Best credit and debit cards for international travel

16 February 2018

When traveling abroad people no matter if tourists or business travelers, or other people like patients, they all need to carry money with them. Of course, it is impractical and unsafe to carry cash, so they use credit or debit cards that are easy and safe to use. Different banks offer different options for their customers and their fees, balances, limits vary from bank to bank, therefore, it is always useful to know and choose the best possible option. Especially when visiting the foreign countries where travelers’ financial status should be firm and stable. This post is here to share practical information about the best credit and debit cards as in the case of the Western banks that offer the most convenient options.

Options available for Americans

For people from the US who frequently travel abroad a debit card offered by Schwab Bank is a good option and it would help them to keep up their financial status. For withdrawing cash through ATM, withdrawal fee is $2.50. However, Schwab deducts all payments at the end of a month, which is one of its advantages. This rule similarly affects both local and foreign ATMs. Another interesting option provided by the bank is that it charges no fees for foreign exchange services.

As for other banks in America, their cards contain a general set of options. ATMs fee of Chase is $5 in addition to three percent foreign currency fee. Likewise, Bank of America charges $5 fee for each ATM withdrawal if it is done outside the bank’s ATMs network. It also demands three percent payment for international transactions. Unlike many other banks, using Visa Gold check card issued by Fidelity for ATM withdrawals is free of charge, but it asks for one percent of any foreign transactions made via this bank. Another bank, TD Bank has its Visa debit card, which is free from foreign transaction fees but requires payment of $3 for ATMs payment processing outside the bank.

Cards offered by the British banks

British banks are diverse in terms of services concerning debit and credit cards offered to clients when they visit foreign countries. Usually, there are three types of fees introduced by British banks, which are applied when using those cards, so travelers should be aware of nuances they conceal. They are non-sterling transaction fee, non-sterling purchase fee, and non-sterling cash fee. Almost all debit cards charge their fees for non-sterling transactions made abroad. Typically, it is about 2.75% and deducted from the sterling amount used. Non-sterling purchase fee is charged by certain banks when travelers make payments using a debit card and usually about £1.25 is added over non-sterling transaction fee. Attempts to withdraw cash from any ATM outside the UK will lead to payment of non-sterling cash fee. It can be a percentage or flat amount deducted from the withdrawn funds.

Cards offered by the British banks

Best credit and debit cards

If ask some experienced traveler to draw up a table and include all the best debit and credit cards that should be in the wallets of travelers, he or she would probably present the below-given table containing basic information about the following world banks and their service fees. Let us start with the credit cards. To give the victorious palms to any credit card, the following features should be taken into account: 0% of foreign transaction fee, an absence of annual fees, cashback rewards program, insurance covered by credit cards for car rentals, etc.

Card and country Foreign transaction fee Annual fee Cashback
Bankwest Zero Platinum (Australia) 0% $0 Not available Rewards (Canada) 0% $0 $2 cash back on and $1 anywhere else
Halifax Clarity
0% $0 Not available
Capital One Quicksilver
0% $0 1.5% cashback
Barclaycard Arrival
0% $0 2 miles per $1 spent on travel and dining, 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else
aqua Reward Card
0% $0 0.5% cashback
28 Degrees
0% $0 Not available


As for debit cards, the same criteria are applied to determine the best cards, with the only change of annual card processing fee to the zero fees for ATM withdrawals. Considering the fact that almost all banks charge any cash withdrawals, 0% or a little more ATM fees should be regarded as the best possible option in our case.

Card and country Foreign transaction fee ATM withdrawal fee Monthly fee
Tangerine Thrive Chequing
0% ATM Alliance: $0

Other ATMs: $2

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account/
0% $0, including the third party ATMs $0
Virgin Money Essential Current Account
0% £1.50 $0
Citibank Plus Everyday Account
0% $0 $0


Useful tips for travelers

When visiting foreign countries, owners of credit cards should always try to pay for services or goods using their card, since banks usually do not charge their customers for spending money, and another argument for such a recommendation is cashback programs.  However, it is not advised to withdraw money from their credit cards using ATMs due to their fees, which are applied every time the funds are encashed. In some situations and countries, the best solution is to have a certain amount of cash when ATMs are not available around.


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