When you do a credit card comparison for travel be sure you consider the FTF – foreign transaction fee!
Calling all frequent international travelers — are you tired of paying up to 3% in currency conversion fees every time you buy something with a credit card on foreign soil? There is an easy solution to this predicament, and it’s called the No Foreign Transaction Fee credit card. Today, with global travel on the rise, there are hundreds of opportunities to find the right kind of card that fits your lifestyle, vacation patterns, and affordability level for annual fees.
But there are other issues to consider, too. These include emerging credit card technologies and ease-of-use in different parts of the world. When looking at all your options, don’t forget to confirm that the card you want will also be wanted by merchants in the places you plan to visit. And make FTFs part of your credit card comparison for travel!
Below are two important questions to ask yourself before you apply for a credit card that offers a No Foreign Transaction Fee.
Here in the USA, our credit cards are literally “attractive” ways of doing business. With their old-school magnetic strip, our domestic cards have used this “swipe and sign” system for years. But in Europe and many other parts of the world, a more secure hi-tech system is in play. This smart technology is called EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa), and is fast becoming a global standard for credit cards purchases both big and small. Featuring an integrated chip, these cards are quickly being adapted under names such as “IC Credit” and “Chip and PIN.” If you travel in Europe a lot you may need to make this chip part of your credit card comparison for travel.
According to a 2013 report by EMVCo, which keeps statistics on EMV adoption, EMV systems are most prevalent in western European countries such as France, Spain, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom. This means if you are traveling with just a magnetic-strip card, you might run into problems making point-of-sale purchases at local shops and train ticket kiosks. According to EMVCo, the lowest EMV adoption rate is in Asia and the Pacific, which includes countries like Australia, India and Japan.
Although the United States has been slow to use EMV technology, hope is on the horizon. In August 2014 the Payments Security Task Force, which represents the U.S. electronic payment industry, projected that more than 575 million cards with chip security will be issued in the United States in 2015. Will you be one of those people? Three cards you can start looking at now are the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card, and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus Worlite MasterCard.
When considering world-wide acceptability, it’s important to know that Visa and MasterCard are the most universal systems. When it comes to credit card comparison for use abroad certain credit networks involve merchants around the world, financial companies, and regular consumers who obtain Visa or MC-branded products directly from banks and other institutions. This means an expansive global presence for both brands. According to creditcards.com, both Visa and MasterCard can be used in more than 25 million locations in 170 countries. Visa’s network is a bit larger, with 200 countries and territories accepting the card, according to the company’s “Global Presence” web page.
Another kind of credit system involves brands like American Express and Discover, which issue their own cards and handle all processing in-house. While fewer merchants and countries accept these cards, Discover has been identified by many bloggers and forum posters as one of the best cards for people traveling in China. This is due to a reciprocal contract with UnionPay, China’s main card-issuing bank. Discover, which by design never has a foreign transaction fees, is also accepted widely in other Asian countries such as Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Thailand. So if like a modern Marco Polo you plan to go east in your travels, a Discover card might be the wisest thing for you to pack.
If you want to learn more, here are some links for MasterCard and Discover.
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