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3 Must Have Credit Cards for Travelers

Updated: Jan 19

Foreign transaction fees, ATM fees, bank fees, fees, fees and more fees. These fees can really take up a big chunk of your travel budget. Before you know it, you have racked up hundreds of dollars of fees by using your credit or debit card outside of the country.

For nomads, it is essential to have the right cards at the right time to ensure your trip doesn’t cost more than expected. The three cards below (including a mid-level alternative) are you best options for traveling around the world, gaining big bonus points, and avoiding those pesky bank fees.


Having a debit card to take out cash from ATMS around the world, is a MUST. Some countries lack internet connectivity and/or credit card machines, so cash in hand will be your only option. Therefore the Charles Schwab debit card will be your greatest asset.

Since a debit card is attached to the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account, you will have to first open a checking account to receive a debit card attached to this account.

But the absolute best part about this card is the 0 foreign transaction fees, no annual fee, AND NO ATMS Fees! This is a huge deal as most ATM can range anywhere from $2 - $15. Some banks will even base the ATM fee on the amount of money you withdraw from the ATM! Yikes!

  • Unlimited ATM fee rebates worldwide

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • No service fees or account minimums

  • No paying for unauthorized charges or withdrawals

  • Annual Fee: $0


I have used the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card for nearly 7 years now and I don’t plan to get rid of it anytime soon. This decision was a toss-up between the Capital One Venture Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred. They both have similar introductory offers, travel perks, and annual fee. Ultimately I chose the Chase Sapphire Preferred and I am very happy with my decision.

The best benefit of this card are the Ultimate Rewards Points. The card also has an amazing introductory offer: You can earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.That's $750 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Points Rewards These points can be use towards flights, hotels, car rentals, or you can always take the cash back.

The benefit of booking these items with the simple Chase platform is the ability to get really great rates giving the calucation of the points your accumulate from purchases.

  • 60,000 reward points (worth $750) after meeting the minimum spend of $4,000 in the first 3 months

  • $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x points for purchases on Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining, and 2x points on all other travel purchases.

  • Points are worth 25% more on airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises when booking through Chase Ultimate Rewards (e.g. 60,000 points worth $750 toward travel)

  • Includes trip cancellation/interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage insurance and more.

  • Can transfer your reward points to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Annual fee: $95 (**Annual card fee: $0 the first year, then $95)


I personally have not been then proud owner of the Capital One Venture Card, however is does have very similar perks to the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The introductory offer is essentially the same value calculated at a $750 bonus and the annual fee is nearly the same.

One major difference with this card is that you also have a $100 credit towards TSA Precheck or Global Entry. These programs are designed for travelers who frequently travel into and out of the United States. This will save you time, especially when clearing customs quickly when you come back home to visit family and friends.

Capital One Venture Rewards


  • 75,000 bonus miles (worth $750) once you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months

  • Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

  • Earn 5x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Annual fee: $95


The Platinum Card from American Express is a level up in terms of travel credit cards. It has some of the biggest rewards, but also has the bigger annual fee. If you use it properly, you can earn thousands of dollars in travel perks, but only if you use it often.

I also find it challenging that many places still will not accept American Express credit cards, therefore it is always best to have your Chase Sapphire Preferred as your backup.

The introductory offer for the American Express Platinum card is a big one! 100,000 bonus points and similar to the Chase Sapphire you can use these points to book hotels, flights, rental cars AND the added perk of travel insurance. Although this does not cover medical insurance,it does cover baggage and car rental insurance.

My personal favorite perk about this card is the access to the Global Lounge Collection and Priority Pass. These lounges include food, drinks, strong, wifi and even sometimes shower access. You also receive a $200 airline fee credit per year which can be used on baggage fee, inflight entertainment and more.

ALSO. . . . Similar to the Capital One Venture Card, you also recieve the $100 Global Entrey credit, $200 credit with Uber (can only be used in the US), and lots of big offers with hotels, resorts, car rentals, and flights with the super easy portal.

  • 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 on your card in the first 6 months

  • $200 per year in hotel credit (this is on select hotels)

  • 5x points on up to $500,000 per year spent on flights booked directly with airlines, or through American Express Travel

  • Unlimited access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide through the American Express Global Lounge Collection (including Priority Pass Select lounges)

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Annual fee: $695.

Happy travels!

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