June 30 2011|06.00 AM UTC

Stan Reybern

Best Credit Cards to Use When Traveling Abroad

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With summer in full swing, many of us are packing up our bags and jet-setting around the world. Before you take off though, keep in mind that your credit card might be costing you more than you thought with foreign transaction fees. Below are BillShrink’s picks for the best cards to use while traveling that won’t affect your travel budget and some great locations to take them to.

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Traveling Abroad

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rachael Taft July 8, 2011 at 9:53 am

I’ve actually been to all these places (well, except the two in Mexico) — and in fact lived in Florence, Bangkok and Sydney — using my Capital One credit and debit cards, both of which I got because I travel a lot and there are no foreign exchange fees. (I also never carry a balance.) When I first traveled abroad (even worse, I was studying abroad and then traveling, so I was abroad for five months) I used my regular home bank’s debit card. WHAT A NIGHTMARE! I spent hundreds of dollars in foreign ATM fees and currency exchange fees. It was sickening. I made the mistake of using them again the next time I went abroad because they told me I would receive no foreign ATM fees. Problem? There were still the currency exchange fees, which still cost me a ton of money. Capital One doesn’t charge either, which saved me so much money it’s ridiculous.

They’re also good about watching out for suspicious activity (I did have my card frozen once when I was buying a plane ticket in Australia). In fact, it was my fault when they did freeze my card because you are supposed to call and update your travel status every three months (they will not let you call and say “I am going abroad for six months/a year”) and I had been gone for five or six months without calling to update. I was a bit irked at first because it was hard to remember when to call, but really it’s a good safety measure.

I’m sure if you carry a balance the credit card would not be as great, but since I pay it off every month I am VERY happy with Capital One! And when I have had to call customer service they have always been very friendly and helpful – and even if sometimes you probably are calling to India and might have a bit more trouble communicating, what’s different or new about that?

Finally, the rewards are also pretty good with this card. (I don’t have the VentureOne card, though I’m intrigued, but the MTV one because I got it as a student as my first card.) I have been saving them up, but just looked recently and was happy with the things I would be able to use them for. I like having options, rather than just miles or hotel points, as you can still use them for travel (in fact, you can even use them after the fact of purchasing your travel – and the point/dollar rate is actually the best with travel vs. gifts cards, etc.) and are not limited to any certain airlines/dates/etc. just cost!

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