Did you know most credit cards charge 3% on all transactions you make in foreign currency? If you spent $1000 while abroad, that’s an extra $30 expense! The best credit cards don’t charge these fees, so you can transact normally in any local currency. A good credit card is a necessity for frequent international travelers because it allows you to focus on the travel experience rather than managing your currency and payment methods. In addition to a fair exchange rate, you can also earn rewards with every purchase at home and abroad. With the right credit card, you can make the most of every transaction wherever you go!

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Which Credit Cards Give You the Most Value?

It can be overwhelming to compare the benefits of all the different rewards credit cards. Many of them severely restrict how you can spend your points, so if you want the most value, it’s better to look for cards that pay rewards in straight cash. If you just want a card that helps you keep more of your money without any marketing nonsense, you’ll find all the best options on this list. Keep reading to find my review of some of the best cash back credit cards for travelers and non-travelers alike.

What’s Best for Your Lifestyle?

If you want to save time, skip to my #1 pick, or choose your lifestyle below:

Methodology

For me, good travel credit cards have to meet the following criteria:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fees
  • Rewards redeemable in cash

After screening for the above requirements, I ranked the remaining credit cards by the following benefits:

  1. Cash back % on all purchases
  2. Cash back % on spending categories
  3. Sign up bonus and interest-free period

1. Venmo Credit Card

venmo credit card
Cash Back (all)1%
2nd Highest Spend Category2%
Highest Spend Category3%

If you want to maximize rewards with as little effort as possible, check out Venmo’s Credit Card. Their rewards program is almost too good to be true. Each month, you’ll get 3% and 2% cash back on your two highest spending categories from the following list: Dining & Nightlife, Travel, Bills & Utilities, Health & Beauty, Grocery, Gas, Transportation, Entertainment. You’ll earn 1% on everything else. That’s a pretty great deal considering most cards only give you two extra bonus categories. It’s like having four cash back cards combined into one!

2. Paypal Cashback Mastercard®

Paypal Cashback Mastercard
Cash Back (all)2%

Paypal’s Cashback Mastercard® gives you 2% back on all purchases. Period. I don’t know why credit card companies care so much about where you spend your money. I’m glad Paypal doesn’t. A flat rewards rate means there’s no need to strategize your purchasing behavior. That kind of clarity and simplicity earns them the second spot on my travel credit card list. Despite having no signup bonus, this is a great card to keep in your wallet for long-term benefits.

3. Capital One SavorOne

Capital One SavorOne Cash Back Credit Card
Cash Back (all)1%
Grocery3%
Dining & Entertainment3%
Streaming Services3%
Bonus$200 after spending $500 in your first 3 months
Interest-free period15 months

During my two-year-long backpacking trip, the Capital One SavorOne card was my go-to payment method. The extra cash back on food and entertainment is great for travelers. Entertainment is defined as movie theaters, sports promoters (professional and semi-professional live events), theatrical promoters, amusement parks, tourist attractions, aquariums, zoos, dance halls, record stores, pool halls or bowling alleys. On top of that, you get some of the best sign-up benefits any card will offer.

4. US Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card

US Bank Altitude Go Visa Signature Card
Cash Back (all)1%
Grocery2%
Dining4%
Bonus$200 after spending $1,000 in your first 3 months
Interest-free period12 months

The US Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card is similar to Capital One’s SavorOne, with a little extra earning power on dining expenses. Although that’s great for the long-term, the inferior sign-up benefits make this card a slightly less attractive deal to me. Still, this card is perfect for anyone with high spending in the dining category.

5. Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card

Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card
Cash Back (all)1%
Amazon & Whole Foods3%
Dining, Gas & Drug Stores2%
Bonus$50 Amazon gift card at sign-up

I really like the reward structure of Amazon’s Rewards Visa Card, because it gives great earning potential for the most common household expenses. If this card also had more sign-up benefits, it would be really hard to beat!

6. Capital One Quicksilver

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Back Credit Card
Cash Back (all)1.5%
Bonus$200 after spending $500 in your first 3 months
Interest-free period15 months

This is just a basic, good overall deal. Capital One’s Quicksilver card offers a single, competitive 1.5% cash back rate on all purchases, and offers a great sign-up bonus.

7. Deserve Pro

Deserve Pro Cash Back Credit Card
Cash Back (all)1%
Dining2%
Travel3%

Ultra-frequent travelers will love Deserve Pro. It’s the only card I found that gives 3% cash back on travel expenses. There’s no sign-up bonus or interest-free period, but over the long-term, this might be the most valuable cash back credit card for frequent flyers.

8. Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards

Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa
Cash Back (all)1%
Home, Auto & Health3%

I give Upgrade an “A” for creativity with their Triple Cash Rewards card. You earn 1% cash back on general purchases, and 3% on specific home, auto and health categories. Upgrade also uses a personal loan payoff structure, which could be beneficial if you accumulate a large balance. There’s no other cash back credit card like it!

9. Discover IT® Miles Travel Credit Card

Discover IT Miles Travel Credit Card
Cash Back (all)1.5%
Bonus2x rewards for your first year
Interest-free period14 months

The Discover IT® Miles Travel Credit Card made this list especially because it’s a valuable alternative to Visa and Mastercard. With 1.5% cash back on all purchases and some decent sign-on benefits, I think it’s worth your consideration.

10. HSBC Cash Rewards Credit Card

HSBC Cash Rewards Credit Card
Cash Back (all)1.5%
Bonus2x rewards for your first year
Interest-free period12 months

HSBC’s Cash Rewards Credit Card is relatively average on this list, but it’s still competitive. They also offer some better options if you have certain customer relationships with HSBC bank.

11. Discover IT® Cash Back Credit Card

Discover IT Cash Back Credit Card
Cash Back (all)1%
Rotating Categories5% category changes every 3 months
Bonus2x rewards for your first year
Interest-free period14 months

The Discover IT® Cash Back Credit Card is another good alternative to Visa and Mastercard. I’m not a fan of rotating categories, which is why this card doesn’t rank very high in this list. But if you’re willing to modify your spending habits to maximize the quarterly 5% spending categories, this card could have some serious earning potential! Even though it’s not specifically advertised for this card, Discover says they don’t charge foreign exchange fees.

12. Upgrade Card

Upgrade Card Cash Back
Cash Back (all)1.5%

Unlike the Upgrade’s Triple Cash Rewards Card, Upgrade Card just gives you flat-rate cash rewards. I find nothing wrong with that, but there might be some better options in this list if you have solid credit. Upgrade uses a personal loan payoff structure, which could be beneficial if you accumulate a large balance.

13. Petal 2 Visa® Credit Card

Petal 2 Visa Credit Card Cash Back
Cash Back (all)1.5%

The Petal 2 Visa® Credit Card might be a good option if you’re still trying to build your credit history. Their website claims they use your banking history to aid the application process, instead of relying solely on your credit score. There’s also a Petal 1 card that rewards you for using certain partner merchants.

14. Apple Card

Apple Card Cash Back
Cash Back (all)1%
Apple Pay2%
Purchases at Apple or select merchants3%

If your a frequent Apple Pay user, you could be paying 2% less on every transaction with Apple Card! The current Apple select merchants are just a few brands, so it might be hard to benefit from the 3% category. It’s kind of an interesting way to get apple discounts though!

15. Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card
Points (all)1.5% redeemable for dining and travel
Bonus$250 after spending $1000 in your first 3 months
Interest-free period12 months

I had to make one small exception to my methodology. I included the Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card in this list because they allow points to be redeemed on any dining and travel expenses. Although it’s not a true cash back program, redemption is more flexible than most travel points programs. With a decent sign-up deal, it deserves to be mentioned.

Why Credit Cards Pay Rewards

It’s saddens me when credit card companies exploit the uneducated. If you’re new to using credit cards, there’s something you must know.

Credit card companies profit from people who don’t pay down their loan balances. That’s because their interest rates are super high. The average annual return on investment in the US stock market is around 10%. Credit cards can charge over 20% per year! That interest compounds, so people who carry a regular debt balance make these companies very happy, and it helps to fund the cash back rewards programs I love.

Please don’t let yourself be exploited. If you want to maximize the benefits of your credit card, pay down your balance to zero every month, and automate your payments if possible. I follow a strict rule to never pay a single penny in credit card interest.

Using Interest-Free Periods

Some cards charge zero interest on your principal balance for your first few months. Although it seems like free money, it’s really a dangerous marketing tactic designed to attract people who carry large balances. I suspect these 0% interest periods mostly harm people by luring them into spending amounts they can’t pay down quickly. My advice: Don’t fall for it! Letting your balance balloon is a risky bet regardless of your current interest rate.

Conclusion

That’s it for my list of all the best cash back credit cards for international travel. Pick your favorite and apply to get basic no-fee cash rewards. Once you’re approved, you’ll essentially get discounts on every purchase you make with your card, and you can travel and spend with ease! Just make sure to pay back your full balance every month so you don’t have to pay any interest. Thanks for reading, and click below to share the bliss!

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