WalletHub, Financial Company
Yes, using a credit card internationally is the best way to go about paying for things when you’re abroad. It’s safer because you don’t have to carry as much cash, and all major credit card companies offer $0 fraud liability guarantees. Using a credit card internationally also gets you the best currency exchange rates, and it’s a great opportunity to earn rewards.
Using a credit card internationally isn’t the same as using a credit card domestically, though. There are a few guidelines to follow, such as using a no foreign transaction fee credit card on the Visa or Mastercard network. And there are several other items you should be aware of, including travel alerts, chips and dynamic currency conversion.
Here are some tips for using a credit card internationally:
- Full protection from unauthorized charges: Credit cards allow you to minimize the amount of cash you carry abroad and provide the opportunity to earn rewards. They also come with $0 fraud liability.
- Avoid foreign transaction fees: Many credit cards come with foreign transaction fees when you buy from internationally-based merchants. These fees are typically 1%-3% of the purchase amount. If you go abroad, you should get a card with no foreign transaction fee.
- Set travel alerts: Many credit card companies ask that you set a “travel alert” before leaving the country. It’s not mandatory. But if you don’t, they might suspect that international purchases are fraud and suspend your spending privileges until you notify them otherwise.
- Wider acceptance and more protection with chip cards: You’ll have a smoother experience using a credit card internationally if it’s a “chip” card. Many unmanned payment terminals abroad will not take cards that have only a magnetic stripe. And merchants may even give you a hard time if your card doesn’t have a chip.
- Refuse Dynamic Currency Conversion: Choose to pay in the local currency. Merchants may offer to let you pay in U.S. dollars, a practice known as Dynamic Currency Conversion. But it’s often an excuse to use an unfair exchange rate (often as much as 7% higher) and overcharge you.
- Avoid cash advances: Credit card cash advances allow you to get cash from your card’s credit line. However, cash advances are subject to hefty fees and interest rates that accrue immediately, with no grace period. So it’s best to avoid them outside of emergency use.
If you’re in the market for a credit card to use internationally, check out our editors' picks for the best credit cards for international travel.
2023's Best International Credit CardsCompare Cards
Mark Ellens, Member
Yes, of course! Credit cards are a great way to pay when abroad. They're safer to carry around than cash is, and some of them don't charge foreign transaction fees. It's very easy to use them, and you can still earn rewards for your spending.
Elijah Nash, WalletHub Analyst
Using a credit card internationally is a good idea if you own a card with no foreign transaction fees. Otherwise a debit card is the way to go.
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