Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover credit cards can be used internationally, though Visa and Mastercard credit cards are more widely accepted abroad. Credit cards without foreign transaction fees are also crucial when traveling internationally. You’ll save an average of 1.45% on each purchase, compared to a card with a foreign transaction fee. As a result, Visa and Mastercard credit cards with no foreign fees are the best credit cards to use internationally.
When purchasing from international merchants, remember to also watch out for dynamic currency conversion. By avoiding foreign transaction fees and dynamic currency conversion, you could save up to 10% when using a credit card abroad.
Finally, be aware that chip-and-PIN cards will be slightly more useful when traveling abroad than chip-and-signature cards. Unmanned kiosks, for example, may require a PIN from a chip-and-PIN card. That said, you’ll get around fine if you have any low-fee card on the Visa or Mastercard network and some of the local currency as backup.
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.
You can avoid foreign transaction fees by getting a credit card that doesn’t charge them. Considering that about 25% of current credit card offers don’t charge foreign fees, and those cards are available to people of all credit levels, there’s really no reason to pay these fees. The 10 largest credit card companies all offer at least some cards without foreign transaction fees. And some, like Capital One, Discover, USAA, HSBC and PenFed, don’t charge foreign transaction fees on any of their credit cards.… read full answer
Foreign transaction fees tack on as much as 4% extra to purchases made abroad, which can truly dampen a vacation. Foreign transaction fees aren’t charged by the merchant; they’re charged by the credit card company. And the fees are also charged for online purchases processed abroad, even if you’re sitting in front of your computer at home when you make the purchase. If you’re using a rewards card for purchases abroad, a foreign transaction fee will quickly negate the rewards you’re trying to rack up. The fees are declared in all credit card terms, so make sure you look for that language when you’re applying for credit cards.
That said, if you already have a credit card that charges foreign transaction fees, there’s not much you can do to avoid them, save for not using the card abroad. Consider applying for a travel credit card with good ongoing rewards and no foreign transaction fees. There are plenty to choose from.
One last thing to think about regarding foreign transaction fees: Don’t forget to find the right debit card for your travels. Many debit cards also charge foreign transaction fees and international ATM fees. But having a debit card while abroad is important, as it will allow you to get cash when you need it, which is far cheaper (and safer) than converting money at airports or banks. So make sure to bring a Visa or Mastercard debit card with a low international ATM fee and no foreign transaction fees when you head out of the country.
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