Best Travel Debit and Credit Cards USA: Are You Focusing On The Wrong Thing?

Travel Tips

travel money

When shopping around for a travel credit or debit card, so many people focus on irrelevant or the wrong things. Or get swayed by sexy marketing. Not actually sexy, it’s still banking, but you know what I mean. But what should you be focusing on? That’s what we will talk about today. If you are from the USA, you’ll be able to access awesome travel debit and credit cards. I’m not a US resident so I’m not best placed to help you too much here. Do Google a few other blogs.


But before you shoot off and leave us. Here are a few things you should think about and focus on BEFORE you get a travel credit or debit card, so you don’t end up with a crap travel bank card that doesn’t suit your needs. 


US Travel Debit Cards

International bank fees absolutely suck when travelling.


My bank changed my terms and conditions on one trip, so I couldn’t avoid bank fees when using my card whilst travelling. I ended up paying almost $800 in bank fees over 6 months. Banks can charge you 7 different bank fees when you use your card abroad, and you don’t have to pay these fees!


Don’t Waste Money: Get A Fee Free Debit Card 

Don’t waste a load of money like I did, look for debit cards that give you fee free foreign purchases and ATM withdrawals. 


You Can Get ATM fees REFUNDED!!

In the USA, you can even get cards that actually refund you local ATM fees you get stuck paying. So you can use any ATM you want and not worry about that $7 ATM fee in Thailand or that $10 ATM fee in Argentina. Hey, can we get some more of those types of cards in the UK? 


The cards tend to have limits and / or fees. Or you need to hold a minimum balance, or open a linked account, so as always, make sure you fully read the terms and conditions.


A Good Travel Debit Card Option

The Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account with the Platinum debit card could be the current best travel debit card option. You get ATM fee rebates, there are no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements and there are no fees on foreign purchases apart from the standard Visa mark-up (which you can’t really avoid). 




US Travel Credit Cards

When it comes to the best US travel credit cards there are normally 2 main things to consider.

  1. Whether you get fee free foreign purchases
  2. What rewards schemes the cards give you


Fee Free First, Rewards Second

In my view getting fee free foreign purchases is the most important thing when looking at travel credit cards.


Bank fees are the biggest cost when using a travel card abroad and will usually offset the benefit of rewards over the long-term. Also the rewards schemes often have a fee attached.


So I think you are better off searching for all the credit cards that will give you fee free foreign purchases and have no monthly costs, then picking the ones that give you the best rewards schemes.


It is worth noting that withdrawing cash anywhere on US credit cards will usually incur a hefty fee, so try and avoid this.


Rewards, Rewards, Rewards 

Picking the best credit card rewards scheme is entirely based on your personal situation. Do you want cashback, airmiles, free nights in hotels or lounge access? Do you use certain hotel or airline brands loads? This will all play a part in your decision. 


A Good Option: Best Travel Credit Card

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is an example of a good travel credit card.


This credit card currently has:

  • Zero monthly fees (ever, not just as an introductory offer!)
  • No foreign purchase fees
  • Gives some decent rewards like an intro bonus of 20,000 airmiles, 10x airmiles on lots of hotels, 1.25x airmiles on all purchases and the airmiles won’t expire


Focus On Fees

To recap, when looking at your next travel debit and credit cards in the USA (or anywhere), focus on bank fees. Or in fact, a lack of them. Not getting a fee free card could cost you shed loads, and you could spend this money on MORE travel. Which is what we all want really isn’t it?


Not focusing on bank fees is just one mistake lots of people make regarding travel money. Are you making any more travel money mistakes?




Explore More In Our Ultimate Travel Money Guide:

travel money guide

7 Travel Money Mistakes You Are Probably Making

Credit Card Or Debit Card: Which Should I Take Travelling?

Travel ATM Fees: Stop Wasting Money At Foreign ATMs

7 Fees Banks Charge You When Travelling (And How To Avoid Them!)

Best Travel Debit Card UK: Don’t Waste Money Whilst Abroad

5 Best Travel Credit Cards UK: Stop Throwing Your Money Down The Drain

Best Travel Debit and Credit Cards USA: Are You Focusing On The Wrong Thing?

A Debit Card & Credit Card Combined: Honest Review Of Curve Card

Travel Money: Are Credit Card Reward Schemes Worth It?

Be Travel Money Savvy: Pre-Paid Travel Cards and Travellers Cheques Aren’t Worth It



This post is up to date as of March 2019 and will be updated periodically. Always check with the companies mentioned below and keep an eye out for new ones I haven’t mentioned. I’ve mostly focused on the UK context. Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any tips from your country you would like me to include.


This is what I’ve found to be suitable for our needs. Yours may differ and so the Ultimate Travel Money Blogs can only be taken as a guide rather than constitute personalised financial advice. Please get in touch if you have any specific questions and I will do my best to answer them.


We’ve compiled a whole load of comprehensive blogs focusing on travel money. What are the best travel debit and credit cards? How do I avoid money changer scams? What are these international bank fees I keep getting on my card whilst travelling? We are here to offer tips and guidance on managing your money whilst travelling. Most of our Ultimate Travel Money blogs focus on the UK/EU folks, but in this blog we focus on the best travel debit and credit cards for those in the USA.



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