy provides a safety net for any unforeseen financial emergencies.

<p>While using ATMs for cash withdrawals, avoid making excessive transactions. Frequent withdrawals can lead to high cumulative fees and increase the risk of loss or theft. Plan your cash needs and withdraw larger amounts less frequently to minimize fees. Ensure you withdraw from ATMs in secure locations, preferably inside banks. Keep track of your withdrawals to stay within your budget.</p><p>By managing your ATM usage wisely, you can save money and reduce risks during your travels.</p>

Avoid Excessive ATM Withdrawals

While using ATMs for cash withdrawals, avoid making excessive transactions. Frequent withdrawals can lead to high cumulative fees and increase the risk of loss or theft. Plan your cash needs and withdraw larger amounts less frequently to minimize fees. Ensure you withdraw from ATMs in secure locations, preferably inside banks. Keep track of your withdrawals to stay within your budget.

By managing your ATM usage wisely, you can save money and reduce risks during your travels.

<p>Learn about the banking services available in the countries you’re visiting. Identify local banks that have partnerships with your home bank for reduced fees. Know where to find ATMs and their operating hours, especially in remote areas. Understanding local banking services can help you access funds more conveniently.</p><p>It’s also useful to know if local banks offer English-language support for any assistance you might need. Familiarizing yourself with these services ensures smoother financial transactions abroad.</p>

Familiarize Yourself with Local Banking Services

Learn about the banking services available in the countries you’re visiting. Identify local banks that have partnerships with your home bank for reduced fees. Know where to find ATMs and their operating hours, especially in remote areas. Understanding local banking services can help you access funds more conveniently.

It’s also useful to know if local banks offer English-language support for any assistance you might need. Familiarizing yourself with these services ensures smoother financial transactions abroad.

<p>Minimize sharing your travel details publicly, especially on social media. Use privacy settings to control who sees your posts. Avoid tagging your current location in real time. Discuss travel plans discreetly and avoid displaying your wealth.</p><p>Use hotel safes for valuables instead of carrying them around. Keeping a low profile reduces the chances of attracting unwanted attention.</p>

Protect Your Financial Information

Be vigilant about protecting your financial information from theft and fraud. Avoid using public Wi-Fi for banking transactions as they are often unsecured. Use a VPN for secure internet connections when accessing sensitive information.

Regularly update your passwords and use two-factor authentication where possible. Be cautious of phishing scams and only enter your information on trusted websites. Protecting your financial information ensures your accounts remain secure and reduces the risk of fraud.

<p>Maintain a financial journal to record your expenses and monitor your budget during your trip. Note down every transaction, no matter how small, to keep track of your spending. This practice helps you identify areas where you might be overspending. It also provides a clear record in case you need to dispute any charges.</p><p>Keeping a financial journal ensures you stay within your budget and have a detailed account of your expenditures. This habit promotes financial discipline and accountability throughout your vacation.</p>

Keep a Financial Journal

Maintain a financial journal to record your expenses and monitor your budget during your trip. Note down every transaction, no matter how small, to keep track of your spending. This practice helps you identify areas where you might be overspending. It also provides a clear record in case you need to dispute any charges.

Keeping a financial journal ensures you stay within your budget and have a detailed account of your expenditures. This habit promotes financial discipline and accountability throughout your vacation.

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We’re so pleased international payments are now available to all Up customers. Up is now one of the cheapest and fastest ways in Australia to send money overseas via TransferWise.

This will be welcome news to all travellers, temporary residents or those with family and friends abroad. Covid aside, the world has become a much smaller place. People travel and work overseas more freely now than at any other time in history. People today need a way to move money across borders quickly and easily and that’s exactly what we’ve achieved through our integration with the TransferWise for Banks API . The first of its kind in Australia.

When I was living in London, TransferWise was recommended to me by a friend and colleague named Christian. I’ve used it for all international payments since. It made moving money between my Australian and UK bank accounts a breeze. When I travelled with friends in Europe and Asia we were able to pay each other effortlessly. When friends from overseas visited me in Australia they were able to pay me back via TransferWise.

The Up debit card is already a great travel companion . You can withdraw cash from international ATMs and make purchases using the MasterCard® mid-market rate without any markup. Now, with the addition of international payments in Up you can truly roam free, without borders.

Let me walk you through it and explain how it works.

Create or connect an account

After a few taps and agreeing to the terms you’ll have your own TransferWise account that’s set to move money abroad. Up Yeah!

Already have a TransferWise account?

Perfect, by logging into your account and granting Up access we’ll bring across all recipients that you’ve paid in the past. This makes it a matter of seconds to send money to them again from within Up. Simply enter an amount and message for your payment and we’ll do the rest.

Sending money, fast

There are currently 48 currencies available to use. All of them with low fees, the real exchange rate and you’ll see a realistic estimated delivery of when you can expect the payment to land in your recipient’s account.

You can enter an amount in either AUD or the foreign currency.

The time to transfer depends on the currency and payment method used, however, it’s blazing fast compared with traditional banks offerings in Australia using methods like SWIFT. As an example, popular routes like AUD to GBP will usually take mere seconds to arrive.

New routes are being added all the time. COP, TZS and UGX look like they’ll be the next available currencies.

Send us a message via Talk to Us if your currency isn’t there.

Payment details

We’ll ask you a few questions about how you want to transfer the money. The exact details we’ll need depends on the currency and amount.

You can enter details like BSB and account number or use other international methods like SWIFT or IBAN. There’s even e-wallet methods available for some currencies which can make paying someone overseas as low friction as entering the mobile phone number of the recipient.

More payment methods are being added all the time so you can expect it to become even easier and faster in the future.

Recipient details

All international payments out of Australia are required to have the recipient’s name and address so we’ll ask for those too. Rules are rules.

Some currencies and countries will require extra information like a phone number or identity information of the recipient. There are wildly complex requirements and regulations for sending money between countries but TransferWise deals with all the hard stuff to make it easy for you.

A clear history

Up’s payment threads keep a neat history of all past payments you’ve sent, they will now also show the amount in the foreign currency. The receipt will show all details you’ve entered and provide you with a real-time status update of how the payment is progressing on TransferWise’ end too.

Once completed you can download the receipt from TransferWise with details of the transfer should you need it.

We’ll let you know with a push notification when the payment has been sent to your recipient’s account. If there are any problems on the receiving end and your money needs to be refunded to your Up account we'll let you know about that too.

How does it work?

How is it possible for a payment to be sent from your Up account, converted to a foreign currency and to have it arrive in a foreign bank account in seconds?

What’s going on behind the scenes is that two payments are being made. The first is between your Up account and a TransferWise account locally and then a second payment is made between a TransferWise account and your recipient’s account in the foreign country and currency. For example, say you wanted to transfer $1,000 (545.80 GBP) to David Beckham in the UK.

  • $1,000 would be sent from Up to an Australian TransferWise account via the New Payments Platform in AUD.
  • £545.80 would be sent from a UK TransferWise account to David via the Faster Payments Service in GBP.

Only local payments are being made and no on-the-fly currency conversion is taking place. Foreign exchange is still required but it can be done in larger sums at strategic times.

Near-instant payment networks at both legs of the journey, combined with real-time events to wire everything together when payments are received, allow for near-instant payments across borders.

Interesting to note, Up has just added its own real-time payment processing capability with the release of the Up API’s Webhooks .

One week in

TransferWise was already a very popular service with our customers.

It’s clear that Up customers love using TranferWise for international payments and now we’ve made it even easier without the need to leave the Up app.

In the first week since launch:

  • More than 2,000 customers connected their Up accounts with TransferWise.
  • Payments have been made in 28 currencies, the most popular being INR, GBP, NZD and EUR.
  • Payments have been made to 36 countries, the most popular being India, United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States.
  • Most transfers are sent within 3 mins, the quickest was 19 seconds. The average, including all currencies and destinations was 2h 27m.

Getting these things right takes a lot of time and coordination. The first international payment from Up was made on December 12, 2019 at 4:10pm. The final stretch was ensuring we’d done everything possible to protect individuals before releasing international payments publicly. It’s been a collaborative effort by Bendigo Bank and Ferocia (in Australia) and TransferWise (in Australia, the UK and Singapore) to achieve such a streamlined, easy-to-use, and super-fast outcome and we’re thrilled it’s now in your hands.

Take it for a spin and let us know what you think, we’d love to hear from you.

Mark Brown

Tags: Transferwise , Wise , History

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Personal Finance

5 best ways to exchange foreign currency.

How to Exchange Foreign Currency

Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more about it.

Cashless transactions are becoming more commonplace worldwide as consumers increasingly use debit and credit cards, mobile payment apps, and other types of digital payments for everyday spending. Still, you might want to exchange some U.S. dollars for foreign currency when traveling abroad—either because cash is still king at your destination or you prefer globetrotting with at least a little cash in your pocket.

There are multiple ways to exchange currency, but the goal is to get the best exchange rate with the lowest fees—something easier said than done. To help point you in the right direction, here are our tips for exchanging currency and finding the best deals.

5 ways to exchange foreign currency

1. get cash at your bank or credit union before and after your trip.

Many banks and credit unions sell foreign currencies without charging a fee beyond the exchange rate. You can order currency by phone, online, or in person at your local branch and arrange to pick it up or get it delivered.

Some currencies will be "in stock" and available to exchange immediately, while others may require a few days to process. Once you return from your trip, you can convert any unused currency back to dollars—or stash it somewhere safe for your next adventure.

2. Withdraw cash from your bank's in-network ATMs

Once you reach your destination, an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) is the best way to get currency to spend locally. ATMs generally offer competitive exchange rates, and you can avoid (or at least limit) fees by using ATMs in your bank's network. You can save on fees by withdrawing larger amounts of cash once or twice rather than making frequent, smaller withdrawals. Check with your bank to find out your daily and per-transaction ATM limits, and request an increase if you plan to access more cash.

3. Use a money transfer app

Money transfer apps let you send money to friends, family, and merchants worldwide. Most transfers are completed within minutes. The apps are free to use (though you'll generally pay a fee if you use a credit card instead of a linked bank account to fund the transfer). You may also pay a fee if the cash needs to change currencies.

4. Online currency converters

Another option is to order cash through an online currency converter. However, you may get a poor exchange rate. Also, the pick-up and delivery fees could be higher than the amount your local bank charges, depending on how much currency you exchange.

5. Airport kiosks and currency exchange counters

Airport kiosks, hotels, and tourist centers are convenient ways to exchange currency. However, the high fees and poor exchange rates mean less cash in your pocket. If you can plan ahead, you'll get a better deal exchanging currency at your local bank or credit union.

More about foreign currency

How does currency exchange work.

Currency exchange lets you swap one currency for another, such as trading U.S. dollars (USD) for euros. Because currency values continuously fluctuate, the exchange rate you receive depends on what's happening in the global markets at any given moment. It's rarely a 1:1 ratio. Instead, one USD might buy, for example, 0.93 euros, 16.32 Mexican pesos, or 151.83 Japanese yen.

Banks that exchange foreign currency for free

Many banks let you exchange USD for foreign currencies (and vice versa) for free, but you may need to be a customer—or have a premium bank account plan. Still, remember that the exchange rate you receive may include the bank's profit, fees, costs, charges, or other markups in the spread—meaning you're still paying for the exchange. Check with your bank for details.

Where to get foreign currency internationally

ATMs are often your best bet for getting foreign currency while traveling internationally. ATMs generally offer competitive exchange rates, and if you use ATMs in your bank's network, you can limit fees. Remember that the ATM (or its affiliate bank) may also charge a fee of several dollars or more. ATMs in touristy areas sometimes have higher fees than those in non-touristy parts of town.

Places to avoid exchanging currency

You won't have to go out of your way to trade in your dollars at airport kiosks, hotels, or tourist centers, but they are some of the worst places to exchange currency; the high service fees and poor exchange rates mean you'll get less bang for your buck. (Of course, it's best to avoid currency exchange shops in remote or sketchy areas—not only because of excessive fees and unfavorable exchange rates but also because of the security risks.)

Still, you can try negotiating for a better rate or lower fees—but you'll need to know the current exchange rate going into the transaction. A quick Google search will display real-time exchange rates. For example, a "USD to EUR" search shows that $1 buys 0.93 euros (as of May 5, 2024). You can also use an online currency converter like Oanda or Xe to view live exchange rates.

Alternatives to exchanging currency

Credit and debit cards are simple alternatives to exchanging currency. Many credit cards—and some premium debit cards—offer travel rewards and protection benefits, making them an even more attractive option. Still, there are a few things to keep in mind when using your card internationally:

  • Credit and debit cards aren't accepted everywhere.
  • Some merchants don't accept certain credit card networks, even if they accept others. Of the four main U.S. payment networks (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express), Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted cards globally.
  • Many card issuers impose a foreign transaction fee that can add about 3% to your total costs—or $30 on a $1,000 hotel bill, for example. If you're a frequent traveler, consider getting a travel credit card with zero foreign transaction fees.
  • Your card issuer may temporarily freeze your card or contact you if they see overseas card activity. To avoid inconvenience, set up a travel notification.
  • Merchants may offer the option to pay in USD or the local currency (called dynamic currency conversion). Paying in USD might seem the better choice; however, you'll almost always get a better rate by choosing the local currency (even if the merchant tells you otherwise).
  • Credit card cash advances are an expensive way to get currency and should be considered a last resort.
  • A banking app can help you monitor your account activity in real-time and alert you of unauthorized transactions.

TIME Stamp: Know your options before you travel

Before you travel internationally, find out if the areas you’ll be visiting accept credit cards. If so, you may not need any foreign currency (unless the idea of traveling without cash makes you uncomfortable). Consider charging larger purchases, like hotels and organized tours, and getting cash at an in-network ATM for everyday expenses like coffee, street vendors, and tips.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Can i exchange foreign currency at a bank.

You can exchange many—but not all—foreign currencies at a bank. Stable currencies, like dollars, euros, and British pounds, are generally easily exchanged worldwide. However, illiquid or heavily regulated currencies may be difficult (or impossible) to exchange in many parts of the world.

How do I exchange foreign currency without a fee?

Currency exchange isn't free. You’ll pay for the service through a fee or a spread on the exchange rate (or both). Still, an ATM withdrawal can be a low-fee option when using an in-network ATM. (Check your bank's app to find an ATM near you.) Before your trip, consider asking your bank to increase your daily and per-transaction withdrawal limits. That way, you can make fewer trips to the ATM and save money on fees.

What is needed to exchange foreign currency?

One of the easiest ways to get foreign currency is via an ATM withdrawal; you only need your ATM card and PIN. If you exchange currency anywhere else, you'll need a valid government-issued ID, such as a driver's license or passport. Depending on the exchange service and the amount of currency you exchange, you may also need proof of your address or other documentation.

What is the procedure for foreign currency exchange?

Before your trip, you can order foreign currency from your bank or credit union to pick up at your local branch. (You may also be able to have it delivered, although there may be a delivery fee.)

Another option is an online currency converter that delivers cash to your home address, but the rate will likely be less favorable than your bank offers. Once out of the country, your best option is to use your bank's ATM network.

Whether heading out of the country or returning from a trip, it's generally best to avoid exchanging currency at airport kiosks, hotels, and tourist centers; skip the high fees and poor exchange rates and keep more money in your pocket for your next adventure.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

Send money overseas with Revolut to take advantage of bank-beating exchange rates

5 Reasons To Avoid Sending Money Overseas With Banks

Table of contents, why are bank transfers popular, what are the disadvantages of using banks for international money transfers, reason #1: high fees and charges, reason #2: unfavorable exchange rates, reason #3: insufficient payment and delivery methods, reason #4: lengthy transfer times, reason #5: limited accessibility, bank transfers vs money transfer companies - a case study, when to use banks for international money transfers, conclusion: stop sending money overseas with banks.

Sending money overseas has become a common practice in today's globalized world, whether it is to support family members or to conduct business transactions.

Banks are often the first option that comes to mind for many people when it comes to sending money overseas. However, it is essential to be aware of the potential drawbacks of using banks for international money transfers.

In this article, we discuss five reasons you should avoid banks for sending money overseas, including hidden fees and charges, unfavorable exchange rates, lengthy transfer times, limited accessibility, and security risks.

An image of the sky amidst tall skyscrapers with the title - 5 Reasons To Avoid Sending Money Overseas With Banks

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of the disadvantages of using banks for international money transfers and alternative options that may be more suitable for your needs.

You may be wondering if banks are not the best option to send money overseas, why are they still a popular choice for international remittances.

There are a few simple reasons why many people still rely on their bank to send money abroad; some of these include the below:

  • Convenience and ease: The top most reason why banks get used for international money transfers is that it is always easier to deal with your bank. You already have an account with them, and there is no need to open a new account with another institution.
  • Easy access: Another reason why you may be tempted to go with your bank for overseas funds transfers is simple and easy access to banking services. Most banks have mobile apps and online banking to help you transact online. Even if you have to stop by at your bank's local branch, it is not that hard to send money from there.
  • Lack of awareness of other choices: Many people end up using their bank for money transfers as they are simply not aware of other choices. Unless you do research or seek knowledge and information, you may assume that your bank is the best and only choice to send money overseas.
  • Popularity of bank to bank transfers: Often, your overseas recipient wishes to receive money directly into their bank account. Therefore, your bank may seem like a natural choice since your international money transfer is essentially a bank to bank transfer.
  • Exposure to marketing: Banks often advertise their services, including international money transfer options, in their brochures, ads, posters, in-branch promotional material and via other means. This may influence you to use your bank when you need to remit funds overseas.

Convenience, easy access and popularity of bank to bank transfers are some of the primary reasons why you may be tempted to send money overseas with your bank.

Next, we will look into some of the drawbacks of sending money overseas using your bank.

Whilst your bank is certainly a very valid option to send money abroad, there are many potential disadvantages of using your bank for international money transfers. Let us look at some of the top reasons to avoid banks for remittances below.

One of the main reasons to avoid sending money overseas with banks is the fees and charges that can quickly add up and eat into the amount you intend to send.

Banks often charge various types of fees that include wire transfer fees , and fees charged by intermediary and correspondent bank fees. All these charges can vary depending on the amount you are sending and the destination country.

For example, when we compared various popular US banks for international wire transfers , we found that the fees for an international wire range anywhere from USD 20 to USD 50. That is a lot of money lost in fees.

Banks tend to charge high wire transfer fees for sending money internationally. Based on our research, most popular US banks charge between USD 20-50 for sending money internationally.

Another key reason to avoid sending money overseas with banks is the unfavorable exchange rates they often offer. Exchange rates refer to the value of one currency compared to another .

Banks usually add a markup , called an FX Markup, on top of the real exchange rate to increase their profits.

This markup is often hidden in the banks' exchange rate, and it can be challenging to identify it unless you compare it to the real exchange rate. This is why the FX Markup acts like a hidden fee and lowers the payout of your money transfer.

The impact of unfavorable exchange rates can be significant , especially when sending large amounts of money. For example, a 3% higher FX Markup on a USD 10,000 transfer means a difference of USD 300, which is a significant amount that you need to pay.

Based on our research and analysis, most banks charge FX Markups anywhere from 2% to 6%.

Banks often charge high FX Markups on the real exchange rate to realize a higher profit on international money transfers. Most banks will charge between 2-6% markup.

One of the reasons banks offer less favorable exchange rates than money transfer companies and remittance service providers is because they have higher overheads and operating costs, which they pass on to customers through their exchange rates.

To avoid unfavorable exchange rates, it is essential to compare exchange rates offered by different providers to get the best possible rate. If you research and compare the fees and exchange rates offered by different providers, you can avoid hidden fees and charges when sending money overseas.

One easy way to do this is to rely on RemitFinder's online international money transfer comparison engine. We do all the hard work to integrate with numerous global money transfer companies to provide you an easy to understand comparison of their services.

Compare money transfer companies to get the best exchange rates

Using specialized money transfer services or online platforms is a more cost-effective and often faster option than using banks. By being aware of hidden fees and charges, you can save your hard earned money and ensure that the intended recipient receives the maximum amount your money can get them.

When you send money overseas, you will come across 2 terms - payment method and delivery method. A payment method is how you fund your international money transfer and a delivery method is how you choose to pay your overseas recipient .

Banks typically do bank to bank wire transfers, which means that your choices are very limited when it comes to payment and delivery options.

Why would you need to use additional payment and delivery methods? Here are some scenarios where a bank to bank transfer may not fulfill your needs:

  • If you need to rush money for an emergency , it will be faster for you to use cash. Many money transfer companies accept cash payments and provide cash pickup overseas.
  • If your recipient does not have a bank account , you will need to find other ways to send money to them. For example, you may need to send money to their mobile wallet or top up their card.
  • Sometimes you may not know the recipient well and they do not want to share their bank information with you. In such cases, you will need to use alternate delivery methods.
  • If you do not have a bank account yourself, or do not want to use your bank account to fund your money transfer, you will need access to alternate payment methods.

There may be other scenarios where additional delivery methods are needed, and a bank to bank transfer might not be your best bet.

Banks generally only support bank to bank transfers. If you or your recipient do not have a bank account, or do not want to use one, you will need to look for other options.

Another reason to avoid sending money overseas with banks is the potentially lengthy transfer time involved. Banks are known for their slow transfer times , with some transfers taking up to a week or more to be completed.

There are a few reasons why international money transfers sent with banks can be slow. These include:

  • Involvement of intermediary banks: Banks often use a network of correspondent banks to facilitate international transfers, which can add further delays and costs to the process.
  • Complex processes: Banks need to comply with strict regulatory requirements, such as anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws, which can lead to additional checks and documentation requirements, resulting in longer processing times.
  • Cut-off times: Most banks have a cut-off time for processing international wire transfers. If you miss that time, your transfer will be on hold and will begin processing only on the next business day.
  • Weekends and public holidays: Banks are subject to weekend and public holiday closures. So, if you need to send money outside of business days, you cannot rely on your bank. Moreover, even if you send money on a Friday, for example, the chances of your transfer getting picked up on the Monday of next week are really high.

The involvement of intermediary banks, complex processes, cut-off times and closures of non-business days are some of the reasons that contribute to the slowness of international bank transfers.

If you send money overseas urgently, such lengthy transfer times can be inconvenient and frustrating, and in some cases, it can be costly. For example, delays in transferring funds can mean missed payment deadlines or additional charges for late payments.

To avoid lengthy transfer times, you consider using specialized money transfer services that offer faster transfer times . These providers excel in international money transfers are able to move money internationally quickly and efficiently.

Another reason to avoid sending money overseas with banks is the limited accessibility they offer. Banks may not have branches or partner banks in some cities or regions, making transferring money to certain destinations challenging.

This lack of accessibility can also lead to higher costs, as banks may need to use intermediary banks to complete the transfer, resulting in additional fees and longer processing times.

Additionally, the limited accessibility of banks can be particularly challenging for people who live in remote or rural areas. In such cases, traveling to the nearest bank branch can be time-consuming and costly and, in some cases, may not be feasible at all.

To overcome the limited accessibility of banks, you can consider using specialized money transfer services or online platforms that offer a wider range of destinations and often have partnerships with local banks and financial institutions.

RemitFinder does not recommend using banks for international money transfers due to various drawbacks. Primarily, you will pay high wire transfer fees and get poor exchange rates, both of which will put a major dent in your hard earned money. Try international money transfer companies instead.

Now that we have presented some of the main reasons why sending money internationally with banks may not be a great idea, lets embark on a case study to demonstrate the key differences between banks and money transfer companies.

Let us compare sending an international money transfer with a bank vs a specialist money transfer company.

For our case study, we will use a USD 1000 worth international money transfer from the US to the Philippines . Here are some assumptions that we will make to do this comparison:

  • We will assume an FX Markup of 3% for the bank transfer (most banks charge a markup between 2-6%.
  • We will assume a wire transfer fee of USD 25 (most banks charge wire fees that range from USD 20 to USD 50).
  • We will use Remitly as the money transfer company to compare with and use their exchange rate and transfer fee.

Using these parameters, here is how a US bank would compare against a money transfer company like Remitly.

* Mid-market Exchange Rate taken from xe.com as 1 USD = 58.5214 PHP on June 1, 2024 ** Remitly's USD-PHP exchange rate and fees as on June 1, 2024

Below is a screenshot of Remitly's exchange rate, transfer fee and payout for a USD 1000 international money transfer sent from the US to the Philippines.

Remitly's exchange rates and fees for a USD 1000 money transfer from the US to the Philippines

Here are some noteworthy points from our comparison above:

  • If you go with the bank, you will lose PHP 3,793.34. This is equivalent to USD 64.82 (using the mid-market exchange rate).
  • The hidden fee charged by the bank as part of an inferior exchange rate equals USD 39.82 (total USD 64.82 lost minus USD 25 wire fee).
  • The effective exchange rate that you get with the bank (after accounting for the wire fee and the hidden fee by virtue of a lower exchange rate) is PHP 55.3466. This is PHP 3.7934 lower than Remitly's effective exchange rate.
  • The exchange rate difference means that for every 1 USD that you send with the bank, you lose PHP 3.7934. If you send USD 100, you lose PHP 379.34, and if you send USD 1000, you lose PHP 2,793.40, and so on for higher transfers.

Our case study clearly demonstrates how much money you can lose with bank transfers, and just how much more profitable it can be to rely on a money transfer specialist company.

If you are looking to send money overseas, Remitly is a great choice . Check them out on RemitFinder to read more about them and compare them with other providers to see if they could be a good partner for your international money transfer needs.

Based on our analysis, you may be considering if it is ever a good idea to use banks for international remittances.

Even though we recommend using money transfer operators instead of banks , there may be some scenarios where it might be useful to go with a bank.

One such case is when you wish to move a very large amount of money overseas. In such cases, it may be possible to negotiate with your bank to get the transfer fee waived as well as get a better exchange rate.

Another possibility where bank transfers may not be that expensive is when you have an elevated or privileged membership or account level at your bank as your account may benefit from perks like free transfers and better exchange rates.

Finally, there may be cases when you have no choice but to send or receive money via bank transfers. For example, when sending or receiving money to government agencies, or paying off your loan, etc.

Regardless of the situation, we still recommend comparing the price you get from your bank with offers from money transfer companies. Even if you decide to go with your bank, a head-to-head comparison will at least ensure that you are comfortable with your decision.

Even if you decide to go with a bank transfer for any reason, we still recommend comparing the quote you get from your bank with exchange rates and fees from money transfer companies. This will help you make a more informed decision and evaluate pros and cons better.

In conclusion, while banks are a popular choice for sending money overseas, there are several drawbacks to sending money with banks.

Hidden fees and charges, unfavorable exchange rates, lengthy transfer times, lack of payment and delivery option choices and limited accessibility are all factors that contribute towards making banks a less attractive choice for international remittances.

To avoid these issues, it is important to research different providers and compare their exchange rates, transfer fees and overall service quality. Specialized money transfer services and online platforms can often offer more competitive rates, faster transfer times, and greater accessibility than banks.

Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that the intended recipient receives the full amount of money you want to send promptly and cost-effectively. By understanding the potential drawbacks of using banks for international money transfers, you can decide on the best provider for your needs.

Do You Need To Find the Best Remit Exchange Rate for Sending Money Internationally?

RemitFinder is an online service that helps you track remit exchange rates. By checking and comparing the latest remit exchange rates, you can get the best exchange rate for your money transfers. RemitFinder, thus, helps you to get the best return for your hard-earned money.

Find the cheapest rate to transfer your hard-earned money - visit our site or download the app on Google Play or Apple App Store now.

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  • Best overall
  • Best for exotic trips
  • Best for trip interruption
  • Best for medical-only coverage
  • Best for family coverage
  • Best for long trips
  • Why You Should Trust Us

Best International Travel Insurance for June 2024

Affiliate links for the products on this page are from partners that compensate us (see our advertiser disclosure with our list of partners for more details). However, our opinions are our own. See how we rate insurance products to write unbiased product reviews.

If you're planning your next vacation or trip out of the country, be sure to factor in travel insurance. Unexpected medical emergencies when traveling can drain your bank account, especially when you're traveling internationally. The best travel insurance companies for international travel can step in to provide you with peace of mind and financial protection while you're abroad.

Best International Travel Insurance

  • Best overall: Allianz Travel Insurance
  • Best for exotic travel: World Nomads Travel Insurance
  • Best for trip interruption coverage: C&F Travel Insured

Best for medical-only coverage: GeoBlue Travel Insurance

  • Best for families: Travelex Travel Insurance
  • Best for long-term travel: Seven Corners Travel Insurance

How we rate the best international travel insurance »

Compare the Best International Travel Insurance Companies

As a general rule, the most important coverage to have in a foreign country is travel medical insurance , as most US health insurance policies don't cover you while you're abroad. Without travel medical coverage, a medical emergency in a foreign country can cost you. You'll want trip cancellation and interruption coverage if your trip is particularly expensive. And if you're traveling for an extended period of time, you'll want to ensure that your policy is extendable. 

Here are our picks for the best travel insurance companies for international travel.

Best overall: Allianz

Allianz Allianz Travel Insurance

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Good option for frequent travelers thanks to its annual multi-trip policies
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Doesn't increase premium for trips longer than 30 days, meaning it could be one of the more affordable options for a long trip
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Some plans include free coverage for children 17 and under
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Concierge included with some plans
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Coverage for medical emergency is lower than some competitors' policies
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Plans don't include coverage contact sports and high-altitude activities
  • Single and multi-trip plans available
  • Trip cancellation and interruption coverage starting at up to $10,000 (higher limits with more expensive plans)
  • Preexisting medical condition coverage available with some plans

Allianz Travel Insurance  offers the ultimate customizable coverage for international trips, whether you're a frequent jetsetter or an occasional traveler. You can choose from an a la carte of single or multi-trip plans, as well as add-ons, including rental car damage, cancel for any reason (CFAR) , adventure sport, and business travel coverage. And with affordable pricing compared to competitors, Allianz is a budget-friendly choice for your international travel insurance needs. 

The icing on the cake is Allyz TravelSmart, Allianz's highly-rated mobile app, which has an average rating of 4.4 out of five stars on the Google Play store across over 2,600 reviews and 4.8 out of five stars from over 22,000 reviews on the Apple app store. So, you can rest easy knowing that you can access your policy and file claims anywhere in the world without a hassle.

Read our Allianz Travel Insurance review here.

Best for exotic trips: World Nomads

World Nomads World Nomads Travel Insurance

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Coverage for 200+ activities like skiing, surfing, and rock climbing
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Only two plans to choose from, making it simple to find the right option
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. You can purchase coverage even after your trip has started
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. If your trip costs more than $10,000, you may want to choose other insurance because trip protection is capped at up to $10,000 (for the Explorer plan)
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Doesn't offer coverage for travelers older than 70
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. No Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) option
  • Coverage for 150+ activities and sports
  • 2 plans: Standard and Explorer
  • Trip protection for up to $10,000
  • Emergency medical insurance of up to $100,000
  • Emergency evacuation coverage for up to $500,000
  • Coverage to protect your items (up to $3,000)

World Nomads Travel Insurance  offers coverage for over 150 specific activities, so you can focus on the adventure without worrying about gaps in your coverage. 

You can select its budget-friendly standard plan, starting at $79. Or if you're an adrenaline junkie seeking more thrills, you can opt for the World Nomads' Explorer plan for $120, which includes extra sports like skydiving, scuba diving, and heli-skiing. And World Nomads offers 24/7 assistance, so you can confidently travel abroad, knowing that help is just a phone call away. 

Read our World Nomads Travel Insurance review here.

Best for trip interruption: C&F Travel Insured

C&F C&F Travel Insured

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Offers 2 major plans including CFAR coverage on the more expensive option
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Cancellation for job loss included as a covered reason for trip cancellation/interruption (does not require CFAR coverage to qualify)
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Frequent traveler reward included in both policies
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Up to $1 million in medical evacuation coverage available
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Medical coverage is only $100,000
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Reviews on claims processing indicate ongoing issues
  • C&F's Travel Insured policies allow travelers customize travel insurance to fit their specific needs. Frequent travelers may benefit from purchasing an annual travel insurance plan, then adding on CFAR coverage for any portions of travel that may incur greater risk.

C&F Travel Insured offers 100% coverage for trip cancellation, up to 150% for trip interruption, and reimbursement for up to 75% of your non-refundable travel costs with select plans. This means you don't have to worry about losing your hard-earned money on non-refundable travel costs if your trip ends prematurely. 

Travel Insured also stands out for its extensive "reasons for cancellation" coverage. Unlike many insurers, the company covers hurricane warnings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Read our C&F Travel Insured review here.

AJM Global Inc GeoBlue Travel Insurance

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. A subsidary of Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Offers strong medical plans as long as you have a regular health insurance plan, but it doesn't have to be through Blue Cross
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Offers long-term and multi-trip travel protection
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Multiple complaints about claims not being paid or being denied
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Does not provide some of the more comprehensive coverage like CFAR insurance
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Buyers who do get claims paid may need to file multiple claim forms

GeoBlue Travel Insurance offers policies that covers emergency medical treatments when you're abroad. While GeoBlue lacks trip cancellation coverage, that allows it to charge lower premiums than the other companies on this list. 

GeoBlue plans can cover medical expenses up to $1 million with several multi-trip annual plans available. It offers coinsurance plans for trips within the U.S. and 100% coverage for international trips. It also has a network of clinics in 180 countries, streamlining the claims process. It's worth noting that coverage for pre-existing conditions comes with additional costs. 

Read our GeoBlue Travel Insurance review here.

Best for family coverage: Travelex Travel Insurance

Travelex Travelex Travel Insurance

Trip cancellation coverage for up to 100% of the trip cost and trip interruption coverage for up to 150% of the trip cost

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Options to cover sports equipment
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Option to increase medical coverage
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Can cancel up to 48 hours before travel when CFAR option is purchased
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Affordable coverage for budget-conscious travelers
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Includes generous baggage delay, loss and trip delay coverage
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Optional "adventure sports" bundle available for riskier activities
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Only two insurance plans to choose from
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Medical coverage maximum is low at up to $50,000 per person
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Pricier than some competitors with lower coverage ceilings
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Some competitors offer higher medical emergency coverage

Travelex travel insurance is one of the largest travel insurance providers in the US providing domestic and international coverage options. It offers a basic, select, and America option. Read on to learn more.

  • Optional CFAR insurance available with the Travel Select plan
  • Trip delay insurance starting at $500 with the Travel Basic plan
  • Emergency medical and dental coverage starting at $15,000

Travelex Travel Insurance offers coverage for your whole crew, perfect for when you're planning a family trip. Its family plan insures all your children 17 and under at no additional cost. The travel insurance provider also offers add-ons like adventure sports and car rental collision coverage to protect your family under any circumstance. Got pets? With Travelex's Travel Select plan, you can also get coverage for your furry friend's emergency medical and transportation expenses. 

Read our Travelex Travel Insurance review here.

Best for long trips: Seven Corners

Seven Corners Seven Corners Travel Insurance

  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Diverse coverage options such as CFAR, optional sports equipment coverage, etc.
  • Check mark icon A check mark. It indicates a confirmation of your intended interaction. Available in all 50 states
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Prices are higher than many competitors
  • con icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. Reviews around claims processing are mixed
  • Trip cancellation insurance of up to 100% of the trip cost
  • Trip interruption insurance of up to 150% of the trip cost
  • Cancel for any reason (CFAR) insurance available

Seven Corners Travel Insurance offers specialized coverage that the standard short-term travel insurance policy won't provide, which is helpful if you're embarking on a long-term trip. You can choose from several plans, including the Annual Multi-Trip plan, which provides medical coverage for multiple international trips for up to 364 days. This policy also offers COVID-19 medical and evacuation coverage up to $1 million. 

You also get the added benefit of incidental expense coverage. This policy will cover remote health-related services and information, treatment of injury or illness, and live consultations via telecommunication. 

Read our Seven Corners Travel Insurance review here.

How to Find the Right International Travel Insurance Company 

Different travelers and trips require different types of insurance coverage. So, consider these tips if you're in the market to insure your trip. 

Determine your needs 

Your needs for travel insurance will depend on the type of trip you're taking. You'll need to consider your destination and what you'll be doing there, either business, leisure, or adventure traveling. Policies covering adventure sports and activities will cost more. Longer, more expensive trips will also cost more. 

Research the reputation of the company 

When researching a company, you'll want to closely review the description of services. You'll want to see how claims are handled, any exceptions, and limitations.

You'll also want to look at the company's customer reviews on sites like Trustpilot, BBB, and Squaremouth, as this will provide insight on the quality of customer service and the claims process. You should also take note of whether companies respond to customer reviews.

Compare prices

You can get quotes through a company's website or travel insurance aggregators like InsureMyTrip and VisitorsCoverage. You'll need to be prepared to provide the following information about your trip:

  • Trip destination(s)
  • Travel dates
  • Number of travelers
  • Traveler(s) age/birthday
  • State of residence
  • Total trip cost

For companies that offer travel medical insurance, you'll also want to play around with the deductible options, as they can affect your policy premium. 

Understanding International Travel Insurance Coverage Options

Travel insurance can be confusing, but we're here to simplify it for you. We'll break down the industry's jargon to help you understand what travel insurance covers to help you decide what your policy needs. Bear in mind that exclusions and limitations for your age and destination may apply. 

Finding the Best Price for International Travel Insurance

Your policy cost will depend on several factors, such as the length of your trip, destination, coverage limits, and age. Typically, a comprehensive policy includes travel cancellation coverage costs between 5% and 10% of your total trip cost.

If you're planning an international trip that costs $4,500, you can expect to pay anywhere from $225 to $450 for your policy. Comparing quotes from multiple providers can help you find a budget-friendly travel insurance policy that meets your needs.

Why You Should Trust Us: How We Reviewed International Travel Insurance Companies

We ranked and assigned superlatives to the best travel insurance companies based on our insurance rating methodology . It focuses on several key factors, including: 

  • Policy types: We analyzed company offerings such as coverage levels, exclusions, and policy upgrades, taking note of providers that offer a range of travel-related issues beyond the standard coverages. 
  • Affordability: We recognize that cheap premiums don't necessarily equate to sufficient coverage. So, we seek providers that offer competitive rates with comprehensive policies and quality customer service. We also call out any discounts or special offers available. 
  • Flexibility: Travel insurance isn't one-size-fits-all. We highlight providers that offer a wide array of coverage options, including single-trip, multi-trip, and long-term policies.
  • Claims handling: The claims process should be pain-free for policyholders. We seek providers that offer a streamlined process via online claims filing and a track record of handling claims fairly and efficiently. 
  • Quality customer service: Good customer service is as important as affordability and flexibility. We highlight companies that offer 24/7 assistance and have a strong record of customer service responsiveness. 

We consult user feedback and reviews to determine how each company fares in each category. We also check the provider's financial rating and volume of complaints via third-party rating agencies. 

Read more about how Business Insider rates insurance products here.

International Travel Insurance FAQs

The best insurance policy depends on your individual situation, including your destination and budget. However, popular options include Allianz Travel Insurance, World Nomads, and Travel Guard. 

You should pay attention to any limitations regarding covered cancellations, pre-existing conditions, and adventure activities. For example, if you're worried you may have to cancel a trip for work reasons, ensure that you've worked at your company long enough to qualify for cancellation coverage, as that is a condition with some insurers. You should also see if your destination has any travel advisories, as that can affect your policy. 

Typically, your regular health insurance won't cover you out of the country, so you'll want to make sure your travel insurance has adequate medical emergency coverage. Depending on your travel plans, you may want to purchase add-ons, such as adventure sports coverage, if you're planning on doing anything adventurous like bungee jumping.

Travel insurance is worth the price for international travel because they're generally more expensive, so you have more to lose. Additionally, your regular health insurance won't cover you in other countries, so without travel insurance, you'll end up paying out of pocket for any emergency medical care you receive out of the US.

You should purchase travel insurance as soon as possible after making payment on your trip. This makes you eligible for add-ons like coverage for pre-existing conditions and CFAR. It also mitigates the chance of any losses in the days leading up to your trip. 

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Best travel credit cards of June 2024

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Bankrate expert Garrett Yarbrough strives to make navigating credit cards and credit building smooth sailing for his readers. After regularly featuring his credit card, credit monitoring and identity theft analysis on NextAdvisor.com, he joined the CreditCards.com and Bankrate teams as a staff writer to develop product reviews and comprehensive credit card guides focused on cash back, credit scores and card offers.

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Nouri Zarrugh is a writer and editor for CreditCards.com and Bankrate,  focusing on product news, guides and reviews. His areas of expertise include credit card strategy, rewards programs, point valuation and credit scores, and his stories on building credit have been cited by Mic.com, LifeHacker, People.com and more. Through his thorough card reviews and product comparisons, Nouri strives to demystify personal finance topics and credit card terms and conditions to help readers save money and protect their credit score.

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Stephanie Zito is a professional traveler, self-employed humanitarian consultant and collector of credit card points. She shares savvy travel tips that she’s learned firsthand circling the globe for more than 25 years. She’s a backpacker, expect and premium traveler who’s visited more than 130 countries and all seven continents. Her life motto is “See the world, change the world, have fun doing it!” and her mission is to inspire others along the journey.

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Travel credit cards help you earn valuable points and miles on your purchases. For maximum value, some cards earn rewards not only on travel, but also everyday purchases like dining, groceries and gas. You can redeem these rewards for free or discounted flights, hotel stays or to cover other travel-related expenses.

The best travel cards also come with additional features. Even no-annual-fee travel cards are likely to offer perks like sign-up bonuses, intro APR offers and travel insurance. But for top-of-the-line benefits like airport lounge access, elite status and travel credits, expect to pay an annual fee.

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Bankrate's Best Travel Credit Cards of June 2024

  • Best starter travel card:  Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Best for flat-rate rewards:  Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • Best for luxury travel:  The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Best for no annual fee:  Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card  ( See Rates & Fees )
  • Best for foodies:  American Express® Gold Card
  • Best for everyday spending: Citi Strata Premier℠ Card
  • Best for intro APR:  Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
  • Best for point values:  Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Best for practical perks:  Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
  • Best for pairing:  Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • Best for hotel bookings: Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card
  • Best no-annual-fee hotel card:  Hilton Honors American Express Card
  • Best luxury hotel card:  Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
  • Best for transfer partners:  Bilt Mastercard®
  • Best for gas:  Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card
  • Best for companion tickets:  Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
  • Best starter airline card:  Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • Best for expedited security screening:  Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
  • Best for first-year value:  Discover it® Miles
  • Best for fair credit:  Credit One Bank Wander® Card
  • What to know about travel credit cards
  • Tips for choosing the best travel card

Travel credit card perks

How do credit card points and miles work.

  • Expert advice on travel cards

How we assess the best travel credit cards

  • Frequently asked questions
  • Ask the experts

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A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

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Best starter travel card

Image of Chase Sapphire Preferred&#174; Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Bankrate score

Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards.

Intro offer

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

We calculate this number by multiplying the card's intro offer by Bankrate's valuation of this issuer's rewards program , showing you how much your points or miles are worth in dollars.

Rewards rate

5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠. 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries. 2x on all other travel purchases. 1x on all other purchases.

Regular APR

  • 5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠.
  • 3x 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries.
  • 2x 2x on all other travel purchases.
  • 1x 1x on all other purchases.

What we love: This popular card comes loaded with features that can make it easy even for occasional travelers to offset the modest $95 annual fee without eating into hard-earned rewards. Plus, its rewards program is one of the best, giving you some of the most valuable travel redemptions — through both Chase and transfer partners — and Chase card pairing opportunities if you want to build your card portfolio eventually. Learn more: Why expert Margaret Weck loves using the Chase Sapphire Preferred Alternatives:   If you’re looking for an even simpler travel card, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a terrific option. Its flat rewards rate makes it easy to know exactly how much you’ll earn with every purchase and though it can’t match the Sapphire Preferred’s redemption flexibility, it offers more redemption options than the typical travel rewards card. 

  • You earn Ultimate Rewards points with this card — some of the most valuable and flexible rewards around, especially if you pair it with Chase’s cash back cards in the future.
  • The card touts significant long-term benefits like anniversary bonus points and travel credits, as well as travel protections like trip cancellation insurance and a car rental collision damage waiver.
  • Doesn’t offer airline- or hotel-specific perks like free checked bags, elite status or free night stays.
  • The sign-up bonus is decent, but the card has previously offered higher, chart-topping bonus points.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Travel℠. For example, 75,000 points are worth $937.50 toward travel.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
  • Member FDIC

Best for flat-rate rewards

Image of Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

New Venture cardholders can earn 75,000 miles once they spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening

5 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

2 Miles - 5 Miles

  • 5 Miles 5 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 2 Miles 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

What we love: It’s a great option for travelers looking for a straightforward rewards program and flexible redemption options. You'll earn unlimited miles on all eligible spending and can redeem not only for travel bookings, but also as a statement credit to cover travel purchases made in the past 90 days. Learn more: Why expert Jacqueline DeMarco loves the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card Alternatives: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers a higher rewards rate in some everyday spending categories and potentially more valuable points. Chase points are worth 1.25 cents each if you redeem for travel through Chase, while Capital One miles are only worth 1 cent each when you redeem for travel. Plus, Chase rewards are more helpful for occasional travelers since you can redeem as cash back at 1-cent-per-point value.

  • Carries solid perks given its low annual fee, including expedited airport purchase security and hotel experience credits, lost luggage reimbursement and more.
  • Zero foreign transaction fees make this an excellent choice for international travelers.
  • You can’t offset the annual fee with annual travel credits or bonuses alone as you can with some rival cards.
  • The card’s sign-up bonus carries a high spending requirement, so it may be tough to earn if you don’t have large purchases on the horizon.
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your miles to get reimbursed for any travel purchase—or redeem by booking a trip through Capital One Travel
  • Enrich every hotel stay from the Lifestyle Collection with a suite of cardholder benefits, like a $50 experience credit, room upgrades, and more
  • Transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs

Best for luxury travel

Image of The Platinum Card&#174; from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

What we love: Luxury travelers and big spenders will appreciate the bevy of travel benefits, including annual statement credits worth around $1,700, elite hotel loyalty status and access to perhaps the most comprehensive airport lounge access available with a credit card. Learn more: Why expert Holly Johnson loves the Platinum Card® from American Express Alternatives: The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card offers a taste of luxury at a lower cost than many premium travel cards. You can unlock a generous rewards rate on both travel and general purchases, complimentary access to popular airport lounge memberships and valuable annual travel credits and anniversary miles.

  • Comes with a generous welcome offer and a longer time period to earn it compared to most rewards cards.
  • A robust line-up of airline and hotel partners and related perks make this card truly valuable for travelers.
  • The $695 annual fee may not be worth it if you don’t spend much on travel frequently or can’t take full advantage of the card’s luxury — and often niche — perks.
  • Redeeming and maximizing the card’s credit and benefits requires some legwork and can be a bit confusing.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market. As of 03/2023.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Save on eligible delivery fees, shipping, and more with a Walmart+ membership. Use your Platinum Card® to pay for a monthly Walmart+ membership and get up to $12.95 plus applicable taxes back on one membership (excluding Plus Ups) each month.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only. Terms Apply.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: CLEAR® Plus helps to get you to your gate faster at 50+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card. CLEARLanes are available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues.
  • Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 year period for TSA PreCheck® application fee for a 5-year plan only (through a TSA PreCheck® official enrollment provider), when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card® to your Resy profile.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Best for no annual fee

Image of Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel

5 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

1.25 Miles - 5 Miles

  • 1.25 Miles 1.25 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

What we love: This card offers some of the same advantages as the Capital One Venture, without the burden of an annual fee. It gives you the chance to earn flat-rate miles on your everyday spending and the option to transfer miles to over 15 loyalty program partners to even cover travel purchases outside Capital One — a unique level of redemption flexibility for a starter travel card. Learn more: Reasons to get the VentureOne Rewards Card Alternatives: A general-purpose flat-rate credit card that offers 2X points or 2 percent cash back on all purchases may bring more value if you don’t travel often and aren’t ready to upgrade to a travel rewards credit card with an annual fee. However, the Discover it® Miles earns a flat-rate 1.5X miles that can also be redeemed for cash back at 1-cent per mile, which is unusual for travel rewards.

  • The welcome offer is generous for a no-annual-fee travel credit card.
  • Booking hotel stays and rental cars through Capital One Travel nets you an impressive 5X miles.
  • Unlike several no-annual-fee travel cards, redeeming for non-travel purchases waters down your rewards’ value.
  • Capital One has no major U.S. carrier in its line-up of travel partners.
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn unlimited 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months; 19.99% - 29.99% variable APR after that; balance transfer fee applies

Best for foodies

Image of American Express&reg; Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

  • 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 4X Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • 3X Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

What we love: Few credit cards are more rewarding for traveling foodies than the American Express Gold Card. Both the food-related annual credits and the rewards rates at restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and on flights booked directly with airlines or via the Amex travel portal are some of the best on the market. In fact, the up to $240 in credits each year alone nearly make up for the annual fee. Learn more: Why the Amex Gold is worth the annual fee Alternatives: If the Amex Gold Card’s annual fee sounds high, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card . It carries key travel perks, high travel and dining rewards rates, and a much lower annual fee.

  • This card features one of the best rewards return rates available on dining, groceries and food deliveries.
  • There is no preset spending limit, so you can enjoy extended purchasing power, and you also have the option to pay off purchases with Pay Over Time if necessary.
  • Although the card touts a solid collection of travel perks, it doesn’t include popular premium card perks like airport lounge access or trip cancellation/interruption insurance.
  • Only eligible airfare earns more than 1X points, while rival cards often earn similar (or higher) reward rates on hotel stays and other travel purchases as well.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Get a $100 experience credit with a minimum two-night stay when you book The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel. Experience credit varies by property.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.

Best for everyday spending

Image of Citi Strata Premier&#8480; Card

Citi Strata Premier℠ Card

  • Earn 70,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening, redeemable for $700 in gift cards or travel rewards at thankyou.com

Earn 10 points per $1 spent on Hotels, Car Rentals, and Attractions booked on CitiTravel.com. Earn 3 points per $1 on Air Travel and Other Hotel Purchases, at Restaurants, Supermarkets, Gas and EV Charging Stations. Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

  • 10X Earn 10 points per $1 spent on Hotels, Car Rentals, and Attractions booked on CitiTravel.com.
  • 3X Earn 3 points per $1 on Air Travel and Other Hotel Purchases, at Restaurants, Supermarkets, Gas and EV Charging Stations.
  • 1X Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

What we love: This card’s high rewards rate in everyday bonus categories makes it an especially good choice for occasional travelers and people looking for a standalone rewards card. Its practical bonus categories mean you can earn rewards quickly, even if you don’t actually spend a ton on travel. Alternatives:   As long as you don’t mind buying groceries online, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card could be an even more lucrative everyday rewards card. That’s thanks mostly to its high point redemption value (1.25 cents per point when you use points to book travel with Chase, versus just 1 cent per point when you book with Citi using the Strata Premier).

  • It’s one of the only travel cards that offers a high rewards rate on groceries, dining and gas, so it should work well whether it’s your standalone card or just one part of your card stack.
  • Its annual hotel benefit carries enough value to potentially offset the annual fee on its own.
  • The annual hotel benefit, though generous, isn’t very flexible: You’ll only get the $100 discount if you book a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) through CitiTravel.com.
  • Based on Bankrate’s latest point and mile valuations, Citi ThankYou rewards carry a lower average redemption value than Chase, Amex and Capital One rewards.
  • Earn 10 points per $1 spent on Hotels, Car Rentals, and Attractions booked on CitiTravel.com.
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on Air Travel and Other Hotel Purchases, at Restaurants, Supermarkets, Gas and EV Charging Stations.
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $100 Annual Hotel Benefit: Once per calendar year, enjoy $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) when booked through CitiTravel.com. Benefit applied instantly at time of booking.
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases

Best for intro APR

Image of Bank of America&#174; Travel Rewards credit card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 1.5X Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.

What we love: This entry-level travel card keeps things simple for occasional travelers. It offers simple flat-rate rewards and lets you redeem for a broad mix of travel options not typically available on many travel cards, such as cash back toward purchases with travel agencies,  zoos, art galleries and more. It’s even more valuable if you’re a Bank of America customer and can qualify for a rewards boost through the Bank of America Preferred Rewards® program. Learn more: Is the Bank of America Travel Rewards card worth it? Alternatives: The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is another great starter travel card, but, unlike many cards in this category, it lets you transfer your miles to airline and hotel partners, potentially for a higher redemption value.

  • Its easy-to-earn sign-up bonus and intro APR offers give this card good short-term value.
  • No annual fees or foreign transaction fees sweeten this offer.
  • It only offers 1.5X points on purchases, and you can’t transfer points can’t to airline partners for more rewards value, so it may not be as lucrative as competing cards.
  • The top tiers of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards® program may be out of reach for many cardholders.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Best for point values

Image of Chase Sapphire Reserve&reg;

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠. Earn 5x total points on flights through Chase Travel℠. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • 10x Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠.
  • 5x Earn 5x total points on flights through Chase Travel℠.
  • 3x Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • 1x Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

What we love: Rewards-savvy travelers will be hard-pressed to find a card with better rewards potential than the Sapphire Reserve. Points are worth 50 percent more through Chase Travel, and potentially more with the right transfer partner. It’s a stellar partner for Chase’s cash back cards and stacks on even more value with enough perks to recoup the annual fee without relying on hard-earned rewards. Learn more: Why expert Holly Johnson loves the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Alternatives: The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card offers some of the same key perks as the Sapphire Reserve at a much lower cost. Along with a generous rewards rate on both Capital One Travel and general purchases, the card boasts valuable, practical benefits like competitive airport lounge access , up to $300 in annual Capital One Travel credits and 10,000 bonus miles every year on your account anniversary.

  • You can kickstart your rewards bank with one of the most valuable sign-up bonuses on the market.
  • Its top-tier benefits include up to $300 in annual travel statement credits, Priority Pass airport lounge access, exhaustive travel protections and stand-out partner perks.
  • The card’s cost could be a deterrent for some new cardholders, especially if they plan on encountering adding multiple authorized users.
  • You won’t get as many luxury hotel and airport lounge perks with this card as you would with some of its rivals.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Travel℠. For example, 75,000 points are worth $1125 toward travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®

Best for practical perks

Image of Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

10 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel 5 Miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

2 Miles - 10 Miles

  • 10 Miles 10 Miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
  • 5 Miles 5 Miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel

What we love: This is the perfect middleground for travelers who want the practical benefits from luxury travel cards without dealing with bloated features and an annual fee upwards of $500. It offers complimentary lounge access, high-earning bonus rewards categories, anniversary credits and bonus miles, which can easily make the card worth it for frequent travelers. Learn more: Capital One Venture X Benefits Guide Alternatives: If a higher annual fee is no issue, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express. It’s a top choice for frequent travelers thanks to its impressive welcome offer and luxury perks like annual travel credits, lounge access and hotel elite status. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® may be better if your luxury travel experience calls for racking up more rewards.

  • Offers anniversary bonus miles and a chance to earn credits worth hundreds of dollars starting at your first account anniversary.
  • Comes with complimentary lounge access at over 1,300 lounges for you and two guests per visit.
  • To earn the anniversary credit, travel must be booked through the Capital One Travel portal. That’s not as flexible as some other cards, which offer credits that cover any travel purchases, regardless of how you book.
  • Lacks some perks found on other premium travel cards like airline or hotel elite status, which can get you benefits like free checked bags or room upgrades.
  • Receive a $300 annual credit for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Elevate every hotel stay from the Premier or Lifestyle Collections with a suite of cardholder benefits, like an experience credit, room upgrades, and more

Best for pairing

Image of Chase Freedom Unlimited&#174;

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back. That's 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.

Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service 1.5% on all other purchases

  • 5% Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more
  • 3% 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service
  • 1.5% 1.5% on all other purchases

What we love: Not only does it earn 1.5 percent cash back on general spending, but it also has a bonus cash back rate for drugstores and dining at restaurants. And if you pair it with one or two premium Chase travel cards, you could pool your rewards for better travel redemption value.  Learn more: Why I love the Chase Freedom Unlimited Alternatives: If you want to take advantage of even more rewarding cash back categories and remain in the Chase family, consider the Chase Freedom Flex℠ .

  • You can pool rewards with other Chase cards to maximize your earnings.
  • The additional rewards rate offer can add even more cash back to your pocket for the first year.
  • The welcome offer isn’t as competitive as other cards’ offers.
  • Maximizing rewards with this and other Chase cards can get complicated for people who like simple rewards programs.
  • Intro Offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 20.49% - 29.24%.
  • No annual fee – You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health, Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, alerts, and more.

Best for hotel bookings

Image of Wells Fargo Autograph Journey&#8480; Card

Wells Fargo Autograph Journey℠ Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that’s $600 toward your next trip.

Earn unlimited 5X points on hotels Earn unlimited 4X points on airlines Earn unlimited 3X points on other travel and restaurants Earn 1X points on other purchases

  • 5X Earn unlimited 5X points on hotels
  • 4X Earn unlimited 4X points on airlines
  • 3X Earn unlimited 3X points on other travel and restaurants
  • 1X Earn 1X points on other purchases

What we love: It offers a great rewards rate on hotel bookings and gives you a chance to earn a $50 annual statement credit with a $50 minimum airline purchase. Add in a solid rate on airline purchases, other travel and restaurants and this card carries great value as a standalone mid-tier card for occasional travelers. Alternatives: If you want to earn travel rewards but don’t actually spend much on hotels and airfare, the lower-tier Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card is also worth a look. Though it earns also rewards on travel, it boasts a great mix of other practical everyday categories (including gas stations).

  • You can transfer points to Wells Fargo’s new list of airline and hotel partners, including popular programs like British Airways Executive Club, Choice Privileges and more, which could boost the redemption value of your rewards.
  • The $50 annual statement credit offsets more than half the card’s $95 annual fee and should be a cinch to earn if you fly at least once per year.
  • Wells Fargo only offers one other card that earns travel rewards (the Autograph), and there is some category overlap between the two, so they may not be as lucrative as some competing card stacks.
  • The card doesn’t carry some popular travel perks available on other mid-tier travel cards, such as credits for expedited airport security screening or rideshares.
  • Select “Apply Now” to take advantage of this specific offer and learn more about product features, terms and conditions.
  • Earn unlimited 5X points on hotels, 4X points on airlines, 3X points on other travel and restaurants, and 1X points on other purchases.
  • $95 annual fee.
  • Book your travel with the Autograph Journey Card and enjoy Travel Accident Insurance, Lost Baggage Reimbursement, Trip Cancellation and Interruption Protection and Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver.
  • Earn a $50 annual statement credit with $50 minimum airline purchase.
  • Up to $1,000 of cell phone protection against damage or theft. Subject to a $25 deductible.
  • Find tickets to top sports and entertainment events, book travel, make dinner reservations and more with your complimentary 24/7 Visa Signature® Concierge.

Best no-annual-fee hotel card

Image of Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • Earn 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 7/31/2024.

Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio. Earn 5X Points per dollar on purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations. Earn 3X Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

  • 7X Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • 5X Earn 5X Points per dollar on purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • 3X Earn 3X Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.

What we love: This card earns rewards in a terrific mix of everyday bonus categories, so it should be easy to rack up Hilton points even if you don’t spend a ton on hotel bookings. Since it charges no annual fee and provides a few Hilton Honors benefits like Silver status, it’s also a great fit if you’re new to hotel cards and want a single no-annual-fee option instead of juggling multiple rewards cards. Learn more: Why expert Holly Johnson loves the Hilton Honors American Express Card Alternatives: The American Express® Green Card could be more flexible since it lets you earn and redeem rewards on a much wider variety of travel purchases, including airfare and bookings with several hotel brands, not just Hilton. You can transfer points to the Hilton Honors program as well, but the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card may be better if you prefer upgraded Hilton-specific rewards, loyalty status and other perks.

  • Comes with automatic Silver Elite status, which includes a free fifth award night when you book at least four consecutive nights with points.
  • Earns rewards in three of the average person’s biggest spending categories, making it a terrific standalone option for earning Hilton points.
  • A higher-tier Hilton card would earn more on Hilton bookings and could be more lucrative for frequent guests, even with an annual fee.
  • You can only redeem points with Hilton and its partners, which limits the rewards value you earn on the everyday categories compared to a general-purpose cards’ rewards.
  • Earn 7X Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your Card directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
  • Earn 5X Points per dollar on purchases at U.S. restaurants, at U.S. supermarkets, and at U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3X Points for all other eligible purchases on your Card.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors™ Silver status with your Card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors™ Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • No Annual Fee.

Best luxury hotel card

Image of Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant&reg; American Express&reg; Card

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

  • Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy® 3X points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines 2X points on all other eligible purchases

  • 6X Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®
  • 3X 3X points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines
  • 2X 2X points on all other eligible purchases

What we love: Frequent Marriott guests looking for luxury card-level perks and elite status should be able to justify this premium card. Along with a terrific rewards rate on Marriott bookings and an annual free night award, you could enjoy generous annual credits for restaurant purchases and Marriott property stays, airport lounge access, elite night credits and more. Learn more: Best Marriott credit cards Alternatives: If you’re looking for top-tier travel perks but want the flexibility to earn and redeem rewards for stays at any hotel chain, consider an elite travel card from Chase or Amex, which can come with generous travel benefits, airport lounge access and the ability to transfer points to Marriott. The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is another lucrative alternative.

  • Outperforms other Marriott cards with its boosted rewards on travel-related categories and 21X points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, thanks to the automatic Platinum Elite status.
  • It’s one of the only hotel cards that includes complimentary Priority Pass lounge access, top travel protections and credits for expedited airport security screening.
  • Unlocking some of the card’s best perks — like Five Suite Night Awards — requires a $60,000 annual spend, which may be tough to reach even for frequent Marriott guests.
  • Unless luxury perks are at the top of your wishlist, the annual fee may not be worth it and a lower-tier hotel card may offer more value overall.
  • $300 Brilliant Dining Credit: Each calendar year, get up to $300 (up to $25 per month) in statement credits for eligible purchases made on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card at restaurants worldwide.
  • With Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, you can receive room upgrades, including enhanced views or suites, when available at select properties and booked with a Qualifying Rate.
  • Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. 3X points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Free Night Award: Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Each calendar year after spending $60,000 on eligible purchases on your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, you will be eligible to select a Brilliant Earned Choice Award benefit. You can only earn one Earned Choice Award per calendar year. See https://www.choice-benefit.marriott.com/brilliant for Award options.
  • $100 Marriott Bonvoy Property Credit: Enjoy your stay. Receive up to a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton® or St. Regis® when you book direct using a special rate for a two-night minimum stay using your Card.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®: Receive either a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or a statement credit every 4.5 years after you apply for a five-year membership for TSA PreCheck® (up to $85 through a TSA PreCheck official enrollment provider) and pay the application fee with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Each calendar year with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card you can receive 25 Elite Night Credits toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy® Elite status. Limitations apply per Marriott Bonvoy member account. Benefit is not exclusive to Cards offered by American Express. Terms apply.
  • Enroll in Priority Pass™ Select, which offers unlimited airport lounge visits to over 1,200 lounges in over 130 countries, regardless of which carrier or class you are flying. This allows you to relax before or between flights. You can enjoy snacks, drinks, and internet access in a quiet, comfortable location.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
  • With Cell Phone Protection, you can be reimbursed, the lesser of, your repair or replacement costs following damage, such as a cracked screen, or theft for a maximum of $800 per claim when your cell phone line is listed on a wireless bill and the prior month's wireless bill was paid by an Eligible Card Account. A $50 deductible will apply to each approved claim with a limit of 2 approved claims per 12-month period. Additional terms and conditions apply. Coverage is provided by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.
  • $650 Annual Fee.

Best for transfer partners

Image of Bilt Mastercard&#174;

Bilt Mastercard®

Intro offer is not available for this Wells Fargo credit card.

3x points on dining 2x points on travel 1x points on other purchases Earn up to 1x points on rent payments without the transaction fee, up to 100,000 points each calendar year. When you make at least 5 posted transactions in a statement period using your Bilt Mastercard, you'll earn points on rent and qualifying net purchases.

1X Points - 3X Points

  • 3X Points 3x points on dining
  • 2X Points 2x points on travel
  • 1X Points 1x points on other purchases
  • 1X Points Earn up to 1x points on rent payments without the transaction fee, up to 100,000 points each calendar year. When you make at least 5 posted transactions in a statement period using your Bilt Mastercard, you'll earn points on rent and qualifying net purchases.

What we love: Not only is this card is a terrific choice for renters since it earns rewards and waives transaction fees when using it to pay rent, it’s also great for rewards strategists considering the extremely robust travel rewards program. You can earn rewards on travel and dining and your points carry a high value whether you redeem through the Bilt travel portal or one of the many airline and hotel transfer partners. Alternatives: If you like the Bilt card’s travel rewards program but don’t see yourself renting long term, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It earns generously on both travel and dining and also boasts high-value points and transfer partners. If the way you pay rent doesn’t incur credit card payment fees, a flat-rate card may also be worth weighing. 

  • It’s the only card that helps you avoid the fees typically associated with paying rent with a credit card.
  • Offers a solid collection of travel perks for a no-annual-fee card, including trip cancellation and interruption protection, trip delay reimbursement and other high-level travel protections.
  • You can only use rewards to cover rent, toward a future home down payment or for travel and shopping. Cash back isn’t an option.
  • There is no sign-up bonus. Most competing travel cards — even those with no annual fee — offer at least a $200 bonus.
  • $0 Annual Fee.
  • Earn up to 1x points on rent payments without the transaction fee, up to 100,000 points each calendar year.
  • 2x points on travel.
  • 3x points on dining.
  • 1x points on other purchases.
  • Earn points when you make 5 transactions that post each statement period.
  • When renting at a Bilt Alliance property, you can choose to have your rent payments automatically reported by Bilt to the three major credit bureaus each month; Experian™, TransUnion™, and Equifax™.

Best for gas

Image of Wells Fargo Autograph&#8480; Card

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card

  • Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $200 cash redemption value.

Earn unlimited 3X points on restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services and phone plans. Earn 1X points on other purchases

  • 3X Earn unlimited 3X points on restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services and phone plans.

What we love: The Wells Fargo Autograph card is a great option for occasional travelers and households on the go looking to earn rewards while avoiding an annual fee and reduced redemption value for cash rewards. It’s one of a few entry-level travel cards to offer high, year-round bonus rewards for gas, dining, transit and other key travel needs. Learn more: Is the Wells Fargo Autograph worth it? Alternatives: If you’re looking for ways to maximize the value of your rewards, you should consider a travel card that lets you transfer your points to airlines or hotels, like the Bilt Mastercard® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

  • While some issuers only reward travel purchases made directly with airlines or through issuer portals, this card lets you shop around for the best deal on third-party travel sites and still earn extra rewards.
  • Carries decent perks such as rental car collision damage waiver coverage, roadside assistance and Visa Signature® Concierge benefits, like access to Visa’s Luxury Hotel Collection (terms apply).
  • Unlike with traditional travel cards, you cannot transfer your points to airlines or hotels
  • The travel perks and intro APR are weak compared to competing travel-oriented cards’ offers.
  • Select "Apply Now" to take advantage of this specific offer and learn more about product features, terms and conditions.
  • Earn unlimited 3X points on the things that really add up - like restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services, and phone plans. Plus, earn 1X points on other purchases.
  • $0 annual fee.
  • 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases. 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% variable APR thereafter.
  • Up to $600 of cell phone protection against damage or theft. Subject to a $25 deductible.
  • Redeem your rewards points for travel, gift cards, or statement credits. Or shop at millions of online stores and redeem your rewards when you check out with PayPal.

Best for companion tickets

Image of Delta SkyMiles&reg; Platinum American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels. Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets. Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.

  • 3X Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • 2X Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • 1X Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.

What we love: The annual companion certificate on Main Cabin domestic flights (taxes and fees apply) comes with this card after the first year is valuable enough to justify the annual fee even if you’re just looking for great Delta perks to make travel smoother with a partner. Plus, the companion certificate is easier to obtain than other airline cards’ since it carries no spending requirement that must be met beyond the card’s annual fee. Alternatives: The American Express® Green Card could be a great alternative since it charges a lower $150 annual fee, lets you earn and redeem rewards on travel with any eligible airline (not just Delta) and offers credits for Loungebuddy lounge access and Clear Plus. You can even transfer points to Delta at a 1:1 ratio.

  • Boasts several valuable travel perks, including priority boarding, a free first checked bag and specialized annual credits for select rideshare services and reservations with Delta Stays and Resy.
  • Gets you closer to Medallion Status and discounts on in-flight purchases, complimentary upgrades, and more.
  • Its rewards rate on non-travel purchases is lacking — a general-purpose travel card could potentially offer better rewards value and flexibility for rewards travel outside Delta.
  • No longer offers complimentary Delta Sky Club lounge access as of this year, although airport lounge access is a staple perk for premium travel cards.
  • Receive a Companion Certificate on Main Cabin domestic, Caribbean, or Central American roundtrip flights each year after renewal of your Card. The Companion Ticket requires payment of government-imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights and no more than $250 for roundtrip international flights (both for itineraries with up to four flight segments). Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Receive $2,500 Medallion® Qualification Dollars each Medallion Qualification Year and get closer to Status with MQD Headstart.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card Members get 15% off when using miles to book Award Travel on Delta flights through delta.com and the Fly Delta app. Discount not applicable to partner-operated flights or to taxes and fees.
  • Earn $1 Medallion® Qualification Dollar for each $20 of purchases made on your Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card in a calendar year and get a boost toward achieving Medallion Status for next Medallion Year.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • $120 Resy Credit: With the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card Resy Credit, earn up to $10 per month in statement credits on eligible Resy purchases using your enrolled Card.
  • $120 Rideshare Credit: You can earn up to $10 back in statement credits each month on U.S. rideshare purchases with select providers after you pay with your Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card. Enrollment Required.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Receive Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on Delta flights; board early, stow your carry-on bag and settle in sooner.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®: Receive $100 back for Global Entry or up to $85 back for TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Official Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card Members with an eligible ticket will be added to the Complimentary Upgrade list, after Delta SkyMiles Medallion Members and Reserve Card Members.
  • $350 Annual Fee.

Best starter airline card

Image of Southwest Rapid Rewards&#174; Plus Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

  • Earn 85,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming. Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

  • 2X Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • 2X Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners.
  • 1X Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

What we love: This card’s anniversary bonus offers enough value to nearly offset the annual fee on its own, so it should be a terrific low-stakes option whether you’re new to airline cards or a regular Southwest flyer looking for a low-maintenance card. Plus, its sign-up bonus value is on par with the value you’ll get with much pricier airline and travel cards. Learn more: Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus benefits guide Alternatives: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card could offer better value overall, despite its $149 annual fee. It carries an annual $75 Southwest travel credit and 7,500 bonus points each year on your account anniversary — more than enough value to justify the higher fee.

  • You’ll automatically earn 3,000 Rapid Rewards points each year after your account anniversary, which could offset much of the card’s already-low annual fee.
  • Delivers the same hefty sign-up bonus as higher-tier Southwest cards.
  • Unlike several travel cards, it doesn’t carry rewards categories for popular everyday purchases like gas or dining.
  • It may not be the best Southwest value for frequent flyers since it poses a 3 percent foreign transaction fee and doesn’t offer perks like upgraded boardings or elite status benefits.
  • 3,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Best for savers

Image of Bank of America&reg; Premium Rewards&reg; credit card

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card

  • Receive 60,000 online bonus points - a $600 value - after you make at least $4,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases. Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • 2X Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases.
  • 1.5X Earn unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

What we love: If you do your banking with Bank of America and qualify for Preferred Rewards status, this card could provide an exclusive 25 percent to 75 percent rewards rate boost. The  rewards rates — 2X points on dining and travel, with 1.5X points on all other purchases — could increase to an incredible 3.5X on travel and dining with an unrivaled flat 2.62X points rate. Learn more: Why expert Sara Coleman loves the Bank of America Premium Rewards Card Alternatives: The similarly-priced Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the best alternatives thanks to its stellar travel protections, yearly bonus rewards and stronger rewards program. However, flat-rate cards like the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card or the Discover it® Miles card could be lucrative if you don’t think the $95 annual fee is worth it.

  • The $95 annual fee is relatively affordable for this card category thanks to the up to $100 in yearly airline incidental statement credits.
  • You can smooth out your travel experience with great benefits like credits toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry and comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Attaining the highest rewards rate is not an easy feat, since you’ll need to hold significant funds in Bank of America accounts.
  • This card does not offer a few popular premium travel perks like lounge access.
  • Low $95 annual fee.
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases. No limit to the points you can earn and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means you could earn 2.5-3.5 points on travel and dining purchases and 1.87 - 2.62 points on all other purchases, for every $1 you spend.
  • Redeem for cash back as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill® accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center.
  • Get up to $100 in Airline Incidental Statement Credits annually and TSA PreCheck®/Global Entry Statement Credits of up to $100, every four years.
  • Travel Insurance protections to assist with trip delays, cancellations and interruptions, baggage delays and lost luggage.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Best for first-year value

Image of Discover it&#174; Miles

Discover it® Miles

  • Unlimited Bonus: Unlimited Mile-for-Mile match for all new cardmembers—only from Discover. Discover gives you an unlimited match of all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. You could turn 35,000 Miles to 70,000 Miles. There’s no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.

Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase.

  • 1.5X Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase.

What we love: In addition to the exceptionally valuable Discover Match® , this card combines solid flat-rate rewards with consumer-friendly terms, like minimal fees and an equal value for both travel and cash back redemptions. Travelers who value simplicity will appreciate this card’s straightforward rewards and adaptability — even when you aren’t traveling. Learn more: Why expert Holly Johnson loves the Discover it® Miles Alternatives: The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card carries a more straightforward and still easy-to-reach welcome bonus. The VentureOne card also gives you the option of transferring miles to more than a dozen airline and hotel partners, which could increase the redemption value of your rewards.

  • All miles earned in your first year will be matched at the end of the year, which could make it one of the most valuable first-year offers for no annual fee.
  • Miles don’t lose value when they’re redeemed for cash back, which gives it a leg up over many travel rewards programs for occasional travelers.
  • You’ll miss out on pretty standard travel perks like travel insurance, and car rental damage protection.
  • The rewards structure lacks flexibility; you won’t be able to transfer your miles or use them to book travel.
  • Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase
  • No annual fee
  • Turn Miles into cash. Or redeem as a statement credit for your travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more.
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 18.24% - 28.24% Standard Variable Purchase APR will apply.
  • Discover could help you reduce exposure of your personal information online by helping you remove it from select people-search sites that could sell your data. It’s free, activate with the mobile app.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • Terms and conditions apply.

Best for fair credit

Image of Credit One Bank Wander&reg; Card

Credit One Bank Wander® Card

Intro offer is not available for this Credit One Bank credit card.

Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas Earn 1x points on all other purchases

  • 10X Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
  • 5X Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • 1X Earn 1x points on all other purchases

What we love: The Credit One Bank Wander® Card is a solid option if you want to earn points on travel but have trouble qualifying for mainstream travel cards. Not only is this card accessible with only fair credit, but its rewards program boasts generously high rewards rates in key travel categories. Learn more: Best travel cards for people with bad or fair credit Alternatives: If you don’t mind putting down a refundable security deposit, consider a no-annual-fee secured card like the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card *. It’s a unique secured card that lets you build credit while earning rewards in a category of your choice (with travel just one of many popular options) as well as grocery stores and wholesale clubs.

  • It’s one of the only travel rewards cards available with a fair credit score, making it a decent option if you want to earn travel rewards as you work on your score.
  • Provides 5X points in travel, dining and gas, plus 10X points on eligible hotel and rental car bookings through Credit One Bank — rare and impressive rates with only fair credit.
  • Its annual fee is high compared to other cards you can get with a fair credit score , so it may not be the best fit if you prioritize building credit over earning rewards.
  • Other travel cards may offer better perks, fewer redemption restrictions and more value, so it may be worth working on your score with a lower-cost card before committing to the costly annual fee.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel partner site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees

Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit  AmericanExpress.com/benefitsguide  for more details. Underwritten by Amex assurance company.

The information about the American Express® Green Card and Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuers.

Compare Bankrate's best travel credit cards of 2024

What are travel credit cards.

Travel credit cards allow cardholders to earn points or miles on a variety of purchases (typically travel-related), which are redeemable for travel bookings, statement credits, gift cards and more.

The best travel credit cards do more than help you foot the bill for your next flight — travel cards also offer perks to upgrade your entire travel experience. Trip insurance , annual travel credits, concierge services and lounge access are all common benefits. Airline and hotel co-branded credit cards sometimes offer specific discounts and perks for loyalty program members.

Pros and cons of travel credit cards

Although a well-chosen travel card can pay huge dividends, it might not be the right move for every traveler. Before you apply, take time to weigh the benefits versus the drawbacks of travel credit cards .

Tips on choosing the best travel credit card for you

The right travel credit card for you will carry features and benefits that give you the best value. To help you narrow down your choices, here are the steps to choosing the best travel card.

How to choose a travel credit card

1. know how you prefer to travel.

Knowing whether your travel expenses lean toward airfare, hotel stays or a mix of other travel will help you decide whether you should get an airline card, hotel card or general-purpose travel card. A co-branded airline or hotel credit card may be a good fit if you mostly travel with a certain brand and want exclusive privileges to enhance your experience. A general-purpose travel card is better if you prefer to keep your travel options open.

2. Prioritize redemption value

You may have to pick between simplicity and maximum value when comparing cards and rewards programs. Many travel cards offer a standard point or mile redemption value of 1 cent when you redeem toward travel through the issuer portal, but some cards can get you a higher redemption value when you transfer rewards to airline or hotel partners. However, it's common for many travel reward programs to reduce the redemption value toward non-travel options or limit these redemption options altogether. If you prefer simplicity over maximizing rewards, you may want to consider cards that allow you to redeem points or miles at an equal 1-cent value toward general travel purchase credits, cash back or other non-travel options.

3. Match your card to your spending habits

Take a look at your typical spending and find which travel categories and non-travel categories you spend the most in to help you choose a card that offers a high rewards rate for your regular spending. Just make sure you factor in rewards spending caps.

4. Note what's worth the extra money

High rewards rates and valuable travel perks are the biggest reasons to get a travel card, but many of the best cards carry a high annual fee. You could stick with a no-annual-fee travel card (or at least one with around a $99 fee) if you're mainly focused on earning rewards, but you may have to pay up to $500 or more for luxurious perks like airport lounge access, comprehensive travel insurance and hundreds of dollars in annual travel credits .

5. Look toward your next trip abroad

If you travel overseas, check to see if the card you're considering charges a foreign transaction fee. And since some credit cards aren't as widely accepted as others, you'll also want to make sure your credit card will work when traveling overseas . For example, merchants may not accept Discover and American Express cards as widely as Visa and Mastercard. If a trip is coming up in the next three to six months, keep an eye out for the big sign-up bonuses travel cards are known for. As a rule of thumb, the higher the annual fee, the higher the sign-up bonus should be.

Co-branded travel cards vs. general travel cards

Experts typically divide travel credit cards into two categories: co-branded travel cards and general travel cards. Co-branded cards are linked to a particular airline or hotel, while general travel cards offer more flexible reward opportunities. Here’s why and when you might want one or the other.

  • Co-branded cards
  • General travel cards

Co-branded travel cards tend to offer higher rewards rates on eligible travel purchases in exchange for limiting your reward redemption options to just one airline or hotel program . These cards may also feature more specific perks associated with the respective hotel or airline, such as free award nights, complimentary airline elite status or priority boarding — which general-purpose travel cards don’t often carry).

However, you won’t be able to use your rewards with a wide variety of different hotels and airlines like general-purpose cards allow. Plus, despite co-branded travel cards’ typically higher rewards rates, many brand-specific rewards tend to be worth less than the potential value of general-purpose cards’ points and miles.

When to get a co-branded travel card : When you often fly or stay with a specific airline or hotel and want to maximize your benefits with that brand.

General travel cards earn rewards on various travel categories and aren’t limited to a particular airline or hotel. Such cards may lack some of the dedicated perks you’ll find on a co-branded travel card, such as in-flight discounts, but make up for it with rewards flexibility and broader perks like general travel credits, expedited security screening and wider airport lounge access. 

The top travel cards even let you transfer your points or miles to airline and hotel loyalty programs, often at a 1:1 rate. Redeeming with some airlines and hotels can even make your rewards more valuable than they would be if you redeemed with the card issuer.

When to get a general travel card : When you have no preferred airline or hotel and want the additional flexibility a general travel card offers. 

Who should get a travel credit card?

A travel credit card is almost always worth it for frequent travelers or anyone who wants to earn rewards toward their next vacation.

If you can save up airline miles, rack up points for free nights at hotels or get discounted travel through your credit card issuer, you’re on your way to significant travel savings. However, the right travel card for you will depend on your travel habits.

Frequent travelers

Naturally, the ideal candidate for a travel card is someone who travels a lot or plans to book several flights and hotel stays per year. However, in some cases, you don’t have to be a frequent traveler to reap the benefits of a travel rewards card. A number of cards offer good rewards rates on general purchases.

Travel beginners

If you’re new to travel rewards, a good place to start is with a travel card that makes it easy to earn and redeem points, without requiring you to navigate a complex rewards program or worry about tiered rewards rates or varying point redemption values. 

Brand loyalists

If you tend to book travel with the same brands frequently or already belong to an airline or hotel loyalty program, a co-branded travel card can offer terrific value.  Airline- and hotel-specific rewards cards often earn a top rate on bookings with the brand as well as exclusive perks like lounge access and automatic elite status. 

Business travelers

Some of the most valuable travel credit cards are business cards . Whether you're a freelancer on the go or the CEO of a Fortune 500, the right travel credit card can help you earn high rewards rates on everyday business purchases. 

International travelers

If you frequently travel abroad, a card with no foreign transaction fees is a great way to help you avoid extra costs on overseas purchases. Plus, if you hate waiting in line at airport security or customs, a lot of travel cards offer statement credits to reimburse you for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees.

Luxury travelers

Luxury travel cards often charge a pretty penny but also offer a ton of value via perks like lounge access and annual travel credits. These perks not only make travel more comfortable, but also often carry enough value to offset the card’s cost on their own.

Still unsure if a travel credit card is right for you? Check out our Credit Card Spender Type Tool where you can get personalized credit card recommendations based on your credit score, spending habits and daily needs.

Here’s how a Bankrate editor chose his travel card

Here’s how a bankrate editor chose his travel card.

With all of this advice in mind, let’s see how a credit card expert made their pick. Here’s Bankrate editor Nouri Zarrugh on how he chose his travel card:

When it comes to earning rewards, I’ve always stuck with cash back cards, preferring the simplicity of knowing exactly how much my rewards are worth and the ease of redeeming for statement credits. Recently, though, I decided I wanted to travel a bit more frequently, and I figured a new travel rewards card could be a great tool to help me earn free trips. When choosing the right card for me, a few major points of consideration stood out: Cost: I didn’t feel like I traveled enough to justify a huge annual fee. Simplicity : I wanted to stick with a single, streamlined travel card and not worry about juggling multiple rewards programs or rewards rates. Perks : While I didn’t need anything too fancy, I thought it might be nice to have a perk like TSA Precheck included, since I hate waiting in long airport security lines. To my surprise, the card that stood out most was the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. Though it carried an intimidating annual fee of $395 ( See Rates & Fees ), I found this cost was more than worth it once I dug into the details. In fact, its benefits were so valuable, I barely needed to worry about offsetting the cost.  Two of its annual perks — a $300 Capital One travel credit and 10,000 bonus miles every year on my account anniversary — are valuable enough to offset the fee on their own. This means as long as I take one flight a year, I can basically break even on the card. Any rewards or perks I get beyond that feel like pure upside. It’s a huge bonus, then, that the card also includes practical benefits like Priority Pass lounge access and a credit of up to $100 toward the cost of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. While I’ve never frequented airport lounges, I see these privileges as essentially free considering the value of the annual travel credit and bonus miles. So, I figure, why not take advantage?  For me, the Venture X strikes the perfect balance: A flat rewards rate that makes it easy to earn miles on everything I buy; flexible redemption through Capital One or via transfer to airlines and hotels, and practical perks I know I’ll use when I travel. I never imagined I’d have a $395 travel card in my wallet, but for me, it’s at worst a coupon for a flight every year, which can nudge me to take that next trip. — Nouri Zarrugh, Editor, Bankrate

Travel benefits may differ from card to card, but some of the most popular travel cards available often feature a few key perks. 

Travel insurance

Travel cards may offer various travel insurances , such as trip delay protection, trip cancellation insurance, lost baggage insurance or car rental insurance. These benefits aren’t worth anything until you need them, but you’ll be glad you have them when your flight is canceled or your luggage gets lost.

Travel credits

Credits toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry are a popular and common benefit on many travel cards. You can typically use this credit once every four years, which roughly corresponds to how long a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership lasts. Some cards may also provide an annual credit toward Clear Plus — another expedited security membership. Higher-end travel cards often offer annual statement credits toward travel purchases, and many of these credits nearly offset these cards’ annual fees. 

In-flight perks

Co-branded airline cards typically offer some airport and in-flight benefits on top of their reward-earning capabilities. These can include discounts on in-flight purchases (usually 25 percent back on refreshments and WiFi), free checked bags, flight seating upgrades or priority boarding. 

Free hotel award nights

Co-branded hotel cards may include free hotel award nights annually as part of their benefits. Some cards also add an extra complimentary awards night to your stay if you’ve booked a certain number of consecutive nights. These nights are typically capped at a certain value (sometimes based on the card or your elite status), and may be valuable enough to make up for some cards’ annual fees.

Airport lounge access

One of the most popular (and valuable) travel benefits featured on high-end and luxury travel cards is complimentary access to airport lounges. The lounges you gain access to depend on the card, though co-branded cards will often grant access to the lounge corresponding to the card’s airline. The Amex Platinum card currently offers the best airport lounge access .

If you want to add a credit card to your portfolio for your travel needs, knowing what cards are popular and why people like them can help steer your decision. We regularly stay abreast of these conversations online and noticed two travel cards come up regularly: the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card from American Express .

These cards shine because they offer some of the best rates on travel purchases and the most comprehensive set of benefits and perks . Despite their annual fees, what you get in return can far outweigh your costs. And the conversation around these two cards isn’t new: Is the effort of maximizing their perks worth it?

What people say about travel credit cards perks

The Sapphire Reserve is often referred to as the gold standard in travel benefits and protections, and the value of its trip insurance is a big part of that. A member of the Rick Steves Forum remarks on the value of the insurance: “It has pretty extensive coverage wherever I travel … my entire trip is covered as long as I charged any portion of the trip to my card.” This feature is unique to the Sapphire Reserve and sets it apart from other premium cards, which require you to charge your entire trip purchase to the card to have active coverage.

But using trip insurance isn’t always a simple process. As a user in the r/CreditCards forum on Reddit cautions: “Credit card travel insurance in general is very specific on what it covers, and people tend to overestimate just how useful the coverage actually is,” they write. “These are named peril policies, so unless you see your exact situation as a covered hazard the policies won't pay out.”

The Platinum Card from American Express gets a lot of buzz for reasons similar to the Sapphire Reserve. The card gives so many benefits, credits and additional perks that it’s often called a coupon book for luxury travel. But for many people, the value comes down to whether they’re willing to do the work to maximize its features. Another r/CreditCards member says they use the card’s Hilton and Marriott status boosters, rental car company loyalty program automatic status features, Centurion lounge access, hotel and airline incidental credits, membership credits and more. Using all these features helps them offset the annual fee.

While some people love maximizing the card’s features to extract  as much value as possible, others, like this Redditor, think it’s too much work:

“The only benefit the Platinum card really adds is Centurion and Delta Sky lounge access but only to the [cardholder] … I believe the Platinum is worth [it] at least the first year for the [sign-up] bonus but then it doesn't get much use after that. Trust me the credits are really annoying to use.” — r/CreditCards user

These two premium cards stand out from the rest because they offer the most comprehensive features available to suit your travel needs and protect you from any issues that arise. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is an exceptional option to protect you from travel issues, but make sure you know the fine print. While the Amex Platinum may not be as ideal for travel protections, the credits offered more than offset its annual fee if you can put in the effort to fully maximize them.

Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned cardholder, your travel card should always work in your favor by offering the features and benefits you’ll actually use and that make your travels more enjoyable. But whether you’re willing to put in the effort to maximize a card’s value is something you’ll need to decide for yourself.

*The quotes and citations included on this page have been verified by our editorial team and are accurate as of the posting date. Be sure to check the issuer's website/terms and conditions for all up to date content. Outlinked content may contain views and opinions that do not reflect the views and opinions of Bankrate.

Credit card points and miles are two of the key types of credit card rewards , along with cash back. You’ll earn points and miles by making purchases with your credit card, but you can typically redeem these rewards for travel, gift cards and more — not just statement credits.

Points and miles tend to be more flexible than cash back, but since their value depends on how you redeem them — and, in the case of travel redemptions, where you’re going, when you book, your fare class and more — it may take a bit more effort to make the most of them.

What are your points and miles worth?

Since many airlines and hotels use dynamic pricing models that continually optimize airfare and room prices, it can be hard to know exactly how much your rewards are worth without doing a little math.

Luckily, you don’t need to be a travel hacker to get a sense of this idea. Before you redeem, you can check your reward redemption value by dividing the cost of a plane or hotel booking in cash by its cost in points or miles. This calculation will result in the cash value of your points or miles.

You can also compare this value to Bankrate’s latest points and miles valuations to determine if you’re getting a good deal on your redemptions. Bankrate collected data on hundreds of bookings across dozens of airline, hotel and credit card rewards programs and estimated how much each program’s rewards are worth on average .

  • Airline rewards values
  • Hotel rewards values
  • Credit card program rewards values

The table below shows Bankrate’s estimated reward redemption value for a variety of popular airline loyalty programs. You’ll notice how widely the value varies between airlines, with some offering close to 3 cents per point in average redemption value and others struggling to meet a 1-cent-per-point value.

Keep in mind, however, that these values are averages based on a variety of fare classes, destinations, booking periods and more. For example, while Bankrate estimates Delta SkyMiles carry an average redemption value of around 1.2 cents per mile, they could be worth more or less depending on the details of your booking. 

*Based on weighted average of median point/mile values across economy and first/business class fares.

Like airline miles, hotel points fluctuate in value. The table below shows Bankrate’s estimated point values for some of the most popular hotel brands. 

As you can see, hotel points tend to be worth less than airline and credit card rewards on average, often carrying less than 1 cent per point in redemption value. That said, hotel loyalty programs sometimes offer more favorable exchange rates when you transfer rewards from a credit card rewards program. For example, you may be able to turn 1,000 credit card points into 2,000 hotel points (a 2:1 transfer ratio). 

*Based on median point values across budget, mid-tier and luxury hotel bookings.

Unlike hotel and airline rewards programs, credit card reward programs typically earn points or miles that offer a consistent redemption value when you use them with the issuer. Though the redemption value of your rewards may vary based on how you redeem, each redemption method should offer a consistent baseline value. 

Some credit card rewards programs may also allow you to transfer your points or miles to airline and hotel loyalty programs, which could boost their value considerably. For each major credit card rewards program, we estimate a baseline redemption value (assuming you book for travel with the issuer) and a Bankrate’s Value, which averages the program’s best-value transfer partners.

*Based on an average of the issuer’s five highest-value transfer partners (if available).

When to use rewards vs. cash

To demonstrate when it’s best to use your reward miles versus paying in cash, we set up this example:

We estimate American Airlines AAdvantage miles are worth 1.0 cents. If you book a seat in the main cabin on a one-way flight from Boston to Miami, and it costs either $139 or 21,500 miles, your miles are only worth $0.006 ($139 / 21,500 miles = $0.006). Since your miles for this flight are worth less than 1.0 cents, you may want to save your miles and pay cash for this flight.

But if you book a first-class seat on the same flight for $433 or 31,500 miles, your miles are now worth $0.013 ($433 / 31,500 = $0.013). Since 1.3 cents is higher than our latest valuation, you’re coming out ahead if you use your miles to pay for this flight.

Bankrate experts share their advice on using travel credit cards

It’s important to know how to maximize your rewards and perks. Otherwise, a travel card could end up being a money pit. Here are a few pointers from our experts for making the most of your travel card: 

Combine cards to maximize rewards

Knowing how much you spend in different categories and which merchants are eligible for rewards will help you earn more and build an optimized stack of rewards cards. A flat-rate card is often a great starting point to earn the same rate on every purchase you make. As you build out a rewards strategy, you can incorporate a card with bonus categories to earn even more in your highest spending areas.

Expert Insight:

“For a long time, I’ve used a combination of Chase credit cards known as the Chase trifecta for all my family’s spending…. [I] don’t typically use my Sapphire Reserve for everyday spending and bills. Since it only offers 1X points on non-bonus category spending, I use my Freedom Unlimited to make sure I earn a minimum of 1.5 percent cash back on everything I buy.” “I use each card strategically to earn as much in rewards as possible, then I pool them in my Sapphire Reserve account to redeem them for airfare, excursions, hotels and more.” — Holly D. Johnson — Award-winning personal finance writer and Bankrate contributor: Why I love the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Maximize your rewards value with transfer partners and issuer travel

Save your rewards for the most valuable redemption options. Travel points and miles often lose value toward non-travel options like cash back, so you’ll want to redeem your rewards for travel through the issuer portal for at least 1 cent per point or mile. However, transferring your rewards to the right airline or hotel partner program is usually worth the extra effort since it could net you even more value.

Expert Insight

“When I redeem my points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, the most I can get is 1.25 cents apiece, which is pretty good. However, if I transfer them to a partner airline’s loyalty program, I will often get much more. For example, I can transfer my points to United Airlines MileagePlus and use them to pay for flights. When I do, I generally get a value of 2 or more cents per point — in line with Bankrate estimates that Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth around 2 cents apiece on average when used with the right transfer partner.” — Margaret Wack — Personal finance expert and Bankrate contributor: Why I love the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Make the most of your travel perks

Travel benefits are one of the main reasons to get a travel card, and are often key to making up a card’s annual fee. Be sure to read the fine print to make sure you can take full advantage of these offers . For example, one card’s travel credit may apply to any travel purchase, including airfare, while another card’s may only cover costs like baggage fees or in-flight purchases. 

“This is the year to take inventory of your credit cards and make sure they’re serving you well. If you’re paying an annual fee, look for a card with recurring benefits. Whether it’s annual award nights, waived luggage fees or elite status benefits, these perks can offset your annual fee and make your travels more pleasant … Despite putting minimal spending on my Hilton Honors Amex Aspire card, I keep renewing it every year. That’s because the card provides automatic Hilton Diamond elite status, which can easily offset the $550 annual fee. Recurring card benefits like [these] can save you a lot on travel and are worth considering when shopping for a new credit card.” — Ariana Arghandewal — Travel rewards expert and Bankrate contributor: Five benefits you need from a travel credit card

Plan for the sign-up bonus

The best travel cards come with generous welcome offers, but these bonuses may require a high spend in a short timeframe. That’s why it’s important to consider whether the spending requirement fits with your typical spending habits or whether you need to plan purchases to meet the requirement. Just be sure not to overextend yourself or take on debt you can’t pay back just to earn a bonus — interest and fees can easily eat through any value you’d get.

“Keep in mind that credit card sign-up offers change often. So if you’re interested in a particular card but not blown away by its current offer (there are some for 100,000 points or more that aren’t always worth the trouble), it could be worth your while to wait for a better one.” — Ariana Arghandewal — Travel rewards expert and Bankrate contributor: 6 ways to get bigger credit card bonuses

Look out for limited-time offers, partner perks and other benefits

Keeping an eye out for limited-time offers like extraordinarily high sign-up bonuses, perks with partner services (like rideshares or delivery services) and other reward-earning opportunities is a great way to squeeze the most value from your travel card. Issuers sometimes provide shopping and travel portals and card-linked reward programs for select purchases (like for pre-paid dining or participating merchant spending), which can help you bank extra rewards.

“Keep an eye on your email inbox and rewards portal for any limited-time promotions your issuer may be offering. Many American Express cards feature Amex Offers, which lets you access perks like statement credits for spending a certain amount on specific hotels and other retailers.  Other cards, like the Capital One Venture X, also have occasional promotional offers, such as a credit for 5 percent back on VRBO rentals.” — Lori Zaino — Travel expert and Bankrate contributor: How to maximize credit cards for cheaper accommodations this holiday season

Track your spending and rewards each account statement

Track your favorite stores’ and services’ merchant category codes (MCCs) to fine-tune your spending habits for maximum rewards. If you notice your expenses changing, this practice may also help you notice whether you need to change which rewards cards you carry.

“The first step to optimizing your spending is to take the time to collect the MCCs of stores you frequently shop at. During the process, you might find that some stores in the same chain may have different MCCs, depending on their primary inventory. Even different counters or sections in the same department store may carry different MCCs. You can use this to your advantage if you know one location near you will provide a better cash back rate than the other. These “loopholes” can provide great opportunities to reap cash back on purchases that typically wouldn’t earn rewards.” — Garrett Yarbrough — Writer and credit cards expert at Bankrate: Merchant category codes: How to earn more cash back

Our data: What credit score do you need for the best travel cards?

It’s no secret that your credit score heavily influences which cards you’re likely to get approval for. But how good does your credit need to be to get the best credit cards for travel? We analyzed our data of Bankrate readers who applied for credit cards on our pages in 2023 and compared the approval rates of readers’ different credit tiers.

We found that, on average, 61.9 percent of users with excellent credit were approved for travel cards on our site. Then, an average of 39.5 percent and 19.5 percent of users with good and fair credit, respectively, got approval for travel credit cards they applied to.

If you have fair or bad credit, you still have options for travel credit cards. For example, the Credit One Bank Wander Card caters to people with fair credit — 57 percent of people with fair credit who applied on our site in 2023 were approved for this card , according to our data.

Obviously, the better your credit, the more likely you are to get the card you apply for , but other factors can affect your application. Issuers may also consider your income, recent credit applications, homeownership status and monthly rental or mortgage payment. Keep these other factors in mind with your credit score when you apply for credit cards.

Have more questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email , find us on Facebook , or Tweet us @Bankrate .

When evaluating the best travel cards, we consider a mix of factors, including how cards score in our proprietary card rating system and whether cards offer features that fit the priorities of a diverse group of cardholders, from earning rewards in popular categories to scoring a large sign-up bonus or high-value perks. Whenever possible, we also feature cards that are available at various credit levels and price points. 

We analyzed over 150 of the most popular cards and scored each based on its rewards rate, estimated annual earnings, welcome bonus value, APR, fees, perks and more to determine whether it belonged in this month’s roundup of the best travel cards.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the key factors in our rewards card scoring methodology — our primary scoring category for travel cards — and details we considered when putting together our list of the best travel cards.  

  • Flexibility 15%
  • Customer experience 5%

Great rewards value

The primary criteria for a rewards-earning card’s rating is its rewards value. This includes the card’s average rewards rate, estimated annual rewards earnings, sign-up bonus value and reward redemption value.

To estimate a card’s average annual rewards earnings, we first calculate its average rewards rate based on how much it earns in different bonus categories and how closely its categories align with the average person’s spending habits. In other words, we assess whether the card earns rewards at a high rate in the most popular spending categories. 

We use consumer spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to get a reliable third-party measure of people’s spending habits. The most recent BLS data estimates average total spending in 2022 was $72,967 per consumer. We then narrow our focus to which purchases are likely to be put on a credit card and earn rewards, subtracting expenditures like housing, vehicle purchases and education. This gives us a total “chargeable” annual spend of around $25,500.  

This includes the following spending by category:

  • Groceries: $5,700
  • Dining out: $3,600
  • Entertainment: $2,400
  • Gas: $3,100
  • Apparel and services: $1,900

Using this data, we assign a weighting to each of a card’s bonus categories. For example, a card’s grocery rewards rate receives a 22 percent weighting based on how much of the average person’s budget is spent on groceries.

We also estimate the redemption value of points or miles from various issuer, airline and hotel rewards programs.

This weighting and rewards valuation allows us to estimate a card’s average annual rewards earnings — how many points or miles you’d earn with a given card if your spending was about average and you used the card for all of your purchases — as well as what those points are worth. We also use point valuations to determine a card’s sign-up bonus value

With these calculations complete, we assign each card a score based on how its average rewards earnings, sign-up bonus value, rewards rate and redemption value stack up against other rewards cards.

The better these values, the higher its score will be, making it more worthy of inclusion in our list and increasing its potential ranking.

Reasonable rates and fees

We also score cards based on how much it costs to keep them in your wallet or carry a balance. 

To start, each card is scored based on whether it offers an intro APR and how its ongoing APR compares to the rates available on other rewards cards. However, the latter rating only has a slight influence on the card’s score and whether the card is included in our list, since rewards card users generally try to avoid carrying a balance.

More important to both a card’s score and its inclusion in our list is how its annual fee influences its overall value. We consider a card’s annual fee in two ways — how it ranks relative to the fees you’ll find on other cards in the category and how it impacts a card’s overall rewards value. 

Cards with an annual fee will always be at a slight disadvantage in our scoring system since annual fees inherently cut into your rewards value. However, if a card offers terrific value via its ongoing rewards and perks, it can earn a high score and a spot in our list even if it carries a high annual fee. After all, the highest rewards rates and most valuable perks are often found on cards with annual fees. 

With this in mind, we rate a card based primarily on how its ongoing rewards value and ongoing perk value (such as annual credits or bonuses) stack up against those of other cards in the category when you subtract annual fees.

That said, we strive to include as many no-annual-fee options in our list as possible since many people would rather not worry about offsetting fees, even if a card carries impressive rewards and perks.

Redemption flexibility

Rewards cards may make it easy to earn a lot of points, miles or cash back, but how easy is it to use those rewards? After all, if it takes a ton of effort to redeem rewards or you can only redeem rewards in a couple of ways, a card may be more trouble than it’s worth. 

As such, we rate each card’s flexibility based on the restrictions it imposes on earning and redeeming rewards. We factor this rating into a card’s overall score and consider it when deciding on a card’s inclusion in our list. 

Flexibility factors include whether a card only allows you to earn a high rewards rate on only a small amount of spending or requires you to meet a certain earning threshold before you can redeem rewards. We also examine whether your points are worth less when you opt for some redemption options over others and whether a card gives you the flexibility to transfer rewards to travel partners.

Valuable perks

We also score each card’s set of features – its perks and benefits — against five tiers of features to provide a rating. 

We break down these tiers as follows:

  • Tier 1 includes fewer features than even standard credit cards (for example, an ultra-streamlined card that offers basic utility and next to nothing in the way of ancillary benefits). 
  • Tier 2 includes the benefits you’d expect on standard Visa or Mastercard credit cards, such as free access to your credit score, car rental insurance and $0 liability for fraudulent charges. 
  • Tier 3 includes “prime card” or better-than-average card features like cellphone insurance, lost luggage insurance, concierge services and purchase protection. 
  • Tier 4 includes luxury features such as airport lounge access, elite status with an airline or hotel and credits for expedited security screening membership programs. 
  • Tier 5 includes the sort of exemplary benefits you’ll find on top-tier luxury cards, such as high-value travel credits, cardholder memberships and other unique and valuable perks.

In evaluating the best cards, we tend to favor cards that offer at least Tier 3 benefits, unless they include other unique features that could make up for less-impressive perks.

And since this list focuses on travel cards, we tend to favor cards that carry travel-centric features like travel insurance, airport lounge access and credits for expedited security screening, instead of more general perks like food delivery credits or shopping discounts.

More information on travel credit cards

Frequently asked questions about travel credit cards, are travel credit cards worth it.

Travel cards can be well worth it since they often have exclusive travel perks like credits for airfare, hotel stays, expedited airport security services and more, as well as complimentary airport lounge access and airline or hotel privileges. However, many of the best travel credit cards come with annual fees. It’s important to at least offset the cost of these cards by taking advantage of the various travel perks and features included on the card. 

What credit score do you need for a travel credit card?

It’s possible to get a travel credit card with bad or fair credit, but most travel rewards cards are geared toward people with good or excellent credit (a FICO score of at least 670, or a VantageScore of at least 661).

Do travel miles or points expire?

Even though many major credit cards earn rewards that don’t expire, you may lose your points and miles if your account closes or isn’t in good standing. However, some co-branded cards’ rewards may expire if you don’t earn or redeem rewards within a certain timeframe (typically 12 to 36 months after the rewards are earned).

Check out our guide to credit card rewards expiration for a thorough breakdown of several popular issuers’ policies.

Are points or miles better on a credit card?

Whether points or miles offer better value will depend on the specific rewards program and how you redeem rewards. One airline loyalty program may earn miles that offer less than 1 cent each in average redemption value while another program’s points may offer close to 3 cents each on average. Similarly, a hotel card’s points may be worth less than half of a credit card issuer’s rewards points. Some programs offer points with only average baseline redemption value but high value when transferred to a partner airline or hotel. 

Ask the experts: Is it a good idea to have multiple travel credit cards?

travelling overseas up bank

Thomas Nitzsche

travelling overseas up bank

Stephanie Zito

travelling overseas up bank

Erica Sandberg

travelling overseas up bank

Financial Educator, Debt and Credit

Whether you should have multiple travel credit cards depends on several factors, including your brand affinity, frequency of travel and ability to pay off your cards in full each month. As a credit counselor, I see many people carrying credit card debt at high interest rates while continuing to make charges to the account for the sake of earning rewards. They lose far more than they earn each month. Having more than one travel credit card could make sense for you if you’re able to maximize your earnings by strategizing spending across each card. Just take into account annual fees and actual interest paid.

Contributor, Personal Finance

If you’re up for managing multiple cards and their benefits, then there are definitely big reward payouts to be had. But if the thought of multiple cards is overwhelming, it’s also a good strategy to have one or two more flexible cards and focus on maximizing your earnings and redemptions until it becomes second nature.

travelling overseas up bank

Contributor, Credit Cards

Definitely! I currently have two travel credit cards. In addition to the Chase card that I use for my United Airlines purchases, I have the Capital One Venture card for all other airlines. I earn a solid amount of miles on everything I buy with it, so it's an easy go-to for non-travel related expenses.

Article sources

We use primary sources to support our work. Bankrate’s authors, reporters and editors are subject-matter experts who thoroughly fact-check editorial content to ensure the information you’re reading is accurate, timely and relevant.

Global entry: Trusted traveler enrollment program . U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Accessed on Feb. 21, 2024

Discover International acceptance . Discover. Accessed on Feb. 21, 2024.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.

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  • Pekhorka Park
  • Balashikha Arena
  • Malenky Puppet Theater
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Bank of America economist expects 'bumper year' for travel

by CORY SMITH | The National Desk

FILE - People check in at the American Airlines ticket counter at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Erik Verduzco)

(TND) — This is shaping up to be a “bumper year” for travel, a Bank of America economist said Monday.

The Bank of America Institute recently released a report on travel trends as we enter the busy summer vacation months.

The report was based on Bank of America credit and debit card data, along with a survey that showed over 70% of people plan to travel this summer.

Household travel spending is up around 13% from 2019 levels. That’s a tick below last year, which was up around 15% compared to 2019.

“Last year, 2023, travel spending was supercharged, because people were really kind of unleashing their spending ... after the pandemic,” Bank of America Institute Senior Economist David Tinsley said. “Really, to hold your own on spending this year, relative to that, is impressive.”

The increased spending compared to 2019 isn’t all about inflation, he said.

“I think a good bit of it is volume,” Tinsley said.

Domestic air travel is up. The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 206 million passengers in the first quarter of the year, up nearly 8% from a year ago.

Spring break air travel was up about 7% compared to last year, based on the TSA figures.

And the International Air Transport Association on Monday reported it’s expecting a record 5 billion air travelers in 2024.

Airline industry revenues are also expected to reach a historic high of $996 billion this year, the IATA said.

North America continues to be the most significant contributor to industry profits, according to the IATA.

The Bank of America Institute cited government figures that show tourism and travel within the U.S. contributes about 3% of the gross domestic product. Based on last year’s GDP of around $27 trillion, that’s over $800 billion infused into our economy by travel.

The International Trade Administration , citing 2021 data, said total travel- and tourism-related spending reached $1.7 trillion – $987.7 billion in direct spending and $716.3 billion in indirect spending.

Domestic tourism “is hugely important,” Tinsley said.

The Bank of America survey found that 67% of American travelers are staying in the states. Around 40% are planning to travel internationally.

Europe, Canada and Mexico were the top international destinations for American travelers.

More of the younger generations are planning to vacation internationally, while also planning to go for longer and spend more, according to Bank of America.

The top splurge categories include shopping, experiences and dining.

RELATED STORY: Over a third of Americans willing to take on debt for summer vacation

Cruise spending was up 12% and is now making up a larger share of overall travel expenditures.

Baby boomers make up around half of total spending on cruises, according to the Bank of America data.

“Cruises are doing extremely well,” Tinsley said.

Americans are eager to travel, with 81% telling Bank of America in the survey that they won’t postpone any of their travel plans. But high prices and a lack of savings are the top reasons given by the roughly 20% who are postponing.

Tinsley said the U.S. travel industry is showing strength.

“This year looks to be another solid year,” he said. “It’s been a bumper year relative to prepandemic. It’s still looking fairly solid relative to last year. And domestically, I think, there’s plenty of early signs of lots of travel throughout the U.S.”

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By Jesse McKinley and Maggie Astor

  • May 30, 2024

The conviction of former President Donald J. Trump on Thursday is just the latest step in his legal odyssey in New York’s court system. The judge, Juan M. Merchan, set Mr. Trump’s sentencing for July 11, at which point he could be sentenced to as much as four years behind bars, or to probation.

It won’t stop him from running for president, though: There is no legal prohibition on felons doing that . No constitutional provision would stop him even from serving as president from a prison cell, though in practice that would trigger a crisis that courts would almost certainly have to resolve.

His ability to vote — for himself, presumably — depends on whether he is sentenced to prison. Florida, where he is registered, requires felons convicted there to complete their full sentence, including parole or probation, before regaining voting rights. But when Floridians are convicted in another state, Florida defers to the laws of that state, and New York disenfranchises felons only while they are in prison.

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The Trump Manhattan Criminal Verdict, Count By Count

Former President Donald J. Trump faced 34 felony charges of falsifying business records, related to the reimbursement of hush money paid to the porn star Stormy Daniels in order to cover up a sex scandal around the 2016 presidential election.

“Because Florida recognizes voting rights restoration in the state of conviction, and because New York’s law states that those with a felony conviction do not lose their right to vote unless they are incarcerated during the election, then Trump will not lose his right to vote in this case unless he is in prison on Election Day,” said Blair Bowie, a lawyer at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit watchdog group.

Mr. Trump will almost certainly appeal his conviction, after months of criticizing the case and attacking the Manhattan district attorney, who brought it, and Justice Merchan, who presided over his trial.

Long before that appeal is heard, however, Mr. Trump will be enmeshed in the gears of the criminal justice system.

A pre-sentencing report makes recommendations based on the defendant’s criminal record — Mr. Trump had none before this case — as well as his personal history and the crime itself. The former president was found guilty of falsifying business records in relation to a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, a porn star who says she had a brief sexual tryst with Mr. Trump in 2006, in order to buy her silence.

At the pre-sentence interview, a psychologist or social worker working for the probation department may also talk to Mr. Trump, during which time the defendant can “try to make a good impression and explain why he or she deserves a lighter punishment,” according to the New York State Unified Court System.

The pre-sentencing report can also include submissions from the defense, and may describe whether “the defendant is in a counseling program or has a steady job.”

In Mr. Trump’s case, of course, he is applying — as it were — for a steady job as president of the United States, a campaign that may be complicated by his new status as a felon. Mr. Trump will likely be required to regularly report to a probation officer, and rules on travel could be imposed.

Mr. Trump was convicted of 34 Class E felonies, New York’s lowest level , each of which carry a potential penalty of up to four years in prison. Probation or home confinement are other possibilities that Justice Merchan can consider.

That said, Justice Merchan has indicated in the past that he takes white-collar crime seriously . If he did impose prison time, he would likely impose the punishment concurrently, meaning that Mr. Trump would serve time on each of the counts he was convicted of simultaneously.

If Mr. Trump were instead sentenced to probation, he could still be jailed if he were later found to have committed additional crimes. Mr. Trump, 77, currently faces three other criminal cases: two federal, dealing with his handling of classified documents and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election , and a state case in Georgia that concerns election interference.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers can file a notice of appeal after sentencing, scheduled for July 11 at 10 a.m. And the judge could stay any punishment during an appeal, something that could delay punishment beyond Election Day.

The proceedings will continue even if he wins: Because it’s a state case, not federal, Mr. Trump would have no power as president to pardon himself .

Jesse McKinley is a Times reporter covering upstate New York, courts and politics. More about Jesse McKinley

Maggie Astor covers politics for The New York Times, focusing on breaking news, policies, campaigns and how underrepresented or marginalized groups are affected by political systems. More about Maggie Astor

Our Coverage of the Trump Hush-Money Trial

Guilty Verdict : Donald Trump was convicted on all 34 counts  of falsifying records to cover up a sex scandal that threatened his bid for the White House in 2016, making him the first American president to be declared a felon .

What Happens Next: Trump’s sentencing hearing on July 11 will trigger a long and winding appeals process , though he has few ways to overturn the decision .

Reactions: Trump’s conviction reverberated quickly across the country  and around the world . Here’s what voters , New Yorkers , Republicans , Trump supporters  and President Biden  had to say.

The Presidential Race : The political fallout of Trump’s conviction is far from certain , but the verdict will test America’s traditions, legal institutions and ability to hold an election under historic partisan tension .

Making the Case: Over six weeks and the testimony of 20 witnesses, the Manhattan district attorney’s office wove a sprawling story  of election interference and falsified business records.

Legal Luck Runs Out: The four criminal cases that threatened Trump’s freedom had been stumbling along, pleasing his advisers. Then his good fortune expired .

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