But even though all Mastercard and Visa credit cards pretty much tie in terms of which is most accepted in Europe, they’re not all the same. Their rates, rewards and fees vary a lot. So, you need to choose wisely.
Here are some of the best, most accepted credit cards in Europe:
Visa with $0 foreign fees. 75,000 miles for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. 5 miles per $1 spent on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, and 2 miles per $1 on all other purchases. $95 annual fee.
Chip-and-PIN Mastercard with 0% foreign fees. 80,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days and paying the annual fee. 1 - 6 points per $1, depending on the type of purchase. $99 annual fee.
No, you don’t need a special European credit card before going to Europe. But you do want a card on a network that’s widely accepted in your destination of choice. Mastercard and Visa are your best options, as they’re both accepted pretty much everywhere in over 200 countries and territories.… read full answerAmerican Express is accepted in all European countries but may not be accepted by the specific merchant you’re doing business with, particularly if it’s a small operation. It’s ideal to get a card with no foreign transaction fee and extra rewards on travel, too.
Some of the Best Credit Cards for Traveling in Europe
The Capital One Venture card offers a bonus of 75,000 miles for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. You also get 5 miles per $1 spent on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, and 2 miles per $1 on all other purchases. Capital One Venture charges $0 foreign fees. The card has a $95 annual fee and requires at least good credit.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers 60,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. You also get 5 points per $1 spent on travel purchased through Chase, 2 points per $1 on all other travel purchases, 3 points per $1 on dining and online grocery purchases, 3 points per $1 on select streaming services, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. Points worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. With this card, you also get a 1:1 point transfer to 13 airline and hotel loyalty programs. That card has a $0 foreign transaction fee and $95 annual fee. Chase Sapphire Preferred requires at least good credit.
The JetBlue Plus Card offers $200 for spending $500 in the first 3 months. You also get 5% cash back on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, as well as 1.5% cash back on all other purchases. The Capital One Quicksilver has a $0 foreign transaction fee and a $0 annual fee. The card requires at least good credit.
The Capital One Quicksilver card offers $200 for spending $500 in the first 3 months. You also earn 5% cash back on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, as well as 1.5% cash back on all other purchases. This card has a $0 foreign transaction fee and a $0 annual fee. Capital One Quicksilver requires at least good credit.
Things to Know About Using a U.S. Credit Card in Europe
If you’re wondering about whether European card readers are compatible with American credit cards, you’ll be fine anywhere there’s a person to check you out. That’s true whether you have a chip card or an older card with only a magnetic stripe. The one place you may need a specific type of card is at an unmanned payment terminal, such as you might find in a train station or parking garage. In that case, not even a chip-and-signature card will work. You’ll need to use a chip-and-PIN credit card or cash. But that shouldn’t amount to much more than a minor inconvenience, even though most U.S. chip cards are the signature variety.
All in all, finding a credit card with no foreign transaction fees should be a bigger concern before traveling to Europe. The average credit card charges 2-3% of every purchase you make abroad, which can add up to a lot over the course of a trip.
Ultimately, you might also want to set a travel notice to tell your card’s issuer where and when you’re going. That way, your purchases away from home won’t be confused with fraud.
Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit card networks. Visa credit cards can be used at 44 million merchant locations in more than 200 countries and territories. Mastercard credit cards are accepted at 37 million merchant locations in more than 210 countries and territories.
Mastercard is accepted in more countries than Visa, yet roughly 7 million more merchants worldwide take Visa. Both have a claim to the title of most widely accepted credit card as a result. Visa also is the most widely used type of credit card.… read full answer
There isn’t a single credit card that’s most widely accepted, however, because there are hundreds of Mastercard and Visa credit card offers available.
Most Widely Accepted Credit Cards:
Most Widely Accepted Internationally: Mastercard (210+ countries and territories); Visa (200+).
Most Widely Accepted in the U.S.: Visa and Mastercard are both accepted at a little less than 11 million U.S. merchant locations.
Least Widely Accepted Internationally: American Express (160+ countries and territories); Discover (185+).
Least Widely Accepted in the U.S.: American Express (8.5 million locations). This includes the 1.6 million U.S. merchants American Express added in 2017.
Most Widely Used: Visa has the most credit cards in circulation (about 838 million). American Express has the highest purchase volume, at $14,480 per cardholder annually.
Best Worldwide Credit Cards: Visa or Mastercard credit cards with no foreign transaction fee.
The difference between Visa and Mastercard acceptance is slight. Either should suit your needs almost anywhere in the world. But if you plan on traveling internationally, be sure your Mastercard or Visa credit card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. That will save you up to 3% on every purchase you make abroad.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that store cards are the least widely accepted credit cards. They don’t belong to any of the four major card networks. So, they can only be used at their affiliated retailers.
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