Ask an Expert: What Credit Card Should I Use Abroad?

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One reader asks about what she should know before using a credit card in Europe.

A Money Talks News reader recently wrote me with the following question…

Can you recommend a few cards that are good to have when vacationing overseas, to Europe specifically? Also, what about the microchip I’ve been reading about? Are European retailers/stores/restaurants only taking cards that have the microchip?


Any light you can shed on this would be welcome.


My response

I travel a lot.  And when I leave the country, there are three things that I look for in a credit card:

First, it should not have any foreign transaction fees. Many credit cards add a 3 percent surcharge onto any transaction processed outside the United States. This fee provides absolutely no value to the customer, and I do my best to avoid it. Fortunately, some cards aimed at travelers are now dropping this fee.

Next, I look for a card that offers a good set of perks and benefits. Features like travel delay insurance, lost luggage coverage, and emergency travel assistance can be valuable to those who travel frequently.

Finally, I need a card that has an embedded EMV (which stands for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) chip, especially when I travel to Europe.  This is the microchip that you referred to. You will not need this feature at most retailers, stores, and restaurants, but it is vital when purchasing train tickets at unattended kiosks. In fact, I have even seen it required at gas stations. To learn more about this, read Why Your Card Might Not Work in Europe.

So, which cards meet all of these requirements?

Chase offers these features on its British Airways, Hyatt, and Marriott Rewards  cards.

Citi has these features in their ThankYou Premier, Hilton HHonors Reserve, and American Airlines Executive cards.

Finally, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card meets these qualifications.

So before you go to Europe, make sure you have the best card for your travel needs.

And if you have a question about credit cards, feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]

Note: While we attempt to be completely objective when reporting on credit cards, this site may be compensated by issuers when a reader applies for a credit card through the links within credit card stories or on our credit card search page.

Stacy Johnson

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