If you’re traveling overseas and plan to use the same credit card you use while at home, you may be opening yourself up to unnecessary fees and/or losing out on big rewards.
A recent report from WalletHub, which tracks credit scores and provides financial advice, looked at the 55 most popular personal credit cards from the top 10 issuers and ranked them on their attractiveness to consumers who travel overseas. WalletHub looked at more than a dozen metrics to arrive at its credit card rankings, including travel notification policies, insurance coverage and foreign transaction fees.
For example, foreign transaction fees can amount to as much as 3% of the overseas purchase price. And 50% of users don’t even know whether their card issuer charges one.
WalletHub awarded each specific card a score of up to 100%. Up to 20 percentage points of that is based on evaluating any fees and a maximum of 30 percentage points is derived from secondary benefits like emergency travel assistance or lost luggage insurance. The biggest part—up to 50 percentage points—is based on convenience services such as whether the card is widely accepted abroad or offers financial assistance in case of travel emergencies or lost or stolen cards.
“Having the right plastic in your pocket can make life a whole lot easier,” the report says. “The best travel rewards credit cards offer people with good or excellent credit hundreds of dollars in savings per year.”
The winner? The Bank of America Premium Rewards card topped the rankings with an overall score of 95.52% followed closely by its sibling card, Bank of America Travel Rewards, which notched a 91.52% score.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard weighed in at number three with an 88% tally, followed by the USAA Visa Signature Cards, whose score totaled 85.52%.
Citi Premier and Citi Prestige tied for the number five spot with scores of 85% each. The number seven slot was also shared, in this case by siblings Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve and JP Morgan Reserve—all three finishing with scores of 84.52%.
Rounding out the top 10 was another tie—American Express Gold Card and American Express Platinum Card, weighing in with total scores of 80.67% apiece.
As useful as the overall rankings may be, the report invites consumers to consider the particular services or fees that matter most to them. It makes absolute sense to consider your spending habits, a trip’s purpose, itinerary or other inclinations before signing on to a new card.
For example, free car rental insurance may not matter at all if your plan is to travel by train. And if a trip to London includes shopping for a suit or other clothing, getting big cash rewards or avoiding a foreign transaction fee might be at the top of your mind.