If you have plans to travel abroad then it’s a good idea to look into getting a travel credit card. Although not a perfect option for all travelers or for every international itinerary, travel credit cards can prove useful in a variety of situations and can often help you save money.

Here’s our no-nonsense breakdown of what a travel credit card is, how it’s different to a normal credit card, the pros and cons of having one, and if a travel credit card is worth it for you.

What Is a Travel Credit Card?

Although there’s no absolute definition of what a travel credit card actually is, generally these cards don’t charge fees when used abroad. Most other types of credit cards charge a fee when you make a purchase or withdraw cash in a foreign country.

Travel credit cards tend to charge higher interest rates than run-of-the-mill cards. But as long as you can pay off your balance, you should be able to enjoy hassle-free spending without worrying about added expense when going away. Very often, travel credit cards may offer other incentives to use them when traveling or making travel-related purchases (like using them to pay for flight deals).

Related: Costly Mistakes You’re Probably Making With Your Travel Credit Card

Pros and Cons

Before deciding to apply for a travel credit card, you should weigh the pros and cons.

Let’s consider some of the positives first. In addition to not charging fees for spending abroad, things to look for in a good travel credit card include the following:

  • Usually, travel cards convert currencies to more favorable rates for users than non travel cards do.
  • Many travel cards offer points or miles on everyday spending, so it’s easy to accrue points for travel-related rewards.
  • Sometimes, points or travel miles can be redeemed as a statement credit, saving you money during future trips.
  • Some travel cards come with perks such as complimentary airport lounge access, hotel room and flight upgrades, discounts on dining and entertainment, or even travel insurance.
  • Using a branded hotel or airline credit card can earn you free nights or flights or other rewards through the hotel’s or airline’s loyalty programs.
  • Some travel cards allow you to transfer points or miles to travel partners.
  • Some travel cards also give juicy introductory bonuses as incentive to sign up.

As for the negatives, there are a few you you should keep in mind:

  • As mentioned above, travel credit cards tend to charge higher rates than regular credit cards.
  • Interest can really rack up if you’re not able to pay off your balance monthly.
  • Many travel cards charge annual fees.
  • Some travel cards have blackout dates or restrictions on when and how you can redeem rewards.

Deciding on a Travel Credit Card

Of course, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of having a travel credit card while also doing your research for the best offers out there and reading the fine print before applying for any financial service.

If you don’t think you can manage the higher interest rates of a travel credit card, then it’s probably not the right option for you. If you can keep your expenses in check and benefit from any added rewards, perks, or other incentives, then a travel credit card can mean saving money when you travel compared to using traditional cards, currency cards, or cash.

What are your thoughts about travel credit cards? Do you use them when visiting foreign destinations? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

About The Author

Chris Osburn is a freelance writer, photographer, consultant, curator, and the driving force behind the long running and award winning blog, tikichris.com. Originally from the American Deep South, Chris has lived and worked all over the world. He's called London home since 2001.