Best Credit Cards for Travel

A credit card that uses chip technology is more likely to be accepted in Europe than one with a magnetic stripe.

I’m taking several trips in the next few months, including one to Europe. Which credit cards will give me the best travel benefits? --S.R., Atlanta

If you’re traveling overseas, “finding a card with no foreign-transaction fees is crucial,” says Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst for “Those fees can add an extra 2% to 3% to your overall trip.” It also helps to have a card that uses chip technology, which is more likely to be accepted in Europe than one with a magnetic stripe.

Schulz recommends the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which has a chip and no foreign-transaction fees, plus it waives the $95 annual fee for the first year. Using the card earns points for cash back or for deals at participating programs; you earn two points per dollar spent (with no limit) on travel expenses and dining and one point per dollar for all other purchases. You’ll get 40,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first three months.

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Also check out rewards cards for any airline or hotel you use regularly. Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of, likes the Frontier Airlines World MasterCard, which offers two miles per dollar for purchases on and one mile per dollar for other purchases. Get 40,000 bonus miles -- enough for two round-trip domestic flights -- for charging $500 in the first 90 days.

For road trips, Papadimitriou recommends the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature, which offers points toward travel, merchandise or money on a prepaid card. You get five points for every dollar spent on gas, three points per dollar for groceries, and one point on all other purchases. You may have to pay a $15 to $20 membership fee if you are not a member of the military or a federal employee (see

Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.