What’s The Best Credit Card For International Non Bonus Spending?

barclaycard arrival plus

Within the U.S. we have plenty of great credit cards for non bonus spending but unfortunately most of those cards charge a foreign transaction fee of around 3% on all international purchases. With so many credit cards that do not charge a foreign transaction fee, there is no absolutely reason to pay the foreign transaction fee. Most popular travel cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Citi Prestige cards only earn 1x per $1 though, which is less than ideal. So what’s the best credit card for international non bonus spending?

The 3 Best Cards For International Non Bonus Spending

The Amex SPG card, Barclaycard Arrival Plus, and Capital One Venture cards are all great options for earning valuable points while also not paying for foreign transaction fees. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus and Capital One Venture cards both offer 2x per $1 on all non bonus spending. The Amex SPG card only offers 1x per $1 on non bonus spending, but I regularly find I’m able to get around 2.5 cents per point when I redeem my points, meaning the effective earning rate of the card to me is 2.5x per $1 spent.

American Express SPG

american express spg personal

(Picture courtesy of Amex)

  • Sign up bonus:
    • 25,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 in 3 months
    • Additional 10,000 Starpoints after spending an additional $2,000 in 6 months (Highest ever public offer)
  • Points Earnings:
    • 2x per $1 on SPG, Marriott and Ritz Carlton Hotels
      • Effective return: (2x per $1) x (2.5 cents per point value) = 5x per dollar
    • 1x per $1 everywhere else
      • Effective return: (1x per $1) x (2.5 cents per point value) = 2.5x per dollar
  • Benefits:
    • 5 nights/2 stays towards SPG Elite status
    • Boingo Wifi membership
    • No foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $95

Barclaycard Arrival Plus

barclaycard arrival plus

(Picture courtesy of Barclaycard)

  • Sign up bonus:
    • 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days
  • Points earnings:
    • 2x per $1 on all purchases
      • Effective return: (2x per $1) x (5% miles back)  = 2.1x per purchase
  • Benefits:
    • Redeem miles as statement credit
      • Earn miles on purchases that are redeemed earning you an extra points xxx per $1
      • Travel charges must be a minimum of $100 to be redeemable
        • If you are redeeming hotel rooms and lights you should be fine, but if you want to redeem Uber charges for example, you should consider a different card
    • Get 5% miles back for every travel redemption’s
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Travel accident and trip cancellation insurance
    • Chip and pin availability
  • Annual Fee:
    • $89 waived the first year

Capital One Venture

capital one venture

(Picture courtesy of Capital One)

  • Sign up bonus:
    • 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days
  • Points earnings:
    • 2x per $1 on all purchases
      • Effective return: (2x per $1) = 2.0x per purchase
  • Benefits:
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • Redeem miles as statement credit which allows you to book travel on any website
  • Annual Fee:
    • $59 waived the first year

Which Is Right For You?

This largely depends if you’d like the option to redeem points on all travel or only within the SPG rewards program. If you are debating between the Capital One Venture card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card, consider if you’ll need a chip and pin card (this is common in Europe) or if you’ll earn enough rewards from the extra .1% earned on the Arrival Plus card to make up the $30 annual fee difference. You’ll need to spend $30,000 or more to make up the $30 annual fee difference ($30/.01% = $30,000).

One thing you should also consider is that the SPG card is an Amex card, which is not as widely accepted as Visa and Mastercards worldwide.

If you’d like to redeem for all types of travel, need a chip and pin card or spend more than $30,000 annually:

-Barclaycard Arrival Plus

If you’d like to redeem for all types of travel:

-Capital One Venture

If you’d like to earn SPG Starpoints:

-American Express SPG card

Conclusion

While it’s always great practice to carry cash when traveling internationally, any of the three cards above would be great to earn valuable rewards on non bonus spending. My personal favorite would be the Amex SPG card as I prefer points over statement credit and I also find it to be the most rewarding out of the three. Be cautious though, as Amex may not be accepted as much as Visa and a MasterCard worldwide.

What’s your favorite international non bonus spending card?

– Points Tutor

  • Gary Leff

    Cathay Pacific’s no card earns 1.5x on foreign transactions…

    • Another very valid option for short distance redemptions. Thanks Gary!