Credit Cards that Ream Travelers

I’ve talked about credit cards that are good and bad for travelers on this Cheapest Destinations blog quite a few times, as well as emphasizing the need for a travel banking back-up plan. I’ve not really touched on the worst cards for travelers though, since my goal was to steer you to the best ones.

I like this new article I was quoted in though on the Matador site because it gives you the good, bad, and really ugly travel plastic options: Best credit cards for travelers.

Added to my regular no-fee recommendation, Capital One, are three others: HSBC Premiere (for “special” customers who spend a lot), and a card from Schwab (which requires an account at the brokerage). In other words, get a Capital One card unless you belong to a credit union offering a no-foreign-fees card. Every other card charges you a fee on every transaction outside the country.

Some only charge 1%, which isn’t too painful. That includes USAA and two branded Amex cards, from Bank of America and Fidelity.

Horizon and Discover charge 2%, American Express’ own cards charge 2.7%. (So do leave home without it, or only carry it as a backup.) Most of the rest, the cards far too many people are traveling with, charge you 3%: Wells Fargo, Citibank, Chase, Bank of America, HSBC, etc.

So let’s do the math. If you charge $3,000 to a credit card, which is not all that hard if you use it a lot on vacation or on a long journey, you’ll pay $0 extra to Capital One, $30 extra to USAA, or $90 to most of the others.

I don’t know about you, but in the places I usually travel I can do a lot with $90. Let’s see…where I am right now in Mexico that will buy 90 beers, 30 haircuts, 180 kilos of carrots, 9,000 tortillas, 30 taxi rides, a week and a half of Spanish classes, or 6 meals in a nice restaurant.

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