Travelling overseas can be exciting, but it's important to have a plan for accessing your money while on the road. One option is to use an international travel credit card.
What is an international travel credit card?
An international travel credit card typically offers features like low or no currency conversion fees, complimentary overseas travel insurance, and earns rewards points or frequent flyer points. You may not even use all their available features, but many find it reassuring to travel with one.
International travel credit cards vs. everyday credit cards
An everyday credit card can also be used overseas, but it may not offer the same benefits as a travel credit card. For example, a basic everyday credit card will likely have higher currency conversion fees, probably does not come with any domestic or overseas travel insurance, nor will it earn rewards points.
The main benefits of a credit card for international travel can be reduced to saving money because of lower or no currency conversion fees and a range of travel-focused perks and benefits such as airport lounge access, insurance, and the ability to earn airline status faster.
How to choose a credit card for international travel
When choosing a credit card for international travel, consider the following factors.
- Low or no currency conversion fee. If you use your credit card to pay for typical travel expenses such as accommodation and dining out, you can save a substantial amount on currency conversion.
- Annual fee. Check what it costs to keep the account open, whether or not you use it.
- Complimentary overseas travel insurance. There are all sorts of caveats to be aware of, but a general rule of thumb is that the credit card insurance policy is not active unless the card was used to pay for travel. You can find out more about it here.
- Airport lounge access. What lounges you have access to and how often varies between cards.
Pros and cons
- Save on currency conversion. This can save you a surprising amount of money. Don't forget that shopping online from overseas stores also counts!
- Enjoy travel perks. Benefits like priority boarding and airport lounge access can make travelling less stressful.
- Earn points as you spend. Most international travel credit cards earn more points on overseas spend.
- They aren't free. Most credit cards for international travel charge an annual fee.
- Terms and conditions apply. Like any other travel insurance policy, credit card travel insurance has pages of hard-to-understand legalese.
- Limitations usually apply for lounge access. For example, access may be limited to a certain airline or chain, e.g. Priority Pass. Additionally, there may be limits on how many times you can get in and with who.
Can I use my everyday credit card overseas?
Yes, everyday credit cards can be used overseas, but they are usually more expensive since they typically charge currency conversion fees on each purchase — which can add up quickly.
What's the best international travel credit card in Australia?
There is no single best international travel credit card since individual requirements differ. Credit cards such as the Latitude 28 Degrees Global Platinum Mastercard, Bankwest Breeze Platinum Credit Card, and ANZ Rewards Travel Adventure Credit Card are competitive offerings for international travellers.