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Friday, March 13 2009

In light of the recent US Department of State Mexico Travel Alert, we have added this blog to keep you up todate.  The incidents taking place in the border towns including Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua have caused some alarm to travelers to the region. Travel to the most popular tourist destinations such as Cancun, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit, Cozumel, Los Cabos, Mazatland and Acapulco are still safe, as they are more than 600 miles from the affected border towns.

We suggest that when traveling to any area that is new to you, to travel in groups or at least with someone else. Stick to the well traveled areas and be aware of your surroundings. Most of all heed any warnings issued.  When making purchases, leave the illegal stuff alone!  If not sure about your destination, do your homework before you leave home. Contact us, we will keep you abreast.

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10 BEST TRAVEL REWARD CREDIT CARDS AS PER US NEWS Featured Credit Cards Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 50,000 bonus points. [Terms] Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® 50,000 bonus miles. [Terms] Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card 20,000 miles. [Terms] ADVERTISEMENT On This Page U.S. News Survey How Travel Cards Work Pros and Cons Choosing a Card Comparing Two Cards Maximizing Travel Rewards Maximizing Benefits Abroad Credit Card Directory Travel credit cards are rewards cards that help users earn free travel, achieve elite member status with hotels and airlines and enjoy many other travel-related perks. Every traveler has unique priorities for travel rewards, so there isn't a single card that's perfect for all types of travelers. A card that's ideal for a business traveler may not be a good choice for family travel. U.S. News' featured travel rewards credit cards have the best offers that meet a variety of travel rewards needs, ranging from high-end travel cards with excellent earning rates and exceptional benefits to flat-rate travel cards with no annual fee. U.S. News' Picks for the Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for travel rewards. Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card: Best for travel rewards with no annual fee. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card: Best for 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. Hilton Honors American Express Card: Best for hotel rewards. Discover it® Miles: Best for 1.5 miles per dollar with a miles match. Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card: Best for three points per dollar on travel. Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: Best for unlimited 1.5 points per dollar travel rewards. The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for travel rewards with premium cardholder benefits. Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®: Best for 2 miles per dollar with a large sign-up bonus. Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®: Best for airline rewards. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Apply Now Rates & Fees Best for travel rewards. Annual Fee $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95 APR 18.24% - 25.24% Variable Credit Needed Excellent Credit more details You can earn two points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants and one point per dollar on all other purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Points can be transferred to several travel partners at a 1:1 rate. You'll earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $625 when you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards) when you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account. Cardholders get access to benefits including trip cancellation and interruption insurance, an auto rental collision damage waiver and extended warranty coverage. Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Apply Now Rates & Fees Best for travel rewards with no annual fee. Annual Fee $0 APR 14.24% - 24.24% (Variable) Credit Needed Excellent, Good more details The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card offers 12 months of zero percent APR financing on purchases. After that, the APR on purchases and balance transfers is 14.24% - 24.24% (Variable). The card has no balance transfer fee and a $0 annual fee. You can earn the card's sign-up bonus of 20,000 miles, worth $200 in travel statement credits, after making $1,000 in purchases within three months of opening the account. The card also offers 1.25 miles per dollar spent and a bonus 10 miles per dollar on hotels when you pay with your card at hotels.com/venture through January 2020. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card Apply Now Rates & Fees Best for 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. Annual Fee $0 intro for first year; $95 after that APR 15.24% - 25.24% (Variable) Credit Needed Excellent, Good more details Travelers can earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases and 10 miles per dollar at hotels.com/venture through January 2020 with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. This card earns 50,000 miles when you spend $3,000 within three months of opening your account. The annual fee is $0 intro for first year; $95 after that. There are no foreign transaction fees, and Visa Signature qualifying cardholders can take advantage of travel upgrades and savings, concierge service, an auto rental collision damage waiver, shopping discounts, extended warranty coverage and emergency card replacement. Hilton Honors American Express Card Hilton Honors American Express Card Apply Now Rates & Fees Best for hotel rewards. Annual Fee $0 APR 17.99% - 26.99% Variable Credit Needed Excellent / Good more details Earn seven points per dollar on Hilton purchases with the Hilton Honors American Express Card. Purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations earn five points per dollar and all other purchases earn three points per dollar. This card offers 75,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 within the first three months of account opening. Car rental loss and damage insurance, travel accident insurance and shopping and entertainment benefits are some of the benefits offered by this card. Discover it® Miles Discover it® Miles Apply Now Rates & Fees Best for 1.5 miles per dollar with a miles match. Annual Fee $0 APR 14.24% - 25.24% Variable Credit Needed Excellent / Good more details You can earn an unlimited 1.5 miles for every dollar spent with the Discover it Miles card. At the end of your first year as a new cardholder, Discover will match all the miles you've earned. The card offers a zero percent introductory APR on purchases for the first 14 months. After that, the APR is 14.24% - 25.24% Variable. There is no annual fee and cardholders can get free monthly FICO credit score access. Advertisement Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card Apply Now Rates & Fees Best for three points per dollar on travel. Annual Fee $0 APR 14.74% - 27.24% (Variable) Credit Needed Excellent / Good more details The Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card earns three points per dollar on travel, gas, dining and popular streaming services. All other purchases earn one point per dollar. You can earn a 30,000-point sign-up bonus if you spend $3,000 within the first three months after opening your account. There is a $0 annual fee, and there is a zero percent introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers made within 120 days of account opening. After that, there is a 14.74%-27.24% (Variable) APR. Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card Apply Now Best for unlimited 1.5 points per dollar travel rewards. Annual Fee $0 APR 17.24% - 25.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers Credit Needed Excellent / Good more details You can earn an unlimited 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases with the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card. There is a $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. Cardholders can earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of opening an account. Available benefits include zero liability for fraudulent transactions and monthly FICO credit score access for free. The Platinum Card® from American Express The Platinum Card® from American Express Apply Now Rates & Fees Best for travel rewards with premium cardholder benefits. Annual Fee $550 Credit Needed Excellent / Good more details Cardholders of The Platinum Card from American Express can earn five points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel, or on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. You can earn a 60,000-point welcome offer if you spend $5,000 within the first three months of opening your account. Cardholder benefits include $200 in annual Uber savings, a $200 airline fee credit and a $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. You can take advantage of access to more than 1,100 airport lounges, as well as hotel and resort bene You can take advantage of access to more than 1,100 airport lounges, as well as hotel and resort benefits at participating locations, including daily breakfast for two, available room upgrades, late check-out, early check-in and complimentary Wi-Fi. Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® Apply Now Rates & Fees Best for 2 miles per dollar with a large sign-up bonus. Annual Fee $89 (waived first year) APR 18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable based on your creditworthiness Credit Needed Good / Excellent more details Cardholders earn unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every purchase with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. You can redeem the miles for statement credits to offset travel purchases, for gift cards or for cash back. You can get 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of opening an account. The card offers a 12-month, zero percent introductory APR on balance transfers made within 45 days of opening the account. After that, there is an APR of 18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable based on your creditworthiness. Card benefits include zero dollar fraud liability and Mastercard World Elite concierge service. Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® Apply Now Rates & Fees Best for airline rewards. Annual Fee $99, waived for first 12 months* APR 18.24% - 26.24%* (Variable) Credit Needed Excellent, Good more details Earn American Airlines miles on flights and everyday purchases with the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard. This card earns double miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and purchases at restaurants and gas stations. The card offers 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $2,500 within the first three months of opening your account. You will earn a $100 American Airlines Flight Discount after you make $20,000 or more in purchases during the first 12 months of opening an account and renew your card. First checked bags are free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for cardholders and up to four companions on the same reservation. As a cardholder, you can take advantage of preferred boarding on American Airlines flights and 25 percent savings on in-flight food and beverage purchases. Methodology: U.S. News evaluated nationally available credit cards offering travel rewards from credit card issuers in the J.D. Power 2018 Credit Card Satisfaction Study top 10. Cards were evaluated based on rewards earning rate, ease and flexibility of rewards redemption, sign-up bonus value, annual fee, zero percent introductory APR, cardholder benefits, J.D. Power ranking, balance transfer fee, foreign transaction fee and ongoing APR. U.S. News Survey: Nearly Half of Travel Rewards Cardholders Carry a Monthly Balance U.S. News surveyed travel credit card users to understand the benefits and drawbacks of owning one. While the vast majority of respondents have redeemed lucrative rewards in the last year, many cardholders are not aware of their annual fee or how to take advantage of their card benefits. Additionally, nearly half of travel credit card users have carried a balance on their card in the last year, potentially negating the rewards they have earned. "You should never, ever carry a balance with any credit card, but especially not with a rewards credit card," says Beverly Harzog, consumer finance analyst and credit card expert at U.S. News. "The interest rates are higher on rewards cards and you can quickly find yourself in debt." Fifty-three percent of respondents earned more than $300 in rewards in the last year. graph - If you had to guess, what is the estimated dollar equivalent of the travel rewards you've earned in the past 12 months? (1,102 respondents) (CONDUCTED USING GOOGLE SURVEYS - APRIL 2018) The most popular redemption options included free domestic flights, followed by cash back, followed by free nights at a hotel. Free international flights were the least commonly redeemed. Google Survey - Which of the following travel rewards have you redeemed in the last year? (CONDUCTED USING GOOGLE SURVEYS - APRIL 2018) Almost half of travel credit cardholders surveyed carried a monthly balance in the last year. Google survey graph - On average, how many times in the past year have you carried a monthly balance on your travel rewards credit card? (CONDUCTED USING GOOGLE SURVEYS - APRIL 2018) However, most travel credit card owners don't intend to carry a monthly balance. When signing up for a travel credit card, 70 percent of cardholders intended to pay off the statement balance every single month. Google survey graph - When signing up for the card, did you intend to pay off the statement balance every single month? (CONDUCTED USING GOOGLE SURVEYS - APRIL 2018) Since travel rewards credit cards tend to have higher-than-average interest rates on purchases, carrying a balance has the potential to cost you more than any rewards you earn. Travel credit card expert Daraius Dubash of millionmilesecrets.com recommends that people carrying credit card debt should probably opt instead for a zero percent APR card and focus on eliminating their credit debt before trying to earn travel rewards. Sign-up bonuses are one way that cardholders end up carrying a balance, says Joe Cortez, senior writer for frugaltravelguy.com. "In a way [a sign-up bonus] is almost a trap to try to get you to put a balance on the card up-front." Forty-eight percent of consumers surveyed said they qualified for their card's sign-up bonus. It's also critical that consumers be aware of annual fees. Most respondents knew what their card's annual fee was, while about 25 percent of respondents didn't know. Google Survey graph - Do you know your card's annual fee? (CONDUCTED USING GOOGLE SURVEYS - APRIL 2018) "I think it's very easy to get caught up in the number of miles that are involved," says Cortez, but people don't always consider that there are both additional fees and benefits with the card. Nearly half of travel rewards cardholders don't take advantage of cardholder benefits. Seventy-one percent of respondents redeemed at least some rewards in the last year, getting free domestic flights, other travel rewards and cash back. Although travel credit card users are typically redeeming rewards, about 47 percent of respondents did not take advantage of common cardholders benefits such as airport lounge access, trip cancellation/delay insurance, free checked bags when flying, auto rental insurance and priority boarding when flying. Google Survey graph - Which of the following travel rewards cardholder benefits have you used in the last year? (CONDUCTED USING GOOGLE SURVEYS - APRIL 2018) Cardholders should be aware of auxiliary travel benefits that come with their card and can provide a lot of value and justify the annual fee, Cortez advises. In order for consumers to get the most value out of any given credit card, they need to consider those benefits and fees alongside their personal travel preferences and spending habits. Survey methodology: U.S. News ran a nationwide survey through Google Surveys between April 12 and April 15, 2018. The sample size was the general American population and the survey was configured to be representative of this sample. The survey asked 10 questions relating to their travel rewards credit habits. All winning answers were statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level. See the full survey data, questions and results. Related Travel and Rewards Categories Best Cash Back Credit Cards Best Hotel Credit Cards Best Credit Card Sign-up Bonus Offers Best Gas Credit Cards Best Airline Credit Cards How Travel Credit Cards Work You can use travel rewards cards to save money on travel expenses, like on airfare, hotel and transportation spending. Travel credit cards benefit repeat customers because the more you spend, the more savings (or benefits) you receive. Travel credit cards fall into one of three types: airline cards, hotel cards and general travel cards. A cobranded airline or hotel credit card enters you into a specific brand's loyalty membership club and rewards all types of spending; however, the points you earn can only be redeemed toward that single brand and its partners. General travel cards also reward all types of spending, at a lower flat rate, but the points you earn can be redeemed with a variety of airline and hotel loyalty programs, based on the partnerships secured by the card issuer. Although travel credit cards can often be used for cash back, too, consumers receive better value when using them to collect and redeem points for travel. Travel rewards cards offer higher earning rates for travel spending in particular, and may can be cashed in for highly discounted or free flights and hotel stays, free or reduced baggage fees, priority boarding and other perks. Some cards may not even require any points at all to take advantage of those perks, but they may carry an annual fee to offset those costs to the issuer. Lucrative sign-up bonuses are common among travel credit cards, with the best cards offering as many as 100,000 points to new members who hit a minimum spending amount within the first few months. "Don't get dazzled by a sign-up bonus," Harzog says. "Make sure your spending habits fit well with the rewards card. For instance, if you travel often and always use the same airline, then an airline-branded card might be best." Like other premium rewards cards, travel cards are generally known to carry more restrictions and fees than the average credit card. For this reason, travel cards are not as beneficial for the occasional traveler. There are three basic types of travel credit cards: airline, hotel and general travel. Airline credit cards Airlines partner with credit card companies to offer cobranded travel rewards credit cards that earn the most miles when used for flights on that particular airline and spending with affiliate partners, typically double or triple the miles. Cardholders still earn miles for day-to-day purchases (with a few exceptions like cash advances and purchases of prepaid cards), only at a lower rate, typically one point per dollar. You can redeem earned miles with that airline or its affiliates. Benefits: Perks and spending rewards Airline cards can deliver a cheaper, more comfortable flying experience. Benefits often include free or reduced baggage fees, priority boarding, complimentary or discounted access to the airport lounge and discounts on in-flight purchases. But airline cards can also save you money by offering sizable sign-up bonuses, waived foreign transaction fees and double or triple miles earned on airline and affiliate purchases. Hotel credit cards Hotel credit cards are most valuable when used to book accommodations with that particular hotel chain. Unlike airline cards, it's not uncommon to earn five points per dollar spent with that brand, with other travel purchases earning fewer points and all other purchases earning the least. Points have to be redeemed through that brand or its partners. Benefits: Free nights and special status Hotel credit cards work best for loyal guests of one particular hotel chain or group. Free nights are the most valuable benefit, and most hotel cards provide users with an easier path toward elite status, which delivers perks like guaranteed room availability, membership discounts, priority check-in, and complimentary upgrades. As with airline credit cards, one-time sign-up bonuses are common if you spend a minimum amount within the first few months. Some hotel cards charge an annual fee that's waived during the first year, but those that do typically don't charge foreign transaction fees. Many hotel cards provide various forms of travel insurance, like lost baggage protection, trip delay reimbursement, emergency assistance and car rental insurance coverage. Some hotel rewards programs let you transfer your points to their airline partners. General travel credit cards General travel credit cards are not tied to any particular travel brand and offer the flexibility to redeem through their own travel portals or transfer points to partners to redeem for cruises, hotel packages, rental cars and cruises, among other options. Purchases typically carry a flat reward rate, but points can be redeemed from a broad selection of travel brands and sometimes for nontravel rewards. Benefits: Flexibility and value General travel cards are inherently more flexible than airline or hotel credit cards, which is a big plus for travelers who aren't loyal to any particular brand or who travel to destinations with fewer options for hotels or airports. Cardholders can worry less about blackout dates or travel restrictions because they're not tied to a sole provider. Points can sometimes be transferred to other loyalty programs. However, points don't transfer equally with all partners and the exchange rates do vary; in some cases you get get the best redemption value by transferring points to partners. It's important to review your card's reward charts to better calculate the value of transferring your points with partners. The ability to also redeem general travel card points toward statement credits or cash back makes this type of card particularly attractive to users who prioritize flexibility. Benefits and Drawbacks of Travel Rewards Credit Cards For the right consumer, travel credit cards can make a lot of financial sense, but it's important to understand the pros and cons. "Be sure you research the rewards program for the credit cards you're considering," says Harzog. "That way, you can take advantage of the benefits and rewards that are offered." Benefits Better point valuations and redemptions: Travel-related spending with travel credit cards accrues points and miles faster than general rewards credit cards, and when those miles are redeemed for travel, they have potential to deliver better ratios than other rewards like cash back or statement credits. Points can be used to book free nights at hotels or for free flights. Travel perks: Many travel credit cards also offer perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, concierge services and travel protection and assistance. No foreign transaction fees: A foreign transaction fee is a surcharge on every purchase made on a credit card outside the U.S. If your itinerary takes you overseas, a travel credit card that carries no foreign transaction fees helps you avoid that added cost, which is typically 3 percent of the purchase price. Drawbacks High costs: Travel cards' purchase interest rates (APRs) fall on the higher end of the scale for all credit cards, and the credit score needed to secure them starts in the upper 600s. Qualifying credit scores on the lower end of the spectrum will, in turn, result in higher APRs. Top travel cards charge annual fees that require high amounts of travel or other spending to offset them via rewards. Similarly, sign-up bonuses may encourage you to spend more just to qualify for them. "I think that many consumers are very excited about the points without considering how much they're going to spend in actual interest at the end of the day," Cortez says. To avoid running a high balance on the card, Cortez explains that a savvy consumer will look at his or her budget in light of the required minimum spending amount to qualify for a sign-up bonus and determine a plan to earn the points in a way that complements their lifestyle. Restrictions: Travel credit cards can also cost you time. Some cards require lots of planning or working with customer service to navigate blackout dates, limited seat availability or confusing terms and conditions. Depending on the card, there can also be restrictions on earning miles, including caps and expiration dates. And, of course, bonus points from airline and hotel cards are restricted to redemption only with that brand or qualifying partners. Emily Jablon, cofounder at Million Mile Secrets, points out that for an expensive or long-distance trip, it may be worth the added cost to enlist the help of an award-booking service. For a fee ranging from $75 to $250 per traveler, services like Cranky Concierge and AwardAdvocate can help you find and book the lowest fares for award travel and answer any questions you may have about your trip. Choosing the Best Travel Credit Card Is a travel credit card right for you? Make sure you meet these requirements before signing up for a travel rewards credit card. You travel frequently. If you don't consistently spend on airfare, hotels or other travel expenses, consider a cash back credit card instead. They have fewer limitations on redemption and might save you the cost of an annual fee. You have a good credit score. You have the best chances of being approved for a travel credit card if you have a FICO score of at least 700. You pay off your balance each month. Because travel credit cards have higher-than-average APRs, you should only get a travel card if you can pay off your balance each month. To find a travel card that meets your needs, evaluate each card using the following criteria: Pick the right rewards program for you. Calculate earning potential. Factor in sign-up bonuses. Calculate redemption value. Subtract annual fees. Understand travel benefits. Avoid foreign transaction fees. 1. Pick the right rewards program for you. Your travel credit card will work either in conjunction with the loyalty program of an airline or hotel chain or with the rewards program of the bank or credit card company that backs it. Each program has its benefits as well as unique terms and conditions for earning, redeeming and transferring points. Loyalty airline programs For some travelers, their loyalty to any particular airline lasts only as long as that airline offers the cheapest flights. But frequent flyers are often willing to forgo initial cost savings in exchange for benefits down the road. Which airline's program works best for you will depend on several factors regarding the loyalty program and the airline itself. Popular airline programs: Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan American Airlines AAdvantage British Airways Executive Club Delta SkyMiles JetBlue TrueBlue Southwest Rapid Rewards United MileagePlus Virgin America Elevate Loyalty hotel programs When you look for a hotel, do you prioritize value or luxury? The answer will help you determine which hotel rewards program is right for you. As with airline loyalty programs, your earned points may only be eligible for redemption with one hotel chain and its affiliate partners. Some hotel rewards programs have partnerships with other brands, such as Marriott Rewards, which allows members to redeem and earn points with The Ritz-Carlton Rewards program. Popular hotel rewards programs: Club Carlson Hilton Honors World of Hyatt Fairmont President's Club Omni Select Guest IHG Rewards Club Marriott Rewards The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Starwood Preferred Guest Stash Hotel Rewards Leaders Club General points program Using a general travel credit card enters you into the rewards program for the bank or credit card company that backs it. While you will have access to the broader redemption platform for that provider's network of credit cards, you'll still receive the best value by redeeming for travel through the platform or using the platform to receive statement credits for travel purchases made on the card. Examples: Chase Ultimate Rewards US Bank FlexPerks Go Far Rewards Maximizing your rewards means matching your goals and habits with the appropriate type of travel rewards program. If you want deluxe benefits that come with elite membership status, an airline or hotel card is the way to go. However, if you don't travel as often and want maximum flexibility when you do, as well as a broader range of earnings categories, a general travel card is usually the smartest choice for your first travel card. Frequent flyers often find that adding a second, cobranded loyalty card to their wallet makes sense once they've established a favorite airline or hotel chain. 2. Calculate earning potential. Travel cards earn rewards at different rates for spending in different categories, so you have to analyze your spending habits to determine which card will help you maximize your points. A good travel card will have a range of purchases that qualify as travel spending. These purchases can include: flights stays at hotels, motels, timeshares and campgrounds car rentals cruises trains buses, taxis, limousines and ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft parking lots and garages bridge and highway tolls meals and other nonlodging expenses at hotels Depending on the type of card, these purchases can earn between 1.5 and seven points. The highest points tend to come with hotel cards, while airline cards typically award double to triple miles for flight purchases. All other purchases, often referred to as everyday spending, typically earn between one and two points per dollar spent. 3. Factor in sign-up bonuses. The most lucrative travel cards offer bonus points to those who meet a certain level of spending by a specified date, usually within three to six months. These bonuses can be worth hundreds of dollars. For example, new cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus miles with the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard if you make at least $2,500 in purchases within the first three months of opening an account. The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card offers 25,000 points when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening. 4. Calculate redemption value. Every travel card carries a rate at which points or miles are awarded. However, what those points are worth to you depends on the value you derive from redeeming them, as well as your preferences and priorities. For general travel cards, point valuation is simple math: your number of points multiplied by the redemption rate, often a rate of 1 cent to 1 point. On the surface, award travel with airlines or hotels is also straightforward: The typical cost of a flight or room is divided by the number of miles you need to book an award flight or stay. But airlines and hotels frequently adjust the price of award travel based on award level, award availability, time, destination/location, fare/hotel class, demand and other factors. All of these changes will affect the value of your miles, making valuation for airlines in particular "extremely complicated," according to Dubash. "You'll see estimates all over the place." He and Cortez both cite 2 cents per mile as a general standard for miles with the major airlines, while the value of miles with smaller airlines like Southwest and JetBlue may fluctuate higher or lower than 2 cents. Other factors that affect the value of your rewards program include: whether there are fees for checked bags, foreign transactions, etc. whether your points can be transferred to another loyalty program and at what ratio how easy it is accrue and redeem points and whether you face blackout dates, seat restrictions or other limitations the quality of perks available to you once you reach top-tier elite status 5. Subtract annual fees. Credit card companies entice new users by waiving the annual fee for the first year, which typically ranges from $40 to $95, although it can go as high as $450 per year. Once the fee kicks in, be sure you're earning enough rewards or enjoying the other card benefits to compensate for it. There are also excellent cards on the market that don't carry an annual fee. For example, the Discover it® Miles card is has no annual fee and offers an automatic mile-per-mile match at the end of the first year for new cardholders. It has no foreign transaction fees and offers a flat 1.5 mile unlimited rewards rate on all purchases, including nontravel expenses. 6. Understand travel benefits. Travel benefits can be practical tools, discounted pricing or luxe perks. Common benefits include no foreign transaction fees, access to 24/7 concierge or customer service lines, free baggage and travel insurance. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card comes with trip cancellation/interruption insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, car rental theft and collision coverage, baggage delay insurance, trip delay reimbursement, 24/7 customer service and more. Like many other airline rewards credit cards, the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express offers airline-specific perks. Cardholders can check their first bag for free on Delta flights and take advantage of priority boarding. 7. Avoid foreign transaction fees. The best travel cards don't charge a foreign transaction fee, which is typically 2 to 3 percent on every purchase. Since these fees can be greater than any rewards you earn, frequent overseas travelers will want to make this card feature a top priority. Comparing Two Rewards Travel Credit Cards To help consumers understand how to evaluate travel cards, U.S. News researchers compared two popular general travel cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card, against each other. 1. Pick the right awards program for you. Both cards are general travel cards offering a flexible range of rewards but offering the most value when used and redeemed for travel. 2. Calculate earning potential. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card grants double points for travel and dining and one point for all other purchases, while the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card offers 1.5 points for every dollar spent. Estimate your yearly budget by separating expenses into credit card spending categories. Sample monthly budget General: $390 Groceries: $334 Dining: $250 Utilities: $323 Gas: $174 Travel: $167 Now calculate how many points you'd earn in one year based on your spending. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card first-year points Dining and travel purchases $417 * 2x earning rate * 12 months = 10,008 points All other categories $1,221 * 1x earning rate * 12 months = 14,652 points Total 10,008 + 14,652 = 24,660 points Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card first-year points Total $1,638 * 1.5x earning rate * 12 = 29,484 points 3. Factor in sign-up bonuses. Both of these cards offer sign-up bonuses for eligible spending within the first three months. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card awards a 50,000-point bonus for spending $4,000, increasing the total number of annual points earned to 74,660, and the Bank of America card awards 25,000 bonus points for spending $1,000, increasing the total annual points earned to 54,484. 4. Calculate redemption value. The point valuation ratio for Chase Ultimate Rewards is one point to 1 cent, so 74,660 points are worth $746.60. However, if you use those points to book travel with The Chase Ultimate Rewards program, your points are worth 25 percent more or $933.25 in travel purchases. The Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card has a one-point-to-one-cent ratio, so the card has a first-year value of $544.84. 5. Subtract annual fees. To understand the potential value of your travel rewards card, subtract the cost of annual fees. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card waives its $95 annual fee during the first year. In the second year and beyond, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns 24,660 points or $246.60. If you book travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards, those points are work $308.25. Minus the cost of the annual fee, you receive a yearly value of $213.25 at that same spend. The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card has no annual fee, so every year after the first year, your yearly earnings value will be $294.84. Because the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card outearns the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card starting in the second year, it earns more overall rewards by the sixth year even with Chase's 25 percent redemption bonus factored in. Seven-year rewards value after annual fees at $1,638/month spending 1st year 2nd year total 3rd year total 4th year total 5th year Total 6th year total 7th year total Chase Sapphire Preferred $933.25 $1,146.50 $1,359.75 $1,573.00 $1,786.25 $1,999.50 $2,212.75 Bank of America Travel Rewards $544.84 $839.68 $1,134.52 $1,429.36 $1,724.20 $2,019.04 $2,313.88 6. Understand travel benefits. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers trip cancellation/interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waivers, travel and emergency assistance services, lost luggage reimbursement and purchase protection. The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card offers zero dollar liability guarantee for fraudulent transactions, a temporary credit card number for online shopping, account alerts for balances and due dates and monthly FICO credit score access for free. 7. Avoid foreign transaction fees. Neither card has a foreign transaction fee. Summary For people who can qualify for the sign-up bonus and want to take advantage of the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card earns more overall rewards in the first several years. But if you aren't able to meet Chase's sign-up bonus spending requirement, the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card will serve you better. Strategies to Maximize Travel Rewards Pick the right first travel card. When you're first starting out with travel cards, select one with a general miles program that gives you the flexibility to earn rewards for all spending and redeem with the largest variety of brands. Unless you spend large amounts on travel expenses with a particular brand, airline and hotel cards offer less flexibility and savings. Combine a general travel card with a cobranded or loyalty card. Used in tandem with a general travel card, an airline or hotel card makes sense for frequent travelers who are comfortable committing to one particular travel brand. This combination allows you to use the cobranded card to earn bonus points on the cobranded airline/hotel spending and use the general travel card to still earn bonus points in non-travel spending categories. You want to make sure your general travel card is allowed to transfer points to the cobranded card, for maximum value. Maximizing Your Card Benefits Abroad Knowing how your travel credit card works and what benefits and protections it offers (or doesn't offer) can help you solve some of the problems that may arise when you're abroad. Avoid foreign transaction fees. If you're not sure if your card has foreign transaction fees, check with your bank when you notify them of your upcoming trip. You can also verify with them that your card has EMV smart chip technology, which is the most compatible with foreign merchants and provides the best security. Avoid dynamic currency conversion. Many foreign merchants let you choose to be charged in local currency or to pay with dollars through dynamic currency conversion. You should always opt for local currency, as the exchange rate will likely be poor and/or have a fee tacked on top. It's always good to have cash on-hand regardless in case a store or restaurant won't accept your card. Know who to contact in an emergency. Visa Signature cardholders have free access to a 24/7 benefits administrator who can provide medical referrals, contact loved ones and arrange for payments. Likewise, Citibank cardmembers can receive round-the-clock referrals and other help with medical and legal emergencies. Some programs, like Visa Signature and World Elite Mastercard, provide 24/7 global services for card-related needs and expedited card replacement, and Visa gives an emergency cash advance or Western Union wire transfer within two hours of approval by your bank. For common travel medical emergencies, an officer from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate can help connect you with treatment services, inform loved ones and facilitate the transfer of funds, if necessary. All medical expenses will be your responsibility, however. Take advantage of travel insurance. Mastercard and Visa both include travel protections through their cards, as well as travel insurance for an additional cost. World Elite MasterCard offers members international travel accident and medical expenses coverage up to $1 million each, plus trip inconvenience protection and luggage protection. Visa Signature's plan offers cardholders and their immediate family members common carrier travel accident insurance (for accidents involving your airline, train or cruise ship) up to $500,000 and 24-hour travel accident insurance for injury, dismemberment or loss of life up to $100,000. Only 15 percent of credit cards offer travel cancellation insurance, and due to the lack of medical coverage and routine exceptions to common carrier protection, the benefits are limited. You may want to opt for third-party travel insurance for fuller coverage. Protect your rental car. Your personal car insurance policy probably will not cover foreign travel, so you'll need to purchase auto insurance in your destination country, preferably at an equivalent level of coverage to what you carry at home. Travel cards with Visa Signature and World Elite MasterCard benefits offer auto rental collision damage waivers that provide reimbursement over and above any primary insurance you have for towing, loss of use, theft and/or damage to the car up to the full cash value of most rental vehicles booked using that card. There are restrictions, however, including the country of travel, type of vehicle, age of the vehicle and length of the rental period. And you'll be required to refuse the collision damage waiver at the car rental counter. Third-party liability, personal accident and personal property coverage will not be included with your card's coverage, which is why TripAdvisor Travel Advocate Wendy Perrin advises carefully considering which of your credit cards will give you the best coverage (and not result in an increase in your insurance premium). Be sure to file your claim as soon as possible because time limits are strictly enforced, and have as much documentation as you can. This includes copies of the accident report, rental agreement and receipt, repair estimate, police report and plenty of photos. Additionally, in some countries, you will need an International Driving Permit. An IDP can be purchased from AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance for a $20 fee with a valid driver's license, two passport pictures and a completed application. Get help with your lost luggage. Many travel rewards credit cards offer benefits to help you deal with lost luggage. The Lost Luggage Locator Service of Visa Signature can assist with the airline's claim process or arrange for replacement items to be shipped to you. Both Visa Signature and World Elite MasterCard guarantee users reimbursement for lost or delayed baggage of $100 a day for three days. Airline liability can be complicated for international travel. Your rights are laid out in either the Warsaw Convention or the Montreal Convention, depending on which country you're traveling to. Frommer's has a good breakdown of what to do in the event of lost luggage under either scenario, plus best practices for avoiding lost bags in the first place. Editorial opinions are those of U.S. News and have not been previously reviewed, approved or endorsed by any other entities, such as banks, credit card issuers or travel companies. Credit Card Directory
Best Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fee AS PER US news Find the best credit card with no foreign transaction fee to save money while traveling abroad. When it comes to use outside the U.S., not all credit cards are created equal. Many credit cards carry a surcharge that is levied when cardholders make purchases while traveling abroad. Known as foreign transaction fees, these charges can quickly accumulate for cardholders who travel often, even to the point of canceling out any rewards earned through spending. However, foreign transaction fees are generally becoming less prevalent on today's credit cards. Regardless of the type of card you are looking for, you can usually find one that meets your needs and also does not charge foreign transaction fees. These cards can help make foreign travel safer, less expensive and more convenient with their associated card perks and benefits. U.S. News' Picks for the Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best for flexible travel rewards with no foreign transaction fee. Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card: Best for travel with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. Discover it® Cash Back: Best for cash back with no foreign transaction fee. Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for flat-rate cash back with no foreign transaction fee. Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for dining and entertainment with no foreign transaction fee. Discover it® chrome: Best for gas and restaurant rewards with no foreign transaction fee. Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card: Best hotel card with no foreign transaction fee. Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®: Best airline card with no foreign transaction fee. Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express: Best airline card with cardholder perks and no foreign transaction fee. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Apply Now Rates & Fees Best for flexible travel rewards with no foreign transaction fee. Foreign Transaction Fee $0 Annual Fee $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95 APR 18.24% - 25.24% Variable more details You can earn two points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants and one point per dollar on all other purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Points can be transferred to several travel partners at a 1:1 rate. You'll earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $625 when you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards) when you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account. Cardholders get access to benefits including trip cancellation and interruption insurance, an auto rental collision damage waiver and extended warranty coverage. Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Apply Now Rates & Fees Best for travel with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. Foreign Transaction Fee None Annual Fee $0 APR 14.24% - 24.24% (Variable) more details The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card offers 12 months of zero percent APR financing on purchases. After that, the APR on purchases and balance transfers is 14.24% - 24.24% (Variable). The card has no balance transfer fee and a $0 annual fee. You can earn the card's sign-up bonus of 20,000 miles, worth $200 in travel statement credits, after making $1,000 in purchases within three months of opening the account. The card also offers 1.25 miles per dollar spent and a bonus 10 miles per dollar on hotels when you pay with your card at hotels.com/venture through January 2020. Discover it® Cash Back Discover it® Cash Back Apply Now Rates & Fees Best for cash back with no foreign transaction fee. Foreign Transaction Fee None Annual Fee $0 APR 14.24% - 25.24% Variable more details The Discover it Cash Back card offers 5 percent cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. The card earns an unlimited 1 percent cash back automatically on all other purchases. Discover will match all cash back earned at the end of the first year for new cardholders. Cardholders will pay a $0 annual fee, no over-the-limit fee and no foreign transaction fee. The card offers a 14-month zero percent introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers. There is a 3 percent balance transfer fee. After that, there is a 14.24% - 25.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers. Benefits include the ability to freeze your account if your card is lost or stolen and free monthly FICO credit score access. Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card Apply Now Rates & Fees Best for flat-rate cash back with no foreign transaction fee. Foreign Transaction Fee None Annual Fee $0 APR 15.24% - 25.24% (Variable) more details With the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, you can earn unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases. Cardholders will pay a $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. The card offers a zero percent APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after opening the account, then a 15.24% - 25.24% (Variable) APR. Cardholders can earn a cash bonus of $150 if you make at least $500 in purchases within the first three months of your account opening. Card benefits include extended warranty coverage, emergency card replacement, travel upgrades and savings, travel accident insurance and 24-hour travel assistance services. Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card Capital One® SavorOne℠ Cash Rewards Credit Card Apply Now Rates & Fees Best for dining and entertainment with no foreign transaction fee. Foreign Transaction Fee None Annual Fee $0 APR 15.24% - 25.24% (Variable) more details Capital One® SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card holders earn 3 percent cash back on dining and entertainment, 2 percent on groceries and 1 percent on all other purchases. The card charges no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. There is a 15-month, zero percent introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers. After that, the card has a 15.24% - 25.24% (Variable) APR. New cardholders can earn a $150 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account. Discover it® chrome Discover it® chrome Apply Now Rates & Fees Best for gas and restaurant rewards with no foreign transaction fee. Foreign Transaction Fee None Annual Fee $0 APR 14.24% - 25.24% Variable more details The Discover it chrome card earns 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants for up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. All other purchases automatically earn 1 percent unlimited cash back. At the end of your first year as a new cardholder, Discover will match all the cash back you've earned. Cardholders can take advantage of a 14-month zero percent introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers. After that, the APR is 14.24% - 25.24% Variable. There's no annual fee. Cardholder benefits include free FICO credit score access and the ability to freeze your account if your card is lost or stolen. Advertisement Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card Apply Now Rates & Fees Best hotel card with no foreign transaction fee. Foreign Transaction Fee None Annual Fee $95 APR 17.99% - 26.99% Variable more details The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card offers 12 points per dollar on Hilton portfolio hotel or resort purchases, six points per dollar at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, and three points per dollar on all other purchases. Spend $2,000 within the first three months of opening your account, and you'll earn 125,000 bonus points. If you spend $15,000 within a calendar year, you'll earn a weekend night reward. The card comes with complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status, with hotel benefits including late check-out and complimentary standard internet access. Other travel benefits for cardholders include 10 free Priority Pass airport lounge passes each year, car rental loss and damage insurance and travel accident insurance. Frontier Airlines World Mastercard® Frontier Airlines World Mastercard® Read More » Best airline card with no foreign transaction fee. Foreign Transaction Fee 0% Annual Fee $79 APR 18.24%, 22.24% or 27.24%, based on your credit worthiness more details Frequent flyers can earn 5 miles per dollar on Frontier Airlines purchases with the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®. The card offers 3 miles per dollar on dining out and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. New cardholders receive 40,000 bonus miles after spending $500 within the first 90 days and paying the annual fee. Although the card has a $79 annual fee, you'll earn a $100 Frontier Airlines flight discount voucher annually on your account anniversary if you make $2,500 or more in purchases on the card during the previous 12 months. Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express Read More » Best airline card with cardholder perks and no foreign transaction fee. Foreign Transaction Fee None Annual Fee $450 APR 17.99% to 26.99%, based on your creditworthiness more details The information for the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express has been collected independently by U.S. News. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. With a $450 annual fee, the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express is designed for professional travelers. Cardholders earn 2 miles per dollar on Delta Air Lines purchases and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases. You'll earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles and 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 within three months of opening an account. The card offers an annual bonus of 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs when you spend $30,000 on your card in one calendar year and an additional 15,000 bonus miles and 15,000 MQMs when you spend $60,000 in one year. Premium cardholder benefits include car rental loss and damage insurance, travel accident insurance, priority boarding, a free checked bag on Delta flights, and complimentary Delta Sky Club access. Methodology: U.S. News analyzed nationally available credit cards with no foreign transaction fee from credit card issuers in the J.D. Power 2018 Credit Card Satisfaction Study top 10. Cards were evaluated based on their foreign transaction fee, annual fee, rewards earning rate, zero percent introductory annual percentage rate, ongoing APR, sign-up bonus value, cardholder benefits, balance transfer fee and J.D. Power ranking. Related Low Rates and Fees Categories Best Balance Transfer Cards No Annual Fee Credit Cards Low Interest Credit Cards What Are Foreign Transaction Fees? Foreign transaction fees, or FX fees, are costs added onto your statement for purchases made outside the U.S that pass through a foreign bank or are made in a foreign currency. This includes online purchases from a seller in a foreign country that are not made in dollars. The fee is calculated as a percentage of the purchase price, usually between 2 and 3 percent. When you make a credit card purchase in a foreign country, your credit network converts the foreign currency to dollars using its exchange rate process. It then charges your bank an FX fee based on that dollar amount, typically 1 percent, to offset that conversion cost and to address the added risk of fraud inherent to international transactions. Your bank passes that FX fee on to you and adds its own fee of 1 to 2 percent. Through a process known as dynamic currency conversion, it is possible to be charged in dollars while traveling abroad, but for a variety of reasons, you should always avoid it. Dynamic currency conversion At the point of sale, a foreign merchant may ask if you want to be charged in dollars instead of local currency, so that you have a better idea of what the item you're purchasing costs. While this dynamic currency conversion may sound like a good idea, it's best to decline and pay in local currency. Also, the fee that merchants tack onto your bill for the convenience of paying in dollars can be as high as 7 percent of the purchase price. As Business Insider points out, shopkeepers in busy stores in tourist areas may be unable or unwilling to inform you of the extent of their fee. Additionally, it might not save you from paying a foreign transaction fee, as some credit cards charge an FX fee even for foreign transactions in U.S. dollars, just at a slightly lower rate. Finally, you're much more likely to get a better exchange rate by letting your credit card provider do the currency conversion to dollars. Choosing a Card With No Foreign Transaction Fee Determine what type of credit card you want. There are many types of credit cards that don't charge a foreign transaction fee. So when choosing a card with no foreign transaction fee, first figure out what type of credit card you want and then select the best one in that category with no fee. Best rewards credit cards Best travel credit cards Best hotel credit cards Best business credit cards Best cash back credit cards Best student credit cards Best balance transfer credit cards If you have a below-average or poor FICO credit score, you will want to choose a credit card for bad credit that also has no foreign transaction fee. Best credit cards for bad credit Make sure the card is widely accepted overseas. You should verify that the card can be used overseas. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted, with the former serving customers in more than 210 countries and the latter serving more than 200 countries. It's unlikely to find a merchant that won't accept either card. Due to higher processing fees, American Express and Discover have much lower acceptance rates worldwide than Visa and Mastercard. They're fairly well-accepted in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, but less so elsewhere. For example, you can't use a Discover card in some South American and European countries or most of Africa. American Express doesn't publish exactly where you can find merchants who accept its cards, but travel experts routinely caution against taking only an American Express card on an overseas trip. Still, American Express is improving its global reach and has joined Visa and Mastercard in partnering with Apple to allow customers to pay for purchases abroad through Apple Pay with any merchant equipped to handle NFC transactions, or mobile payments. Make sure the card has an EMV chip for maximum usability. Europay, Mastercard and Visa, or EMV for short, is a security technology that has only recently gained significant acceptance in the United States but has been widely used around the world for years. While the standard in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Australia and elsewhere are chip-and-PIN EMV cards, the U.S. has predominantly adopted chip-and-signature EMV technology. Nevertheless, chip-and-signature cards should work in virtually all situations and should definitely be the cards you depend on overseas. Unchipped, magnetic-stripe cards should work; in fact, merchants who accept Visa and Mastercard are required to accept magnetic-stripe cards. But some merchants can be wary of them and may refuse to accept them, mistakenly thinking they will be held liable for fraudulent transactions on an unchipped card, even though that liability lies with your bank. Unattended service kiosks like those at train stations are also known to present problems for chipless cards, requiring travelers to seek out an attendant and potentially wait in long lines. Look for useful travel benefits. Many cards with no foreign transaction fees stand out as great travel cards thanks to their extensive travel benefits. World Elite Mastercards and Signature Visa cards in particular offer perks like: Trip cancellation/interruption insurance Trip delay reimbursement 24/7 concierge services Lost luggage reimbursement Car rental theft and collision coverage Baggage delay insurance Roadside assistance 24/7 customer service While these benefits are helpful for any trip, cards from both networks can prove extremely useful when traveling in a foreign country. For example, 24/7 concierge services can help you plan your international journey all the way down to details like dinner reservations. They also provide lots of emergency services, which are detailed below in Advice for Traveling Abroad With Your Credit Card. Advice for Traveling Abroad With Your Credit Card Access to Cash Contact your bank. Let them know you're going to be traveling so that they don't freeze your account as a fraud prevention measure. Ask for your credit card PIN, just to have in case you need it because of issues with the EMV technology. Find out about partner banks and ATMs. Because you can get hit with costly ATM fees at ATM machines not branded by your bank, you need to know if there are any branches near your destination and if your bank has partnerships with any banks in the area. For example, Bank of America allows customers to avoid fees when using the ATMs of Barclays in the United Kingdom and Deutsche Bank in Germany and Spain. Carry a debit card. Debit cards are much more advisable for ATM withdrawals abroad than credit cards. Using a credit card to withdraw some local currency could subject you to an out-of-network ATM fee and a processing fee from the ATM operator. Plus, credit card ATM withdrawals are treated like cash advances, which often carry exorbitant rates of interest with no grace period, which means interest begins accumulating immediately. Get educated about the exchange rate. Credit card networks typically provide exchange rates that are very close to the fair market rate, but you should have a frame of reference before you travel. You can install an app like XE Currency App on the iPhone for on-the-spot conversion. Using Your Card Remember to avoid dynamic currency conversion. You risk paying a much higher conversion rate on top of additional fees. Make sure your card has an EMV chip. If not, inquire about switching to a chipped card at least two weeks before your trip date to allow your bank time to mail you a new card. Bring photocopies of your cards. Having a photocopy of the front and back of your credit card(s) gives you easy access to the customer service number to call and cancel it. Black out details like the cardholder name, expiration date and CVV number. Carry a backup card. If you don't have a debit card, or if your primary card is from Discover or American Express, carry an additional Visa or Mastercard. Research your card's travel benefits. Depending on your card, you might be entitled to benefits that can help you deal with travel mishaps like lost luggage, trip delays, broken-down rental cars and more. Certain travel cards can also get you perks like discounted or free entry to airport lounges, priority boarding, free checked bags and free in-flight WiFi. In Case of Emergency Know what your card issuer can do if something goes wrong. If your credit card is lost or stolen, both Visa Signature and World Elite Mastercard provide 24/7 global services for help and expedited card replacement. Visa also offers an emergency cash advance or Western Union wire transfer that can be made within two hours of approval by your bank. Visa also provides a 24/7 benefits administrator who can provide medical referrals, contact loved ones on your behalf and arrange for payments in emergency situations. It also provides translation services, legal referral assistance, prescription assistance and other emergency services. Consider travel insurance. Your personal insurance may cover your care at a number of hospitals around the world, but if not, travel insurance can help you with out-of-pocket medical costs, or a delayed or cancelled trip. Your card issuer may offer travel insurance for a fee, above and beyond the card's included protections. World Elite Mastercard offers users up to $1 million of coverage for both international travel accident and medical expenses, as well as protections for trip inconvenience protection and lost luggage. Common Carrier Travel Accident Insurance provided by Visa Signature offers cardholders and their immediate family members up to $500,000 for accidents involving the airline, train or cruise ship. And its 24-Hour Travel Accident Insurance provides coverage for injury, dismemberment or loss of life up to $100,000. Even if you forego travel insurance, your personal car insurance policy probably won't cover foreign travel, so you'll need to purchase auto insurance in your destination country if you plan to rent a car. You'll also need an International Driving Permit to legally drive in certain countries, which you can purchase from AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance for a $20 fee with a valid driver's license, two passport pictures and a completed application. Visa Signature and World Elite Mastercard both offer auto rental collision damage waivers that provide reimbursement over and above any primary insurance you have for theft or damage to the car up to its full cash value. You have to refuse the collision damage waiver at the car rental counter to take advantage of this benefit. Be sure to take photos and keep copies of the accident report, rental agreement and receipt, repair estimate and police report in case you need to file a claim. Consult the State Department. Travel.state.gov offers travelers a wealth of information, from travel alerts and warnings to best practices to embassy contact information. In an emergency, officials at the local U.S. embassy can help you deal with medical emergencies, arrest and detention, natural disasters and more. Editorial opinions are those of U.S. News and have not been previously reviewed, approved or endorsed by any other entities, such as banks, credit card issuers or travel companies.
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