Paying with a credit card over cash or a debit card is the smart choice much of the time, many experts agree, as long as you can pay off your balance each month in full, since plastic can offer both protection and rewards.
But if you're planning to travel outside of the U.S., it's important to make sure that your card is making your trip easier and not loading you down with fees and headaches.
With hundreds of cards to choose from, narrowing down the best options for your travel style can be challenging. Luckily, financial services site WalletHub worked with a team of experts to crunch the numbers and determine which cards lead the pack in terms of international travel.
To determine the top-ranking cards, WalletHub weighed factors including foreign transaction fees, travel emergency assistance, accident insurance, rental car insurance, travel PIN availability and online travel notifications. Read the full methodology here.
WalletHub's overall top pick is the Bank of America Premium Rewards card. The card charges a $95 annual fee and earns you two points per dollar spent on travel and one-and-a-half points on all other purchases. Here are the highlights:
- You can earn up to $100 in credit annually for purchases such as seat upgrades and baggage fees
- Travel insurance protections help with trip delays, lost luggage and emergency transportation
- You can receive access to the premium benefits at Visa Signature Luxury hotels
- No foreign transaction fees, ever
However, when choosing a new credit card, assuming you can responsibly handle one, it's important to take into account which perks would most benefit your lifestyle.
Choosing to bank with a certain company can be a plus. Travelers who want to avoid foreign transaction fees are free and clear with any card from four major companies: Capital One, Discover, USAA and Barclays.
WalletHub also found that 70 percent of the card issuers it examined offer some sort of financial assistance for travel emergencies, including every card available from American Express, Barclays, Citi, Wells Fargo and Bank of America.
Depending on your travel goals, other perks, such as rental car insurance and luggage insurance, should also be on your radar as you choose. You can compare WalletHub's complete rankings here.
If you're planning to stay in the U.S., you can also read up on other highly rated travel cards to flesh out your options.
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