8 Credit Cards for International Travel 2017: Free Miles, Insurance & more

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There are multiple payment options when traveling abroad such as credit card, prepaid travel cards, travelers cheque, international debit cards, cash. However credit card is considered to be the most preferred payment option. This is due to the fact that it is widely acceptable mode of payment. Whether you use it in India or abroad, it continues to remain the most convenient option as you get money to use every month and pay later.

But everything has the cost and same holds true for credit card as you have to pay following charges:

  • Joining and annual fee
  • Interest rate
  • Card cancellation
  • Service tax on interest, fees, and other charges
  • Duplicate statement
  • Balance transfer
  • Credit limit exceed and others

But there are three additional charges when transaction is done in currency other than Indian rupee using the Indian credit card. These charges further increase the cost of using the card.

Three charges are:

  1. Overseas transaction fee: 2.5% – 3.5%
  2. Foreign currency conversion fee: 1% to 2%
  3. Cash advance fee: When credit card is used at ATM (same bank or other) and PoS for cash withdrawal. This fee ranges between 1% – 3.50% and varies for each bank.

These charges are never told by the issuer and card applicant should get this confirmed beforehand.

Read in detail about these international credit card charges.

Despite of these charges, credit cards are most preferred by frequent international travelers because of plenty of benefits offered such as:

  • Lounge access
  • Travel insurance
  • Complimentary air travel
  • Transaction can be done in multiple currencies
  • Free airline miles
  • Reward points

Although many of the above charges are mandatory and unavoidable, but you can opt for following credit cards especially designed for international travelers.

The table below shows list of cards for international travelers, including the benefits offered.

Credit Card NameBenefits
YESFirst Exclusive (YES Bank)>> 50,000 Reward Points on first transaction
>> Complimentary Priority Pass membership
>> 25,000 Reward Points on spending Rs. 20 Lakhs annually
>> Insurance cover for air accident death, medical emergency in foreign country, accidental death
HDFC Bank World MasterCard>> Access to exclusive airport lounges across the world
>> Complimentary refreshments, email, Internet
HDFC Business Regalia>> Additional 5 Kg baggage allowance
>> Worldwide free access to over 850+ international lounges
>> 6 free access to the Priority Pass lounges
>> Exclusive Dining Privileges at over 300 premium restaurants
Citi Prestige>>10,000 bonus air miles
>> Unlimited complimentary Priority Pass lounge access
>> 4 Frequent Flyer Air miles for every rewards point
Jet Airways ICICI Bank Sapphiro>>10000 miles on joining
>>7 miles on Rs. 100 spend
ICICI Bank British Airways ClassicMax 5 Avios for every Rs. 100 spend
JetPrivilege HDFC Bank World>>6 JPMiles on every Rs. 150 spent on retail purchase
>>18 JPMiles on every Rs 150 spent on every flight ticket
Citi PremierMiles>>10 Miles for every Rs.100 spent
>>Air Accident Insurance Cover of upto Rs. 1 Crore
>>Lost Card Liability Cover of Rs2 Lakh

What to look for in a credit card for foreign travel?

As you cannot avoid the various fees on credit card when travelling abroad, you should look for cards offering range of benefits which can help in saving money in some way or the other.

Additional reading: 28 international debit cards.

Few of the benefits/features to look for in a credit card for frequent travelers:

  • Complimentary air ticket
  • Free miles every time the card is used either for flight booking, online purchase etc.
  • Bonus point on every purchase
  • Airport lounge access both at domestic and international airport
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Dining privileges
  • Air accident and baggage insurance cover
  • Lost card liability cover which includes cover against fraudulent usage
  • Easily redeemable miles or bonus/reward points for
  • Lowest joining and annual fee
  • Concierge Services – Assistance on car, hotel, travel reservation
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