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Credit cards today are no simple matter. As banks and financial institutions vie for your business they offer incentives and rewards to boost their appeal. Their attempts to grease the wheels are a win-win for consumers but can also be overwhelming. Do you go with the card that offers cash back? Double points? Airline miles? Which is the best credit card for you when you travel and which one provides incentives you’ll actually use? Here we take a look at the most popular credit cards for travelers and break down their incentives to see which program offers you a deal you can use.

In addition to incentivizing your patronage these credit cards offer a variety of benefits for travelers. While some cards charge no annual fee others charge steep fees but provide a substantial return on your investment in the way of travel perks you can purchase by redeeming points. Many cards have a travel program and offer deeply discounted rates for hotels, car rentals and discounts on airline tickets.

Foreign Transaction Fees

Some cards do charge a fee for foreign transactions. The fees, known as foreign transaction fees, typically range from 1% to 3% of the purchase total. When you plan international travel and get down to budgeting for your trip of a lifetime you need to factor in these fees. Between your lodging, sightseeing, dining and all the other costs that make your trip memorable these fees can really add up.

Although this charge sounds relatively small when you factor in the number of times you’re bound to swipe or tap your card while abroad the fees accumulate. Especially if you’re on an extended holiday overseas. There are some credit cards that don’t charge fees for international transactions, however many of the top credit cards have foreign transaction fees of some amount.

Currency Conversion Fees

Some travelers confuse the foreign transaction fees with the currency conversion. It’s important to note that these are, in fact, two separate fees. Although both fees occur on purchases made at non-US points of sale (retailers, hotels, restaurants, etc) they are quite different. A currency conversion rate is what is known as a “hidden fee” and is discovered when the charge amount is presented to you in US dollars.

For example, if you’re in Provence and choose to purchase some lavender oil for €20 you may be offered the option of paying in US dollars. While it’s helpful to understand the aromatic souvenir really costs you $21.50 with the exchange rate your credit card company may tack on a conversion fee of 1% . Again, it may not sound like much but will add up very quickly. To avoid this hidden fee you should always pay in the local currency amount on your credit card.

What Are Your Best Options?

So what are your best options for a credit card for travel? Well, you probably want to avoid paying a foreign transaction fee and get the most bang for your buck in the form of miles, points or other perks and compare the advantages of your credit card against the yearly fee, if there is one. Here we offer a breakdown of the top credit cards for travel that charge no foreign transaction fees, and what they offer in terms of bonus points, additional rewards and perks.

The Delta Skymiles Blue American Express is a great card for those who are loyal to Delta Airlines. The card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee and there is a $0 yearly fee for the privilege of having the card. However you don’t get the perk of free checked bags, as with other Delta Skymiles cards and the welcome offer of 10,000 miles isn’t rewarded until you spend $1,000.00 in purchases within six months of opening the credit card account. Still no transaction fees and no annual fee are great advantages.

Delta Skymiles Gold American Express is currently offering 70,000 bonus miles when you open an account and spend $3,000.00 in purchases in the first six months. Your first checked bag is free, there are no foreign transaction fees and if you spend $10,000.00 in a calendar year you receive a $200.00 Delta flight credit to use on travel. You also get priority boarding on Delta flights. The card does charge a $150.00 annual fee but the first year is $0 as an incentive.

Bank of America Visa Travel Rewards offers no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. You receive 25,000 bonus points upon spending $1,000.00 in purchases in your first three months. The points can be redeemed for $250.00 credit for dining and travel expenditures.

Capital One Venture Rewards Travel Card offers new members a whopping 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000.00 on purchases in the first three months. You earn 2X miles for purchases and 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. There are no foreign transaction fees but the card does cost $95.00 annually.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a very generous 60,000 bonus points but only if you spend $4,000.00 in purchases in the first three months. There are no foreign transaction fees and you earn additional points for certain travel expenditures such as 3X on dining and 5X on hotel and rental car. There is a 95.00 annual fee for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Find The Right Card for Your Next Vacation Abroad

So there you have it. The most popular credit cards for travel from the major issuers. Of course everyone’s credit situation is unique and you may even find a more beneficial option through your bank or credit union. But now that you know what to look for we trust you will find the right credit card for your next trip.