Using credit cards for international trips can save you 10% on better exchange rates, get you $500 cash back and free travel insurance
Advantages of using credit cards for international trips
Best exchange rate. The spread (difference between the buying and selling rate) charged by Visa and Master Card is 0.4% for the Euro. Exchange rate kiosks located at airports charge close to 10%. While the spread varies by currency, the rates charged by Visa/Master Card are consistently the best.
$500 cash back. The entire trip to Europe can be paid by the credit card. The best ones offer 50,000 miles sign up bonus (worth $500 in travel credit), No annual fee the first year, 2% cash back on all purchases and No foreign transaction fees.
Free travel insurance. Travel can be stressful and there is a chance your cash can get lost or stolen. On average, one piece of luggage goes missing on every flight. Carrying several credit cards separate locations eliminates the risk of cash getting lost or stolen and many offer free travelling insurance for lost or delayed luggage.
The right credit card
I don’t accept any compensation or special rewards from anyone. What I recommend is what I use myself
No annual fee the first year
50,000 miles sign up bonus
No exchange rate fees
2% cash back on all purchases
Imagine you spend $2,000 on your trip. These cards will get you $500 cash back (the 50,000 miles) and 2% on $2,000 all purchases, for a total cash refund of $540. I like both Capital One and Barclays because they meet the must have criteria.
Free travel insurance
Imagine that you bought presents for your family and they are stolen. If you paid them with a credit card, the Purchase Protection insurance will cover it.
Auto rental collision
Nice to have: (offered by some cards which have a higher annual fee, but offer higher rebates too)
Altogether, for international trips, it is better to take debit cards (more) and credit cards, Taking cash for international trips is the worst option (more).