International Travel Credit Card Cost & Benefit Report
Traveling abroad can be taxing, especially on our wallets. We spend more than $245 billion on international travel each year. And that works out to roughly $3,390 for each of the 72 million Americans in on the action.
Whether you travel by plane, train, bus, car or boat, having the right plastic in your pocket can make life a whole lot easier. The best travel rewards credit cards offer people with good or excellent credit hundreds of dollars in savings per year. And the best international credit cards provide a range of travel benefits. They include insurance for lost luggage, free overnight replacement cards and worldwide acceptance, just to name a few.
To help travelers make the right choice, WalletHub compared 49 of the most popular credit cards on the market in terms of their international-travel friendliness. We used 13 metrics, ranging from the cost of foreign transaction fees to travel insurance coverage and travel notification policies. And that process led to our final rankings of the best and worst credit cards for international travelers. You can find the results below, followed by our full methodology.
Offers are accurate as of Apr 25, 2018, and many are likely to have changed since.
|Rank||Card Name||WalletHub Score|
|1||Bank of America Premium Rewards||95.52%|
|2||Bank of America Travel Rewards||91.52%|
|3||Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard||88.00%|
|4||USAA Visa Signature Cards
(e.g., USAA Preferred Cash Rewards Visa Signature)
|T-5||Citi Prestige Card and Citi ThankYou Premier||85.00%|
|T-7||Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve||80.52%|
|9||Capital One Visa Signature Cards
(e.g., Capital One Venture Rewards)
|T-10||Capital One Savor Cash Rewards and Capital One Platinum Mastercard Cards
(e.g., QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards)
Barclays, USAA and Capital One are the best credit card companies for international travelers.
4 of the 10 largest issuers do not charge foreign transaction fees on any of their cards.
*U.S. Bank charges 2% of each foreign transaction in U.S. Dollars and 3% of each foreign transaction in a Foreign Currency.
**Wells Fargo is not represented in the chart as all their credit cards charge a foreign-transaction fee. Percentages less than 100 imply that only certain cards from the issuer offer the benefit.
American Express and Capital One are the only issuers that automatically detect when you travel and do not require a notification.
70% of issuers offer financial assistance for travel emergencies with all of their cards.
*The following issuers are not represented in the chart, as they do not have any cards offering the benefit: Discover and Chase. Percentages less than 100 imply that only certain cards from the issuer offer the benefit.
4 of the top 10 issuers will send a free replacement for a lost or stolen card to customers who are traveling abroad.
Replacement Card International Delivery Fees
|Issuer||Expedited International Delivery Fee||Contact Info (international calls)|
|$14||Varies by country|
*Bank of America will waive the fee for their GWIM and Preferred Clients.
**It’s not standard practice for Capital One, Discover or U.S. Bank to send replacement cards to international addresses, but each will make an exception in case of emergency.
Replacement cards generally are received within a week, depending on what country a customer is in.
96% of credit cards offer rental car insurance, while 86% offer travel accident insurance and 37% offer a form of luggage insurance.
|Overall Rank||Card Name||Overall Score||Fees||Secondary Benefits||Convenience Services|
|100% max.||20% max.||30% max.||50% max.|
|1||Bank of America Premium Rewards||95.52%||20.00%||29.00%||46.52%|
|2||Bank of America Travel Rewards||91.52%||20.00%||25.00%||46.52%|
|3||Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard||88.00%||20.00%||24.00%||44.00%|
|4||USAA Visa Signature Cards||85.52%||20.00%||24.00%||41.52%|
|T - 5||Citi ThankYou Premier||85.00%||20.00%||30.00%||35.00%|
|T - 5||Citi Prestige||85.00%||20.00%||30.00%||35.00%|
|T - 7||Chase Sapphire Preferred||80.52%||20.00%||30.00%||30.52%|
|T - 7||Chase Sapphire Reserve||80.52%||20.00%||30.00%||30.52%|
|9||Capital One Visa Signature Cards||78.02%||20.00%||25.00%||33.02%|
|T - 10||Capital One Platinum Mastercard Cards||76.50%||20.00%||19.00%||37.50%|
|T - 10||Savor Cash Rewards||76.50%||20.00%||19.00%||37.50%|
|12||Other USAA American Express Cards||76.19%||20.00%||24.00%||32.19%|
|13||U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards||75.02%||20.00%||25.00%||30.02%|
|14||Barclaycard Ring Card||75.00%||20.00%||11.00%||44.00%|
|T - 15||American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card||74.19%||20.00%||24.00%||30.19%|
|T - 15||American Express Platinum Card||74.19%||20.00%||24.00%||30.19%|
|17||U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold||71.69%||20.00%||25.00%||26.69%|
|18||USAA Rate Advantage Visa Card||68.52%||20.00%||13.00%||35.52%|
|19||Wells Fargo Visa Signature Cards||63.52%||0.00%||25.00%||38.52%|
|20||Wells Fargo Visa Cards||57.52%||0.00%||19.00%||38.52%|
|T - 21||Bank of America Cash Rewards||56.00%||0.00%||9.00%||47.00%|
|T - 21||Bank of America Mastercard Cards||56.00%||0.00%||9.00%||47.00%|
|23||Other Citi Cards||55.00%||0.00%||20.00%||35.00%|
|T - 24||American Express Green Card||54.19%||0.00%||24.00%||30.19%|
|T - 24||American Express Everday Preferred||54.19%||0.00%||24.00%||30.19%|
|26||U.S. Bank Cash+||50.02%||0.00%||25.00%||25.02%|
|27||Other American Express Cards||48.19%||0.00%||18.00%||30.19%|
|29||All Discover Cards||44.31%||20.00%||0.00%||24.31%|
|28||U.S. Bank FlexPerks Select+||45.69%||0.00%||19.00%||26.69%|
|30||U.S. Bank Cash 365||40.69%||0.00%||19.00%||21.69%|
|T - 31||Chase Freedom Unlimited||36.52%||0.00%||12.00%||24.52%|
|T - 31||Chase Freedom Visa||36.52%||0.00%||12.00%||24.52%|
|33||U.S. Bank Platinum Visa||36.02%||0.00%||11.00%||25.02%|
** Cards available through private banks.
WalletHub analyzed the foreign travel benefits offered by personal credit cards from the top 10 issuers, excluding student and co-branded cards. We collected information from issuer websites for all 49 cards and scored each card’s benefits in three overall categories: Fees (20 %); Secondary Benefits (30 %); Convenience Services (50%). These categories are comprised of 13 individual metrics, described below.
Where policies were incomplete or unclear, we contacted the issuers directly and requested clarification. Four of them – namely, Barclay, Capital One, Chase and Citi - either did not meet our deadline for input or did not provide any feedback.
The scoring framework used to evaluate each card can be found below. Card data is accurate as of April 25, 2018.The maximum score attainable for a card in this report is 100%.
1. No foreign fee (weight: 20%)
- If the card does not charge a foreign transaction fee = 20%
- If the card charges a foreign transaction fee of 0.5% - 1% = 10%
- If the card charges a foreign transaction fee of 1.1% - 2% = 5%
- If the card charges a foreign transaction fee of more than 2% = 0%
2. Secondary Benefits (weight: 30%)
a. Travel emergency assistance (weight: 10%)
- If the card offers travel emergency assistance benefit = 10%
- If the card does not offer travel emergency assistance benefit = 0%
b. Travel accident insurance (weight: 8%)
- If the card offers travel accident insurance benefit = 8%
- If the card does not offer travel accident insurance benefit = 0%
c. Lost luggage insurance (weight: 6%)
- If the card offers lost luggage insurance benefit = 6%
- If the card does not offer lost luggage insurance benefit = 0%
d. Delayed luggage insurance (weight: 4%)
- If the card offers delayed luggage insurance benefit = 4%
- If the card does not offer delayed luggage insurance benefit = 0%
Information about what these types of coverage entail can be found in WalletHub’s report on the Credit Cards with the Best Travel Insurance.
e. Rental car insurance (weight: 2%)
We identified if the card offers complimentary coverage for rental cars and assigned scores based on its destination coverage as described below:
- If none of the 10 most popular international destinations are excluded from coverage = 2%
- If 2 of the top 10 international destinations are excluded = 1%
- If more than 2 of the top 10 international destinations are excluded = 0%
Information about what these types of coverage entail can be found in WalletHub’s report on the Rental Car Insurance.
3.Convenience Services (weight: 50%)
a. Travel PIN available? (weight: 10%)
- If the issuer automatically provides a PIN with the card = 10%
- If the issuer provides a PIN by request for travel transactions with the card = 8%
- If the issuer does not provide a PIN for travel transactions with the card = 0%
b. International merchant acceptance (card network) (weight: 10%)
We determined major card network for each card namely: American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. We then assigned points to each network based on the number of countries and territories in which it is accepted. The network with most coverage was awarded maximum points and the rest were adjusted proportionally based on the top coverage network.
c. Expedited international delivery fee for replacement cards (weight: 10%)
We determined each issuer’s standard policy regarding the delivery of a replacement card to an international address and collected the fee associated with the service, if offered. In some cases, a replacement card might be available to a persistent customer, but if the service was not a standard option, an issuer received less credit.
- If the service is standard policy = 5%
- If the service is not standard but possible = 2.5%
- If the service is not available = 0%
- $0 to $10 = 5%
- $11 to $20 = 4%
- $21 to $30 = 3%
- $31 to $40 = 2%
- $41 to $50 = 1%
- $51+= 0%
d. Financial assistance in case of lost/stolen credit card (weight: 6%)
- If the card offers financial assistance in case of lost/stolen card = 6%
- If the card does not offer financial assistance in case of lost/stolen card = 0%
- If the card offers financial assistance in case of travel emergencies = 4%
- If the card does not offer financial assistance in case of travel emergencies = 0%
f. Are you required to notify when you travel? (weight: 5%)
We determined whether the issuer requires a notification from cardholders who are traveling abroad to prevent transactions from being flagged as fraud.
- If the issuer does not require cardholder notification before international travel = 5%
- If the issuer requires cardholder notification = 0%
g. Online travel notification? (weight: 5%)
- If notifications can be made online = 5%
- If notifications cannot be made online = 0%
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