August, 2011

Which Credit Card is Best for Europe Travel?

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Using a credit card in Europe is possible. It is safe and often thought of as one of the smartest ways to protect yourself when traveling in Europe. However, international use credit cards are not all made the same. If you want an affordable credit card for Europe travel, you’ll need to compare several cards and the fine print they have.

What’s the Big Deal?

You’re planning a trip to tour Italy or to visit family in the UK. You probably don’t think much about how you will pay for your needs over there (though you are likely thinking about how much money to take.) Leave the traveler’s cheques behind. Instead, choose a credit card with low conversion rates. This is where they get you. Here’s the fine print.

  • MasterCard and Visa, who serve only as servicers to you, charge a one percent conversion fee when the card is used overseas. This fee covers the conversion of US dollars into euros or other currency.
  • Add to that the two percent conversion fee most US banks charge. These are the companies you work with individually.
  • If you decided to use a debit card overseas, you would pay additional fees, including withdrawal fees of $5, conversion fees and more.
  • If you used travelers cheques, you are not safe. There, you could lose as much as 10 percent in the conversion.

Not all credit card companies are the same, though. Some credit card companies charge lower fees for conversion. One company doesn’t charge you anything.

Capital One

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is by far the best choice for credit cards to use in Europe. The card does not charge any foreign transaction fees at all, which means you don’t have to worry about paying those high costs. Plus, the card is ideal for travel since you can earn points to cut into your costs. You’ll earn two miles for each dollar you spend and 10,000 bonus miles just to sign up (that’s worth about $100.) Even better, you can use the costs for various travel expenses, fly on any airline and not be restricted by blackout dates. The card has an APR of 11.9 percent to 19.9 percent and does have an annual fee after the first year.

Which Others Should You Consider?

There are other credit cards you can use in Europe. Take a look at some of the fees you could pay.

  • With Juniper/Barclay’s, the fee is two to three percent.
  • With American Express, you’ll pay about 2.7 percent.
  • Bank of America charges 3 percent, as does Citi, HSBC, Chase, US Bank and Wells Fargo.

Know your credit card’s conversion rate before you use it in Europe. It’s critical to use plastic and cash in Europe wisely.

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.

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