Planning an exciting European adventure? Whether you’re planning a cultural tour of France and Spain or to hit the beaches in Spain, you’ll need to find the best way to spend overseas.
A credit card could be a good option, but which are the best credit cards for traveling in Europe?
We’ll run through your options here in this guide.
But first, a word.
While it’s not a credit card, it’s well worth checking out the Wise international debit card ahead of your trip.
The Wise card is tailor-made for traveling, as it offers the following features:
- Spend and withdraw cash in 174 countries, anywhere that Visa and Mastercard are accepted.
- Automatically converts your USD to the local currency to EUR at the mid-market exchange rate whenever you spend. There’s just a small conversion fee, or it’s free if you already have the currency in your Wise account.
- Withdraw $100 a month from overseas ATMs for free, with a tiny fee after that.
So, you can shop, dine and travel knowing you're getting a great exchange rate. And there’s no need to convert currency or carry cash around with you.
Open a Wise Account, and you can order a Wise card for a one-time fee of just $9.
Get a Wise Account today
Is it best to use a debit or credit card in Europe?
Major debit and credit cards are used and accepted throughout most parts of Europe. If you’ll be paying for restaurant meals, drinks, shopping or travel tickets by card, a credit card could be a good bet.
But for ATM withdrawals, a debit card is usually better - as credit cards may have high fees or interest rates for cash withdrawals.
However, even if you’ve packed your plastic, it’s always wise to have some cash in euros on you.
Here are the best credit cards to use in Europe
Now, let’s take a look at the best credit cards for traveling in Europe.
We’ve included cards which offer rewards on travel spending, as these can help your money go further. So, let’s dive in:
|Card||Fee||APR on purchases||Features|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card¹||$95 annual fee||20.74% - 28.74%|
- No foreign transaction fees
- Travel miles bonus
- Access to Capital One airport lounges
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card²||None||0% intro APR for 15 months, 19.74% - 29.74% afterwards||- $200 cashback on opening |
- 1.5% cashback on purchases
- Other travel perks
|Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card³||None||0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles, 17.74% - 27.74% afterwards|
- No foreign transaction fees
- Initial points bonus worth $250
- Earn points on spending
|Citi Premier® Card⁴||$95 annual fee||20.74% - 28.74%|
- No foreign transaction fees
- Initial points bonus worth $600
- Earn points on travel spending
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card⁵||$95 annual fee||20.74% - 27.74%|
- No foreign transaction fees
- Initial points bonus worth $1,000
- Extra points on travel spending
|American Express Gold Card⁶||$250 annual fee||20.99% - 28.99%|
- No foreign transaction fees
- Earn points on flights
- Emergency assistance
- Limited travel insurance cover
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card¹
The first of two Capital One credit cards on our list, the Venture card has an APR of 20.74% - 28.74% on purchases. There’s also an annual fee of $95 to pay.
However, you’ll also get a long list of rewards and benefits in return. These include:
- Initial bonus of 75,000 miles (worth $750 in travel) when you spend $4,000 within 3 months of opening an account
- Unlimited 2x miles earned on every purchase
- Earn 5x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
- Up to $100 credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
- Two free visits a year to Capital One Lounges or to 100+ Plaza Premium Lounges.
- No foreign transaction fees.
You can use any miles you’ve earned as reimbursement for travel purchases. Alternatively, you can redeem them when booking trips through Capital One Travel.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card²
Another top pick for travel Capital One’s Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card has no annual fee.
It also has a 0% introductory APR for 15 months, with a rate of 19.74% - 29.74% after that time. Another thing to know about is the balance transfer fee of 3%.
Other key features of the card include:
- Initial $200 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases within 3 months of signing up
- Unlimited 1.5% cashback on all purchases
- Up to 6 months of free Uber One membership statement credits
- Unlimited 5% cashback on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card³
There’s no annual fee with the Bank of America Travel Rewards card, nor will you pay any foreign transaction charges either.
Another good perk is the interest fee period, which covers a total of 18 billing cycles. After that, there’s a variable APR of 17.74% - 27.74%.
In return, you’ll get the following rewards:
- An initial 25,000 online bonus points worth $250 when you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of signing up
- Unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spending on anything
- Preferred Rewards members can earn between 25% and 75% more points on spending.
You can redeem your points for credit to put towards travel or dining.
Citi Premier® Card⁴
The Citi Premier® Card has an interest rate of 20.74% - 28.74% variable APR, and an annual fee of $95.
There are no foreign transaction fees to worry about, but there is a balance transfer fee of 5%.
In return, you’ll get the following rewards:
- Initial bonus of 60,000 points worth $600 in gift cards, after you spend $4,000 within the first 3 months
- Earn points on spending on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
- Annual hotel savings benefit.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card⁵
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with a $95 annual fee. But for spending overseas, there are no foreign transaction fees to pay.
The interest rate is 20.74% - 27.74% variable APR, and there’s a balance transfer fee of 5%.
You’ll also get the following rewards when you sign up for the Chase card:
- Initial points bonus of 80,000 (worth $1,000 when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards) when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months
- 5x points on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- 3x points on dining and 2x points on all other travel purchases
- $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit
- Free access to DashPass.
American Express Gold Card⁶
The Amex Gold Card offers all kinds of travel-friendly benefits, but the first thing to know is that it has a steep $250 annual fee. It also has a variable APR of 20.99% to 28.99%.
If you’re ok with all of that, then read on.
In return for the annual fee, the American Express Gold Card offers the following rewards:
- Earn 3x Membership Rewards points (redeemable for flights and hotels) on flights booked directly with airlines or on American Express Travel
- $100 experience credit to use during stays at The Hotel Collection with American Express Travel
- No foreign transaction fees
- Baggage insurance plan - up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and $500 for checked baggage
- Car rental loss and damage insurance
- Global Assist Hotline - available for 24/7 emergency assistance whenever you travel more than 100 miles from home. It can be used for missing luggage help, emergency cash wires, medical and legal referrals, and much more.
So, what credit cards are best for traveling to Europe? It all depends on what you’re looking for, and whether you’re willing to pay an annual fee to unlock travel perks.
Hopefully though, you should be all clued-up on the options available after reading this guide. Happy travels!
Do you need a special credit card to travel to Europe?
You can use many US-issued credit cards in Europe, but they can be extremely expensive when it comes to foreign transaction fees and interest rates. This is why it’s a good idea to look for travel rewards cards, which waive these fees.
Is Visa or Amex better in Europe?
As Visa (along with Mastercard) cards are issued by European banks, it tends to be more widely accepted than the US-issued American Express card.
What’s the best credit card for students traveling to Europe?
For most students, it’s all about the cost. So, look for travel rewards credit cards which have no annual fee and charge no foreign transaction fees. A couple of the best examples from our list are the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card and of course, the Wise international debit card.
Learn more about Wise
Sources used for this article:
Sources checked on 12-May-2023.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
Mastercard and Visa are your best options, as they're both accepted pretty much everywhere in over 200 countries and territories. American Express is accepted in all European countries but may not be accepted by the specific merchant you're doing business with, particularly if it's a small operation....What credit card should I get to use in Europe? ›
Mastercard and Visa are your best options, as they're both accepted pretty much everywhere in over 200 countries and territories. American Express is accepted in all European countries but may not be accepted by the specific merchant you're doing business with, particularly if it's a small operation....What credit cards are most common in Europe? ›
Chip and PIN credit cards are more common in Europe and considered more secure than the chip and signature cards we have in the U.S. But not to worry – lots of popular U.S. credit cards are equipped with this technology.Which 3 credit card companies are most widely accepted abroad? ›
You can check Discover's acceptance map to see coverage details. Therefore, Visa and Mastercard are the most commonly accepted networks while traveling internationally. American Express has been working on its international presence, falling slightly short of the other networks.Which credit cards are accepted all over the world? ›
Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Discover credit cards are all accepted worldwide. Visa and Mastercard are the two largest card networks in the world, both in terms of geographical spread and merchant acceptance.Is it cheaper to use debit or credit card in Europe? ›
Paying with your debit card is almost always cheaper than withdrawing money from it. Within the euro countries, paying with a debit card or credit card is free. Withdrawing money with your debit card in another European Union country does not cost more than it does in your home country.What type of card is best to use abroad? ›
If you're planning an overseas trip, or regularly buy from overseas websites, a specialist travel credit or debit card is one of the cheapest way to spend as it gives near-perfect exchange rates worldwide.Is it better to use Visa or MasterCard in Europe? ›
When Europeans buy something with plastic, they insert their card, then type in their PIN. Despite some differences between European and US cards, there's little to worry about: US credit cards (Visa and MasterCard) generally work fine in Europe.Is it better to use cash or credit card in Europe? ›
European travelers should always have some cash on hand; getting it from an ATM abroad is usually the easiest, most advantageous way. If you need cash from an ATM, it's usually better to use a debit card, because credit cards often charge a high interest rate for a cash advance.Which credit card is not widely accepted? ›
The good news is that Visa and Mastercard are generally widely accepted abroad. The bad news is that Discover cards and American Express cards aren't as widely accepted. Also, in some places cash is still king.
Credit card transaction fees are typically higher than debit cards. Shops may charge a fee, and banks may charge a conversion fee for the payment. If the merchant hasn't displayed fee notices, travelers should inquire with the staff. Credit cards may be subject to ghost charges or temporary holds.Is it best to use a credit card abroad? ›
Advantages of an overseas card
The main advantage of using a debit or credit card overseas is that you won't pay foreign transaction fees every time you spend. While many also won't charge fees for cash withdrawals, you will still usually be charged interest from the date of the transaction if you use a credit card.
It's generally recommended that you have two to three credit card accounts at a time, in addition to other types of credit. Remember that your total available credit and your debt to credit ratio can impact your credit scores. If you have more than three credit cards, it may be hard to keep track of monthly payments.Why Mastercard is better than Visa? ›
While they share similarities, Mastercard's World and World Elite levels provide additional luxury incentives. Mastercard offers insurance, ID theft protection, mobile device protection, global emergency services, concierge services, access to luxury resorts, and exclusive event deals.Is it better to get euros before going to Europe? ›
If buying euros in advance, whatever you do, don't overdo it! In almost every case, euros you can get abroad from an ATM will be cheaper than those you can get back in the States.How much cash should I take to Europe? ›
A good rule of thumb is to carry $50-$100 a day in the local currency while travelling. Remember, though, that cash may not be the best option to pay for travel expenses. Credit cards offer great rewards, lower transaction fees, and can help you get a better exchange rate.Is Mastercard or Visa better internationally? ›
Mastercard is better for international travel than Visa because Mastercard is accepted in more countries and territories (over 210) than Visa (200). Both are widely accepted nearly everywhere you're likely to travel, though, and each network supports credit cards that are excellent for traveling abroad.Will I get charged for using my credit card abroad? ›
Your credit card provider will use a conversion rate offered by Visa, Mastercard or American Express. This will usually be better than the rate you would get from the retailer or ATM. Expect a small currency conversion fee and, if you're withdrawing cash, a cash transaction fee.How do you get euros when traveling? ›
Banks. You can often buy Euros and other foreign currencies from your bank, although be aware that they may not offer the most competitive exchange rates. The exchange rate makes more difference to the overall cost of buying travel money than you might think.How many euros to bring to Europe? ›
Any natural person entering or leaving the EU and carrying cash of a value of €10 000 or more is required to declare that sum to the competent authorities of the Member State through which he/she is entering or leaving the EU.
Debit cards from any major US bank will work in any standard European bank's ATM (ideally, use a debit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo). As for credit cards, Visa and MasterCard are universal, American Express is less common, and Discover is unknown in Europe. Check your cards' expiration dates.Is it better to pay in euros with credit card in Europe? ›
If you use a US credit card in France, Italy, Spain, or another European country, you may be wondering whether to pay in euros or dollars on an American credit card. The short answer is: Always pay in the local currency (Euros), which allows your bank to set the exchange rate, and it will always be a better option.Can I use my cell phone in Europe? ›
The general rule is that as long as you spend more time at home than abroad, or you use your mobile phone more at home than abroad, you can pay your standard domestic prices for your calls, texts and data services when you travel in the EU. This is considered a fair use of roaming services.Can you do Europe on $100 a day? ›
Backpackers should expect to spend between $40 – $70 USD/day in Eastern Europe, $70 – $100/day in Western Europe, and $150 – $200/day in the Nordic countries.Do you tip in Europe? ›
Restaurant tips are more modest in Europe than in America. At restaurants, check the menu to see if service is included; if it isn't, a tip of 5–10 percent is normal. In most places, 10 percent is a big tip. If your bucks talk at home, muzzle them on your travels.Should I use US credit card in Europe? ›
Despite some differences between European and US cards, there's little to worry about: US credit cards (Visa and MasterCard) generally work fine in Europe.Is it better to get foreign currency or use credit card? ›
Depending on the credit card you use when traveling abroad, you could pay fees that total 6% or more of purchases. Using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees and choosing to make purchases in local currency will nearly always save you money.Do American debit cards work in Europe? ›
Debit cards from any major US bank will work in any standard European bank's ATM (ideally, use a debit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo). As for credit cards, Visa and MasterCard are universal, American Express is less common, and Discover is unknown in Europe. Check your cards' expiration dates.What is the best way for Americans to pay in Europe? ›
Should You Use Cash or Credit When Traveling to Europe? Most international travelers will end up using a combination of cash and cards when visiting Europe. While credit cards are accepted in most situations, currency can be more convenient for public transportation and small vendors.What are the disadvantages of using a credit card abroad? ›
Disadvantages of an overseas card
For a start, many overseas credit cards do not offer interest-free deals on purchases, which means it's important to watch what you spend on your card on holiday. If you are unable to pay off your balance in full each month you will usually be charged interest.
The general consensus is that you should have $50 to $100 in cash per day for each traveler. However, this amount could vary considerably depending on where you are vacationing. Some destinations are more cash-friendly than others.What American cards work in Europe? ›
American credit cards work throughout Europe (at hotels, larger shops and restaurants, travel agencies, car-rental agencies, and so on); Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted. American Express is less common, and the Discover card is unknown in Europe.Do I need to notify US Bank of international travel? ›
Cards issued by U.S. Bank can be used in most foreign countries for transactions. If you're planning to travel and want to use your card, let us know. Call us at the number on the back of your card, or add a travel note to your account digitally.