Best Credit Cards For Traveling In Europe In 2018


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Traveling To Europe

There are countless travel credit cards on the market, but not all of them provide the same benefits.

Even among the best travel credit cards, some may be better than others for specific trip plans.

If you’re planning a vacation or extended stay in Europe, some credit cards stand out above the rest.

We’ve put together a list of the best credit cards for traveling to Europe and explore why they’re perfect travel companions to anyone heading across the Atlantic.

As you explore these and other credit cards, it’s important to consider your top priorities when it comes to rewards, features and fees.

Why you should use a credit card abroad

Whether you’re going to Europe or anywhere else, it’s a good idea to bring a credit card with you. Here are just a few ways a credit card can make your travel plans easier:

  • Credit cards are convenient: You don’t need to worry about getting cash from the ATM or finding a place to hide it.
  • Credit cards offer the best fraud protection: If you lose cash while overseas, it’s gone. And you lose a debit card, thieves can drain your checking account before you have the chance to report it stolen. With credit cards, nothing is taken from your checking account and the credit card issuer will generally remove the charges before your statement date.
  • You can earn rewards on purchases: Rewards credit cards offer rewards on every purchase you make regardless of where you are.

What to look for in an international credit card

The main thing you want with a card you’re planning to take overseas is no foreign transaction fees. The typical fee is three percent of every purchase you make abroad, which can add up fast.

You’ll also want a card that uses Visa or Mastercard as its payment network. Discover and American Express aren’t widely accepted overseas, so you don’t want to be caught without a payment method.

If you find a Discover or American Express credit card that you really like, make sure you have a backup card that’s a Visa or Mastercard.

Finally, make sure your credit card has an EMV chip on the front of the card. Most major credit cards come with these chips from the start, but some smaller banks and credit unions may not have upgraded their cards yet to include the chip.  

Overview: Best credit cards for traveling to Europe

Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard®

This offer requires Good/Excellent credit.

The Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® is unique in that it offers chip and PIN capability rather than the typical chip and signature that other U.S.-based credit cards provide.

This feature is beneficial if you’re planning to use self-service terminals and kiosks—specifically if you plan to travel by train while you’re in Europe. Here are some other highlights to know:

  • Earn two miles per dollar spent on all purchases.
  • Earn up to 25,000 loyalty bonus miles each year—get 15,000 miles after you spend $15,000 on purchases and an additional 10,000 miles when you spend an additional $10,000.
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry application fee.
  • $150 annual fee, waived the first year.

What to watch out for when using the card abroad

The card boasts a Lounge Key membership that gives you access to more than 800 airport lounges worldwide. But don’t expect any freebies; you’ll pay $27 per person, per visit.

Read our Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® review or see card details/where to apply.

Terms and conditions

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Credit Needed: Excellent Credit
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a ‘Best Travel Credit Card’ by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Intro APR
Purchases
Intro Term
Purchases
Intro APR
Balance Transfers
Intro Term
Balance Transfers
Regular APR Annual Fee
N/A N/A N/A N/A 17.49% – 24.49% Variable $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95

Flying to Europe can be expensive, so it can help to have a credit card that allows you to shop around. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® not only allows you to book flights through Chase’s travel booking site, but you can also transfer your points earned to a handful of European airlines, including:

  • Aer Lingus
  • British Airways
  • Air France
  • Iberia
  • KLM
  • Virgin Atlantic

You can also transfer your points to a handful of international hotel chains, which can also help once you’re in Europe. Other card highlights include:

  • Earn up to 80,000 bonus points—that’s 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Plus earn an additional 30,000 bonus points after you spend $20,000 on purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn two points per dollar spent on travel and dining, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere.
  • Get 25 percent more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase.
  • $0 annual fee for the first year, then $95 after that.

What to watch out for when using the card abroad

Unless you’re spending a lot on dining and travel purchases, your base rewards rate overseas will be just one point per dollar. That doesn’t stack well against some of the other cards on our list.

Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred® review or see card details/where to apply.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

This offer requires Excellent/Good credit.

    Card Highlights

    • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
    • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
    • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
    • View Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card details and how to apply »

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card doesn’t offer a lot of flashy features or extra perks, but it does provide maximum flexibility.

For starters, you’ll earn two miles per dollar spent on every purchase. This means you don’t have to worry about how international merchants code their transactions.

Second, you can redeem your miles earned for just about any type of travel. Simply use the card to book travel then use your rewards to get a partial or full statement credit for the purchase.

Here are a few more card details:

  • Earn 50,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar spent on hotel stays at hotels.com/venture.
  • $0 annual fee the first year, then $95 after that.

What to watch out for when using the card abroad

When redeeming your rewards, some things you consider travel may not be coded that way. For example, you may not be able to use your rewards to cover your costs for theme parks and similar attractions.

Read our Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card review or see card details/where to apply.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

Credit Needed: Excellent/Good
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don’t expire
  • 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening – that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – you’re not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
Intro APR
Purchases
Intro Term
Purchases
Intro APR
Balance Transfers
Intro Term
Balance Transfers
Regular APR Annual Fee
0% Introductory APR on purchases 12 billing cycles N/A N/A 16.74% – 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers $0.00

If you’re fee-averse, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card is your best travel card option for European travel.

Not only does it offer no foreign transaction fees like the rest of the cards we’ve reviewed here, but it’s a Visa card, which means you won’t have too many troubles using it abroad. The card also offers the same type of redemption flexibility as the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

Other highlights include:

  • Earn 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.
  • Earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on every purchase, plus an extra 1.5 points per dollar on purchases made through the Bank of America Travel Center.
  • Earn up to 75 percent more points if you have an existing relationship with Bank of America or Merrill Lynch.
  • Get a 0% Introductory APR on purchases for the first 12 billing cycles.

What to watch out for when using the card abroad

As with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, you’ll need to be careful about how you book your travel to make sure you can use your points to get a statement credit. Double check Bank of America’s terms before booking.

Read our Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card review or see card details/where to apply.

Which travel card is right for your Europe trip?

There’s no one best credit card out there for everyone, so it’s important to understand what best fits your situation. As you consider these and other travel credit cards, take a look at your European travel plans, as well as your personal preferences.

Also, consider your spending habits. For example, the Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard® isn’t a good option for someone who doesn’t spend at least $25,000 per year on their credit cards, and some of the other cards’ sign-up bonuses require a lot of spending in the first few months.

Lastly, all of these cards require either good or excellent credit. So, if you have fair or poor credit, you may want to work on improving your credit score before applying for one of these. As you do your due diligence and take the time to research all your options, you’ll find the card that suits you best.

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