Overseas travel is booming! 73 million Americans booked international trips last year, and as the economy continues to strengthen, these numbers will continue to rise. More than 95% of these travelers will use credit cards as their primary form of payment, making it more important than ever, to locate the right card that gives the greatest convenience, the lowest fees and the best rewards. One of the best travel cards is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Here are a few things to consider when picking the best credit card for international travel.
Choosing the Right Travel Credit Card
Most people think that locating a credit card with the best interest rate, no (or low) annual fees, biggest sign-up bonus and best rewards would be relatively simple. Unfortunately, this really isn’t the case. Each card uses a different strategy to give you value, leading to a blend of benefits and costs. Figuring out what all of it means to you, and then deciding on the card that works best for you requires some work. Here are a few things to contemplate.
Foreign transaction fees: Many credit cards charge for overseas transactions, so each time you purchase out of the country, you incur fees in addition to your regular interest. Typically, the rate is 3 percent. Many travel-specific cards waive this fee, but you need to check before getting the card.
Interest rates: The card’s interest rate should always be considered, because it can translate into the most direct and significant cost for the card over time. If you are able to pay off your payments at the end of each month, then the interest rate is less of a concern, because they are owed only on balances carried beyond each monthly due date. If you are not planning to pay off your balance each month, your primary concern should be to find the card with the lowest APR.
Annual fees: Many cards today waive their annual fees for the first year, and if you keep your balances above a minimum amount. Annual fees are an added cost to your interest payments and should be counted as such. Keep in mind, that sometimes a lower APR can offset the cost of the annual fee.
Reward programs: Many rewards programs use points, miles or cash back systems as a means of calculating rewards. Look for a card that offers a ratio greater than 1:1 of dollars spent to points or miles earned. General travel credit cards as opposed to airline or hotel cards, often offer greater flexibility to redeem rewards on different airlines or hotel chains. When transferring points from your card to a travel partner, for example, sometimes you lose some points. And also look for card’s that offer non-point benefits, such as trip cancellation insurance and concierge services. Finally, look for cards that have a long or no expiration for their rewards points.
Sign-up bonuses: There is a rewards bonus boom happening for a variety of reasons: Consumers are spending again and charge-off delinquencies are the lowest they have been in nearly a decade. So banks are eager to attract and retain customers who pay their bills. Many cards offer bonus miles, travel insurance, or other perks, when you sign up, but these offers can vary significantly, even for the same card. For example, online sign-ups may give bigger bonuses than phone sign-ups, and some months there are better deals for certain cards. Do your homework in this area and you can gain great benefits.
There’s a lot to think about when planning for a big trip: flight schedules, hotel itineraries, packing the right clothes and so on. But long before you decide where to go, there’s an important step even the most diligent travelers should never overlook: picking out the best credit card for travel.