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The 5 best travel money cards for the uk in 2023.
Given lots of Australians have links to the UK, it's not surprising it's one of the top 5 places Australians travel to each year. Aside from family, the UK offers great historic monuments, art galleries and lively festivals and sporting events to keep Australians returning every year.
In the UK you are likely to pay for accommodation, food, transport and entertainment as well as withdraw cash from ATMs with your card. So which is the best option to take with you?
We have checked out the best currency cards to take for the UK for Australians in 2023 and have summarised their best points.
Best 5 Travel Money Cards for the UK in 2023:
- Wise Multi Currency Card for best exchange rates
- Travelex Money Card - Best all rounder
- HSBC Global Everyday Debit Card for use in Australia too
- Bankwest Breeze Platinum Credit Card for lowest interest rate
- ING One Low Rate Credit Card with no annual fee
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Wise Multi Currency Prepaid Card - Best Exchange Rates
- 40+ currencies available
- Best exchange rates globally
- One of the lowest conversion fee on the market
- No international transaction fees
- No annual or monthly fees
- Extremely low costs to send money overseas
Wise Debit Card Review
Wise Travel Card
- Cross currency conversion fees are between 0.24–3.69%. AUD to USD , EUR or GBP was 0.42%, which is one of the lowest on the market
- Free cash withdrawals up to $350 every 30 days. However after that, Wise charge a fixed fee of $1.50 per transaction + 1.75%
- Daily ATM withdrawal is $2,700
- Issue up to 3 virtual cards for temporary usage
- It takes between 7 to 14 business days to receive your card
- Can be used wherever MasterCard is accepted
The Wise Travel Card is a splendid fit for those intending to explore the UK. It offers over 40 currencies at the intermarket exchange rate, which is the cheapest rate globally. In addition you can buy goods online from overseas with no transaction fee plus get the best exchange rate. However if you use ATMs frequently this is not the card to use due to the fees. Finally Wise Travel Card lets you transfer money to an overseas bank account with extremely low fees and the best exchange rate.
Travelex Money Card - Best All Rounder
- Unlimited free ATM withdrawals
- 24/7 Emergency Assistance
- Initial and replacement card are free
- Lock in up to 10 currencies
Read our Travelex Travel Card Review
Travelex Money Card
- Minimum load of $100 and maximum load of $100,000
- Can be used wherever Mastercard is accepted
- Fees include a $10 closure fee, $5 for an additional card and $4 inactivity monthly fee.
- While Travelex don't charge ATM fees, some ATM operators may charge their own fees.
- Currencies that can be loaded are AU$, US$, EU€, GB£, NZ$, TH฿, CA$, HK$, JP¥, SG$
- If your card is lost or stolen you can access cash in your account through Moneygram or Western Union agents, with no charge
- Boingo hotspots offer free wifi and you can look at their number of free hotspots per country on this map
The Travelex Money Card is a good all-rounder no matter if you are heading to the bustling streets of London, the historic charm of Edinburgh, or the picturesque countryside.
You can use it to take money out of the ATM, for merchant purchases like restaurants and even for online shopping in foreign currency. While the exchange rates aren't as good as the Wise or Revolut cards abroad , the support network if the card is lost or stolen is very good. This convenience can be remarkably useful while touring the historic and vibrant regions of the UK.
HSBC Everyday Global Travel Card - Best Travel Card by Bank
- Great exchange rate offered for British pounds (GBP)
- No ATM fees at HSBC tellers
- No initial card, closure, account keeping or monthly fees
- No cross currency conversion fees
HSBC Everyday Global Travel Card
- 10 Currencies can be loaded are GBP, AUD, USD, EUR, HKD, CAD, JPY, NZD, SGD and CNY (currency restrictions on CNY)
- No maximum balance for any currency
- Very competitive exchange rates on all currencies when you have currencies already loaded on your card
- ATMs within Australia need to be HSBC and overseas they need to display a VISA or VISA Plus logo, not be be charged fees
- Earn 2% cash back when you tap and pay with payWave, Apple Pay or Google Pay for purchases under $100.
- Daily maximum ATM withdrawal is $2,000
- Fraud protection covered by Visa Zero Liability
- Can be used wherever Visa is accepted
The HSBC Everyday Global Travel Card offers a great exchange rate for British pounds, HSBC owned ATMs within the UK, so you can withdraw cash without the hefty withdrawal fees.
In addition, it does not charge an ‘international transaction fee’ so you can spend in the United Kingdom and online in Australia and not pay an additional 3%.
Finally, on top of the excellent currency exchange rate, there is no maximum balance on currencies held and a 2% cash back incentive when you tap and pay under $100.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Credit Card - Lowest Interest Rate
- Lowest interest rate at 9.90%
- No international transaction fees on purchases
- Up to 55 days interest free on purchases
- Low annual fee
- Complimentary international travel insurance
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Credit Card
- Free annual fee first year, then $69 annual fee
- Free international travel insurance that includes the basics but does not cover cancellation costs, pre existing conditions and travellers over 80
- $6,000 minimum credit card
- 0% p.a. on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months, then reverts to 9.90%
- 21.99% interest rate on purchases and cash advances
- Cash advance fee of the higher of $4 or 2% of cash advance
The Bankwest Breeze Platinum is a great no frills credit card that offers ‘no foreign transaction fees’ and the lowest interest rate on the market, at 9.90%. These two factors alone will save you hundreds of dollars when travelling throughout the UK.
In addition it has a low annual fee and complimentary international travel insurance. Finally for its price point it is a great value credit card that will be accepted most places in the United Kingdom.
ING One Low Rate Credit Card - No Annual Fee
- No annual fee
- Up to 45 days interest free on purchases
- Lowest cash advance interest rate of 11.99%
- Use instalment plans to pay off your purchases over time at a lower interest rate
ING One Low Rate Credit Card
- 11.99% interest rate on purchases
- Make payments from your mobile with pay with Apple Pay and Google Pay
- International ATM fee and Foreign currency conversion fee are waived when you deposit $1,000 into your Orange Everyday each month, and make 5+ card purchases that are settled. Otherwise they are the higher of 3% or at least $3
- Put repayments on auto payment each month to pay the minimum balance or full amount
The ING One Low Rate credit card is a great option to take to the United Kingdom as it charges no annual fee and offers a low interest rate for purchases and cash advances of 11.99%. The cash advance interest rate is very low and about 50% less than most of its competitors who charge around 22% on cash advances.
Furthermore the ING One Low Rate credit card has no international transaction fees, so you can save money on your travels and when you buy goods from overseas. It's a handy backup card to have in your wallet when travelling through the UK.
Learn more about the best credit, debit and prepaid cards for travel
Prepaid Card for Travel
Best Debit Card for International Travel
The best travel card for the UK is the Wise Multi Currency card for tap or swipe large transactions like accommodation and restaurants. Wise offers the best exchange rate for British pounds globally and charges no international transaction fees.
HSBC Global and Citibank Plus cards are the best for ATM withdrawals and great exchange rates for British pounds. Both these cards charge no international transaction fee and can be used within Australia without penalties.
The best credit cards for the UK are the BankWest Platinum Breeze and ING One Low Rate as they have the lowest interest rates on the market with and charge no international transaction fees.
Yes you should buy British pounds before you travel to the UK. Having pounds on hand when you arrive at the airport will make your life a lot easier. The airport is also the most expensive place to exchange currency, so you will save a lot of money as well. Even though the UK is card friendly, having cash on hand will always be handy for small purchases, tipping and paying for transport.
Yes you can if they are Mastercard or Visa and you will be charged with a lot of fees including the international transaction fee (3%), ATM withdrawal fee by the bank in the US ($5) and an ATM withdrawal fee by your own bank ($5).
Yes you can get prepaid cards for the UK and Wise , HSBC and Citibank offer the most competitive cards in the market. Other older style prepaid cards like Australia Post, Cash Passport, Travel Money Oz and Travelex have lots of charges like load, unload, inactivity, ATM withdrawals and initial card fees.
As a general rule, working out how much money to take to the UK depends on where you go and your type of travel. If you travel on a budget to the UK it can cost from £50 a day. If you travel in the middle range throughout the UK it can cost from £120 per day. Finally if you travel with luxury throughout the UK it can cost anywhere from £200 per day.
No you can not use Australian dollars or US dollars in the UK. The currency in the UK is the British pound or ‘sterling’. There are 5 bank notes with different colours, they are £5, £10, £20, £50, and £100. There are 8 British coins, they are 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2. The most frequently used are the £1 and £2 coins.
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Learn more about the best travel money cards for your holiday destination.
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The 6 Best Travel Money Cards for the UK - 2023
If you’re visiting the UK, a specialised travel money card can make it cheaper and more convenient to access British pounds for spending and withdrawals. There are various options available, such as travel debit cards, prepaid travel cards, and travel credit cards, which cater to different types of customers. The right one for you will depend on your personal preference and how you like to manage your money.
Read on for all you need to know, including a closer look at travel money card types, some great options to consider, and the sorts of fees you need to think about when you choose.
Wise - our pick for travel debit card for the UK
Before we get into details about different travel money card options, let's begin with the Wise card as a versatile travel money debit card that can hold and spend GBP , as well as a diverse range of other currencies.
Hold and exchange over 50 currencies alongside GBP
No fee to spend any currency you hold, low conversion fees from 0.41%
Mid market exchange rate on all currency conversion
Some fee free ATM withdrawals every month
No ongoing costs and no interest to pay
ATM fees apply once you exceed your plan limits
No option to earn points or rewards
Click here to read a full Wise review
What is a travel money card?
Just like your normal bank card, a travel money card can be used for online and in-store purchases, as well as for cash withdrawals. However, with a travel money card, the features and fees are tailored for global usage. This may mean you get a better exchange rate, or fewer charges, in comparison to using your regular card abroad. Some travel cards - particularly travel credit cards- also offer opportunities to earn cashback and rewards for using your card internationally.
6 travel money cards for the UK compared
Before we get into each card option in more depth, here’s a summary of how six of the best travel money cards for the UK compare to each other.
The features of various travel money cards can differ significantly. Generally, travel debit cards can be convenient and relatively inexpensive to use, while travel credit cards may offer extra benefits such as cashback or rewards. However, they also come with the risk of incurring interest and late payment fees, if you don’t pay off your bill in full every time.
Travel debit cards usually allow you to easily add funds online or via a mobile app, which helps you stick to your budget and avoid overspending. Conversely, travel credit cards enable you to spend up to your credit limit, and you can pay off the balance over several months. Which is best for you will come down to how you like to manage your money - we’ll dive into a few more details about each card type, next.
What are different types of travel cards?
Broadly speaking, Canadian customers can pick a travel money card from either a traditional bank or a specialist provider, from a selection including travel debit cards, travel prepaid cards or travel credit cards. We’ll walk through what each travel money card type is, and pick out a couple of good card options, so you can compare and choose.
1. Travel debit cards
2. Travel prepaid cards
3. Travel credit cards
1. Travel Debit Cards
Specialist providers typically offer travel debit cards, which are accompanied by digital accounts that allow you to top up, hold, and exchange currency balances. While these cards may have different features, they usually provide a user-friendly online platform and mobile app for effortless balance top-ups. With the convenience of viewing your balance and receiving transaction notifications on your phone, it’s easier to manage your finances no matter where you are in the world.
Travel debit card Option 1: Wise
Wise is our pick for travel debit card for the UK . There’s no fee to open a Wise account, and no delivery fee for your Wise card, with no minimum balance and no monthly charge. You just pay low Wise fees from 0.41% when you convert currencies, and transparent ATM fees when you exhaust the monthly free transactions available with your account.
No fee to open a Wise account , no minimum balance requirement
No fee to get your Wise card, free to spend any currency you hold
2 withdrawals, to 350 CAD value per month for free, then 1.5 CAD + 1.75%
Hold GBP and 50+ other currencies, convert between them with the mid-market rate
Get local account details to receive CAD, GBP and 7 other currencies for free
Travel debit card Option 2: Canada Post Cash Passport
You can pick up a Canada Post Cash Passport in your local Post Office, and top up your account in CAD. You can then switch your balance to any of the 7 supported major currencies - or you can just allow the card to convert to the currency you need, although there is a foreign exchange fee of 3.25% for doing so. You can use your Canada Post Cash Passport card in ATMs and wherever the network is supported. ATM fees apply which vary by currency.
Supports 7 major currencies, including GBP
No fee to spend currencies you hold in your account
Variable ATM fee, 1.7 GBP when in the the UK for example
1.5% fee for using your card in Canada - plus any applicable fee to convert funds back to CAD if you hold a foreign currency
Pros and cons of using debit travel cards in the UK
Avoid interest costs and late payment fees
Hold and exchange currencies in advance or at the time of spending
Accounts can be topped up, viewed and managed using just your phone
Safe to use, as accounts aren’t linked to your main Canadian bank account
Travel debit cards are issued on popular global payment networks
Transaction and currency conversion fees may apply
Cash back and rewards may not be available
How to choose the best travel debit card for the UK?
Choosing the best travel debit card for the UK depends on your personal preferences and financial management style. If you travel often - and not just to the UK - it's smart to consider an account that offers mid-market currency exchange rates and a wide selection of supported currencies, including GBP, like Wise. Other providers like Canada Post also support GBP alongside a handful of other major world currencies, and the Cash Passport can be conveniently collected in your local Post Office.
Is there a spending limit with a travel debit card in the UK?
Card use limits are determined by individual providers and can vary depending on the transaction type. Limits may apply on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. For instance, there may be a cap on the number or value of ATM withdrawals allowed per day or a limit on the value of contactless payments you can make. These limits are set for security reasons and can often be adjusted using the provider's app.
2. Prepaid Travel Cards
With a prepaid travel card you’ll usually need to first order a card and then add funds in CAD from your bank account or card. Once you have a balance you can then pay merchants and make cash withdrawals at home and abroad. While prepaid travel cards are usually issued on large global networks - and can therefore be used pretty widely - you may find you pay a foreign transaction fee when overseas, depending on the specific card you select.
Prepaid travel card option 1: BMO Reloadable Mastercard
The BMO Reloadable Mastercard can be topped up in CAD and used when you travel in the UK. You’ll pay a 2.5% foreign transaction fee when overseas, but you’ll still have the advantage that - as with other prepaid and travel cards - this card is not linked to your primary bank account, so it can increase security when spending abroad. There’s a 6.95 CAD annual fee, but as this is a purchase card rather than a credit card, there’s no interest to worry about. You just top up and you can spend up to your account balance freely.
6.95 CAD annual fee, 2.5% foreign transaction fee
5 CAD ATM fee
No interest to worry about
Manage your card online or using your phone, to top up and view balance
Add funds from BMO or other Canadian banks directly
Prepaid travel card option 2: Koho Premium Mastercard
You can get up to 2% cash back with the Koho Premium Mastercard, and there’s no foreign transaction fee to worry about. Instead, you pay a monthly card fee of 9 CAD. The basic card is free to get, or you can upgrade to a Koho metal card for 159 CAD if you want a fancier way to pay when you’re at home and abroad.
9 CAD/month premium fee
No foreign transaction fee
Earn cash back on your spending
Pros and cons of using prepaid travel cards in the UK
Manage your account, add more money or convert funds online or with an app
Accounts with no monthly fees are available
Issued on globally popular networks for good coverage
ATM withdrawals supported globally
Some accounts have extras like options to earn cash back or reward points
Typically only CAD supported - watch out for foreign transaction charges
Transaction fees apply to most accounts
How to choose the best travel prepaid card for the UK?
There’s no single best travel prepaid card for the UK - it’ll come down to your personal preference. If you don’t mind paying a monthly fee you might like the Koho Premium card which waives foreign transaction fees, and other charges like ATM withdrawal fees. Otherwise, if you just want a simple prepaid card and don’t mind the foreign transaction fee when you’re in the UK, the BMO prepaid card might suit you.
Is there a spending limit with a prepaid card in the UK?
Prepaid travel cards usually have different spending and withdrawal limits that can vary depending on the currency. To find the right card for you, you’ll want to carefully review the terms and conditions of each card provider you’re considering. This way, you’ll be confident you’ve picked a provider that meets your specific needs and requirements.
3. Travel Credit Cards
Travel credit cards often come with additional benefits not found in regular credit cards. These benefits can include lower or no fees for foreign transactions and the chance to earn extra rewards when using the card abroad. While travel credit cards offer safety and convenience, it's worth noting that they may be more expensive than using a debit card.
Before choosing a travel credit card, it's essential to consider factors such as fees, rates, eligibility criteria, and interest rates. Take the time to compare different options and select the one that suits you best.
Travel credit card option 1: HSBC World Elite Mastercard
The HSBC World Elite Mastercard has been optimised for overseas use, with extra rewards on international spending and travel, plus no foreign transaction fees to pay. There are lots of ways to earn rewards, including variable new customer bonus offers - the downside is that there’s an annual fee of 149 CAD, so you’ll need to check if the benefits outweigh the costs. As with any other credit card, you’ll also need to pay off your bill in full every month to avoid interest charges.
149 CAD annual fee, 5 CAD ATM withdrawal fee
Variable interest rate
Options to earn rewards, including enhanced benefits for travel spending
Travel credit card option 2: Home Trust Preferred Visa Card
The Home Trust Preferred Visa Card is a credit card with a variable interest rate, no foreign exchange fees and 1% cash back on all eligible purchases. There’s no annual fee to pay, although the ATM withdrawal fees can run pretty high - 1% or 1.5% depending on the ATM type, and the maximum cap is 15 CAD for some withdrawals.
No annual fee, no foreign transaction fee
1% cash back on all eligible purchases
ATM fees apply, which are set as a percentage, and can run pretty high
Pros and cons of using credit cards in the UK
Enjoy peace of mind with zero liability policies offered by some cards
Spread the cost of your travel expenses over several months
Some cards have no foreign transaction fees, saving you money on international purchases
Exchange rates typically offered by card networks are usually fair
Earn cash back and rewards on your spending with select cards, making your travel even more rewarding.
Interest charged if you don’t repay in full every month
Eligibility rules apply
How to choose the best travel credit card for the UK?
Selecting the best travel credit card for the UK largely depends on individual preferences. If you aim to earn rewards and cashback on your foreign transactions, the Home Trust Preferred Visa may be a suitable option as it does not have a foreign transaction fee and provides cash back on all purchases. Whichever card you’re considering you’ll want to weigh up the potential fees you’ll need to pay against the rewards you can earn to make sure it’s worthwhile.
If you regularly travel to the UK or further afield, getting a travel money card which supports the currencies you need frequently can help you save money. Travel money cards have different features, and can be picked up via regular banks, online specialists and even the Post Office.
You could opt for a low cost travel debit card which comes with a linked account to hold a selection of currencies - like the Wise account. Or you might prefer a prepaid travel money card like the Koho Premium Mastercard which has monthly fees in exchange for features like no foreign transaction charges - handy if you use it abroad often. Finally, another option is to get a travel credit card either to earn cashback and rewards, or to avoid foreign transaction fees.
The good news is that the Canadian market is well served for all types of travel money cards - use this guide to start your research and pick the right option for your specific needs.
FAQ - Best travel cards for the UK
You can usually make cash withdrawals with a credit card in the UK at any ATM that supports your card network. You’ll often find that a fee applies, and you may start to accumulate interest on the withdrawn amount immediately. Travel money debit cards from providers like Wise and Canada Post can be a lower cost option for cash withdrawals overseas.
You can use your debit card anywhere you see the card network’s logo displayed. Visa and Mastercard networks are very well supported globally, including in the UK, making these good options to look out for when you pick your travel debit card for the UK.
Prepaid cards from reputable providers are safe to use at home and abroad. They aren’t linked to your main bank account which can offer extra peace of mind, and may also make it easier to manage your travel budget. However, you’ll need to check the card features and fees carefully to make sure you're getting the best match for your needs.
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WOWCOMPARE® Travel Money Cards, the best currency cards for holidays
Travel money cards or foreign currency cards help you save money on holiday by providing better exchange rates and eliminating fees, including: individual transaction fees, individual currency conversion fees and ATM cash machine fees.
Why use a travel money card?
Compared to regular credit or debit bank cards, travel money cards provide a great way to buy and spend foreign currency when you’re travelling or on holiday. Travel money cards help you save money in two ways:
1. Most travel money cards offer better foreign exchange rates compared to using standard debit or credit cards.
2. Travel money cards also prevent you incurring individual foreign transaction fees as they enable you to always pay in the local currency.
Travel money cards = Safer holiday money
Prepaid currency cards can be used worldwide in shops, bars, cafes, restaurants and for online purchases when abroad, they have become hugely popular and are considered a much safer option to changing up holiday money and having to carry large amounts of cash.
Most travel currency payment cards are compatible with Apple Pay & Google Pay and can be stored on your phone to enable cardless payments. Plus having a saved version ‘backed-up’ on your phone is handy, just in case you loose your physical card.
4 Travel money card options
Travel money cards fall into four categories, this can be important when choosing the right travel money card for you:
Single-currency prepaid travel money cards
Are restricted to a single currency for example €EURO or $US. Currency can be topped up by bank transfer or using a credit or debit card. You can lock in an exchange rate when you top up, or when the exchange rates offer the better rates.
Cards are available from providers including: * Cashplus (eligibility requirement – you must have a Cashplus account in order to apply for a currency card).
Multi-currency prepaid travel money cards
Allow numerous currencies to be loaded on a single card, perfect if you plan to visit multiple destinations. A multi-currency card could have Pounds, Euros, Dollars and other world currencies all stored on a single card.
With a multi-currency card you can lock in rates by converting currencies when you load up. Alternatively you load up you card with your national currency and convert balances later via your app, when you choose e.g. when exchange rates are more favourable.
Multi-currency cards are available from providers including: Mastercard (Prepaid own brand card), WISE , Revolut , EasyFX, Travelex and others.
Bank account & card linked travel money cards
Bank account & card linked travel money cards are a new concept, they basically act as a payment bridge allowing you to pay with an existing bank account or payment card when abroad. The payments are made in the foreign currency with the currency exchange handled in the cloud, they eliminate foreign transaction fees and generally offer some of the best exchange rates (based on a spot rate at each transaction).
Examples of linked cards include Currensea card & Curve card .
NEW Crytpo and world currency cards
New crypto currency prepaid debit cards also allow you to load up and spend selected national ‘fiat’ currencies. They basically work in the same way as a Multi-currency card with smart technology and digital wallets to store and spend from separate currencies. Cards are available from providers including: Bitpanda, Wirex, Coinbase, Binance and others.
Check out some of UK’s most popular prepaid travel currency cards for ‘fee free’ spending.
Compare Travel Money Cards
Compare ‘prepaid’ travel money cards, ‘bank linked’ travel money cards & ‘card linked’ travel money cards.
(Source: WOWCOMPARE travel money cards updated August 2023. Check with each travel money card provider for full pricing and terms.)
Top Travel Money Tips
Avoid changing up cash at a bureaux de change.
Changing cash at bureaux de change, especially those located in airports and stations can result in charges anywhere from 2% – 15% in commission, rates and fees.
Don’t use regular bank cards unless they offer ‘fee free’ use abroad
Most bank debit & credit cards add foreign transaction fees, using regular bank cards could cost you anywhere between 1.5% and 4.25% per transaction. Choose a card with low fees, or even better get a ‘fee free’ travel money card and save on fees.
Always remember to pay in the local currency
Never choose the option to pay in your own currency, especially if you are using a travel money card, you should always pay in the local currency.
Using ATMs to withdraw cash while on holiday can be expensive as most apply their own charges
It is important to bear in mind cash machines in many EU destinations apply a charge, even if your card issuer offers ‘fee free’ cash withdrawals. In the EU ATM cash machines can apply charges anywhere from 1€ – 7€.
Travel Money Cards FAQs
Pre-paid travel money cards are available from services including Post Office, FairFX & Travelx. New Fintech companies have launched travel money card alternatives, these include: Currensea, Revolut, Wirex & Wise.
Some new cryptocurrency accounts and payment cards also provide currency conversion and spending from foreign currency balances held in accounts.
Most cards can be applied for online and will be posted out to within a couple of days. Most providers issue free cards, although some card providers may charge a card issue fee &/or a delivery charge for new cards.
Pre-paid travel money cards are designed to hold at least one foreign currency, most cards have the ability to load and store multiple currencies this is handy if you do a lot of travelling and plan to visit countries with different national currencies.
New bank linked and card linked cards do not store foreign currency, instead they provide a point of purchase currency conversion using a spot exchange rate for each purchase, they will then debit the corresponding amount in GBP from your linked card or bank account.
Exchange rates vary from card to card, most cards offer better rates of exchange than traditional bank cards and do not apply individual transaction fees when you use them.
Typically exchange rates will be either based on:
Loading rate of exchange – for most cards the rate of exchange is provided each time you go to load money onto your travel money card. You choose your desired foreign currency, how much you want to buy or the value of your home currency you want to convert. You get a quote providing the exchange rate, any charges applied and the amount of foreign currency you will receive on your card.
POP (point of purchase) conversion rate of exchange – newer cards like Currensea & Curve work a little differently. These cards work like a bridge, Currensea card can be linked to a bank account of your choice, Curve card can be linked to some or all of your debit and credit cards.
When you use Currensea or Curve cards they use POP currency conversion in real time, the equivalent in GBP pounds will be debited from your linked bank account if you have a Currensea card or your chosen debit or credit card if you have a Curve card. Either way you pay no conversion fees the Currensea or Curve card handles the exchange for you, allowing you to pay in your destination currency each time.
Currensea card & Curve card provide a relatively new way of spending abroad, many customers appear to like these new innovative services, giving them 4.8 & 4.3 Trustpilot ratings.
Travel money cards are either Visa or Mastercard and are accepted in millions of places around the world. Travel money cards allow you to pay like a local in the local currency.
Travel money cards allow you to pay for goods and services in the correct currency (e.g. Euro in Europe or Dollars in the USA). No conversion fees or usage fees should apply as you are able to pay in the correct local currency.
YES – Travel money cards allow cash withdrawals from most cash machines.
It is worth checking t&cs for cards, some do charge a small fee for cash withdrawals, or limit the amounts you can withdraw free of charge.
Also some ATMs apply their own fees, if fees are being applied you should be notified before you commit or agree to make a withdrawal (fee’s should not be applied without your knowledge).
Prepaid Travel Money Cards
Prepaid cards are designed to be loaded up with foreign currency, they are basically work like a digital wallet. A prepaid travel money card allows you to buy foreign currencies (usually at competitive rates of exchange), to store and spend the currency just as you would using a regular debit card with zero transaction fees as you are able to pay in the currency of your destination. Prepaid cards can be ‘topped up’ or ‘loaded’ in advance or as needed.
Bank/Card Linked Travel Money Cards
Bank and card linked travel money cards are a relatively new concept, they basically act as a currency exchange bridge and allow you to spend in a foreign currency with zero transaction fees. What they do is link to a designated bank account or card and debit from the linked account as you spend using your travel card.
Currensea is a bank linked card, you can use Currensea card when abroad to pay in your locations currency. Currensea pays in the currency of your destination therefore eliminating individual foreign transaction fee’s, and the corresponding amount in £’s is debited from your linked bank account
Curve works in a similar way and allows you to link chosen bank cards and credit cards to your Curve account & card. Once linked you can use your Curve card to spend from linked cards while abroad. Curve uses a wholesale currency exchange rate for each transaction, Curve pays in the currency of your destination therefore eliminating individual foreign transaction fee’s, and the corresponding amount in £’s is debited from any one of your chosen linked cards.
Travel money cards are a great choice for many people, however not all cards are the same and it is important to consider which are the best cards for your travel and foreign currency needs.
Key things to look out for when choosing a travel money card are:
Ongoing administration fees: Does the card have an ongoing monthly/annual admin fee? Whilst most prepaid travel money cards have zero transaction fees. Other fees may apply, including annual or monthly subscription fees, this is often for premium cards which usually offer more incentives and better exchange rates. Some services also charge fees for low use or dormant cards (typically after 12 months of zero use).
Load Charges: Loading foreign currency onto your card may incur a loading fee each time. Card providers often also make a small percentage on currency exchange (fees and exchange rates should be clearly stated when you load up your card so you know exactly how much foreign currency you are getting at the time of conversion/loading).
Transaction / card use fees: Individual transaction fees in shops and restaurants should be zero as a travel money card allows you to pay in your destinations currency. Always remember to select to pay in the currency of your destination if you are offered more than one option (make sure you have a balance in the correct currency (i.e. pay in Euro in Europe or $US in USA).
Be aware exchange rates and card usage fees are subject to the individual T&Cs of each travel money card provider.
Full details including terms, conditions & fees are provided on individual travel card provider websites. Please ensure you are aware of and happy with everything prior to signing up for a travel money card.
WIREX offers you more than just a currency card, check out our cryptocurrency trading guide to see how you can buy cryptocurrencies, sell cryptocurrencies & spend cryptocurrencies in shops and online with a Wirex account and currency card.
Plus earn Cryptoback™ in Wirex Token (WXT) each time you spend on your Wirex card.
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The best prepaid travel cards (travel money cards) in 2023
In a nutshell, best prepaid travel money cards.
- Best direct debit travel card
- Our criteria for the best prepaid travel money cards
- What's the best prepaid travel card for Europe?
What is a prepaid travel card?
Store multiple currencies, the best prepaid travel card in the uk.
- Pros and cons of prepaid travel cards
What’s the alternatives to multi-currency prepaid cards?
What is the mid-market rate (the real exchange rate), what’s the mastercard rate, prepaid travel card fees, how to get a prepaid travel card.
- Are prepaid travel cards safe?
The best prepaid travel cards are Revolut and Wise. Although not a prepaid card, one of the best cards to use abroad is Currensea (it links to your bank account). They’re all super popular, with low fees, and are easy to sign up and use.
Heading off on an adventure or holiday abroad? Or perhaps a work trip? Making the right decision on travel money can save you a small fortune – and a prepaid travel money card is likely your best option. So without further ado, here’s the best:
The best travel money card
The best travel card overall.
Best travel card
Currensea tops the list – it's super simple to use, just connect it to your bank account and it’s low cost too. You'll also get a £5 welcome bonus.
With Currensea, you can get a travel card that connects directly to your bank account – it acts just the same as your bank card, and transactions come directly out of your bank account.
The only difference, is you won't have to pay hefty bank fees, saving anywhere from 85% to 100% of the cost.
It's a great alternative to a prepaid travel card if you want something a bit simpler.
£5 welcome bonus
The best prepaid cards you top-up beforehand, all ready to spend.
Wise is one of the best travel cards out there. It's super popular, with over 16 million customers around the world.
It's got some of the lowest fees you'll find, and it's available in over 40 currencies and 150+ countries.
The card is contactless, and there's a great phone app (and website) to manage everything too.
Revolut is everything money related in a pack-out app.
It's great for travel. With a Revolut account (and card), you spend abroad and benefit from low fees – and hold and spend multiple currencies at once.
With a paid plan, you'll also get access to airport lounges (at a discount), and there's cashback on future hotel bookings.
Overall, the app itself is great. You can save, invest, transfer money (worldwide), and more. There's even a business account.
Get 3 months of Premium free
Our criteria for the best prepaid travel cards
To compare and determine the best travel money cards, we looked at:
- Withdrawal fees from an ATM
Card delivery fee
- Number of currencies available
- Ease of use (manage online via a website or phone app)
There’s lots of options for converting (changing) your money, or spending abroad, such as changing cash in-person at a bureau de change (not recommended), using an ATM, or a credit card or debit card abroad – but a prepaid travel card is often one of the easiest and cheapest options – and you can reuse them for all your holidays in the future, or even on the same trip to different countries, spending different currencies.
We’re big fans of prepaid travel cards here at Nuts About Money, and are only recommending the best – they’re ones we recommend to our friends and family (and readers of course), and use ourselves when we’re able to get away.
So, whichever travel card (from our recommendations) you opt for, you can be confident they’re safe to use, trustworthy, and you’ll be using one of the cheapest options available.
What’s the best prepaid travel card for Europe?
If you’re heading off to Europe for a bit of getaway, you’ve got loads of options when it comes to a prepaid travel card – just make sure you don’t use your current bank account and debit card – you’ll be charged hefty fees (we’ll cover all of this below).
Anyway, the best travel card for Europe is Currensea ¹ – it’s easy to use, just link it to your existing bank account and you’re good to go. It’s very low cost too (and no set up fees).
A prepaid travel card is similar to a bank card (debit card) that you might use for all of your spending in the UK, except instead of your money coming directly out of your bank account, you’ll top it up with money beforehand (or during your trip) – meaning you’ll simply send Pounds (GBP) from your bank account directly to the card (account).
Note: you can send it back if you don’t spend it all.
Once the card has been 'topped-up', you can spend it abroad and withdraw cash from an ATM (cash machine), (e.g. Euros if you’re heading to Europe), meaning that you can save a lot of money in hidden fees and bad exchange rates – and these fees can really add up.
Why? Typically using your high street bank card abroad will mean a fee every time you want to use it, and your money will need to be converted into the local currency every time you use it too – at a very bad exchange rate that the bank sets (which often includes a hidden fee).
The prepaid travel cards we've listed above give you the freedom to spend like a local, and not worry about the cost. They’re pretty great.
With prepaid travel cards, you can actually store a range of different currencies in your account, it doesn’t have to be just one. And for this reason they’re often also called a multi-currency card, or a foreign currency card.
With Wise ¹, there’s actually over 40 different currencies you can store, and of course, spend.
And normally, if you don’t have the particular currency you want to spend, the card will automatically convert another currency in your account to the currency you need when you spend. Pretty cool.
The best prepaid currency cards we’ve listed above are some of the best wherever you are in the world, for changing one currency to another, and spending in a different country (there’s a huge range of currencies with Wise ¹). And all great if you’re from the UK travelling abroad.
You can sign up online and use both Revolut ¹ and Wise ¹ if you’re in the UK, and are travelling to pretty much any other country in the world.
Pros and cons of prepaid travel money cards
Let’s run through the pros and cons of using a prepaid card:
- Cheap way of spending abroad (pay in the local currency)
- Easy way to spend (make contactless payments abroad)
- Store multiple currencies on one card
- Often free to withdraw cash from an ATM (up to a limit)
- Safe way of spending money abroad (don’t need loads of cash)
- Protection from fraud (sometimes able to refund a transaction, called a chargeback)
- Easily block your card if it’s lost or stolen (and get a replacement card)
- Great for setting a spending budget (no overdraft)
- Can be low withdrawal limits from an ATM (before fees)
- Might not be able to use it to hire a car or a hotel (or any pre-authorised transactions)
- Can’t spend more than you top up (no overdraft like a bank)
A prepaid currency card isn’t your only option, but it’s definitely one of the cheapest (especially with one of the top prepaid travel money card providers). You could also change cash before you go (very expensive), or use a credit card or debit card designed for foreign currency spending (don’t just use any credit or debit card, they can be expensive!).
But with those, you’ll need to do a full application with credit checks, and open a whole new bank account for a debit card. There’s not really much benefit vs a prepaid card (unless you’re travelling a lot, or in the market for a new bank).
Nuts About Money tip: if you don’t want to use a prepaid card, check out Currensea ¹, they’re a travel card that connects directly to your bank account – so whatever you spend comes directly out of your bank. It’s a pretty cool idea and much cheaper than your bank, as you’ll get cheaper currency conversion rates and no transaction fees.
Although you’ve likely heard of an exchange rate, which is how much you get in another currency when you swap (exchange) your Pounds for them (e.g. Pounds for Euros) – depending on where you exchange your money, this rate can vary wildly.
Typically banks and other foreign exchange places tend to set their own exchange rate, which is much worse than the real exchange rate… (it’s how you can often see commission-free advertised, but it’s not really, there’s a hidden fee in the exchange rate).
The real exchange rate (used worldwide) is called the mid-market rate, and this is the rate that banks themselves use to swap money (also called the interbank exchange rate), without any hidden fees involved. It is the rate the ‘market’ sets – where buyers and sellers come together.
Technically the mid-market rate is the middle of the buy and sell prices of two currencies (e.g. Pounds to Euros), and so it effectively represents the current exchange rate.
So, if a travel money company isn’t using the mid-market rate (they might say interbank rate), you’re not getting the ‘real’ exchange rate, and you’ll be paying a fee.
European Central Bank (ECB) rate
In Europe, the European Central Bank (an organisation that is intended to look after the finances of all the countries in Europe that use the Euro, similar to the Bank of England in the UK), set an exchange rate too, called the European Central Bank rate.
You could think of this as another official rate, just for Euros, although you’ll never actually be able to get this rate – but the closer to it, the more money you’ll save.
There’s also something called the Mastercard rate, which as you’ve probably guessed, is the rate the company Mastercard sets – they’re a very big company who provides cards for banks and other financial companies for their customers to use (e.g. a bank debit card). Another similar company is Visa.
And similar to the mid-market rate, they set an exchange rate which is set on their cards for foreign exchange.
They take a small fee within this rate, so it will always be slightly higher than the mid-market rate. And, companies using Mastercard services (e.g. to give their customers cards), can choose to either add their own fee on, or add no fees and pass on the exact exchange rate.
So, if you see a bank saying you’ll get the Mastercard rate, that means they haven’t added any extra fees and are passing the lowest rate possible they can get (with Mastercard) onto you.
This rate will be one of the cheapest you'll be able to get. Just make sure they haven't added any commission on top.
The topic we’re all here for, how much do you actually pay with prepaid travel cards? We’ve covered the exchange rates above, and typically this is the main fee you’ll pay (if there is a fee hidden in the exchange rate).
However, there are some other fees to be aware of, depending on which card you choose, let’s run through all the foreign exchange fees:
Note: you don’t typically get charged a fee to spend money (often called foreign transaction fees) with prepaid cards, these are more common on credit cards and and with banks.
As mentioned above, there’s always a fee within the exchange rate, whether it’s hidden or not. Normally, you’ll see this as the mid-market rate, interbank rate or mastercard rate plus a certain amount on top (e.g. the mid-market rate plus 1%).
ATM withdrawal fees
Some card providers will let you withdraw cash for free from an ATM (cash machine), some have a limit on how much you can withdraw for free per month (or a maximum number of transactions before there’s a fee), and others have no limit but will charge for every withdrawal.
This can range from a fixed fee per withdrawal (e.g. £1), to a percentage of the amount you take out (e.g. 2%), or a combination of both.
Producing a card can involve a lot of admin and of course actually producing and printing the card and delivery, so a travel money card provider will often pass this fee onto you – so they can cover their costs if you don’t end up using the card.
This is normally around £5-10, although with some companies it can be free, but there’s normally conditions such as topping up your card beforehand.
Note: if you lose your card, you’ll often have to pay a card replacement fee too. This is typical with all cards, even our recommended options.
With some cards, there can also be an inactivity fee, which is a fee for not using the card after a certain period of time. This is normally after 12 months, and a fee per month of around £2 per month.
Note: the best cards we recommend above ( Revolut ¹ and Wise ¹) don't have this fee. You can leave them for as long as you like (until your next holiday).
The great news is it’s super easy to get a prepaid travel card – it’s not like applying for a bank account or a credit card, you can get set up within a few minutes and the card can arrive the next day.
All you’ll need to do is first decide which travel card you’d like (we recommend Revolut ¹ or Wise ¹ as they’re the cheapest, and have easy to use apps for managing your money), and then fill out a few details on their website (or app), prove you are who you say you are with your passport or driving licence, and that’s it.
You’ll need to transfer some money (also called ‘load money’) over from your bank account, or deposit via a debit card, and that’s it. You can start spending online straight away (you can also add your card to Apple Pay or Google Pay) – or wait until your card arrives in the post to start spending on that.
It literally couldn’t be easier.
Are prepaid travel money cards safe?
Yep, it’s perfectly safe to use a prepaid travel card.
The company giving you the card will need to be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), who are the people making sure financial companies are looking after you and your money.
Your money will also be held in a bank account with a very large bank (e.g. Barclays), completely separate from the company’s own money. So, if anything happened to the company such as going out of business, your money could only be returned to you.
Using a card is also much safer than taking out cash when abroad, and keeping cash in your hotel room (or your sock). There’s lots of safety features such as being able to freeze your card (so it temporarily can't be used) and protection from fraudulent transactions if your card was lost or stolen – which you can often do immediately within an app on your phone.
That’s all there is to it. Pretty simple right? You can get a prepaid travel card in just a few minutes, and the card can turn up the next day – you’ll benefit from saving a small fortune on your spending money abroad. Plus, it’s much safer than travelling with cash.
You can also use your card in a huge range of shops, bars and restaurants, just as you would in the UK (with contactless), and withdrawing cash from an ATM can be easy too.
We recommend using one of the best travel cards above, such as Revolut ¹ or Wise ¹, they’re super popular, trustworthy, are easy to use and have great mobile apps to manage everything, not to mention they’re the cheapest out there (by quite a bit!).
And there you go, that’s your travel money sorted, all that’s left is to enjoy the holiday!
This article was written by the team at Nuts About Money, and fact-checked by 2 independent reviewers. You’re in safe hands.
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- Currency Card
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Compare Best Prepaid Travel Money Card
Compare travel money card and travel like a pro.
- Travel Budgeting
- Security of your holiday cash abroad
- Easy reloading of cash
Who offers the best travel money card?
Compare Prepaid Euro Travel Money Cards
Compared Prepaid US Dollar Travel Money Cards
Compare Prepaid Travel Money Cards
Other popular currencies.
- Australian Dollar Card
- Canadian Dollar Card
- New Zealand Dollar Card
- South Africa Rand Card
- Swiss Franc Card
What is a travel money card?
For most people that go overseas, using your normal debit or credit card frequently on holiday comes as second nature. Perhaps you leisurely whip out the card to buy a round of drinks, buy lunch for the family or use your plastic at a favourite local restaurant. Unfortunately, you are more than likely being ripped off on a daily basis with the high costs associated with using your debit and credit card abroad!
Fortunately, your new best friend abroad maybe a specialist travel money card.
This type of plastic is a free to obtain prepaid currency card that is pre-loaded with foreign currency prior to your departure. Most offer free ATM cash withdrawals overseas and specialist travel money cards alleviate the need for any currency conversion to take place. It works in a very similar way to your standard UK Visa or Mastercard debit card. Without the hefty overseas card charges!
Effectively, the travel money card eliminates the totally unnecessary complex series of fees and charges you may encounter when taking cash out or paying for goods with your everyday debit or credit card.
In a nutshell, we have found the best prepaid currency cards as an excellent way to budget your trip, so you know exactly how much you have to spend abroad. The best card issuers listed on our travel money card comparison tables charge no overseas ATM withdrawal fees for using the card.
Budget like a pro
We all know that spending money abroad feels like play money.
One of the best benefits of a prepaid travel money cards is that they help you stick to a holiday budget. However, if you need cash fast when your abroad and running low on funds, be sure to carry some cash too. Otherwise, you will need to reload the currency card.
PrePaid cards are a secure and safe way of carrying cash abroad
One of the best advantages of prepaid currency cards versus foreign cash is that if you lose your card, you can have it replaced for a small fee. On the other hand, if you lose foreign cash in the back of a Spanish taxi, you can say 'Arivaderchi.'
How much cheaper is it to get a travel money card
Research shows the cheapest travel currency cards can save you up to 10% on buying holiday money at the airport & 5% on the cost of using UK debit and credit cards abroad.
The cheapest currency cards on the market will let you take advantage of better currency exchange rates than you would likely obtain from the high street or (heaven forbid!) airport bureaus. Airports are the world’s worst place to convert currency.
As previously mentioned, you also alleviate the complex set of fees and charges your bank will take for the convenience of using your everyday card abroad. If you use your normal credit card when taking cash out of the wall, you will have to pay interest immediately, which accentuates the costs. In most cases, when using a travel currency card there are no ATM fees for drawing money out the wall and are often the safest option when travelling.
In short, for the benefits listed below, we recommend using a pre-paid travel currency card when holidaying abroad or making a business trip.
What are the benefits of a pre paid travel money card?
Explain to me in simple terms: how travel money cards work.
- Check website for any additional in-destination fees (good housekeeping)
- Compare providers & apply for the card
- You need to make an initial first load on your new prepaid currency card
- Lock in exchange rates as soon as you load your card
- Travel money card can then be used anywhere you see a Mastercard OR Visa sign
- Use in shops or ATM’s abroad fee free to withdraw cash as you would your regular UK debit card.
- Check your balance either online, SMS or via telephone
Add more currency to your card via SMS, Online OR Telephone. Be aware of the cost of overseas calls if you top up over the phone
What prepaid travel money card is right for me?
Below, we compare travel money cards and highlight some top picks that include no spending or load fees.
It's important to remember that depending on the destination you are travelling to, you can take advantage of currency specific cards that will help you save on overseas charges.
For a more extensive comparison, check out our specialist comparison tables for: Euro Currency Cards , Dollar Currency Cards , Worldwide Currency Cards
Prepaid card comparison: best load rates or free cost of card.
You can dynamically compare rates using our prepaid travel card calculator here. We screen scrape the live exchange rates offered for all major euro and dollar currency card providers.
This is a question we are asked most often. The cheapest travel money card is not necessarily the provider who offers the currency card free of charge OR even the card that offers the best initial load rate. Consider both the purchase cost of the card together with the ‘in destination’ costs when comparing travel cards. Trying to compare prepaid currency cards on an ‘apples by apples’ basis can be difficult.
Loading your travel money card operates in a similar way to buying foreign cash online. The travel currency card exchange rates on both the Euro and Dollar specific cards will be determined on the initial load. Once you have loaded your card with foreign currency, try not to worry too much about whether the pound strengthens or weakens. Even the best traders are not able to forecast future currency fluctuations!
Who typically uses a prepaid currency card?
Holiday With Family or Friends
Whether your travelling to Spain, France or Australia you can save a fortune with superior exchange rates. Youll get more bang for your buck with a prepaid card versus using your standard UK debit or credit card abroad.
Business usage of currency cards is perfect to track both your and your team’s expenses abroad. You get all the benefits of your standard plastic without the unnecessary transaction costs of your standard Visa & Mastercard. This is a particular favourite of Finance Directors from small start-ups to large corporates who can manage controlled usage of spending money overseas. With most currency card programs, you don’t need to log expenses as these are detailed online in your usage reports.
The best currency cards are valid for three years so once you have applied, you can simply top up before you go abroad. This makes prepaid currency cards perfect for overseas property buyers, expats and worldwide travellers. With millions of Visa & Mastercard ATM’s worldwide, it alleviates the need to store cash every time you travel in your hotel or apartment.
Students & Backpackers
We’ve covered the budgeting benefits & boy do backpackers need to stick to a budget! This makes prepaid currency cards perfect for those 3, 6 or 12 month stints abroad. And what’s more, once your money has maxed out on the card, you can always call the bank of mum and dad to help out with a small top up to keep you going.
Pre Paid Travel Cards are issued by Visa and Mastercard
The prepaid currency card you end up choosing will either be a Visa travel money card or Mastercard issued. You can use your prepaid travel card to withdraw cash worldwide from any ATM that displays either Visa or Mastercard.
Are there more Visa or Mastercard ATM’s worldwide?
Mastercard have over one million ATM’s in over 210 countries. You can check on their website using the Mastercard Global ATM locator tool. Likewise, Visa offer a Visa Global ATM locator service for their 1.8 million ATM’s worldwide and it is recommended to use both to ensure you are never too far away from an ATM when using your prepaid visa card or prepaid mastercard abroad.
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Here Are the Four Best Travel Money Cards in 2023
Co-Founder of Monito and money transfer expert, François has been helping Monito’s users navigate the jungle of money transfer fees, bad exchange rates and tricks for the last ten years.
A writer and editor at Monito, Jarrod is passionate about helping people apply today’s powerful finance technologies to their lives. He brings his background in international affairs and his experiences living in Japan to provide readers with comprehensive information that also acknowledges the local context.
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From the multitude of bank fees and ATM charges to hidden currency conversion fees, there's no question that spending your money abroad while travelling can be costly — and that's saying nothing about the cost of the holiday itself!
As you prepare for your trip abroad, the golden rule is that you'll save the most money by using the local currency of your destination. This means withdrawing local cash at foreign ATMs and using a debit card to pay directly in the local currency. For example, if you're from the UK, using your bank's debit card that accesses your British pounds will likely lose you money to hidden fees at ATMs abroad and at local merchants.
In general, we rate Revolut as the best travel card all around. Its versatile account and card can be used to spend like a local pretty much anywhere in the world. ✨ Get 3 months of free Revolut Premium as a Monito reader with our exclusive link .
If you're from the EU, UK, or US, here are a few more specific recommendations to explore:
- Best for travelling from the UK: Starling Bank
- Best for travelling from the US: Chime ®
- Best for travelling from the Eurozone: N26
If it's not possible for you to spend in the local currency when travelling abroad, then spending in your home currency while using a card that doesn't charge any hidden exchange rate markups from your bank (e.g. only the VISA or Mastercard exchange rates to convert currency) is still a good bet for most people.
In this guide, we explore cards that waive or lower ATM fees and that hold multiple currencies. Spend on your holiday like a local and enjoy peace of mind after each tap and swipe!
Best Travel Cards (And More!) at a Glance
Best travel money cards.
- 01. What is the best best multi currency card? scroll down
- 02. Are prepaid currency cards really it? scroll down
- 03. Monito's best travel money card tips scroll down
- 04. FAQ about the best travel cards scroll down
Revolut: Best All-Rounder
Revolut is one of the most well-known fintechs in the world because it offers services across Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania.
- Trust & Credibility 8.9
- Service & Quality 7.9
- Fees & Exchange Rates 8.3
- Customer Satisfaction 9.4
Revolut is available in many countries. You can double-check if it's available in yours below:
Here's an overview of Revolut's plans:
Revolut Ultra is currently only available in the UK and EU.
Like Wise, Revolut converts your currency to the local currency of your travel destination at the mid-market rate, making it a good way to buy foreign currency before travelling abroad. As always though, bear in mind that Revolut's exchange rates might be subject to change.
Revolut's Standard Plan only allows currency exchange at the base mid-market exchange rate for transfers worth £1,000 per month. ATM withdrawals are also free for the first €200 (though third-party providers may charge a withdrawal fee and weekend fees may also apply). These allowances can be waived by upgrading memberships.
N26: Good Bank For EU Travellers
One of the most well-known neobanks in Europe, N26 and its debit card operate in euros only. However, N26 is a partner with Wise and has fully integrated Wise's technology so that you never have to pay foreign transaction fees on your purchases outside of the eurozone. While N26 does not have multi-currency functionality, N26 will apply the real exchange rate on all your foreign purchases and will never charge a commission fee — making N26's card a powerful card for EU/EEA residents who travel across the globe.
- Trust & Credibility 7.9
- Service & Quality 8.0
- Fees & Exchange Rates 9.3
- Customer Satisfaction 8.1
These are the countries in which you can register for an N26 account:
And here is an overview of the various plans and account:
This low-fee option for banking is also ideal for travellers who do not belong to a European bank but frequent the Eurozone. For example, N26 is available for residents and citizens of Switzerland, Norway, and other European Economic Area countries that do not run on the Euro.
These citizens, who are in close proximity to the Eurozone, will save each time they spend with an N26 card while in Europe. N26 provides three free ATM withdrawals per month in euros but does charge a 1.7% fee per ATM withdrawal outside of Europe.
Take a look at our guide to the best travel cards for Europe to learn more.
Wise: Best For Multi-Currency Balances
Load up to 54 currencies onto this card at the real exchange rate, giving you access to truly global travel.
- Trust & Credibility 9.3
- Service & Quality 8.9
- Fees & Exchange Rates 7.6
- Customer Satisfaction 9.6
These are the countries in which you can order a Wise debit card:
Unlike banks, credit unions, airport kiosks, and foreign ATMs, Wise is transparent about never charging a hidden exchange rate margin when you convert your home currency into up to 54 currencies. The live rate you see on Google or XE.com is the one you get with Wise.
An industry-low commission fee per transaction will range from 0.35% to 2.85%, depending on the currency.
Starling Bank: Great UK Bank For Travel
Starling Bank is one of the best neobanks in the United Kingdom. We highly recommend it for UK residents who frequently spend in British pounds and euros because of its multi-currency capabilities.
- Service & Quality 8.5
- Fees & Exchange Rates 10
- Customer Satisfaction 9.3
Here are the different account that Starling Bank offers:
'Kite' is a children's debit card, and 'Teen' is for teenagers
Starling Bank accounts are free for UK citizens and residents to open. You can spend abroad with the Starling Bank card with zero card transaction fees. This feature alone makes it a cost-effective and convenient option for frequent travellers. It even waives all ATM fees for ATMs in the UK and abroad.
Your other option is to convert your sterling into euros. By opening a euro account with Starling, you can hold, send and receive euros for free . When you spend in the Eurozone with your Starling Bank card, your euro balances (instead of your sterling balance) will then be used
Take a look at our guide to the best prepaid travel cards for the UK to learn more.
Chime: Great Account For US Travelers
Chime is a good debit card for international travel thanks to its no foreign transaction fees. Unlike multi-currency accounts like Revolut (which let you hold local currency), Chime uses the live exchange rate applied by VISA. This rate is close to the mid-market rate, and Chime does not add any extra markup to your purchases.
- Trust & Credibility 9.5
- Service & Quality 8.8
- Fees & Exchange Rates 9.8
While Chime waives ATM fees at all MoneyPass, AllPoint, and VISA Plus Alliance ATMs within the United States, this fee waiver does not extend to withdrawals made outside the country. For withdrawals abroad, Chime applies a $2.50 fee per transaction, with a daily withdrawal limit of $515 or its equivalent. This is addition to any fees charged by the ATM owner. Therefore, we recommend Chime primarily for card purchases rather than relying on it for withdrawing cash while traveling internationally.
- No foreign transaction fees ;
- Uses VISA's exchange rate ( monitor here ):
- A $2.50 fee per ATM withdrawal made outside of the United States;
- More info: Read our Chime review or visit their website .
Best Travel Money Cards in 2023 Compared by Country
In the table below, see our comparison summary of the four best travel cards for 2023 by country:
Last updated: 06/19/2023
What's The Best Prepaid Card to Use Abroad?
Travel cards come in many varieties, such as standard credit cards or debit cards with no foreign transaction fees or cards that waive all foreign ATM withdrawal fees.
What is a Multi-Currency Card?
Multi-currency cards are a specific type of travel card that allows you to own all kinds of foreign currencies, which you can instantly access when you pay with your card abroad. By spending the local currency in the region of travel , you bypass poor foreign exchange rates. ATMs and cashless payment machines will treat your card like a local card.
We have already mentioned a few multi-currency cards in this review, but we will also introduce Travelex . Travelex's Money Card also allows you to top up several foreign currencies — albeit at exchange rates slightly poorer than the real mid-market rate .
Wise has one of the best multi-currency cards available on the market.
Read our full review for more details.
Revolut is impressive for its vast options in currencies and its additional services.
Our in-depth review explores Revolut's services in detail.
Travelex offers a prepaid travel money card that supports 10 currencies and waives all ATM withdrawal fees abroad.
- Trust & Credibility 9.0
- Service & Quality 5.8
- Fees & Exchange Rates 7.1
Travelex charges fees, which fluctuate according to the exchange rates of the day, in order to convert your home currency into the currencies that it supports. But once the currency is on the card, you'll be able to spend like a local. Learn more with our full review .
Don’t Let Banks, Bureaux de Change, and ATMs Eat Your Lunch 🍕!
Are you withdrawing cash at an ATM in the streets of Paris? Exchanging currencies at Gatwick airport? Paying for a pizza with your card during a holiday in Milano? Every time you exchange currencies, you could lose between 2% to 20% of your money in hidden fees . Keep reading below to make sure you recognize and avoid them.
Currency Exchange Fees Eating My Lunch? What’s That?
You’re often charged a hidden fee in the form of an alarming exchange rate.
At any given time, there is a so-called “ mid-market exchange rate ” — this is the real exchange rate you can see on Google . However, the money transfer provider or bank you use to exchange currencies rarely offers this exchange rate. Instead, you will get a much worse exchange rate. They pocket this margin between the actual rate and the poor exchange rate they apply, allowing the bank or money transfer provider to profit from the currency exchange.
In other words, you or your recipient will receive less foreign currency for each unit of currency you exchange. All the while, the provider will claim that they charge zero commission or zero fees.
So the question now is… how can you avoid them? Thankfully, the best travel money cards will allow you to hold the local currency, which you can access instantly with a tap or swipe. Carrying the local currency avoids exchange rate margins on every purchase.
Top Travel Money Tips
- Avoid bureaux de change. They charge between 2.15% and 16.6% of the money exchanged.
- Always pay in the local currency and never accept the dynamic currency conversion .
- Don't use your ordinary debit or credit card unless it's specifically geared toward international use. Doing this will typically cost you between 1.75% and 4.25% per transaction. Instead, use one of the innovative travel money cards below.
By opting for a travel card without FX fees, you can freely swipe your card abroad without worrying about additional charges. However, saving money doesn't stop there. To make the most out of your travel budget, consider using Skyscanner , one of the most powerful flight search engines available that allows you to compare prices from various airlines and find the best deals.
With Skyscanner's user-friendly interface and comprehensive search options, you can discover cheap flights and enjoy your holidays with peace of mind and more money in your pocket.
Best Travel Money Card Tips
When you convert your home currency into a foreign currency, foreign exchange service providers will charge you two kinds of fees :
- Exchange Rate Margin: Providers apply an exchange rate that is poorer than the true "mid-market" exchange rate . They keep the difference, called an exchange rate margin .
- Commission Fee: This fee is usually a percentage of the amount converted, which is charged for the service provided.
With these facts in mind, let's see what practices are useful to avoid ATM fees, foreign transaction fees, and other charges you may encounter while on your travels.
Tip 1: While Traveling, Avoid Bureaux de Change At All Costs
Have you ever wondered how bureaux de change and currency exchange desks are able to secure prime real estate in tourist locations like the Champs-Élysées in Paris or Covent Carden in London while claiming to take no commission? It’s easy: they make (plenty of) money through hidden fees on the exchange rates they give you.
Our study shows that Bureaux de Change in Paris charges a margin ranging from 2.15% at CEN Change Dollar Boulevard de Strasbourg to 16.6% (!!) at Travelex Champs-Élysées when exchanging 500 US dollars into euros for example.
If you really want cash and can’t wait to withdraw it with a card at an ATM at your destination, ordering currencies online before your trip is usually cheaper than exchanging currencies at a bureau de change, but it’s still a very expensive way to get foreign currency which we, therefore, would not recommend.
Tip 2: Always Choose To Pay In the Local Currency
Don’t fall for the dynamic currency conversion trap! When using your card abroad to pay at a terminal or withdraw cash at an ATM, you’ve probably been asked whether you’d prefer to pay in your home currency instead of the local currency of the foreign country. This little trick is called dynamic currency conversion , and the right answer to this sneaky question will help you save big on currency exchange fees.
As a general rule, you always want to pay in the local currency (euros in Europe, sterling in the UK, kroner in Denmark, bahts in Thailand, etc.) when using your card abroad, instead of accepting the currency exchange and paying in your home currency.
This seems like a trick question - why not opt to pay in your home currency? On the plus side, you would know exactly what amount you would be paying in your home currency instead of accepting the unknown exchange rate determined by your card issuer a few days later.
What is a Dynamic Currency Conversion?
However, when choosing to pay in your home currency instead of the local one, you will carry out what’s called a “dynamic currency conversion”. This is just a complicated way of saying that you’re exchanging between the foreign currency and your home currency at the exact time you use your card to pay or withdraw cash in a foreign currency, and not a few days later. For this privilege, the local payment terminal or ATM will apply an exchange rate that is often significantly worse than even a traditional bank’s exchange rate (we’ve seen margins of up to 8%!), and of course, much worse than the exchange rate you would get by using an innovative multi-currency card (see tip #3).
In the vast majority of times, knowing with complete certainty what amount you will pay in your home currency is not worth the additional steep cost of the dynamic currency conversion, hence why we recommend always choosing to pay in the local currency.
Tip 3: Don't Use a Traditional Card To Pay in Foreign Currency/Withdraw Cash Abroad
As mentioned before, providers make money on foreign currency conversions by charging poor exchange rates — and pocketing the difference between that and the true mid-market rate. They also make money by charging commission fees, which can either come as flat fees or as a percentage of the transaction.
Have a look at traditional bank cards to see how much you can be charged in fees for spending or withdrawing $500 while on your holiday.
Last updated: 3/7/2023
These fees can very quickly add up. For example, take a couple and a child travelling to the US on a two-week mid-range holiday. According to this study , the total cost of their holiday would amount to around $4200. If you withdraw $200 in cash four times and spend the rest with your card, you would pay $123 in hidden currency exchange and ATM withdrawal fees with HSBC or $110 with La Banque Postale. With this money, our travellers could pay for a nice dinner, the entrance fee to Yosemite Park, or many other priceless memories.
Thankfully, new innovative multi-currency cards will help you save a lot of money while travelling. Opening an N26 Classic account and using the N26 card during the same US holidays would only cost $13.60.
Need Foreign Cash Anyway?
In many countries, carrying a wad of banknotes is not only useful but necessary to pay your way since not every shop, market stall, or street vendor will accept card payments. In these cases you'll have two options to exchange foreign currency cheaply:
1. Withraw at an ATM
As we've explored in great depth in this article, withdrawing money from a foreign ATM will almost always come with fees — at the very least from the ATM itself, and so it's therefore the best strategy to use a travel debit card that doesn't charge in specific ATM withdraw fees on its own to add insult to injury. That said, if you need cash, we recommend making one large withdrawal rather than multiple smaller ones . This way, you'll be able to dodge the fees being incurred multiple times.
2. Buy Banknotes (at a Reasonable Rate!)
As we've also seen, buying foreign currency at the airport, at foreign bank branches, or in bureaux de change in tourist hotspots can be surprisingly expensive. Still, not all exchange offices are equally pricey . If you're looking for a well-priced way to exchange your cash into foreign currency banknotes before you travel, Change Group will let you order foreign currency online and pick them up at the airport, train station, or a Change Group branch just before you leave for your holiday. A few pick-up locations in the UK include:
- London centre (multiple locations),
- Glasgow centre,
- Oxford centre,
- Luton Airport,
- Gatwick Airport,
- St. Pancras Station.
(Note that Change Group also has locations in the USA, Australia, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Austria, and Finland!)
Although its exchange rates aren't quite as good as using a low-fee debit card like Revolut, Change Group's exchange rates between popular currencies tend to be between 2% to 3%, which is still a lot better than you'll get at the bank or at a touristy bureau de change in the middle or Paris or Prague!
FAQ About the Best Travel Money Cards
Having reviewed and compared several of the industry's leading neobanks, experts at Monito have found the Wise Account to offer the best multi-currency card in 2023.
In general, yes! You can get a much better deal with new innovative travel cards than traditional banks' debit/credit cards. However, not all cards are made equal, so make sure to compare the fees to withdraw cash abroad, the exchange rates and monthly fees to make sure you're getting the best deal possible.
- Sign up for a multi-currency account;
- Link your bank to the account and add your home currency;
- Convert amount to the local currency of holiday destination ( Wise and Revolut convert at the actual mid-market rate);
- Tap and swipe like a local when you pay at vendors.
Yes, the Wise Multi-Currency Card is uniquely worthwhile because it actually converts your home currency into foreign currency at the real mid-market exchange rate . Wise charges a transparent and industry-low commission fee for the service instead.
More traditional currency cards like the Travelex Money Card are good alternatives, but they will apply an exchange rate that is weaker than the mid-market rate.
The Wise Multi-Currency Card is the best money card for euros because unlike banks, credit unions, airport kiosks, and foreign ATMs, Wise is transparent about never charging a hidden exchange rate margin when you convert your local currency into euros with them.
The live rate you see on Google or XE.com is the one you get with Wise . An industry-low commission fee will range from 0.35% to 2.85%. USD to EUR transfers generally incur a 1.6% fee.
Learn more about how to buy euros in the United States before your trip.
There are usually three types of travel cards, prepaid travel cards, debit travel cards and credit travel cards. Each have pros and cons, here's a short summary:
- Prepaid travel cards: You usually need to load cards with your home currency via a bank wire or credit/debit card top-up. You're then able to manage the balance from an attached mobile app and can use it to pay in foreign currencies or withdraw cash at an ATM abroad tapping into your home currency prepaid balance. With prepaid travel cards, as the name indicates, you can't spend more than what you've loaded before hand. Some prepaid card providers will provide ways to "auto top-up" when your balance reaches a certain level that you can customize. On Revolut for example, you can decide to top-up £100/£200/£500 from your debit card each time your balance reaches below £50.
- Debit travel cards: Some innovative digital banks, like N26 or Monzo, offer travel debit cards that have the same advantages than a Prepaid Travel Cards, except that they're debit card directly tapping into your current account balance. Like a Prepaid travel card, you can't spend more than the balance you have in your current account with N26 or Monzo, but you can activate an overdraft (between €1,000 or €10,000 for N26 or £1,000 for Monzo) if you need it, for a fee though.
Note that even if they're Prepaid or Debit cards, you can use them for Internet payments like a normal credit card.
- Credit travel cards: You can find credit cards made for international payments offering good exchange rates and low fees to withdraw money abroad, but you'll need to pay interests in your international payment if you don't pay in FULL at the end of every month and interest on your ATM withdrawals each day until you pay them back.
Why You Can Trust Monito
Our recommendations are built on rock-solid experience.
- We've reviewed 70+ digital finance apps and online banks
- We've made 100's of card transactions
- Our writers have been testing providers since 2013
Other Monito Guides and Reviews on Top Multi Currency Cards
Why Trust Monito?
You’re probably all too familiar with the often outrageous cost of sending money abroad. After facing this frustration themselves back in 2013, co-founders François, Laurent, and Pascal launched a real-time comparison engine to compare the best money transfer services across the globe. Today, Monito’s award-winning comparisons, reviews, and guides are trusted by around 8 million people each year and our recommendations are backed by millions of pricing data points and dozens of expert tests — all allowing you to make the savviest decisions with confidence.
Monito is trusted by 15+ million users across the globe.
Monito's experts spend hours researching and testing services so that you don't have to.
Our recommendations are always unbiased and independent.
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Travel Money Card
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A safe-to-use, prepaid, reloadable, multi-currency card that’s not linked to your bank account
No charges when you spend abroad*
Make contactless, Apple Pay and Google Pay™ payments
Manage your account and top up or freeze your card easily with our Travel app
*No charges when you spend abroad using an available balance of a local currency supported by the card.
Why get a Travel Money Card?
Carry up to 22 currencies safely.
Take one secure, prepaid Mastercard® away with you that holds multiple currencies (see ‘common questions’ for which).
Accepted in over 36 million locations worldwide
Use it wherever you see the Mastercard Acceptance Mark – millions of shops, restaurants and bars in more than 200 countries.
Manage your card with our travel app
Top up, manage or freeze your card, transfer funds between currencies, view your PIN and more all in our free Travel app .
It’s simple to get started
No need to carry lots of cash abroad. Order a Travel Money Card today for smart, secure holiday spending.
Order your card
Order online, via the app or pick one up in branch and load it with any of the 22 currencies it holds.
Cards ordered online and in-app should arrive within 2-3 working days. Activate it by following the instructions in your welcome letter.
It’s ready to use
Spend in 36 million locations worldwide, and top up and manage your card in the app or online.
Stay in control
Manage your holiday essentials together in one place on the move, from your Travel Money Card and travel insurance to extras like airport parking.
New-look travel app coming soon
Our revamped travel app’s launching soon. It makes buying, topping up and managing Travel Money Cards with up to 22 currencies a breeze. Buying and accessing Travel Insurance on the move effortless. And it puts holiday extras like airport hotels, lounge access and more at your fingertips. All with an improved user experience. Find out what’s changing
Order a Travel Money Card
Order your card online – or through the Post Office travel app – and we'll deliver it within 2-3 days. Just activate it and go.
Need it quick? Visit a branch
Pick up a Travel Money Card instantly at your local Post Office. Bring a valid passport, UK driving licence or valid EEA card as ID.
Need some help?
We’re here to help you make the most of your Travel Money Card – or put your mind at ease if it’s been lost or stolen
Lost or stolen card?
Please immediately call: 020 7937 0280
To read our FAQs, manage your card or contact us about using it:
Visit our Travel Money Card support page
How can i order my card.
There are three ways that you able to obtain a Travel Money Card, each very simple.
Please note, you must be a UK resident over the age of 18 to obtain a Travel Monday Card.
- Via our travel app: you can order and store up to three Travel Money Cards in our free travel app . Delivery will take 2-3 working days.
- Online: follow our application process to order your card online. Your card will take 2-3 working days to be delivered. Once it arrives you can link it to our Travel app to manage on the go.
- In branch: simply find a nearby Post Office branch and pop in to get your Travel Money Card there. Please remember to take a valid passport, UK driving licence or a valid EEA card in order to obtain your card, and you can take it away the same day.
Whichever way you choose to order your card, don't forget to activate it once it arrives. Full details of how to activate your card will be provided in your welcome letter, to which your card will be attached if it’s been sent in the post.
How do I use my card?
Travel Money Card is enabled with both chip & PIN and contactless, so you can make larger and lower-value value payments with it respectively. For convenience, you can also add it to Apple Pay and Google Wallet.
You can load it with between £50 and £5,000 (see more on load limits below). You can use it to pay wherever the Mastercard Acceptance Mark is displayed. And you can withdraw cash with it at over 2 million ATMs worldwide (charges and fees apply, see 'Are there top-up limits?' below).
Your Travel Money Card is completely separate from your bank account so it’s a safe and secure way to pay while you’re abroad.
How can I manage my card?
After you've activated your card, you can manage it using our travel app or via a web browser. You can check your recent transactions, view your PIN, transfer funds between different currency ‘wallets’, top up your card, freeze your card and more.
Our travel app brings together travel essentials including holiday money, travel insurance and more together in one place. As well as managing your Travel Money Card you can buy cover for your trip, access your policy documents on the move, book extras such as airport parking and hotels, and find your nearest ATM while overseas or Post Office branches here in the UK.
Which currencies can I use?
The Post Office Travel Money Card can be loaded with up to 22 currencies at any one time. You can top up funds on the card and transfer currencies between different ‘wallets’ for these currencies easily in our travel app or online.
- EUR – euro
- USD – US dollar
- AUD – Australian dollar
- AED - UAE dirham
- CAD – Canadian dollar
- CHF – Swiss franc
- CNY – Chinese yuan
- CZK – Czech koruna
- DKK – Danish krone
- GBP – pound sterling
- HKD – Hong Kong dollar
- HUF – Hungarian forint
- JPY – Japanese yen
- NOK – Norwegian krone
- NZD – New Zealand dollar
- PLN – Polish zloty
- SAR – Saudi riyal
- SEK – Swedish Krona
- SGD – Singapore dollar
- THB – Thai baht
- TRY – Turkish lira
- ZAR – South African rand
What are the charges and fees?
Full details of our charges and fees can be found in our Travel Money Card terms and conditions .
The Post Office Travel Money Card is intended for use in the countries where the national currency is the same as the currencies on your card. If the currency falls outside of any of the 22 we offer on your card, you’ll be charged a cross-border fee. For example, using your card in Brazil will incur a cross-border fee because we do not offer the Brazilian real as a currency.
Cross border fees are set at 3% and are only applicable when you use your currency in a country other than the ones we offer.
For more information on cross border fees, please visit our cross border payment page.
There are no charges when using your card in retailers in the country of the currency on the card. This means that a €20 purchase in Spain would cost you €20 and will be deducted from your euro balance.
To avoid unnecessary charges to your card, wherever asked, you should always choose to pay for goods or withdraw cash in the currencies of your card. For example, if you are using the card in Spain you should always choose to pay in euro if offered a choice; choosing to pay in sterling (GBP) in this example would allow the merchant to exchange your transaction from euro to sterling. This would mean your transaction has gone through two exchange rate conversions, which will increase the total cost of your transaction.
For loads in Great British pounds, a load commission fee of 1.5% will apply (min £3, max £50). A monthly maintenance fee of £2 will be deducted from your balance 12 months after your card expires. Expiration dates can be found on your TMC; all cards are valid for up to 3 years.
A cash withdrawal fee will be charged when withdrawing cash from a UK Post Office branch or from any ATM globally that accepts Mastercard.
We have listed all available currencies and their associated withdrawal limits and charges below:
EUR – euro Max daily cash withdrawal: 450 EUR Withdrawal charge: 2 EUR USD
USD – US dollar Max daily cash withdrawal: 500 USD Withdrawal charge: 2.5 USD
AED – UAE dirham Max daily cash withdrawal: 1,700 AED Withdrawal charge: 8.5 AED
AUD – Australian dollar Max daily cash withdrawal: 700 AUD Withdrawal charge: 3 AUD
CAD – Canadian dollar Max daily cash withdrawal: 600 CAD Withdrawal charge: 3 CAD
CHF – Swiss franc Max daily cash withdrawal: 500 CHF Withdrawal charge: 2.5 CHF
CNY – Chinese yuan Max daily cash withdrawal: 2,500 CNY Withdrawal charge: 15 CNY
CZK – Czech koruna Max daily cash withdrawal: 9,000 CZK Withdrawal charge: 50 CZK
DKK – Danish krone Max daily cash withdrawal: 2,500 DKK Withdrawal charge: 12.50 DKK
GBP – Great British pound Max daily cash withdrawal: 300 GBP Withdrawal charge: 1.5 GBP
HKD – Hong Kong dollar Max daily cash withdrawal: 3,000 HKD Withdrawal charge: 15 HKD
HUF – Hungarian forint Max daily cash withdrawal: 110,000 HUF Withdrawal charge: 600 HUF
JPY – Japanese yen Max daily cash withdrawal: 40,000 JPY Withdrawal charge: 200 JPY
NOK – Norwegian krone Max daily cash withdrawal: 3,250 NOK Withdrawal charge: 20 NOK
NZD – New Zealand dollar Max daily cash withdrawal: 750 NZD Withdrawal charge: 3.5 NZD
PLN – Polish zloty Max daily cash withdrawal: 1,700 PLN Withdrawal charge: 8.5 PLN
SAR – Saudi riyal Max daily cash withdrawal: 1,500 SAR Withdrawal charge: 7.50
SEK – Swedish Krona Max daily cash withdrawal: 3,500 SEK Withdrawal charge: 20 SEK
SGD – Singapore dollar Max daily cash withdrawal: 500 SGD Withdrawal charge: 3 SGD
THB – Thai baht Max daily cash withdrawal: 17,000 THB Withdrawal charge: 80 THB
TRY – Turkish lira Max daily cash withdrawal: 1,500 TRY Withdrawal charge: 7 TRY
ZAR – South African rand Max daily cash withdrawal: 6,500 ZAR Withdrawal charge: 30 ZAR
Are there top-up limits?
Yes, all currencies have top-up limits and balances. See full information below, which is applicable to all currencies available on the Travel Money Card.
- Top-up limit: minimum £50 – maximum £5,000
- Maximum balance: £10,000 at any time, with a maximum annual balance of £30,000
- Read more Travel Money Card FAQs
Other related services
Find out more information by reading the Post Office Travel Money Card's terms and conditions .
Post Office Travel Money Card is an electronic money product issued by First Rate Exchange Services Ltd pursuant to license by Mastercard International. First Rate Exchange Services Ltd, a company registered in England and Wales with number 4287490 whose registered office is Great West House, Great West Road, Brentford, TW8 9DF, (Financial Services Register No. 900412). Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
Post Office and the Post Office logo are registered trademarks of Post Office Limited.
Post Office Limited is registered in England and Wales. Registered number 2154540. Registered office: 100 Wood Street, London, EC2V 7ER.
These details can be checked on the Financial Services Register by visiting the Financial Conduct Authority website and searching by Firm Reference Number (FRN).
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Travelex Money Card
The safer way to spend abroad, safer travel money.
Forget carrying all that cash when you travel abroad with the Travelex Money Card, our platinum prepaid currency card
Top up card.
Invalid Reload card number
Your rate: [fromExchangeAmount] [fromCurrencyCode]
- [name] [amount]
Our Prepaid Currency Card
- Top up your card with your choice of 15 available currencies: British pounds, euros, US dollars, Australian dollars, Canadian dollars, New Zealand dollars, South African rand, Turkish lira, Swiss franc, UAE dirham, Mexican peso, Polish zloty, Czech koruna, Swedish krona and Japanese yen.
- Lock-in your exchange rates.
- Use your card across millions of locations, wherever Mastercard Prepaid is accepted’.
Why Travelex Money Card?
Free wifi worldwide.
Enjoy an on-the-go internet connection without the roaming fees**
If your card is lost, stolen or damaged, we offer 24/7 global assistance to replace it or provide you with emergency cash
Free Cash Access
With no ATM charges overseas, you can withdraw cash whenever you need it at no extra cost*
Travelex does not charge ATM fees but some operators may do so, check before you withdraw cash
Receive exclusive discounts and offers with our platinum card benefits
Safe & Secure
Travel abroad more safely without needing to carry all your cash
How it Works
Order your Travelex Money Card online, over the phone or in store. You can choose between store pick up or have it delivered to your home
If you buy or collect in store, it'll be activated automatically, you'll also get your PIN. If you order your card for home delivery, just activate it by calling card services
0800 260 0355
Register your card online to manage your account with ease
Spend with your card at millions of locations worldwide, wherever Mastercard Prepaid is accepted
Manage your card online , over the phone or via the Travelex Money app
Get The Most From Your Card
Accepted at millions of locations worldwide, wherever Mastercard Prepaid is accepted
- Paying for meals at restaurants
- Spending in shops and online
- Paying for drinks
- ATM withdrawals
- Travelling to multiple countries
- Paying for trips out
Things to watch out for
It's important to remember that there are a few things that your card is not built for. Since the Travelex Money Card is a prepaid card, we recommend that you don't use it for reserving a rental car or hotel room, on a cruise, or at an automated fuel pump. For more information, see our terms & conditions.
Help & FAQs
Terms and conditions for the travelex money card can be found here ., to contact us about travelex money card, click here for details., common questions:, what are the fees and limits, what do i do if my card is lost, stolen or damaged.
If your card is damaged, lost, stolen or misused, please contact card services immediately - you can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact details can be found here .
If you requested an additional backup card, you can continue accessing and spending your funds with no delay.
If you don't have a backup card, don't worry; a replacement card can be organised for you. Alternatively, we can arrange for emergency cash in the local currency (up to the value remaining on the card and subject to availability), anywhere in the world, normally within 20 minutes (in some remote locations this could take up to 24 hours).
Is the card contactless?
Travelex Money Card is Mastercard contactless enabled. Mastercard contactless is the faster way to pay for purchases of under GBP£100. No signature or PIN is required. Just tap your card against the reader and go. For more information, please click here .
Please note, transaction limits are subject to change and different transaction limits will apply in different countries.
What are the platinum benefits?
To find out all about the Platinum Benefits of the Travelex Money Card, click here .
What do I do if I am already an MCP customer?
On 3rd April 2017, Travelex changed the prepaid card offerings made available to customers.
Previously online we had 3 Cash Passport prepaid products you could buy, The Multi-currency Cash Passport Card, where you could load up to 10 currencies, the Globe Card in pounds and the single currency Cash Passport.
We've simplified our prepaid card offering from the three different cards previously available, by upgrading to the Travelex Money Card: a Platinum card with added features and benefits. Now you can choose to buy and load into the 15 currencies available, including pounds.
Your Multi-currency/Single currency/Globe card is still valid for use until the date of expiry. You can still top-up here and use it until it expires.
If you choose to buy a Travelex Money Card and already have an existing Cash Passport card, you will need to transfer the balance on your Cash Passport card to your new Travelex Money Card within 30 days of the purchase of the Travelex Money Card.
However, if you don't wish to purchase the Travelex Money Card, you can still use your existing Cash Passport card. Please note, we are no longer selling new Cash Passports.
How will the change of issuer from R. Raphael & Sons to Wirecard Card Solutions affect me and my card?
The change of issuer will have no effect on how you use your card and you can continue to use it as normal until the expiry date on the card. You can find information about how Wirecard Card Solutions handle your personal data, here .
How does the situation at the issuer Wirecard Card Solution Ltd affect me?
What happened? On Friday 26th June, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) temporarily issued a suspension order on Wirecard Card Solutions, the Issuer of your prepaid card. This was done as a precautionary measure and the suspension was fully lifted and reversed on Tuesday 30th June. We apologise for any interruption to service that you experienced.
Can I access my funds? You can now continue to use your card as you usually would.
I wasn’t aware my card was suspended, why wasn’t I told? The FCA abruptly suspended all card programs issued by Wirecard on Friday 26th June. We have been working actively to source answers and understand the full implication. We provided FAQs and updates to the website and mobile app.
Are my funds safe? Wirecard is required under the E-Money Regulations to maintain appropriate measures to safeguard customer’s money. It does this by holding it separate from its own money in accounts with banks (or a credit institution). Adequate safeguarding arrangements which are compliant with the regulatory requirements are a condition of Wirecard’s ongoing Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) authorisation.
How will the change of issuer from Wirecard Card Solutions to Prepay Technologies affect me and my card?
Who is pps.
Prepay Technologies Ltd (PPS) is a Mastercard Principal Member and a UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) authorised and regulated Electronic Money Institution, offering a range of payment services. PPS is authorised and regulated by the FCA for the issuance of e-money with firm reference number 900010.
What is a card issuer?
A card issuer is responsible for issuing a card and setting the terms and conditions associated with its usage.
What does it mean for me?
You do not need to do anything, this change will happen automatically. During the switch there will be no interruptions to your service and your card will continue to work as normal.
Will I be sent a new card?
No, your current card will continue to work until the expiry date on the front of your card. During the switch there will be no interruptions to your service and your card will continue to work as normal.
How will I know when the Issuer has changed?
The card issuer will change to PPS from Thursday 5th November 2020
Will this affect the terms and conditions of my program?
Aside from the change in contracting party, all other terms and conditions of your program continue to be honoured.
How do I check my balance?
For all information about your card program, including how to check your balance, please visit the website. The web address is written on the back of your card..
How do I cash out?
You can cash out via the usual channels. Please check the website for further details. Should you have any concerns with the issuer change, you can request any remaining balance(s) and close your account with no cash out fee until Thursday 31st December 2020.
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – UK cardholder communication June 2021
- Why have I been contacted?
We’re writing in response to a recent initiative by the UK financial services regulatory body, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), to ensure that you are clear in how your money is protected. As you’re probably aware, your Travelex Money Card account is an e-money account provided by Prepay Technologies Limited (trading as PPS), which also issues the e-money loaded on your account. PPS is authorised and regulated by the FCA for the issuance of e-money and provision of payment services. This means that it can offer services that allows you to make and receive payments, including using a Mastercard card that is linked to your account.
- What do I need to do?
An e-money account can look and feel like a traditional bank account and some e-money account holders may assume that the protection provided for the money held in it are protected in the same way. E-money and traditional bank accounts both protect their customer money, but they do this in different ways.
We wanted to reach out to talk to you about how PPS protects your money. Don’t worry there is nothing you need to do . We just want to make you aware of this.
- How is my money protected?
As an e-money institution, PPS protects your money through a process known as safeguarding. This means that your money is kept separate from PPS’s own money or protected through an insurance policy or similar guarantee. Your safeguarded money is not available to any creditors, banks or other third parties. This means that your money will always be available should you ask us to refund your e-money. PPS is required to undergo annual independent audits of safeguarding procedures to ensure that your safeguarded money is properly protected.
- How does this differ from my bank account?
Banks are required by the regulators to participate in the Financial Service Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The FSCS acts like an insurance policy for bank accounts and pays out up to a maximum of £85,000 per eligible person, per bank, building society or credit union or up to £170,000 for joint accounts in the event of the bank or building society becoming insolvent.
E-money issuers are not able to participate in FSCS and therefore your account is not protected by FSCS. In contrast, safeguarding applies to all customers, with no defined limit per customer or account (besides our normal maximum account balance). Which means all your money within your Travelex Money Card account is protected. In the very unlikely event of PPS becoming insolvent, the return of your money might take longer than an FSCS claim because the distribution would be handled by an insolvency practitioner or administrator. It's worth noting that because the administrator can deduct their costs from this money, you might get slightly less than your full account balance back.
- How can I find out more?
You can head to the FCA's website to find out more about the main differences between banks and e-money firms: here https://www.fca.org.uk/consumers/using-payment-service-providers or for more information on safeguarding requirements here https://www.fca.org.uk/firms/emi-payment-institutions-safeguarding-requirements .
If you have any further questions in relation to this letter, please email us at [email protected] or you can call us on 0800 056 0572, we are available 24/7.
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Travelex Money Card is issued by PrePay Technologies Limited pursuant to license by Mastercard International.
PrePay Technologies Limited is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 (FRN: 900010) for the issuing of electronic money and payment instruments.
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The 6 Best Travel Money Cards for Europe
If you’re travelling to Europe, a travel money card can make spending and withdrawing cash when you’re away cheaper and more convenient. Different types of travel money cards, including travel debit cards, prepaid travel cards and travel credit cards, are available to support different customer needs. The right one for you will depend on your personal preference and how you like to manage your money.
Read on for all you need to know, including a closer look at travel money card types, some great options to consider, and the sorts of fees you need to think about when you choose.
Wise - our pick for travel money card for Europe
Before we get into details about different travel money card options, let’s start with the Wise card as a good all-round option that allows you to hold and spend euros, as well as a diverse range of other European and world currencies.
Wise accounts have the flexibility to hold and exchange more than 50 currencies, plus you can get a linked Wise card for a one-time delivery fee. You can either top up your account in pounds and switch to EUR, RON, HUF, NOK, DKK, SEK or any of the other supported European currencies before you travel.
Click here to read a full Wise review.
Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using the Wise travel money debit card, to help you decide if it's suitable for you.
Hold and exchange 50+ currencies including EUR and a selection of other European and world currencies
No fee to spend any currency you hold, low conversion fees from 0.41%
Mid market exchange rate on all currency conversion
Some fee free ATM withdrawals every month
No ongoing fees and no interest to pay
7 GBP delivery fee
No option to earn points or rewards
What is a travel money card?
Similar to your standard bank card, a travel money card is accepted for online and in-store transactions, as well as cash withdrawals - but the features and fees you’ll get are tailored for international usage. That can lead to benefits such as improved exchange rates and reduced fees compared to your regular card.
If you’re headed to Europe, you could find a travel money card which supports the currency or currencies in the destinations you’re visiting is a good idea. While much of Europe uses the euro, there are actually 29 different European currencies, so you’ll need to double check what’s needed wherever you’re headed.
6 travel money cards for Europe compared
Before we get into each card option in more depth, here’s a summary of how six of the best travel money cards for Europe compare to each other.
The features of various travel money cards can differ significantly. Typically, travel debit cards are cost-effective and convenient, while travel credit cards offer advantages such as cashback or rewards, but may result in interest and late payment fees, depending on how you choose to pay.
Travel debit cards usually allow you to easily add funds online or via a mobile app, which helps you stick to your budget and avoid overspending. Conversely, travel credit cards enable you to spend up to your credit limit, and you can pay off the balance over several months. The choice between the two will come down to how you like to manage your money - we’ll dive into a few more details about each card type, next.
What are different types of travel cards?
Generally, UK customers are able to select a travel money card from either a regular bank or a specialist provider, with card types available including travel debit cards, travel prepaid cards or travel credit cards. We’ll walk through what each travel money card type is, and pick out a couple of good card options, so you can compare and choose.
1. Travel debit cards
2. Travel prepaid cards
3. Travel credit cards
1. Travel Debit Cards
Travel debit cards from specialist providers have linked digital accounts you can use to hold and convert a currency balance. It’s common to find a good selection of major currencies supported, including euros, Norwegian or Danish kroner, Swedish kronor, Romanian lei and more. While different cards have their own features, travel debit cards can usually be topped up easily online and through an app, with the option to see your balance and get transaction notifications through your phone too. That makes it easier to keep on top of your money, even when you’re away from home.
Travel debit card Option 1: Wise
Wise is our best value travel money debit card for Europe. There’s no fee to open a Wise account, and just a small delivery fee for your Wise card, with no minimum balance and no monthly charge. You just pay low Wise fees from 0.41% when you convert currencies, and transparent transaction fees when you exhaust the monthly free transactions available with your account.
No fee to open a Wise account, no minimum balance requirement
7 GBP one time fee to get your Wise card
2 withdrawals, to 200 GBP value per month for free, then 0.5 GBP + 1.75%
Hold EUR and 50+ other currencies, convert between them with the mid-market rate
Get local account details to receive EUR, HUF, RON and 7 other currencies for free
Travel debit card Option 2: Revolut
Revolut has a selection of different account tiers, so you can simply pick the account you prefer - from free Standard plans to the 12.99 GBP/month Metal plan. All Revolut accounts have linked cards, although exactly what type of card you get depends on your account tier. You can hold around 25 currencies including EUR, PLN, DKK, SEK and a selection of other major European currencies, and convert between them with the mid-market rate to your plan’s allowance.
No fee to open a Standard Revolut account, or upgrade for up to 12.99 GBP/month
Card delivery fees may apply depending on your account tier
All accounts have some fee free currency conversion with 0.5% fair usage fees after that
Standard plan holders can withdraw 200 GBP (up to 5 withdrawals in total) per month for free
Hold EUR and around 25 other currencies
Click here to read a full Revolut review
Pros and cons of using debit travel cards in Europe
Avoid interest costs and late payment fees
Hold and exchange currencies in advance or at the time of spending
Accounts can be topped up, viewed and managed using just your phone
Safe to use, as accounts aren’t linked to your main UK bank account
Travel debit cards are issued on popular global payment networks
Transaction and currency conversion fees may apply
Cash back and rewards may not be available
How to choose the best travel debit card for Europe?
The best travel debit card for Europe really depends on your personal preferences and how you like to manage your money. If you’ll be travelling widely it makes sense to look for an account with mid-market currency exchange and a large selection of supported currencies as well as EUR, like Wise. Other providers like Revolut can also be a good pick, particularly if you’ll use your account very frequently and would prefer to pay a monthly fee to unlock lots of fee free transactions and extra perks.
Is there a spending limit with a travel debit card in Europe?
Card use limits are determined by individual providers and can vary depending on the transaction type. Limits may apply on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. For instance, there may be a cap on the number or value of ATM withdrawals allowed per day or a limit on the value of contactless payments you can make. These limits are set for security reasons and can often be adjusted using the provider's app.
2. Prepaid Travel Cards
With a prepaid travel card you’ll usually need to first order a card and then add funds in the supported currency of your choice. Once you have a balance you may then be able to switch to the currency you need, to pay merchants and make cash withdrawals. While prepaid travel cards are usually issued on large global networks - and can therefore be used pretty widely - not all cards support all currencies, so you may find you pay a foreign transaction fee if you pick a card which doesn’t support all the currencies you use.
Prepaid travel card option 1: Post Office
You can pick up a Post Office prepaid travel money card in a Post Office branch or order one online. You’ll then be able to top up in pounds or one of the 22 supported currencies, which includes EUR alongside other major European currencies like NOK, DKK and SEK. There’s no fee to spend a currency you hold in your account when you’re in Europe, but if you don’t have a balance in the currency required - or if your balance isn’t high enough for the transaction, you’ll pay a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Hold and exchange 22 currencies including EUR
No fee to spend a balance in a supported currency
3% foreign transaction fee when spending a currency you don’t hold on the card
Variable ATM withdrawal fees - 2 EUR for use in Eurozone countries, for example
No interest to pay
Prepaid travel card option 2: Monese
Monese accounts can be opened by UK residents to hold GBP, EUR and RON. There are several different types of accounts, from the Simple account which has no monthly fees, to fee paying account tiers which have more features. It’s free to spend a balance you hold, so getting a EUR or RON account makes sense if you’re headed to Romania or any of the Eurozone countries. If not, you may find you pay a foreign transaction fee of 2% when you’re spending in Europe. Foreign transaction fees may be waived for higher tier account holders.
Hold a balance in GBP, EUR or RON
Choose a free Simple account, or upgrade to an account with monthly fees
Foreign transaction fees of 2% may apply if you don’t hold a EUR/RON balance, depending on your account tier
ATM withdrawal fees may apply, depending on the value of withdrawals and the account tier you hold
Track and spend Avios reward points within your account
Pros and cons of using prepaid travel cards in Europe
Manage your account, add more money or convert funds online or with an app
Accounts with no monthly fees are available
Selection of supported currencies, with no fee to spend a currency you hold
ATM withdrawals supported globally
Some accounts have extras like options to earn reward points
Typically not a huge range of currencies supported
Transaction fees apply to most accounts
How to choose the best travel prepaid card for Europe?
There’s no single best travel prepaid card for Europe - it’ll come down to your personal preference. If you hold a Monese account that supports the currency wherever you’re headed, or a Monese Classic or Premium account which waives foreign transaction fees, you might find it’s cheaper to stick with Monese when in Europe compared to using your regular bank card. The Post Office card can also be a strong pick as you can hold a balance in euros and a large selection of other major European currencies, plus you can get a card instantly by walking into a Post Office branch.
Is there a spending limit with a prepaid card in Europe?
Different prepaid travel cards set their own limits for spending and withdrawals, which can vary between currencies. You’ll need to check your card’s terms and conditions carefully to make sure you pick a provider which suits your needs.
3. Travel Credit Cards
Travel credit cards typically offer some extra international features compared to regular credit cards, such as low or no foreign transaction fees or extra option to earn rewards when you’re abroad. In general, travel credit cards are safe and convenient but can be more expensive compared to using a debit card option. Before you select the right card for you it’s important to check the fees, rates, eligibility rules and interest rates which apply, so you can make sure it’s a good fit for you.
Travel credit card option 1: Barclaycard Rewards Visa
The Barclaycard Rewards Visa card doesn't charge foreign transaction fees or international ATM fees. Instead, your spending abroad is converted into pounds using the Visa exchange rate and added to your monthly bill. To avoid fees and interest charges, you must pay your bill in full every month. However, you can earn cashback on your everyday purchases.
No foreign transaction or foreign ATM fee
Earn cashback at 0.25% on spending
Protection on purchases over 100 GBP
International spending uses the Visa exchange rate
Variable interest rates which apply if you don’t pay off your bill in full
Travel credit card option 2: Halifax Clarity Mastercard
When you check your eligibility for the Halifax Clarity Mastercard, you'll be able to see the variable interest rate that’s available to you. No matter what rate’s offered, you won't have to pay any foreign transaction or foreign ATM fees, and all currency conversions are done using the Mastercard exchange rate.
Variable interest rates
Check your eligibility and order a card online easily
No foreign transaction fee
No ATM fee - but interest will accrue instantly when you make a withdrawal
Mastercard exchange rates apply
Pros and cons of using credit cards in Europe
Spending from 100 GBP has extra consumer protection
Spread the cost of your travel over several months
Check eligibility for a card online with no impact on your credit score
You may pay no foreign transaction fee and no ATM fee
Network exchange rates usually apply, which are usually pretty fair
Interest charged if you don’t repay in full every month
Eligibility rules apply
How to choose the best travel credit card for Europe?
Selecting the best travel credit card for Europe largely depends on individual preferences. If you aim to earn rewards and cashback on your foreign transactions, the Barclaycard Rewards Visa may be a suitable option as it does not have a foreign transaction fee and provides cashback on all purchases. Whichever card you’re considering you’ll want to weigh up the potential fees you’ll need to pay against the rewards you can earn to make sure it’s worthwhile.
If you regularly travel to Europe, getting a travel money card which supports the currencies you need frequently can help you save money. Travel money cards have different features, and can be picked up via regular banks, online specialists and even the Post Office.
You could opt for a low cost travel debit card which comes with a linked account to hold a selection of currencies - like the Wise account. Or you might prefer a prepaid travel money card like the Monese card which can be linked to either a fee free account or an account which has monthly fees in exchange for lower transaction charges. Finally, another option is to get a travel credit card either to earn cashback and rewards, or to avoid foreign transaction fees.
The good news is that the UK market is well served for all types of travel money cards - use this guide to start your research and pick the right option for your specific needs.
FAQ - Best travel cards for Europe
You can usually make cash withdrawals with a credit card in Europe at any ATM that supports your card network. You’ll often find that a fee applies, and you may start to accumulate interest on the withdrawn amount immediately. Travel money debit cards from providers like Wise and Revolut can be a lower cost option for cash withdrawals overseas.
You can use your debit card anywhere you see the card network’s logo displayed. Visa and Mastercard networks are very well supported globally, including in Europe, making these good options to look out for when you pick your travel debit card for Europe.
Prepaid cards from reputable providers are safe to use at home and abroad. They aren’t linked to your main bank account which can offer extra peace of mind, and may also make it easier to manage your travel budget. However, you’ll need to check the card features and fees carefully to make sure you're getting the best match for your needs.
9 Best Travel Credit Cards of November 2023 | Money
Posted: November 9, 2023 | Last updated: November 9, 2023
Money.com has partnered with CardRatings.com for our coverage of credit card products. Money and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. This site does not include all card companies or all available card offers.
A travel credit card can be a valuable tool to help you save on travel expenses. If you use it strategically, you could snag free flights, hotel stays and more.
These cards earn points (or miles) for travel and other everyday purchases at a set rate for every dollar you spend, sometimes with bonus rewards of up to ten points (10x) per dollar when you use them to pay for your trips.
Some travel credit cards offer additional benefits like airport lounge access, baggage delay insurance and a TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry fee credit.
Read on for our list of the best travel credit cards, how they work and how to pick the best one for you.
Our Top Picks for Best Travel Credit Cards
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – Best low-annual-fee travel credit card
- Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card – Best no-annual-fee credit travel card
- Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card – Best no-annual-fee travel credit card runner-up
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card – Best travel credit card for everyday spending
- American Express® Gold Card – Best travel card for dining rewards
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® – Best premium travel credit card
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card – Best low-cost premium travel credit card
- The Platinum Card® from American Express – Best travel card for perks and benefits
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express – Best travel card for businesses
Best Travel Credit Cards Reviews
- Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards(R) portal
- Receive a point bonus each account anniversary
- Includes primary rental car insurance
- Earn 3x per $1 on dining, including eligible delivery and takeout meals, select streaming services and grocery purchases
- $95 annual fee
- Doesn't offer a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck(R) application fee credit
Why we chose this card: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is an excellent option for frequent travelers who want to earn valuable rewards while paying a low annual fee.
The card features six reward categories that offer outstanding rewards on flights, hotels, tours, restaurants and more. Cardholders can earn:
- 5x points for travel bookings made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal
- 2x on all other travel purchases
- 3x on dining, including eligible delivery and takeout
- 3x on select streaming services
- 3x on online grocery purchases (excluding Target®, Walmart® and wholesale clubs)
- 1x on all other eligible purchases
You can redeem your points for statement credits, account deposits, gift cards and more. But you can get the most bang for your buck by redeeming them for travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, which increases your point’s usual one-cent value by 25%.
You can also transfer your points to one of Chase’s 14 travel partners at a 1:1 ratio (one Chase point equals one hotel point or airline mile). These include popular airlines and hotels like JetBlue, Southwest, United, Marriott and Hyatt.
In addition to its standard travel insurance benefits, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card includes primary rental car coverage — a perk not many travel cards provide. This type of insurance covers theft or damages without first filing a claim with your auto insurer. You also get to skip paying for the rental car company’s collision coverage.
- Unlimited 3% back on dining, entertainment, grocery stores (excluding Target(R) and Walmart(R)) and select streaming services
- No annual or foreign transaction fees
- Includes travel accident insurance
- Complimentary concierge service available 24/7 to offer personalized assistance in dining, entertainment and travel
- 5% cash-back rate for travel doesn't apply to flights
Why we chose it: The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is the ideal card to take when you’re sightseeing or on nights out since it offers high rewards on dining, entertainment and more without charging any annual or foreign transaction fees.
With the Capital One SavorOne, cardholders can earn cash back at restaurants, tourist attractions, concerts, theme parks and more. The card’s reward categories include:
- 10% back on Uber and Uber Eats purchases plus statement credits to cover the costs of an Uber One membership through November 14, 2024
- 8% back on Capital One Entertainment purchases
- 5% back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
- 3% back on dining, eligible streaming services, grocery stores (excluding Target® and Walmart®) and entertainment
- 1% back on all other eligible purchases
None of the listed categories have yearly caps, which means the card offers tremendous earning potential — especially for foodies who spend a lot dining out, on takeout or buying groceries.
Those that are always ready for a great night out might find Capital One Entertainment quite useful. Its platform gives cardmembers access to a variety of events, like celebrity meet-and-greets and dinner reservations at acclaimed restaurants. You could even find tickets to sold-out events at discounted prices, all while receiving a stellar 8% cash-back rate.
Keep in mind that this card’s travel bonus only applies to hotel and rental car bookings made through the Capital One Travel portal. This means that you won’t get any cash back or points for flight reservations, which other travel credit cards do offer.
While some credit cards limit their rewards to U.S. locations, this card will give you 3% cash back on dining and entertainment at establishments worldwide — and without charging foreign transaction fees many competitors charge.
- Earn 3x points on restaurants, travel and at gas stations
- Earn 3x points for select streaming services and cell phone plans
- Includes cell phone protection plan
- No foreign transaction fees
- No airline or hotel transfer partners
- Doesn't include travel insurance
- Netflix, Hulu and HBO are not eligible for streaming bonus
Why we chose it: The Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card has no annual or foreign transaction fees and earns high rewards for travel, dining, gas, streaming services and cell phone plan purchases.
Most travel credit cards only offer rewards when you book flights and hotels through the card issuer’s travel portal. If you were to book your vacation through one-stop travel sites like Booking.com, you’d only earn the card’s minimum bonus (which is usually one point per dollar).
The Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card, however, gives you:
- 3x points on flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises and more (regardless of where you make your purchase)
- 3x points on transit, including subways, parkings, tolls, ridesharing services and more
- 3x points on dining, gas, select streaming services and cell phone plans
- 1X points on other eligible purchases
However, although the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card offers a solid cash-back rate on travel, its travel benefits are otherwise lackluster. For example, it doesn’t offer hotel and airline transfer partners or include insurance for travel accidents or lost luggages.
Still, the card does include rental car insurance and covers up to $50,000 for accidents or theft if you use it to book the rental car. The card also features a cell phone protection plan when you use it to pay your monthly bill. If your phone is damaged or stolen, you can be reimbursed up to $600 per claim (up to $1,200 per year).
If you’re looking for unlimited rewards on travel and everyday spending, the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card is an excellent option. However, it may not be the best fit if you’re looking for comprehensive travel insurance coverage and luxury benefits.
All information about the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card has been collected independently by Money.com.
- High rewards on everyday spending (2x miles per dollar)
- Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck(R)
- Includes travel accident and car rental insurance
- Fewer bonus categories than other cards with a similar annual fee ($95)
- Doesn't offer travel rewards for flights
- Car rental insurance is secondary
Why we chose it: The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is an excellent card for everyday spending, offering a higher base reward than most travel credit cards.
Cards generally earn one mile (or point) per dollar on most purchases and have a higher rate for certain spending categories. However, if your routine expenses don’t align with these categories, you could miss out on potential rewards.
The Capital One Venture Rewards is ideal for those who want to get the most out of their spending without worrying about tracking bonus categories. Cardmembers can earn:
- 5x miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One’s travel portal
- 2x miles per dollar on all eligible purchases
You can redeem your miles on the Capital One travel portal at a value of one cent per mile. Additionally, you may transfer your miles to more than 15 airline and hotel partners; however, do keep in mind that Capital One doesn’t have any domestic travel partners, which can be a drawback if you mainly travel within the U.S.
Additionally, you may transfer your miles to more than 15 airline and hotel partners. In this case, the per-mile value depends on the airline or hotel you choose. Keep in mind that Capital One doesn’t have any domestic travel partners, which can be a drawback if you mainly travel within the U.S.
Other benefits include auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance and up to $100 to cover the cost of a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® application fee.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is great for earning miles daily. However, it may not be the best option if you’d rather have your rewards in the form of cash back. While the card allows you to redeem your miles as cash back, you’ll only get a value of 0.5 cents per mile. Other cards, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, have a similar annual fee ($95) and offer a cash-back redemption rate of one cent per point.
- Earns 4x points on restaurants worldwide, takeout and food delivery within the U.S.
- Up to $120 in annual dining credits, issued as a $10 statement credit per month for select restaurants (enrollment required)
- Up to $120 as Uber Cash annually ($10 per month) for food delivery orders and rides in the U.S. after you add the American Express(R) Gold Card to your Uber account
- Earn 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x)
- High annual fee ($250)
- Includes few travel perks and insurance policies compared to similarly priced cards
Terms apply. Please click here for applicable rates and fees.
Why we chose it: The card_name is ideal for foodies, offering a high reward rate at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets, takeout and food delivery. (Terms apply.)
With the American Express® Gold Card, you can earn:
- 4x points at restaurants worldwide
- 4x points on takeout and delivery in the U.S.
- 4x points at supermarkets within the U.S. (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1X)
- 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or Amextravel.com
- 1x on other eligible purchases
- Terms apply
The American Express® Gold Card also offers statement credits worth up to $240 combined — almost enough to offset the card’s $250 annual fee. These include:
- Up to $120 every year in dining credits ($10 per month) for select restaurants and food delivery services. The list includes Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and Shake Shack (Enrollment required)
- Automatically get $10 monthly in Uber Cash to use on Uber Eats or Uber rides in the U.S. (after you add the American Express® Gold Card to your account)
Additionally, cardmembers receive up to $100 in credits for stays of two consecutive nights or more booked through American Express’ The Hotel Collection. It can be used for eligible purchases relating to dining, spa services and other activities. Cardholders also get 24/7 access to Global Assist Hotline representatives who can help coordinate lost passport replacement, translation services, missing luggage assistance and more. (Terms apply.)
However, note that the American Express® Gold Card offers fewer travel perks than some other premium cards — for instance, it doesn’t offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance or TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry fee credits.
- Up to $300 in statement credits each anniversary year to cover travel purchases
- Transfer your points to 14 travel partners (including United, Southwest, JetBlue and Marriott)
- Points worth 50% more when redeemed for travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards(R) portal
- Comprehensive travel insurance coverage, including emergency dental insurance
- High annual fee ($550)
- Doesn't include a cell phone protection plan
- Welcome offer is less impressive than other premium cards
Why we chose it: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers a high reward rate on travel and dining and has additional benefits like comprehensive travel insurance and airport lounge access worldwide.
Most premium cards offer the same bonus rate for airfare, hotels and rental cars. The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, on the other hand, offers an increased rate for room reservations and auto rentals. It also gives points for all travel bookings, unlike other card issuers that limit their rewards to purchases made through their travel portals.
With this card you can earn:
- 10x points on hotels and rental cars booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually
- 10x through the Chase Dining program
- 5x points on air travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal
- 3x points for all other travel-related purchases after spending the first $300 on travel purchases
- 3x points on restaurants, including takeout and delivery
Another advantage of the Sapphire Reserve is that its points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal — that is, 1.5 cents per point instead of the usual one cent.
In addition to its generous rewards, the Sapphire Reserve has several notable perks. It provides statement credits to cover fees for expedited traveler programs Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or Nexus every four years, plus discounts or upgrades on select car rental companies, to name a few.
One of the card’s outstanding benefits is a $300 annual travel credit that can cover travel-related purchases like airfare, hotels, car rentals, rideshares, buses, trains, tolls and/or parking. Other cards that feature an annual travel credit are usually more restrictive, and you can often only use it on flights or hotels purchased through the card issuer’s travel portal.
The Sapphire Reserve does have a $550 annual fee. But if you take advantage of the $300 annual credit and other perks, the benefits can definitely outweigh its cost.
- 10,000 bonus miles every year
- Statement credit of up to $300 for bookings made through Capital One Travel
- Up to a $100 credit on Global Entry or TSA PreCheck(R)
- Skip the line and get car upgrades when renting a car with Hertz
- High annual fee ($395)
- Fewer bonus categories than other premium cards
- No domestic airline transfer partners
Why we chose it: The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card features premium benefits like annual travel credit and airport lounge access for a lower annual fee ($395) than other premium travel cards.
The Venture X includes perks like a Priority Pass Select membership, which provides access to more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. This type of perk is typically only offered by luxury cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or The Platinum Card® from American Express, both of which have much higher annual fees ($550 and $695, respectively).
Other benefits include 10,000 bonus miles on every account anniversary and the option to add up to four authorized users at no extra cost. (Many cards have an annual fee of $75 or more for each additional user.) The card bonus categories include:
- 10x miles per dollar on hotels & rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
- 5x miles per dollar on flights booked through Capital One Travel
- 2x miles per dollar on all other eligible purchases
The Venture X features a $300 annual travel credit that can be used for airfare, hotel stays, rental car reservations and more. However, do note the credit only applies to Capital One Travel bookings. (Some competitors are more flexible and let you use the credits on any type of travel purchase, regardless of your preferred booking-platform.)
Although the card includes travel insurance, its coverage is limited compared to other premium travel cards. For example, the Venture X doesn’t cover baggage delays, travel accidents or emergency evacuations and transportations. However, it does provide primary rental car insurance, which isn’t offered by other premium travel cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express.
All in all, the Venture X is a solid option that can easily compete with other premium travel cards, especially considering its more affordable annual fee. However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, our main pick for the best premium travel card, might be a better fit if you’d prefer a card with more bonus categories, a less restrictive annual travel credit and a more comprehensive travel insurance policy.
- Access to the widest network of airport lounges of any card
- Complimentary elite status in the Marriott and Hilton hotel loyalty programs
- Hundreds of dollars in annual statement credits for travel, dining and more
- High annual fee ($695)
- Doesn't include baggage delay, travel accident and primary rental car insurance
- Limited bonus categories
Terms apply. Click here for rates and fees.
Why we chose this card: The Platinum Card® from American Express offers a list of premium benefits that no other travel card offers, including the widest network of airport lounges and room upgrades at Hilton and Marriott hotels. (Terms apply.)
This card includes complimentary access to over 1,400 airport lounges, including Priority Pass, which is the largest network of lounges worldwide (enrollment required). Other premium cards (like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®) also provide access to lounges through Priority Pass. However, the Platinum Card® from American Express includes additional lounge networks such as Delta SkyClub and Amex’s own Centurion lounges. (Terms apply.)
The card awards cardholders gold status in the Marriott and Hilton loyalty programs (enrollment required), which makes you eligible for perks like room upgrades, free breakfast and late checkouts. (You would typically need to stay at least 25 nights in Marriott and 28 nights in Hilton locations per year before achieving gold status with each company.)
Platinum cardmembers also get elite status in three car rental programs: Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive. This status gives you perks such as skipping the line, car upgrades and/or discounts.
In addition to travel benefits, the card includes several statement credits such as:
- $200 back each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings made through American Express Travel and paid with your Platinum Card® (Hotel Collection bookings require a minimum two-night stay)
- Up to $200 per year when incidental fees, such as checked bags, are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card® (with one selected qualifying airline)
- $12.95 monthly for a Walmart+ membership when you use your card to pay for membership (excluding any Plus Ups) (enrollment required)
- Up to $240 annually ($20 back in statement credits each month) on eligible purchases paid with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The Wall Street Journal (enrollment required)
- Up to $200 — $15 per month and $20 in December — for eligible food delivery or rides with Uber in the U.S. (must add the card to your Uber account)
- $100 for Global Entry and $85 for TSA PreCheck® (every 4 and 4.5 years, respectively)
- $189 for a Clear® PLUS (once per year) (subject to auto-renewal)
When it comes to its bonus categories, the card offers:
- 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 per calendar year)
- 5x points on prepaid hotels booked on the American Express travel portal
- One point per $1 on all other eligible purchases
The Platinum Card® from American Express does have a hefty $695 annual fee. However, for people who travel often and will take advantage of its annual credits and travel perks, it might almost pay for itself.
- 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com
- Around $1,000 in yearly statement credits for select business purchases
- Access to a wide network of airport lounges (terms apply)
- Around $600 in perks in Fine Hotels + Resorts(R) locations booked through American Express Travel (for stays of two nights)
- Secondary rental car coverage**
Why we chose it: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express features an extensive list of benefits that make it an ideal travel and business credit card.
The card grants cardmembers access to over 1,400 airport lounges worldwide, comprehensive travel insurance and extra amenities at hundreds of hotels, like daily breakfast and free internet access. Additionally, it features a credit of up to $200 to cover baggage fees, in-flight refreshments and more and up to $100 for Global Entry or $85 for TSA PreCheck® every four or 4.5 years respectively. (Terms apply.) (Enrollment required.)
The card also offers yearly statement credits for business-related purchases that include:
- Up to $400 per year ($200 between January and June and $200 between July and December) for U.S. purchases at Dell
- Up to $360 per year (up to $90 back per quarter) for purchases with Indeed
- Up to $150 per year for eligible annual prepaid business subscriptions for Adobe Creative Cloud for teams or Acrobat Pro DC with E-Sign (Adobe Creative Cloud InCopy App is not eligible)
- Up to $120 ($10 monthly) for purchases made directly from U.S. wireless telephone providers
- Enrollment is required for the benefits listed above
When it comes to rewards, you’ll earn points on the following bonus categories:
- 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com
- 1.5x points (up to $2 million per year) at U.S. construction material and hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers, software and cloud system providers and shipping providers
- 1.5x points (up to $2 million per year) on purchases of $5,000 or more, regardless of the category
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express does have one of the steepest annual fees ($695) among travel credit cards, but its extensive list of benefits makes it a no-brainer for business owners who travel frequently.
Other travel credit cards we considered
We picked the best credit cards for travel based on their reward rates, travel insurance, additional benefits and overall value for most travelers. The following cards were close runner-ups:
Chase Freedom Flex®
- No annual fee
- Includes trip cancellation/interruption and car rental insurance
- Includes cell phone protection when you pay your monthly bill with the card
- Earn 5% cash back in quarterly categories, on up to the first $1,500 spent
- 5% back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards(R)
- 3% foreign transaction fee
The Chase Freedom Flex® offers several benefits that aren’t common among no-annual-fee cards. It provides coverage for rental cars as well as trip cancellations and interruptions. It also includes cell phone protection for theft or damages when you pay your phone’s bill using the card.
While it’s technically a cash-back card, the Chase Freedom Flex® still earns points that you can use for travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal. The card also offers high rewards on some travel purchases. Cardmembers can earn:
- 5% back on bookings made through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 5% back on up to $1,500 spent per quarter in rotating categories
- 3% back on dining at restaurants (including eligible delivery services and takeout)
- 3% back on drugstore purchase
- 1% back on all other eligible purchases.
However, note that the card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee so it’s best to use it while traveling within the U.S., not in international locations.
All information about the Chase Freedom Flex® has been collected independently by Money.com.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
- Earns 1.5x points on all purchases
- No travel transfer partners
- No bonus category for travel
- Few benefits compared to other cards
The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card is an easy-to-use card suited for travel reward beginners or for those who are already Bank of America customers. It earns a flat 1.5x points on all purchases, but some cardholders can earn up to 75% more points if they are Preferred Rewards members. However, the card doesn’t offer additional bonus categories, hotel and airline point transfer partners, travel insurance or extended warranty and purchase protection.
All information about Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has been collected independently by Money.com
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
- Can transfer your points to 16 travel partners
- Earns 5x miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
- Doesn't earn bonus points on airfare or dining
The Capital One VentureOne Credit Card earns a consistent 1.25x miles per dollar on every purchase and 5x miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
You can use your miles to book travel through the Capital One Travel portal or transfer your points to one of Capital One’s 16 travel partners, which include international airlines such as Avianca and British Airways. The card also includes travel accident and rental car insurance to some cardholders, depending on their credit score.
However, the card’s list of bonus categories is lacking compared to some other no-annual-fee credit cards, and Capital One doesn’t have any domestic airline travel partners.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Earns 5% cash back on travel bookings made through Chase Ultimate Rewards(R)
- 3% on foreign transaction fee
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of the few no-annual-fee credit cards that includes trip cancellation/interruption and rental car insurance. Its reward categories are also appealing, giving you:
- 5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, including hotels and rental cars
- 3% back on dining purchases, including eligible delivery and takeout
- 3% back at drugstores
- Unlimited 1.5% back on all other eligible purchases
However, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® charges a 3% fee on foreign transactions, which kept it off our main list.
Discover it® Miles
- Discover matches the total miles you earned at the end of the first year
- Earns 1.5x miles on all purchases
- See your FICO score on the Discover mobile app, online and on statements
- Few benefits compared to other travel cards
- Doesn't include extended warranty or purchase protection
The Discover it® Miles is a no-frills card that earns 1.5x miles on all purchases. Its welcome bonus is easily one of the best: Discover matches every mile you’ve earned at the end of your first membership year. However, it has fewer bonus categories than other no-annual-fee cards, and doesn’t have any travel transfer partners. Additionally, Discover cards aren’t as widely accepted internationally as Visa and Mastercard.
All information about the Discover it® Miles has been collected independently by Money.com.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
- Earn 2x points on travel and dining
- Earn 1.5x points on all other purchases
- Up to $100 credit for airline incidental fees per year
- Up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA Precheck(R) every four years
- Lower travel bonus rate than other cards
- Doesn't provide car rental insurance
The Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card has a simple earning structure, offering 2x points on travel and dining and 1.5x points on all other purchases.
The card includes some travel perks — for example, it gives up to $100 for incidental airline fees, which can cover the cost of seat upgrades, baggage fees, in-flight purchases and airport lounges. You also get another statement credit of up to $100 every four years to cover Global Entry or TSA Precheck® fees. Additionally, the card provides insurance for trip delays, interruptions and cancellations, lost luggage and baggage delays.
However, note that other similarly priced cards ($95 per year) feature more bonus categories and a higher travel-purchases rate (up to 5x points) if you’re willing to book through the card’s travel portal.
All information about the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card has been collected independently by Money.com.
Travel Credit Cards Guide
The best credit cards for travel do more than offer high reward rates on flights and hotel stays. They also provide rewards for everyday spending and perks such as travel insurance , airport lounge access and annual statement credits.
Bear in mind, however, that premium travel credit cards often also feature high annual fees. And their rewards are often worth the most when redeemed through a card issuer’s travel portal.
Here’s a rundown of how these cards work:
What is a travel credit card?
Travel credit cards (or travel rewards credit cards) typically provide generous rewards for travel purchases and let cardmembers redeem points (or miles) for travel bookings. Most card issuers also let you redeem points for statement credits, cash back or gift cards.
These cards may offer additional benefits such as rewards for dining purchases, access to airport lounges and late hotel checkouts.
Bonus categories, redeeming options and included benefits vary widely across card issuers. However, you can generally expect cards with higher annual fees to offer more perks and benefits. For example, premium cards with annual fees over $400 often feature hundreds of dollars in statement credits (money credited to your card’s outstanding balance) to cover travel or food purchases.
How do travel credit cards work?
Like other reward cards, travel credit cards give you a certain number of points per dollar spent on eligible purchases.
How points earning works
These cards allow users to earn points on travel purchases, as well as many other purchases.
Some offer bonus points for dining out, groceries, drugstores, streaming services and more. However, they usually offer an enhanced rewards rate for travel. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns 10x points on hotels and rental cars booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal. They also have a flat point rate for purchases that don’t fall within these categories — usually between one and 1.5 cents per dollar.
It’s important to note that a card’s travel rewards can be earned on more than airfare, lodging and car rentals. For example, bus fares, cruise lines, tolls and ferries may also qualify as travel purchases, depending on your credit card issuer.
What are point programs?
Many credit cards have point programs — also known as rewards programs — through which members can redeem earned points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more.
In most cases, you’ll earn at least one point per dollar when paying with your card, and each point is worth one cent each. However, many cards give you bonus points when used to cover expenses in specific categories, such as three points per dollar (3x) at restaurants or supermarkets.
Additionally, some issuers increase your points’ value when you redeem them for travel. For example, points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card have a 1.25-cent value when you book flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
You can also transfer your points to travel partners. Not all point programs allow transfers to airline or hotel loyalty programs, but if they do, it’s at a 1:1 ratio, meaning 1,000 points are worth 1,000 points in the partner program.
Point values may also vary depending on how you choose to redeem them. Some cards let cardholders use points when shopping at Amazon or Paypal, for example. But, while convenient, this option may bring down the value of points to 0.8 cents.
Well-known point programs include Chase Ultimate Rewards®, American Express Membership Rewards® and Citi ThankYou® Rewards.
Difference between points and miles
Travel credit cards usually earn rewards as points. But some card issuers, like Capital One, call their rewards “miles” instead of “points” — even though they can be redeemed the same way as points.
Cards that earn miles are often (but not always) tied to a specific airline. Additionally, bear in mind that the term “mile” doesn’t refer to miles traveled with the airline. One airline mile is usually the equivalent of one reward point, which you can redeem for free flights, seat upgrades and more.
Pros and cons of travel credit cards
- Some cards offer up to 10x points per dollar on travel purchases.
- Many have additional bonus categories for dining, grocery shopping and more.
- They may include travel benefits like priority boarding, airport lounge access and late hotel checkouts.
- Points or miles can also be redeemed for cash back, statement credits, gift cards and more.
- Highest reward rates are usually limited to purchases made through the card issuer's travel portal.
- They might not offer high rewards on spending outside of the travel category.
- The best ones have steep annual fees.
- Redeeming points or miles for anything other than travel can reduce their value to less than one cent per dollar.
Types of travel credit cards
Here’s a rundown of the differences between the three main types of travel credit cards:
Airline credit cards
Airline credit cards are ideal for people who fly with the same airline regularly. These cards earn miles that you can use with one specific airline, and their rewards (called frequent flier miles) are redeemable for airfare. Some of the best airline travel credit cards include benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding and discounts on in-flight purchases.
Hotel credit cards
Hotel credit cards are similar to airline cards. Points earned can only be used with one particular hotel chain.
For example, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card earns points for Hilton’s loyalty program. Points can be redeemed for free nights in the company’s properties, including Hilton Garden Inn and Waldorf Astoria hotels. The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, on the other hand, includes room upgrades and late checkouts on select locations.
Other benefits may include discount rates, late checkouts or free in-room Wi-Fi.
Hotel credit cards may also offer complimentary breakfasts, room upgrades, late checkouts and bonus points for purchases made during your stay.
General travel credit card
General travel credit cards are much more flexible and convenient than airline or hotel cards. Since they aren’t affiliated with a single airline or hotel chain, general travel card points can be redeemed for a wide variety of travel-related expenses.
These cards allow cardholders to book flights, hotel stays, rental cars and more from different companies using your card issuer’s online travel portal. Other ways to use card points include statement credits, cash back or gift cards. Some issuers also let you transfer points to airline and hotel partners.
These cards may offer handy perks for frequent travelers, like airport lounge access. They can also cover the cost of a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® membership, which allows you to skip the long lines at airport security or customs.
How to choose a travel credit card
Picking the best travel rewards card boils down to how often you travel, which cardmember perks you’d benefit the most from and the categories you spend the most on.
Here are some factors to keep in mind when choosing the best card for you:
- Do you travel often? A travel rewards credit card offers high reward rates on most travel-related spending, and you’ll get the most bang for your buck when you use their points on flights, hotels and car rentals. If you don’t take trips often but want to pile up rewards, a cash-back credit card might be a better fit.
- Assess your everyday spending. Many travel cards have additional bonus categories other than travel, like dining, supermarkets, streaming services and drugstores. Consider your day-to-day spending habits and pick a card with bonus categories that fit your lifestyle.
- Consider the card’s annual fees. There are several no-annual-fee travel cards available, but they usually have few bonus categories and benefits. The best travel credit cards charge annual fees of at least $90 and can go as high as $700. However, these are often best for those that travel enough to take advantage of their benefits.
- Choose between a general travel card or a co-branded one. General travel cards are more flexible than company-specific cards when it comes to redeeming points. You can use a general travel card’s rewards to get statement credits, cash back or gift cards, or book flights, hotel stays, rental cars and more from different companies. Rewards from co-branded cards, on the other hand, can typically be used only with one specific airline or hotel. However, co-branded cards do include valuable perks like free checked bags, in-flight discounts, hotel room upgrades or complimentary breakfast.
- Compare extra travel perks. Some cards offer extras like annual statement credits for flights and hotels or upgrades when renting cars. Take the time to compare each card’s roster of add-ons and pick one that will best suit your travel plans.
- Compare insurance policies. Some cards offer insurance policies that cover travel accidents, rental cars, trip cancellations and more. They also include purchase protection and extended warranties for items bought using the card. These policies can vary widely based on the issuer and the card’s annual-fee tier.
- Beware foreign transaction fees. Most travel credit cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees. Some cash-back cards may offer outstanding rewards for travel purchases but charge around 3% fees on purchases outside the U.S.
- A welcome bonus shouldn’t be the end-all, be-all perk. A 100,000-point welcome bonus can be enticing. However, it shouldn’t be your deciding factor, especially if you’ll end up paying a high annual fee without getting your money’s worth.
How get the most out of your travel credit card
To get the most out of your travel credit card, you need to use it as often and strategically as possible. This way, you can earn points or miles with each purchase, which you can then redeem for free or discounted flights, hotels and more.
Use your travel card to pay most of your purchases and bills and then pay your card off in full each month. This will help you earn points while avoiding interest charges and high credit card debt , which can impact your credit score.
Here are some other tips to maximize your rewards:
- Consider adding an authorized user to your account, as the rewards they earn with their purchases get added to your total. However, make sure to pick someone who will use the card responsibly since you’ll be legally liable if they ever fail to pay their monthly bills.
- Redeem your rewards for travel through the card issuer’s website. This redemption option usually offers the highest value compared to gift cards or merchandise, for example.
- If you have an airline or hotel card, use it to sign up for the company’s frequent-flier or frequent-guest loyalty program. You’ll often earn extra points or miles when you’re a member and use your co-branded card to pay for flights or hotel stays.
- If your card offers travel insurance, use it to pay for passenger fares or you won’t be entitled to receive a potential payout in the event of an accident or lost luggage.
Best Travel Credit Cards FAQ
What credit cards offer free travel insurance, what is the best travel credit card, what is the best travel credit card for lounge access, what is the best credit card for international travel, how to travel for free with credit cards, how we chose the best travel credit cards.
We ranked the best credit cards for travel based on their annual fees, benefits, reward rates and redemption flexibility.
Fees: We compared interest rates and foreign, cash advance and balance transfer fees for more than 50 credit cards. We also considered their annual fee, looking for those that offered the most for the money.
Ongoing benefits: Intro APR and bonus offers are attractive, but they can only get you so far. We focused on cards with year-round benefits such as travel insurance or cell phone protection plans.
Reward rates: We preferred cards that allow you to earn extra points from travel expenses, as well as those that provide significant bonus rewards in popular spending categories, like dining, supermarkets or streaming services.
Redemption flexibility: Our picks don’t limit your redemption options to just travel. Some let you use your points for Amazon purchases, for example. We also preferred issuers that allowed cardholders to transfer their points to airline and hotel partners.
Summary of Money’s Best Travel Credit Cards of November 2023
Money.com has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Money.com and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
To see rates and fees for the American Express® Gold Card, visit this link . Terms apply.
To see rates and fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express, visit this link . Terms apply.
To see rates and fees for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, visit this link . Terms apply.
* Insurance disclosures for American Express Cards on this page:
Trip Delay Insurance: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.
Baggage Insurance Plan: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.
Global Assist Hotline: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Card Members are responsible for the costs charged by third-party service providers.
Extended Warranty, Purchase Protection, Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.
Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance: Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.
** Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance can provide coverage up to $75,000 for theft of or damage to most rental vehicles when you use your eligible Card to reserve and pay for the entire eligible vehicle rental and decline the collision damage waiver or similar option offered by the Commercial Car Rental Company. This product provides secondary coverage and does not include liability coverage. Not all vehicle types or rentals are covered. Geographic restrictions apply. Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.
*** Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance can provide coverage up to $50,000 for theft of or damage to most rental vehicles when you use your eligible Card to reserve and pay for the entire eligible vehicle rental and decline the collision damage waiver or similar option offered by the Commercial Car Rental Company. This product provides secondary coverage and does not include liability coverage. Not all vehicle types or rentals are covered. Geographic restrictions apply. Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.
© Copyright 2023 Money Group, LLC . All Rights Reserved.
This article originally appeared on Money.com and may contain affiliate links for which Money receives compensation. Opinions expressed in this article are the author's alone, not those of a third-party entity, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed. Offers may be subject to change without notice. For more information, read Money’s full disclaimer .
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The Best Credit Cards for Students Who Want to Travel
While I didn’t take my first international trip until after I graduated college (I went to Costa Rica when I was 23), being a college student doesn’t mean you have to skip out on travel. From studying abroad to gap years to spring break trips, there are a lot of ways to travel while in school.
However, students usually don’t have a lot of money which makes affording trips abroad challenging.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to save for a trip on a budget. One of the best ways to do this is by getting a rewards credit card.
Since students don’t have a credit history and may not have an income yet, it will be hard to get approved for the travel credit cards with the most rewards .
The good news is that banks know this, and many have created cards specifically designed for students. These are easier to get approved for (banks don’t expect you to have a credit history as a student), so that you can start building credit and using those rewards to help you travel for cheap!
Here’s my list of the best credit cards for students:
Table of Contents
MY TOP PICK: Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card
Bank of america travel rewards student credit card, chime credit builder visa® credit card, tips for getting a credit card as a student, frequently asked questions about credit cards for students.
Capital One has some of the best travel credit cards out there, and they offer several fantastic student options too. This card has several bonus categories in which you can earn even more for your purchases, including 3% cash back on dining and grocery purchases, and a stellar 10% cash back on Uber and Uber Eats. It also has no foreign transaction fees, no annual fee, and even offers travel accident insurance. This is a really comprehensive student card and my top pick.
Here’s a look at the main benefits of the card:
- A one-time $50 USD cash bonus once you spend $100 USD on purchases within three months
- 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services, and grocery stores
- 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
- 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases
- 10% cash back on purchases on Uber and Uber Eats
- Uber One monthly membership fee covered through November 14, 2024
- Travel accident insurance
- No foreign transaction fees
- No annual fee
If you want a more straightforward card, Capital One also offers the card_name . It offers nearly all the same benefits, except instead of the different bonus categories, you’ll get an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The Quicksilver also comes in a secured version if you can’t get approved for an unsecured card.
If you’re looking for something simple and easy to use, this is it. This card offers an unlimited 1.5 points earned per dollar spent, as well as the biggest signup bonus out of any card designed for students. The 25,000 bonus points that you can earn by spending $1,000 USD in the first 90 days (that’s roughly $333 USD per month) can be converted into $250 USD worth of travel/dining when wiped from your statement as a credit.
With this card, you’ll get:
- 25,000 Online Bonus Points after making $1,000 USD in purchases in the first 90 days
- Unlimited 1.5 points per $1 USD spent on all purchases
The only secured credit card on this list, the Chime Credit Builder, issued by Stride Bank, works like a prepaid debit card. While it’s not marketed specifically toward students, it’s for people who want to build credit, which is exactly what you’re trying to do as a student.
The downsides are that there’s no welcome bonus and you must open a Chime checking account to use the card (though as a student, you may be opening your first account anyway). Unlike most secured cards, there’s also no set credit limit, which you create yourself with the money you deposit into your Chime checking account (which you then use to pay off your balance).
- No interest charges
- No minimum security deposit required
- No credit check (so there’s no impact on your current score)
- The ability to set your own credit limit
- An easy-to-use app to manage your account and card
Getting your first card can be a bit intimidating as you may not know how credit cards work . But it doesn’t have to be.
Using credit cards responsibly starts with building healthy habits. As long as you pay off your entire balance each month, your regular purchases can work for you, earning rewards that can be used for future travel.
It’s a good idea to start building credit as soon as you can, not only to reap the benefits of rewards cards but also to establish a lengthy credit history that can help you in other aspects of life. At some point in the future, you may want to buy a house, lease a car, apply for a business loan, or do other activities that require a credit check. (Some apartments and even some jobs require it.) So the earlier you start building a credit history, the better.
Certain credit cards are specifically designed for students, with an easier approval process that requires no credit history and lower spending limits that are in line with the limited (or nonexistent) income of a student.
Requirements for student cards may include:
- Proof of enrollment
- If under 21, an income source (e.g., part-time job, scholarship, or grant)
- A minimum age of 18
- A Social Security number
- US citizenship or permanent residency
Note: Student cards are designed for people with no credit. If you’re rebuilding your credit, check out the best credit cards for those with bad credit .
How do I get a credit card as a student? Getting a credit card can be as simple as applying for cards geared towards students, like those listed above. Many even offer a pre-approval process, meaning you can see if you’ll be approved without having an impact on your score. You can also contact your local bank or credit union for information, as they may have a card for you as well.
Can I get a credit card if I’m a full-time student? Yes! The cards above (along with many others) are geared toward students, even if you’re studying full-time.
At what age can students get a credit card? Students can start applying for credit cards at the age of 18, though requirements can make it difficult to be approved (you’ll have to prove independent income). Your best option for building credit if you’re between the ages of 18 and 21 is to get either a secured credit card or a student credit card. You can also become an authorized user on someone else’s card.
After age 21, restrictions fall away, and it becomes easier to get a regular, unsecured credit card.
Can I get a credit card as a student with no income? If you’re under 21, you’ll have to prove independent income. However, depending on the card issuer, they may accept student loans, grants, or scholarships as proof of income. If you have someone who can co-sign for you, some credit card issuers may allow a co-signer’s income to count toward approval.
What happens to my student card when I graduate? Most student credit cards have a non-student version. In many cases, when you graduate, your account, along with its limits and history, will simply be converted to that option. In other cases, you’ll want to upgrade or open a new account. But even if you open other cards and don’t use that account as much, you’ll want to keep it open to maintain the length of your credit history.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to wait until you graduate college to start building a credit history and earning rewards. Not only will a card help you earn cheap (or free) travel, but you’ll learn how credit cards work and establish healthy financial habits that will help you throughout your life!
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner . It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld . If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Want to Travel for Free? Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation — all without any extra spending. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.
Ready to Book Your Trip? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.
Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.
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Best places to travel with credit card rewards in 2024
“Verified by an expert” means that this article has been thoroughly reviewed and evaluated for accuracy.
Robin Saks Frankel
Published 5:34 a.m. UTC Nov. 9, 2023
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With 2023 quickly winding down, now’s the time to ramp up your credit cards strategy to plan next year’s bucket-list trips. By giving yourself ample time to apply for cards and accrue points, you can make one of those dreamy destinations sitting on your bucket list come to life in the new year.
In this guide, we’ve rounded up the best places to travel with your credit card rewards in 2024.
Along with recommendations, we’ve provided concrete examples of how you can leverage credit card transfer partners to redeem your stash of points and miles for flights, accommodations and more.
There’s so much to love about Costa Rica, from its lush jungles to the natural wildlife. Plus, this Central American country is quite accessible from many states in the U.S. With two main international airports — Liberia (LIR) and San José (SJO), the toughest decision you’ll need to make is which part of Costa Rica to visit.
Many major U.S. airlines fly to Costa Rica, so redeeming your rewards for a flight shouldn’t be too difficult depending on where your loyalty lies.
For example, frequent United flyers may want to consider the United Club℠ Infinite Card * The information for the United Club℠ Infinite Card has been collected independently by Blueprint. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. to snag the welcome offer of 90,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
In addition to bonus miles, the card offers excellent perks like United Club lounge access, free checked bags and more that can make the $525 annual fee worthwhile.
Here’s an example of a flight from Raleigh-Durham (RDU) to Liberia (LIR) with a layover in Houston (IAH). You’ll pay just 20,000 miles one-way — even during the peak winter season.
From the welcome bonus alone, you’ll have enough miles to cover two round trip tickets and potentially even more if you continue to spend on everyday purchases with the card.
A popular resort for visitors is the Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo, located on the country’s North Pacific coast. With stunning beaches, world-renowned golf courses and an extensive list of daily resort activities, rates can reach nearly $700 per night.
Fortunately, the Andaz participates in the World of Hyatt program, with more affordable award rates ranging from 21,000 to 29,000 points per night, depending on the season. If you’re low on Hyatt points, your Bilt Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards® points transfer at a 1:1 ratio.
One of the best ways to fly the whole family to Hawaii is by setting your sights on the British Airways Avios program. Earning points is a breeze: You can transfer your American Express Membership Rewards®, Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards®, Citi ThankYou® Points or Capital One Miles to this program at a simple 1:1 ratio.
Because British Airways is part of the Oneworld airline alliance, you can redeem your Avios for partner airlines like American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. Both of these carriers offer plenty of routes to the Aloha State.
Nonstop routes are priced favorably for just 13,000 Avios plus $5.60 in taxes and fees for a one way flight from the West Coast. Depending on when you’re traveling, you may also be able to find multiple award seats per flight. This is great news for big families.
If you’re not from the area, it’s worth booking a separate flight to overnight in these gateway cities, like Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO), as there are plenty of flights at these excellent rates.
Hotels can be a different story, as they’re notoriously expensive no matter which island you visit. One way to get around these prices is by leveraging the Hilton Honors loyalty program by redeeming points or free night certificates — or a combination of both.
Hilton Honors cards are a great way to boost your balances, like the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card * The information for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Blueprint. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. (terms apply). Despite its lofty $550 annual fee, the card comes with excellent loyalty perks like top Diamond elite status and an annual free night certificate, which you can redeem for nearly any hotel at the Standard Room Reward rate.
You can usually snag a bargain for inter-island flights thanks to Hawaiian Airlines or Southwest. This makes it simple to hop on a quick flight to Maui to stay at the Grand Wailea hotel for 110,000 points per night. If you’re short on points, you can also top off your balance by purchasing Hilton Honors points for just 0.5 cents each on sale.
Thinking about trekking to the other side of the globe? If so, it’s time to redeem those American Airlines AAdvantage miles. For roughly 70,000 to 80,000 miles one way, you’ll get the luxury of flying business or first class to Sydney. If you’d like to save your miles and fly economy instead, it’s still a great bargain at around 40,000 miles.
While award seats can be hard to find, American Airlines releases availability approximately 11 months ahead of schedule. That means it’s not too early to start thinking about fall or winter travel next year.
American’s co-branded cards are a great way to earn a chunk of miles for your next trip. For example, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® * The information for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® has been collected independently by Blueprint. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. offers a 70,000 miles after spending $7,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Once you’re in Australia, you can easily hop on flights to other cities further afield, like Melbourne or Perth.
For hotels, Marriott Bonvoy is one of the most prolific hotel loyalty programs worldwide, so it can often make sense to start earning with a Marriott credit card . Even cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards are worth considering as both these programs transfer to Marriott Bonvoy.
For example, the Element Melbourne Richmond is just 55,000 Bonvoy points per night. When booking an award stay with Marriott, you’ll get your fifth consecutive night free. This drops the rate to 220,000 points for a five-night stay at this property.
While a European summer vacation never goes out of style, traveling during the shoulder season is the true winner. With fewer crowds, cheaper accommodations and pleasant weather, a spring break trip to Portugal next year should be on your list.
If you’ve got travel rewards cards from American Express, Bilt, Capital One, Chase or Citi, you can transfer your points or miles over to the Air Canada Aeroplan program.
You can book a nonstop, business class flight from Miami (MIA) to Lisbon (LIS) in March for just 70,000 miles one way. If you’re traveling with multiple people, it can often make sense to apply for cards from multiple card issuers . This allows you to diversify your earning potential and pool together rewards from various transfer programs.
Hotel rooms in Europe are notoriously small compared to American standards, so traveling with more than one other person can present a challenge. One of the best credit cards for flexible travel purchases is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card * The information for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Blueprint. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. .
Capital One Miles can be redeemed at a rate of one cent each for any travel purchases, which means you can book this Airbnb in Lisbon for $767, then redeem 76,700 Capital One miles to cover the cost.
Although many travel rewards cards come with annual fees, they can help you subsidize the cost of your vacation in many ways. The welcome bonus, ongoing rewards rate and extra travel benefits can help you receive hundreds or thousands of dollars in value.
When it comes to perks, travel rewards cards are often the most robust offerings on the market, especially when you compare them to store cards or cash-back cards . You’ll earn points and miles with every purchase you make, which you can then redeem toward travel expenses like flights or hotels.
Some travel rewards cards also come with money-saving benefits like Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee reimbursement, an airport lounge membership, or complimentary travel insurance.
Yes! You’ll not only earn rewards on every purchase you make, but most importantly, many travel rewards cards waive foreign transaction fees. These fees typically cost 1% to 5% of each transaction, so you’re saving a good chunk of money when you use a no foreign transaction fee credit card .
Opening an airline credit card can offer many perks, including a free checked bag, lounge access or priority boarding. However, if you’re not loyal to one airline in particular, it might make more sense to open a general travel rewards card as it earns points redeemable on any airline as well as other travel costs like hotels or experiences.
Even though travel rewards cards can greatly reduce your out-of-pocket spending, there are still costs associated with booking award travel, including taxes and fees or any opportunity costs you may forfeit from redeeming your rewards. For the most part, you’ll get heavily discounted travel rather than totally “free” travel when using your travel rewards card.
*The information for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and United Club℠ Infinite Card has been collected independently by Blueprint. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Blueprint is an independent publisher and comparison service, not an investment advisor. The information provided is for educational purposes only and we encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding specific financial decisions. Past performance is not indicative of future results.
Blueprint has an advertiser disclosure policy . The opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Blueprint editorial staff alone. Blueprint adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. The information is accurate as of the publish date, but always check the provider’s website for the most current information.
Stella Shon is a freelance writer that connects the dots between personal finance and travel. Her work has appeared in The Points Guy, ValuePenguin and MoneyUnder30, and she's been interviewed by The New York Times, CNBC and more.
Carissa Rawson is a credit cards and award travel expert with nearly a decade of experience. You can find her work in a variety of publications, including Forbes Advisor, Business Insider, The Points Guy, Investopedia, and more. When she's not writing or editing, you can find her in your nearest airport lounge sipping a coffee before her next flight.
Robin Saks Frankel is a credit cards lead editor at USA TODAY Blueprint. Previously, she was a credit cards and personal finance deputy editor for Forbes Advisor. She has also covered credit cards and related content for other national web publications including NerdWallet, Bankrate and HerMoney. She's been featured as a personal finance expert in outlets including CNBC, Business Insider, CBS Marketplace, NASDAQ's Trade Talks and has appeared on or contributed to The New York Times, Fox News, CBS Radio, ABC Radio, NPR, International Business Times and NBC, ABC and CBS TV affiliates nationwide. She holds an M.S. in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University. Follow her on Twitter at @robinsaks.
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Best Cash-Back Credit Cards with No Annual Fee in November 2023
Skip the annual fee with these top cash-back cards..
Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer, content marketing specialist and author who writes about finance, real estate, insurance, travel, small business, e-commerce and technology. Her lengthy list of publishing credits includes TheStreet, Sports Illustrated, Parade, USA Today – Blueprint, U.S. the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website, CNET, GOBankingRates, MSN, Nasdaq, Chase Bank and others. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. A self-proclaimed shopaholic, she loves travel, eclectic shopping malls, roller coasters and a good steak. She lives on Long Island, New York, with her husband, their two teens and a veritable menagerie that includes three cats and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities. Learn more at www.allcotmediamarketing.com.
Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a senior editor for CNET Money with a focus on credit cards. Previously, she covered personal finance topics as a writer and editor at The Penny Hoarder. She is passionate about helping people make the best money decisions for themselves and their families. She graduated from Bowling Green State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and has been a writer and editor for publications including the New York Post, Women's Running magazine and Soap Opera Digest. When she isn't working, you can find her enjoying life in St. Petersburg, Florida, with her husband, daughter and a very needy dog.
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
What’s better than getting cash back when you shop with a rewards credit card? Earning cash back with no annual fee attached. There’s an array of credit card providers that offer cash-back credit cards with no annual fee. The trick to finding one that will work for you is to evaluate rewards categories, the percentage of cash you can earn, spending limits, and the other perks and benefits of the card.
There’s one catch: you’ll need at least a fair-to-good credit score to qualify for most of the best cash-back cards with no annual fee.
The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card is a simple, straightforward cash reward credit card with unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases. It really doesn’t get any easier. Plus, you can earn a $200 cash rewards bonus when you spend $500 in purchases in the first three months of account ownership.
You can also enjoy cellphone protection of up to $600 for damage or theft after a $25 deductible when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with the card. And you’ll get complimentary monthly FICO score updates, the scoring model most frequently used by lenders.
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card* is best for people who travel and dine out frequently, due to its generous tiered rewards system. You can earn 3% cash back on dining and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart and Target) and 10% cash back on purchases made through Uber and Uber Eats, plus a complimentary Uber One membership (through Nov. 14, 2024).
For those who want travel rewards while still enjoying rewards redemption flexibility and no annual fee, the SavorOne card lets you earn an unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.
Plus, you can earn a $200 cash bonus if you spend at least $500 on purchases within the first three months of opening the account.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express is another tiered rewards card that lets you earn 3% cash back in categories where people tend to spend the most, including U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and U.S. online retail purchases (on up to $6,000 in spending per year for each category, then 1%). Other purchases earn 1% rewards rates, and cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. Plus, you can get a $7 monthly statement credit when you spend at least $9.99 per month on an eligible Disney+ streaming bundle (subject to auto-renewal).
There’s also a generous welcome bonus, although the required spend is higher than some cards in its class. Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases within the first six months.
Citi Custom Cash® Card
Citi’s Custom Cash Card takes a unique approach to tiered rewards. Each billing cycle, you’ll earn 5% cash back on up to $500 in purchases in your top eligible spending category (then 1%) and 1% unlimited on all other purchases.
Citi ThankYou points can be redeemed for cash, a statement credit, gift cards, travel or on Amazon when you select “Shop with Points.” While Capital One’s SavorOne may offer better rewards, it’s worth considering the Custom Cash if you’re looking to diversify your credit card earnings.
The Custom Cash also comes with a welcome bonus: earn $200 cash back, which comes in the form of 20,000 ThankYou points, after you spend $1,500 on purchases within the first six months of opening your account. It’s less rewarding than most other welcome bonuses on this list, with a steep spending threshold, but can help boost your rewards if you can earn it through your regular spending.
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Chase Freedom Flex* combines rotating rewards categories with generous tiered rewards -- it’s best for anyone who wants a card that offers cash back in common categories. The Freedom Flex delivers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 on combined purchases in quarterly bonus categories (then 1%), but unlike the Citi Custom Cash, you will need to activate the quarterly bonuses. You’ll also earn 5% cash back on travel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining at restaurants, 3% on drugstore purchases and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, you can earn a welcome bonus of $200 when you spend $500 in the first three months.
If you want to rack up the rewards in your first year on everyday spending, this is a great card to carry. It also offers a host of other benefits, including cell phone protection, trip cancellation insurance, and travel and emergency assistance.
Discover it® Cash Back
While Chase Freedom Flex is a good card for rotating categories, Discover it Cash Back* has a simpler rewards structure and unique welcome bonus. You’ll earn 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories (up to $1,500 per quarter), upon activation. After that you’ll earn a standard 1% cash back and 1% on all other purchases. Discover’s welcome bonus will take more patience to receive but is potentially more rewarding than most. Discover will match all of the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.
Discover it Cash Back also has a potentially lower interest rate than other cards on this list for highly qualified applicants, with a 17.24% starting variable APR after the introductory APR expires.
Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card
If you don’t qualify for some of the other cards on this list, consider the Petal 2 Visa card, issued by WebBank. It may use an alternate scoring model, the CashScore, to evaluate a borrower’s creditworthiness, which could help you qualify for the card without a credit history.
You’ll enjoy many of the same cash-back rewards that other cards offer. Specifically, you can earn up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments, plus 2% to 10% at select merchants. There are no rotating categories to remember. There are also no foreign transaction fees and no returned payment fees with this card.
As the name implies, a cash-back credit card offers a percentage of money back on eligible purchases. Most often, you’ll receive cash back in the form of a statement credit, although you may be able to request a check or direct deposit into your bank account. Some card issuers allow you to redeem your rewards for gift cards or merchandise, as well.
With cash back cards, you earn a percentage for every dollar you spend. In general, 1% cash back equals one cent of rewards per dollar spent, but rates can vary by card issuer and offer.
Cash-back credit cards vary in how they calculate rewards. Some have spending categories or tiers of points depending on what you purchase. Others offer a flat-rate for every qualifying purchase.
Cards with rotating spending categories , like Chase Freedom Flex and Discover it Cash Back, let you earn higher cash-back rates in categories that change quarterly -- as long as you activate them.
Flat-rate cash back
The simplest cash-back card to use, a flat-rate cash back card delivers the same value, typically 1% to 2%, on every qualifying purchase, regardless of the spending category.
Tiered cash back
Tiered cash-back cards are best for people who want to use a rewards card for a specific purpose. These cards offer higher cash-back rates in specific spending categories that don’t change. Common categories include spending at gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores.
“No annual fee” simply means that you don’t have to pay an annual fee to carry and use the credit card. You also don’t have to worry about spending a minimum amount of money to earn enough rewards to cover the annual fee and make the card worth carrying.
However, most cash-back credit cards have other fees, which could wipe out any rewards you’ve earned.
If you don’t pay your balance in full when your bill comes due each month, you’ll accrue interest on the remaining balance. Some cards offer a 0% introductory APR on purchases for a specified time as long as you make the minimum monthly payment, but once that expires, you’re generally subject to the card’s standard APR .
Some cash-back credit cards have balance transfer offers that let you move a balance from another credit card to your cash-back card, typically at a low introductory APR. If you complete a balance transfer , you’ll likely have to pay a balance transfer fee of 3% to 5%. You should also refrain from using your cash-back card to earn rewards until the balance transfer is paid off. Otherwise, you might find yourself with more credit card debt.
Credit cards may charge late fees or cash advance fees . It’s important to read the fine print before you choose your cash-back credit card.
Choosing the right cash-back card depends largely on your spending habits and what other benefits you look for in a credit card. Follow these steps to choose the right cash-back card.
Determine your top spending categories
Do you dine out frequently? Take a lot of road trips? Or do you want a card that rewards you regardless of what you buy? Choose a card that fits your spending habits to maximize rewards . To do this, look at your recent bank statements and existing credit card statements. Do the math to determine where you spend the most money.
Decide the rewards structure that most benefits you
If you want a card for flexible spending and have a system to keep track of the categories, a card with rotating categories might be best. Otherwise, a flat-rate rewards card could deliver the most cash-back for you.
Consider other benefits that may be valuable to you
Are you looking for a card with no balance transfer fee or a 0% introductory APR? Do you want features like purchase protection, cellphone insurance or travel perks? Research the cards you’re considering to weigh the pros and cons of each.
Compare cards with no annual fee vs. similar cards with annual fee
If you tend to charge hundreds or thousands of dollars a month, a card with an annual fee can pay for itself in rewards . For instance, if your card has a $75 annual fee, you’d have to spend $3,750 per year to earn your fee back if you receive 2% rewards on those purchases. Credit cards that charge annual fees typically offer additional benefits, whether it’s a higher rewards rate or other perks, which could make it worth the cost, as long as you pay your full balance on time each month.
In general, cash-back credit cards with no annual fee have few drawbacks. But as with any credit card, there are some to consider.
No annual fees to offset your cash-back earnings
Receive rewards as cash or as a statement credit, which can lower the balance on your account
Potentially lower reward rates
Cash back isn’t always worth as much as miles or points
Credit card companies typically make it easy to redeem your cash back. Usually, you can do so in the app, online or by calling the credit card company. With most cards, you can request a statement credit, which will reduce your balance but won’t count toward your monthly minimum payment .
Some card issuers may offer to directly deposit your cash back into a linked bank account. Others may let you redeem your cash-back rewards for a gift card, which you may select through the provider’s rewards portal. Finally, some cards allow you to redeem cash-back rewards for purchases with select retailers or on travel booking websites. You can find participating merchants on your issuer’s website or may see the option to redeem rewards at checkout.
Check the value of your cash back when comparing redemption options -- sometimes redeeming your cash back for gift cards or directly with a retailer is worth less than 1 cent.
How to maximize the benefits of a cash-back credit card with no annual fee
Cash-back credit cards with no annual fee can be a great way to make a first foray into the world of rewards credit cards. To maximize your cash-back credit card , use the following strategies:
- Pay off your credit card every month. Carrying a balance can offset the value you’re getting from your cash-back rewards.
- Choose a card based on your spending habits. The best cash-back card for you will align with your regular spending. If you have a card that earns a high rewards rate in a category you don’t frequently spend in, you may find yourself overspending to earn rewards, which could hurt your finances.
- Plan purchases. If you’re using a credit card with rotating spending categories, consider timing non-essential purchases based on when you’ll earn the highest rewards.
- Pair it with another rewards card. A no-annual-fee cash-back card can work nicely with another no-annual-fee card that earns higher rewards in different categories, or a card with an annual fee that might earn better rewards.
Before you apply, first make sure you fit the credit requirements. Most cash-back cards with no annual fee require fair to good credit. If the card offers preapproval, consider checking to see if you’re likely to get approved for the card first.
When you’re ready to apply, check with your friends and family to see if they carry the same card. Some credit cards come with referral bonuses and may offer extra cash back or bonuses when you apply. If that’s the case, you’ll want to use your friend’s referral link to apply. Note : Referral bonuses are considered taxable income .
Otherwise, you can apply for the card you’re interested in using CNET’s links above or by visiting the card issuer’s website. Select “apply now” when you’re ready.
You’ll need to provide some information, including your personal contact information, Social Security number and your gross income. You may also have to list your housing expenses (rent or mortgage) or total debt.
The credit card company will check your credit score and credit report. Then one of three things will happen:
- You will be approved. Some card issuers let you use your new card right away.
- You will be denied. You can request a copy of your credit report and also ask about the reason you were denied.
- The credit card company will request more information to make a decision, and you will receive a letter in the mail with your acceptance or denial.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card
- Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
- Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card
- Citi® Double Cash Card
- Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card
Some cash-back credit cards have an annual fee because they offer higher reward rates or additional benefits. The annual fee helps offset the cost of the additional rewards and benefits.
Capital One SavorOne rewards has one of the highest cash-back rates you’ll find in a credit card with no annual fee.
Typically, cash-back rewards don’t expire -- but there are exceptions. It pays to read the fine print and understand the policies of your specific card. You may lose your cash-back rewards if you or your credit card company closes your account.
CNET reviews credit cards by comparing them across set criteria. For this review, we looked specifically at the rewards system and the value of rewards to find the best cash-back credit cards without an annual fee for the majority of readers, taking into consideration that financial situations vary.
In addition to cash back rewards categories and percentages, we evaluated perks, benefits, balance transfer offers and introductory APRs. Any cards with an annual fee were disqualified from consideration based on our parameters.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express, click here .
*All information about the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Discover it® Cash Back has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.
Cash back is Chase cardholders’ favorite credit card reward
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Cash is king: 45 percent of Ultimate Rewards points redeemed by Chase-branded cardholders have gone toward cash back in 2023. That places cash back ahead of other rewards opportunities such as travel (30 percent of points redeemed) and gift cards. The sample includes the Sapphire, Freedom and Ink families of cards, and it lines up with a late 2022 Bankrate survey which identified cash back as Americans’ favorite credit card reward.
In the past 12 months, Chase cardholders have redeemed 429 billion Ultimate Rewards points worth more than $4 billion in cash back. Small business cardholders were significantly more likely to opt for cash back than consumer cardholders; 60 percent of points redeemed by Chase’s small business cardholders were exchanged for cash.
Travel rewards can be more lucrative, however
While I’m a big fan of cash back, I should point out that it’s not always the optimal use of points, especially on transferable points cards such as the Chase Sapphire ReserveⓇ , Chase Sapphire PreferredⓇ Card and Chase Ink Business PreferredⓇ Credit Card . These cards allow users to transfer their Chase points to 14 airline and hotel partners: Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Air France/KLM, British Airways, Emirates, Hyatt, Iberia, IHG, JetBlue, Marriott, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, United and Virgin Atlantic.
People who thoroughly understand the travel rewards game and have the flexibility to travel on the optimal dates can often extract maximum value from these transfer partners. On Chase cards, the standard ratio for cash back and gift card redemptions is 1 cent per point. But in some cases, you might be able to get a lot more bang for your buck by utilizing the transfer partners effectively.
A high-end example could involve something like an $8,000 international first-class airline ticket for 100,000 points (a whopping 8 cents per point). A more common example would be something like a $150 hotel stay for 5,000 points (3 cents per point).
How the Chase Trifecta works
On a related note, rewards lovers are fond of the “ Chase Trifecta ” because this can extend the value of their Ultimate Rewards points. This strategy involves combining three different Chase cards in such a way that the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. This can include a cash back card, a travel card and a small business card , though some players opt for a second cash back card, instead of a small business card.
Take the Chase Freedom FlexSM * and the Chase Freedom UnlimitedⓇ *, for example. Those are traditionally viewed as cash back cards; they don’t allow transfers to airline or hotel partners. But if you pair one or both of them with the Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, then you can pool your Ultimate Rewards points and transfer them to airlines and hotels, potentially earning much more value than the standard one cent per point for cash back or gift cards.
This is especially lucrative on certain types of spending such as the Freedom Flex’s 5 percent bonus categories that change every quarter (activation required, up to $1,500 in quarterly spending, then 1 percent cash back after that). If you earn 5 percent cash back (5 points per dollar) and transfer in such a way that every point is now worth 3 cents, then you receive an effective 15 percent return on every dollar you spent in that category.
How to make the holidays more rewarding
Chase says that point redemptions on gift cards nearly doubled from October 2022 (2.7 billion points) to November 2022 (5.3 billion). The bank attributes the change to cardholders preparing for the holiday season. Last November and December, Chase-branded cardholders scored almost $100 million in gift cards from close to 9.5 billion Ultimate Rewards points.
Cash back redemptions also increased last holiday season, jumping 23 percent from November 2022 to December 2022. Last December, cardholders collectively nabbed more than $400 million in cash from nearly 42 billion Ultimate Rewards points.
The bottom line
Different strokes for different folks, as they say. As long as you only spend money you would have spent anyway — and as long as you pay your credit card bills in full each month in order to avoid interest — then any rewards you earn represent free money.
When evaluating credit cards, consider what you want to get out of the card, how you spend your money and how much complexity you’re willing to take on. While cash back is Americans’ favorite credit card reward, in large part because it’s easy and universally appealing, travel redemptions can be more lucrative.
Have a question about credit cards? E-mail me at [email protected] and I’d be happy to help.
*The information about the Chase Freedom Flex SM and the Chase Freedom Unlimited Ⓡ has been collected independently by Bankrate. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.
Cash back battle: Discover it Cash Back vs. Chase Freedom Flex
Best flat-rate cash back credit cards
Poll: Consumers say cash back is king
Credit card balances set another record in Q3 2023
Where to go in 2024: The 16 best places to travel
This past year has been a time of regeneration, renewal and reckoning for travelers and the travel industry alike.
Travel has certainly resurged since pandemic-related restrictions were lifted ... but it is different from before.
Travelers faced new frustrations, whether it was higher prices, longer wait times or more crowds. Destinations eager to welcome back waves of visitors were confronted with obstacles like unprepared infrastructure, the impact of inflation on local populations and unforeseen environmental calamities. Hotels and airlines continued to struggle with staffing shortages, operational challenges and supply chain issues.
And yet, despite those hurdles, the desire to travel has never shone brighter. Intrepid adventurers journeyed to new (to them) corners of the globe in search of unique experiences. Folks who had perhaps put off a trip or two found reasons to take them. And all of us discovered the joy of reconnecting with loved ones near and far.
As we look ahead to next year, we are excited to share our list of the best places to go in 2024, drawing from our own editorial team's expertise and also that of our outstanding group of contributors from around the world.
We thought long and hard about things like new airline routes , fabulous hotel openings and events set to take the world stage by storm. But at The Points Guy, we also think why we travel is as important as where we travel.
Maybe you want to use your hard-earned points for an over-the-top flight in Singapore Airlines' Suites or just to get the family together at Grandma's house for an overdue visit. Perhaps you want a carefree all-inclusive beach vacation , or to get firsthand insights into a destination at the forefront of sustainability .
From the thrill of Olympic competition in France to the otherworldly landscapes of Bolivia, the wildlife-rich Bissagos Islands of Guinea-Bissau and the exciting design developments taking place in both San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico — whatever your travel goals or preferences, we've got an incredible roster of places just waiting to be explored next year.
Get ready for a few surprises, a dash of inspiration and a healthy helping of wanderlust as we share our most exciting places to travel to in 2024.
— Eric Rosen
Best for experiencing once-in-a-lifetime events on the world stage
Whether it's high fashion or haute cuisine, France is known for creating creme-de-la-creme experiences. But the sheer number of special events and exciting new developments expected to take place there in 2024 will have even the French exclaiming, "Sacré bleu!"
The marquee happening, of course, will be the 2024 Summer Olympics from July 26-Aug. 11. The opening ceremony will take place along the Seine in the heart of Paris , but showstopping venues will include the magnificent grounds of Versailles for the equestrian events, various stadiums throughout the country, and even French Polynesia for the surfing competition. The stage is set for a truly spectacular set of games.
The Olympics have even displaced the Tour de France from its normal final stage along the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The alternate is, thankfully, a sun-splashed finish line along the Cote d'Azur in Nice . That's within easy driving distance of the relatively new Carlton Cannes , a luxurious reimagining of one of France's most iconic hotels courtesy of IHG. Hilton is also planning a vast French expansion with various branded properties in cities including Cannes, Dijon, Bordeaux and Marseille.
On a more somber note, June 6 will mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, and the region is planning over 100 special events to commemorate this historic event, including a June 1 sound-and-light show using 2,500 drones over the five landing beaches. From March 22-Sept. 22, the region will also host the Normandy Impressionist Festival, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first Impressionist exhibition. Events will include a major show of James Abbott McNeill Whistler at Rouen's Fine Arts Museum, while the Musee d'Orsay in Paris will host the "Paris 1874: The Impressionist Moment" showcase of 130 masterpieces of painting, sculpture, photographs and more.
In the east, Strasbourg will be UNESCO's 2024 World Book Capital, with events organized around various themes like poetry, refuge, debate and more. The Alsatian capital is also home to one of Europe's most charming Christmas markets in the month leading up to the holiday , which is well worth a visit.
Wine lovers should head to Bordeaux for its famous Fete le Vin from June 27-30 to enjoy the region's famous vintages and gourmet delicacies, along with live music and other performances. They can even put their Accor points to use with a stay at a new Philippe Starck-designed, 97-room Mondrian constructed around a historic 19th-century building right in the city center, complete with an expansive open-air terrace. Now that's something worth toasting to.
TPG tip: Hotel reservations around the Olympics can be notoriously hard to confirm and Paris is cracking down on short-term rentals, so if you plan to attend the Games, prepare to pay high prices for an official package ... or take your chances trying to book something at the last minute.
San Diego, California & Tijuana, Mexico
Best for art and design lovers who appreciate cross-cultural collaborations
In a first, two neighboring cities in two different countries have been designated the World Design Capital for 2024: San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico. The World Design Organization accolade recognizes cities that effectively utilize design to enhance their residents' economic, social, cultural and environmental quality of life. San Diego and Tijuana will celebrate the designation through unique experiences, from events and festivals to exhibitions and summits.
Community events scheduled throughout 2024 include Tijuana's World Design Street Festival (April 28), where travelers can attend concerts, public design workshops, exhibitions and design studio open houses. The Mingei International Museum in San Diego and the Centro Cultural Tijuana will simultaneously host an exhibition called "Frontera," focused on jewelry design. In September, both cities will host an interactive World Design Experience.
Aside from its WDO duties, San Diego has a lot going on. One of the West Coast's largest adaptive reuse projects, the 10-acre, sustainably designed Horton Campus , set for completion at the end of 2023, has transformed a former downtown shopping mall into a chic development with white-and-glass structures, parks, shops and lab space, each with either a green roof or solar panels.
San Diego's white-hot culinary scene continues to heat up, with Valle winning Oceanside's first Michelin star earlier this year. Restaurant openings to look forward to in 2024 include all-day cafe Wildflour from award-winning chef Phillip Esteban, the farm-and-vine-to-table Cellar Hand , and chef Brian Malarkey's highly anticipated French-inspired steakhouse, Le Coq, in the tony coastal enclave of La Jolla.
San Diego's hotel roster is also growing. The new owners of the historic Lafayette Hotel in North Park, which had fallen into disrepair, unveiled a stylish $31 million renovation this summer, and the bucolic Inn at Rancho Santa Fe will celebrate its 100th anniversary following the completion of multimillion-dollar renovations in 2024. The iconic Hotel del Coronado is in the throes of a wholesale revamp. The Beach Village at The Del will unveil a full makeover at the end of 2023, while its Victorian section will be renovated in 2025. A new 39-room boutique hotel in Coronado called The Bower is also slated to debut in fall 2024.
Tijuana got its own new hotel in 2023: Hotel Brecha , a boutique hotel with art-filled walls and nine sleek rooms. Recent bar and restaurant openings across the city's diverse culinary scene include the speakeasy-style Border Saloon and seafood spots Don Vergas Mariscos Tijuana and Don Timon .
TPG tip: Tijuana, which has been sorely lacking in green space, will have a new eco-park by the end of 2024, Parque Esperanto . The 320-acre plot will involve the reforestation of 15,000 trees and feature amenities like an open-air gym, sports fields, zip lines, children's play areas and a bicycle path.
— Devorah Lev-Tov
Best for lovers of tea and tigers keen to explore one of India's hidden corners
Home to a fascinating blend of Indigenous tribes, awe-inspiring landscapes, traditional mountain villages and UNESCO-inscribed national parks, the eastern Indian region of Assam has cultural and natural wonders just waiting for travelers to explore — without the crowds you might find in better-known South Asian destinations.
The region's main artery, the mighty 1,800-mile-long Brahmaputra River, runs from the Himalayan highlands of Tibet to Assam's wildlife-rich floodplains, bordered by lush, terraced tea plantations, ornate temples and riverside villages.
Even with just a week or 10 days for your journey, you can learn about tea cultivation in Jorhat (Assam produces over 50% of India's famed tea), marvel at imposing Ahom temples in bustling Sivasagar — the sacred former capital of Assam's Ahom kings — and learn about the socially inclusive religion of neo-Vaishnavism on Majuli, one of the world's largest river islands and a haven for birdlife.
Straddling the border with Bhutan, UNESCO-listed Manas National Park is a biodiversity hot spot known for its sightings of buffaloes and rhinoceroses that graze in forests that surround the Manas River. The highlight of any visit, though, is a Jeep safari to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kaziranga, which provides sanctuary to endangered one-horned rhinoceroses, Asian elephants, Bengal tigers, panthers, bears, gaurs (Indian bison) and myriad other species.
Next year, several new cruise itineraries will make the region more accessible to travelers keen to get off the beaten path without sacrificing creature comforts. Banyan Tours will operate four-, seven- and 10-night Assam cruises from Kolkata aboard the luxurious ABN Charaidew II and the more intimate 12-cabin ABN Sukhapa . Both ships feature spacious, beautifully appointed cabins, large sun decks, small spas, a library, gourmet cuisine and onboard naturalists. Guests can spend time in between excursions scouring the waters for species such as the endangered Ganges river dolphin and the smooth-coated otter.
TPG tip : For travelers looking for rare tiger and mammal encounters across several Indian regions, in January, andBeyond will offer a 16-day limited-edition Project Tiger Expedition that will celebrate the 50th anniversary of India's renowned tiger conservation initiative. The itinerary begins in Delhi before visiting three of India's most iconic national parks: Kanha, Kaziranga and Ranthambhore.
— Caroline Lascom
Best for an affordable Mediterranean beach getaway
Turquoise Mediterranean waters lapping beautiful beaches? Check. Picturesque hilltop villages? Check. Forest-covered mountains and mouthwatering food and wine? Check and check. Albania has all the attributes of more popular Southeastern Europe destinations like the Greek islands but without the crowds and the high price tag.
Begin your adventure in Tirana, the capital city, where Brutalist architecture blends with charming, tree-filled neighborhoods. Take a cable car ride up Mount Dajti for panoramic views of the city and stay at the sophisticated Tirana Marriott , though IHG loyalists might want to hold out for the opening of the InterContinental in 2025.
Just an hour southwest from Tirana International Airport (TIA), check in to the newly opened Melia Durres Albania, a luxurious beachfront retreat in a dreamy beach town offering stunning Adriatic Sea views and an opportunity to unwind.
Heading south along the coast, enjoy picturesque beaches while exploring charming towns like Dhermi and Jale, and savor the local cuisine, renowned for its fresh seafood and Mediterranean spices.
Then, immerse yourself in the country's vibrant summer music scene . The weeklong Kala Festival in early June features house, disco, soul and funk music across five intimate stages along the pristine shores of the Ionian Sea.
Back in the hinterlands, you can delight in mouthwatering delicacies at the AgriTourism Huqi farm located a short drive from the capital, like slow-cooked lamb (mish ne pus), and sample a variety of flavorful cow and goat cheeses. Don't forget to try local wines like the tangy white ceruja and full-bodied red kallmet at the family-run Nurellari Winery, less than a half-hour from the 13th-century fort city of Berat.
For an even deeper glimpse of the country's rich heritage and archaeological sites, wander its many ancient settlements, like Butrint, which played host to the Greek, Roman and Byzantine civilizations. Even with all that history, Albania feels exciting and new once again, and you won't have it to yourself for much longer.
TPG tip : Fly into a major European gateway like Frankfurt or Paris and then connect to Tirana via air. From there, book a one-way car rental to the port city of Sarande so that when your time in Albania is over, you can catch a 30-minute ferry to Corfu, Greece, where you have even more history and beaches to explore, and many low-cost flight options to major European airports.
— Matt Moffitt
Best for epic wildlife and sustainable travel
One of the most biodiverse places on Earth, framed by rugged Pacific and Caribbean coastlines and home to magical cloud forests, picture-perfect volcanoes and extraordinary marine reserves, Costa Rica has long captivated wild-at-heart travelers.
An eco-tourism pioneer in the 1990s, and dubbed the "Switzerland of South America" due to its mountainous green landscapes and political stability in a sometimes volatile region, Costa Rica continues to raise the bar with its commitment to environmental protections; over 25% of its land is national parks and reserves.
For travelers looking to combine sustainable outdoor adventures with sumptuous accommodations, 2024 is when it all comes together. A flurry of exciting new hotels are set to debut, including Nekajui, just the sixth of Marriott's ultraexclusive Ritz-Carlton Reserves . Designed with a light environmental footprint on a pristine swath of the Papagayo Peninsula, the 107-key resort takes inspiration from a traditional stone Costa Rican hacienda surrounded by treehouse-style buildings tucked discreetly into steep hillsides.
Nearby, the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Residences Guanacaste will be the brand's first Costa Rican outpost, embodying the "pura vida" lifestyle with a holistic wellness center and cenote-inspired spa. Elsewhere, the Four Seasons Resort Peninsula Papagayo comes back online following a multimillion-dollar renovation with a new beach club and expanded wellness offerings.
For travelers looking for a low-key retreat with easy airport access, as well as proximity to San Jose's cultural attractions, the new Hyatt Centric in Escazu — another brand first for Costa Rica — will offer World of Hyatt loyalists an ideal bookend to a Costa Rica road trip.
The wildlife-rich Osa Peninsula is more accessible (and especially alluring to points enthusiasts) these days thanks to the recent opening of Botanika, part of Hilton's Curio Collection. The eco-chic property places travelers within striking distance of Corcovado National Park, one of the best places on the planet to view sloths, toucans, giant anteaters, howler monkeys and ocelots.
Visit the region from August through December to witness one of the world's greatest natural attractions: humpback whales migrating to Golfo Dulce, one of just four tropical fjords on the planet. The habitat, critical for the survival of the whale species, was awarded Whale Heritage Site status in 2023, one of only eight such sites worldwide.
TPG tip : U.S. airlines are adding new flights to Costa Rica, including Delta Air Lines, which will boost its service from Atlanta with three additional flights per week to both San Jose and Liberia (for Papagayo) from Jan. 13. Flights on the Liberia route are currently available this winter starting at 26,000 Delta SkyMiles or $421 round-trip.
Best for glimpsing the future while exploring the past
The "Korean Wave" — a tide of global popularity the country's cultural economy has created thanks to K-pop music, K-dramas on television and movies — has swept the world in recent years. In fact, youth tour company Contiki has announced the first K-Wave trip to South Korea to showcase local pop culture.
However, South Korea's entertainment culture is just one of a long list of reasons this Asian sensation should be on your 2024 travel list.
Four distinct seasons provide stunning backdrops year-round, so there's no wrong time to visit. Spring brings the magic of Jinhae's cotton candy-pink cherry blossoms while crimson and cadmium foliage frames the historic temples of Naejangsa and Taeansa during fall.
The past and the future intersect in the capital, Seoul, where heritage sites like the 14th-century Jongmyo Shrine coexist with futuristic architecture, including the Zaha Hadid-designed Dongdaemun Design Plaza and the striking Seoul City Hall, with its seven-story vertical garden and prismatic glass facade.
Set to open in late 2024, the Seoul Robot and Artificial Intelligence Museum will showcase science and technology through interactive exhibits featuring AI and virtual reality. Robots aided in the museum's construction and will participate in its day-to-day operations, including welcoming guests and leading tours.
New spaces and exhibitions await visitors at the Busan Museum of Art, which showcases modern Korean artwork. Renovations begin in 2024 and will add high-tech features like evolving 3D projections.
A luxury clifftop island retreat overlooking the East China Sea, the stunning JW Marriott Jeju Resort & Spa, designed by Bill Bensley, debuted in 2023. And though it will be a while, in 2025, the luxury chain Capella Hotels and Resorts is set to open its first Korean property, Capella Yang Yang, near Songjeong Beach in Yangyang, Gangwon Province, where travelers can explore the region's famous pine forests and enjoy its ultrafresh seafood.
TPG tip: Travelers eager to explore South Korea's assorted allures can take advantage of increased airlift from the U.S. United Airlines has upped its frequencies between Incheon International Airport (ICN) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to 12 flights weekly. By the end of 2023, Air Premia will add flights between Seoul and Honolulu, too.
— Kristy Tolley
Eclipse path, United States
Best for travelers who want to see a rare total solar eclipse in their own backyard
On April 8, some 31.5 million Americans will be able to witness a total solar eclipse from their doorstep when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, completely blocking the sun's face. The heavenly event will cut its way across North America, passing through Texas, the Midwest and some Eastern states. It's a sight you won't want to miss — the next total solar eclipse won't be visible from the contiguous United States for another 20 years.
Parts of San Antonio will experience about two minutes of midday darkness, making it the largest U.S. city along the path of totality. The 15-mile-long San Antonio River Walk is just south of the path, so visitors there will only see a 99% partial eclipse. Nevertheless, many hotels and restaurants are hosting viewing events, including a Solar Brunch at The Moon's Daughters , where guests and locals can see the eclipse unfold from the indoor-outdoor perch on the 20th floor.
An hour northwest of San Antonio, the town of Kerrville, Texas, one of NASA's Primary Eclipse Partners, will have over four minutes of darkness. The Texas Hill Country community's Schreiner University will host a weekendlong festival with celestial yoga, trail walks and observatory tours.
With renowned institutions known for cutting-edge research in space science and technology — and expecting four minutes of totality — Dallas will be one of the best eclipse destinations. At the Perot Museum of Nature and Science , 20 astronomers will answer questions. The city's many hotels, meanwhile, plan to offer stylish viewing, like Virgin Hotels Dallas, which will host a lively rooftop pool party.
This will be Indianapolis' first total solar eclipse in more than 800 years, and the town is going all-out with a citywide party to celebrate its 3 1/2 minutes of totality, including events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (NASA will broadcast live from the venue) and the Indianapolis Zoo.
In Cleveland, another NASA partner city, a natural phenomenon known as a lake effect (where cool air blows away clouds from the shoreline of Lake Erie) will allow visitors to view the eclipse for nearly four minutes. Downtown, The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland is offering a solar eclipse package with club-level accommodations for two and celestial-themed cocktails. The Great Lakes Science Center and NASA's Glenn Research Center are hosting Total Eclipse Fest from April 6-8, with science activities for kids and a classical music concert.
Buffalo will experience just under four minutes of totality, with the best vantage points found inside Niagara Falls State Park, while the Sheraton Niagara Falls is offering a two-night package , including eclipse viewing glasses and breakfast.
In Vermont, Stowe Mountain Resort will whisk skiers and snowboarders via gondola to the top of Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak, for high-altitude views during the nearly three minutes of totality the town is set to experience.
TPG tip: Holland America has put together a 22-day Solar Eclipse cruise , where guests will depart from San Diego and experience the eclipse off the coast of Mexico.
— Casey Hatfield-Chiotti
Bissagos Islands, Guinea-Bissau
Best for intrepid naturalists seeking an under-the-radar destination
Sandwiched between Guinea and Senegal, Guinea-Bissau is one of West Africa's lesser-visited destinations, but that's what has helped keep the 88-island Bissagos archipelago 31 miles off its coast so untouched.
This astonishingly wildlife-rich island chain — often dubbed the Galapagos of Africa — is an idyll of empty white-sand beaches, thick mangroves, teeming lagoons and dense palm and cashew forests. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, the Bijagos (as they're also known) are home to thriving populations of saltwater hippopotamuses, manatees, dolphins, green sea turtles, flamingos, rays, sharks and around 175 fish and 500-plus bird species.
And you won't be vying for sightings with other safari vehicles or Zodiac boats. These paradisiacal islets are home to just 33,000 or so residents who hew to their traditional matriarchal society, and there are no formal resorts or ecolodges.
The archipelago has also been quite difficult to reach. However, a handful of luxury and small-ship cruises have begun to call at the islands. Ponant Cruises has just opened sales for its first dedicated nine-day "Adventure in the Bissagos Islands" itinerary (April 7-15, 2025) on Le Lyrial, which starts and ends in Dakar, Senegal. During the journey, guests can expect to spy towering baobabs and flocks of migratory birds, playful vervet monkeys and vividly colored lizards, and take part in ancient ceremonies alongside the Bijago people.
On board MS Spitsbergen, Hurtigruten now offers a 14-day "West Africa Archipelago" cruise (paired with Cape Verde), which includes four days of deploying small rigid inflatable boats and sea kayaks to navigate the islands and channels for awe-inspiring wildlife sightings. The line also arranges encounters with the islanders, who have acted as custodians of this wonderfully biodiverse and pristine part of Africa, and who dedicate some 100 days per year to sacred rites and ceremonies such as fanado and difuntu .
Swan Hellenic's Ghana-to-Senegal "Crucibles of West Africa" trip, on the new 152-guest SH Vega, has two days scheduled in this off-the-grid sanctuary, where shore excursions include explorations of Orango National Park's mangrove thickets and savannah as well as trekking through traditional villages on Canhabaque.
As with many of the world's island paradises, the clock is likely ticking down on the Bissagos remaining immaculate and undeveloped, so if you hope to see them as they are, 2024 is the year to go.
TPG tip: Non-cruisers can visit the islands by first flying into the capital, Bissau, from Lisbon with TAP Air Portugal. Alternatively, Delta Air Lines has daily direct flights from New York to Dakar, from which there are daily connections on Air Senegal to Bissau. From Bissau, hire a speedboat for the hourlong journey to Bubaque, where the affordable Saldomar guesthouse and Hotel Kasa Afrikana make great home bases for daytrips to islands like Rubane, Orango and Canhabaque.
— Kathryn Romeyn
Best for pristine landscapes and rich Indigenous cultures
Quebec has long attracted travelers with its cosmopolitan towns , distinctly French flair and untouched wilderness. Thanks to a bold commitment to supporting Indigenous tourism, in 2024, the Canadian province will also provide new and meaningful ways to experience its natural beauty, its people and its culture.
Travelers can take in the aurora borealis while learning about Inuit traditions in Quebec's Arctic region of Nunavik, scan for beluga and blue whales with an Innu guide in Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park, or forage for mushrooms and berries in the Laurentian mountain range. Across Quebec, there are now abundant opportunities to delve deeper into the ancestral traditions of the area's First Nations, Innuit and Metis people.
The recent addition of Anticosti Island to Canada's cache of UNESCO-protected heritage sites will draw wilderness seekers to its otherworldly canyons, primordial forests and cascading waterfalls. The island's 1,440 known fossil species offer the most "complete and best preserved paleontological record of the first mass extinction of animal life, 447-437 million years ago," according to UNESCO, providing a unique window into our planet's past.
For urbanites, Quebec City's lamplit, cobblestone streets have never been a hard sell for a weekend getaway, but now there are even more reasons to linger. Join one of Cicerone 's locally led walking tours, shop for regional artworks along Rue du Tresor, see Inuit art at the Musee National des Beaux-Arts du Quebec (a new exhibit starts in February) and then dine on inventive boreal cuisine at Indigenous-owned restaurant Sagamite, whose owners have added two boutique hotels to their portfolio and will open a new microbrewery in 2024.
Head just outside the city's 400-year-old walls to Canada's only recognized Huron-Wendat community. Here, the superb First Nations-owned Hotel-Musee Premieres Nations was recently revamped with luxe suites and rooms appointed with Indigenous artworks and textiles with First Nations motifs. The hotel's restaurant, La Traite, helmed by much-lauded chef Marc de Passorio, provides a magical initiation into ancestral flavors with standout dishes like local tomatoes with sage and Quebec buffalo mozzarella and hearty bison medallions with beet puree and thyme juice.
TPG tip : Bookend your trip with a stay in Montreal , where the hotel scene is buzzing. There's the new art deco-inspired Honeyrose Hotel, Montreal, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, where Marriott points will come in handy, and the iconic Vogue Hotel Montreal Downtown, an elegant retreat on Montreal's Golden Square Mile which has been revamped and is now part of Hilton's Curio Collection.
Best for travelers Down Under looking for the right mix of urban and wildlife adventures
Best known for one of Earth's natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef , there's a lot more to this northeastern Australian state (though a visit to the reef is still top of the list while you still can — climate change and other factors are having increasingly adverse effects on much of the aquatic ecosystem).
In the capital, Brisbane , once-gritty environs like Howard Smith Wharves have been revitalized with trendy bars and restaurants. However, one of the biggest redevelopments is still on the horizon. The $2.6 billion Queen's Wharf precinct is nearing completion on 30 acres of prime riverfront land with not one but three hotels planned, plus over 50 dining and drinking venues, a huge footprint for retail and tons of outdoor spaces like a 100-meter-high sky deck with 360-degree views. In October, the city will also host the first annual Melt Open festival celebrating queer art and culture.
Down south in the blingy surfer haven of Gold Coast, travelers will be able to check in to a sleek new twin-towered Mondrian hotel and residences, while north along the Sunshine Coast, the tourism industry is taking the lead in regenerating bush once used for cattle grazing with native subtropical rainforest, which visitors can enjoy by staying at the avant-garde new Kurui Cabin at the base of the Cooroy Mountains.
In an effort to cultivate Indigenous-owned and -operated tourism businesses, the state has already invested 7 million Australian dollars in the Growing Indigenous Tourism in Queensland Fund. What's more, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Fraser Island — the world's largest sand island and a habitat for diverse wildlife where you can also swim with migrating humpback whales — has officially reverted to its traditional Butchulla name, K'gari.
Speaking of islands, luxury travelers can have an entire one to themselves along the Great Barrier Reef thanks to the November opening of Pelorus Private Island in the Great Palm archipelago off the Townsville coast. The nearly 1,000-acre paradise has just a single four-suite residence designed in a traditional, breezy Queenslander style, where guests can customize their entire experience from days out yachting between islands or exploring the island's teeming fringe reefs to enjoying leisurely meals prepared by a private chef.
TPG tip: It's getting even easier to travel from the U.S. directly to Queensland since United increased its frequencies between San Francisco and Brisbane from three times per week to daily in October and will launch three weekly nonstops between Los Angeles and Brisbane in December.
Best for high-velocity thrills or romantics looking to slow things down
Trains revolutionized travel in the 19th century, but 2024 might just be a rail renaissance thanks to new, thrilling high-speed routes, plush overnight sleepers and lavish itineraries on par with the world's best hotels.
Global developments in high-speed rail are coming to a pitch, with various highly anticipated routes finally entering operation. In Florida, the long-awaited Brightline has opened up an efficient new corridor between two major U.S. cities that are favorites with tourists. The service, which tops out at 125 miles per hour, connects Orlando International Airport (MCO) and Miami in just three hours (with 15 daily departures) and also courses between Miami and West Palm Beach via Aventura and Fort Lauderdale.
In Europe from late 2024, the ultraquiet Frecciarossa train will zip from Paris to Barcelona in just seven hours, shaving two hours from current travel times. In time for the Summer Olympics , Spanish rail company Renfe also plans to extend its daily Madrid-Marseille service through to Paris.
If you're craving tropical surroundings, Belmond's Eastern & Oriental Express returns to Southeast Asia in February after a pandemic hiatus. The restyled trains feature eight sleeper cars, two restaurant cars, a piano bar and an open-air observation car. The three-night "Essence of Malaysia" itinerary will operate from November to February from Singapore to Penang, with stops in Kuala Lumpur and the island of Langkawi (via private boat). Operating from March to May and August to October, the "Wild Malaysia" experience steams from Singapore along the eastern side of the Malay Peninsula, with stops to spot wildlife at Taman Negara National Park and Penang before returning to Singapore.
Later in 2024, Orient Express will debut its opulent La Dolce Vita trains with lavish art deco cabins, haute cuisine and world-class bartending. The eight itineraries span one to two nights and include a Sicilian service starting and ending in Palermo via Agrigento and Taormina with a whiz-by of Mount Etna. Other standout itineraries include from Rome to Sicily (via a ferry) and a romantic circular route from Rome to Venice with a stop at Siena.
Finally, Europe continues its relative boom in new sleeper train services . Leading the way is Nightjet, which already connects major cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Zurich. In 2024, the Austrian train operator will expand its Belgian routes from Brussels to Dresden and Prague. Additionally, Deutsche Bahn and SNCF will introduce a high-speed seven-hour service between Paris and Berlin, including stops in Strasbourg on the night route.
TPG tip: Use a Eurail pass (from $208) to explore multiple European countries using rail operators like Deutsche Bahn, SNCF and Trenitalia. Note that high-speed or sleeper options like Nightjet and Eurostar have extra reservation fees (typically $10-$20), but it's still much cheaper than buying individual tickets.
— Jordan Waller
Best for beach and nature lovers who want to avoid crowds
Many travelers make the trek to South Africa for its spectacular wildlife and vibrant cities, but few hop across the border to Mozambique. Though the country has experienced ongoing conflicts in the far north, the central and southern parts remain relatively insulated from internal struggles.
Getting there is easier than you might think, too — Airlink offers direct flights to Vilankulos along the coast from Johannesburg , and more recently, the airline launched a nonstop flight between Cape Town and the capital, Maputo. While some travelers tend to skip the city, if you do make use of that route, consider a layover for a night or two. Maputo is a hub of activity with oceanside restaurants serving ultrafresh seafood with icy 2M beers and bakeries proffering crispy, creamy pasteis de nata, a holdover from Portuguese rule. The city's music scene is also buzzing, with bars and clubs playing everything from reggaeton to marrabenta (a hybrid of Mozambican dance with Portuguese folk music).
The main reason people come to the country is for the untouched Indian Ocean beaches along its 1,700-mile coast, which are lapped by aquamarine waters that rival the Caribbean. Over the past few years, a cluster of hotels have opened along the coast, including Kisawa, a design-focused property with 11 villas on a 740-acre sanctuary on Benguerra Island in the ecodiverse Bazaruto Archipelago.
Around two hours from Vilankulos on the mainland and set on a peninsula along a sheltered saltwater lagoon, Sussurro is an intimate pared-back lodge whose sandy-hued rooms are filled with artisan-made baskets and wooden furniture. Next year, Banyan Tree is expected to open Banyan Tree Ilha Caldeira, which promises to be an uberluxury spot, on a private island north of Beira.
For safarigoers, Gorongosa, a national park that has been undergoing a two-decade-long rehabilitation, has become a beacon of regeneration and economic activity in an area where tourism was entirely decimated by civil war. This year, Muzimu Lodge, a tent camp, opened on the banks of the Mussicadzi River. Wildlife is not as abundant as in nearby Kruger National Park (though you can expect to see huge packs of wild dogs and teeming herds of antelope), but the biodiversity is some of the richest in the world, with nearly 500 species of birds. Indelible landscapes like chalky limestone gorges dotted with vegetation and inky caves, woodland savannah and giant "Jurassic Park"-like forests with sausage trees and native Borassus palms will leave you awestruck.
TPG tip : Ensure you allow ample time for your visa application. The process has moved online, which makes it infinitely swifter than previously, but the application time can still take up to a month and costs $160 or more depending on the type you apply for.
— Mary Holland
Note from TPG editors : Due to an ongoing terrorist insurgency in the far north of Mozambique, the U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 2 warning advising travelers to exercise increased caution when traveling in the Cabo Delgado province. The country also recently experienced some unrest following local elections, so be sure to investigate the current situation before booking a trip.
Best for food lovers and thrillseekers looking for something out of this world
Arriving in Bolivia can feel like you've landed on the moon. Have you seen the magnificent Salar de Uyuni? It's a vast salt pan with 3,900 square miles of desertlike cracked earth punctuated by cactus-covered rock piles. Though this parched corner of the earth draws visitors from around the globe, high-end accommodations have been lacking, but that's been changing quickly. In 2022, the Chilean hospitality brand Explora unveiled an intimate six-room mountain lodge set in a slick, glass-fronted building with snug, wood-lined rooms overlooking the flats.
Guests can partake in excursions, but the property also forms part of a greater six-night odyssey: a nomadic expedition where guests journey from Chile's Atacama Desert to Salar de Uyuni, stopping off at Explora's other "Mountain Lodges" along the way. Loads of thrilling activities are on offer, such as biking explorations across the Salar, through quinoa fields and beyond, as well as hikes across the largest islands and up into a village to see ancient Andean burial sites.
Whether you decide to begin your journey in the Atacama or Uyuni, don't miss Bolivia's capital La Paz, which sits in a bowl at a (literally) dizzyingly high elevation of 11,975 feet. The city's restaurant scene is arguably one of the most exciting in South America. Make a reservation at Gustu and enjoy a multicourse extravaganza of local delights including alligator and creamy aged corn. Hailed as one of Latin America's best restaurants, it was founded by Noma's Claus Meyer and is now helmed by chef Marsia Taha Mohamed. Also snag a table at Ancestral, where chef Mauricio Lopez (former head chef of Gustu) roasts vegetables and osso buco over an open flame, served alongside Bolivian wines.
The same team that opened the design-driven Atix Hotel (long a favorite among international visitors) unveiled the new Met Hotel last year in a soaring charcoal building with traditional Bolivian arts and crafts highlighted throughout its interior spaces. If you're traveling after July 2024, be sure to check out Altu Qala, a hotel set in a restored neoclassical building with wood-paneled walls and handmade cabinets in upcycled wood. The owner is also behind The Writer's Coffee, a cafe serving artisanal brews in the city, perfect for combating altitude fatigue.
Finally, for the best views of La Paz, take a trip on Mi Teleferico, the cable car transit system that's been expanding its network with various routes and now has 30 stations and 10 lines. Climb into the plastic bubbles, filled with locals whizzing across the city, and head up to El Alto, which sits at a staggering 13,325 feet.
TPG tip: If you really want to soak up the food and wine scene in La Paz, add in an extra few days to acclimatize. It's the highest capital in the world (11,975 feet) and altitude sickness is a high probability, so whizzing in and out is not recommended.
Best for sustainability searchers who also crave cultural connection
Bali is an island of contradictions. It's home to a majority Hindu population but part of predominantly Muslim Indonesia. Visitors in the millions come both to sunbathe and party on its beaches while also seeking spiritual awakenings through wellness retreats. After decades of overtourism, Bali is also pioneering responsible, lower-impact ways for visitors to enjoy its natural wonders and renowned hospitality.
In 2024, the government will levy a $10-per-person fee on international tourists that will directly fund cultural and environmental protection, such as waste management. It's an incremental but important step toward becoming a more sustainable destination.
Luxury resorts are also leaning into the trend. Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay recently debuted Telu, a bar constructed entirely of upcycled materials that serves cocktails made with sustainable ingredients. In early 2024, Ayana Estate will open Museum Saka, a breathtaking 50,000-square-foot gallery showcasing the work of Balinese artists, historians and scholars, all of which is meant to bestow guests with a deeper understanding of the community's vibrant heritage.
At Buahan, a Banyan Tree Escape , about an hour from Ubud, chef Eka Sunarya began experimenting with hypercreative and ultralocally sourced menus. He has since decamped to nearby Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve , where he continues to highlight seasonal Balinese cuisine with a no-waste philosophy.
Seminyak's Desa Potato Head — with its beach club and pair of striking, sustainably designed hotels that all together send just 3% of their waste to landfill — continues to be a regenerative tourism pioneer. In 2024, the resort is opening an ambitious Collective Waste Centre that will radically reduce landfill waste from eight nearby resorts, beach clubs and restaurants through high-efficiency sorting, processing and reuse practices.
A slew of exciting all-new hotels beckons design lovers and wellness seekers to Bali, too. Part of Hilton's LXR Resorts & Hotels, Umana Bali is expected to open in November 2023, a brand first in Southeast Asia. Guests will enjoy not only epic vistas from its 72 clifftop pool villas but also next-level cultural programming emphasizing legacy crafts and spa treatments utilizing ancient healing techniques.
Expected to debut in spring 2024, IHG's Regent Canggu will feature 150 suites and villas in one of Bali's hottest beach locales. Architecture by WATG and interior design by HBA will blend contemporary Indonesian fashion and cultural influences with traditional design motifs. Slated for late 2024, Kimpton Naranta Bali will bring boutique vibes to the Nusa Dua resort scene in the reimagined former Amanusa resort, designed by Kerry Hill.
TPG tip: Some of Bali's best points hotels offer deep cultural dives into Balinese village life. At Alila Manggis (from 3,500 World of Hyatt points per night), guests can take part in water purification rituals, visit the Indigenous Bali Aga tribe and trek to the "Gateway to Heaven" temple. At The Laguna, part of Marriott's Luxury Collection (from 33,000 Bonvoy points per night), exclusive experiences include lunch with the seventh generation of Kerambitan's royal family.
Best for ancient treasures in a modern metropolis
Few destinations offer the same look at the mysteries of the past quite like Cairo. While this desert city has long been a magnet for those intrigued by the wonders of ancient Egypt and its former rulers, new attractions and highly anticipated hotel openings will draw even more travelers to this bucket list destination in 2024.
With that in mind, Cairo's most exciting addition will be the long-awaited reopening of the Grand Egyptian Museum, which, after years of delays , is on track to welcome visitors by early 2024. A colossal project that began more than 20 years ago, this massive repository — the largest archaeological museum ever built — will house over 100,000 Egyptian artifacts, including 5,000 relics found in famous pharaoh Tutankhamun's tomb.
Recently discovered artifacts from the Saqqara — an expansive necropolis located within Egypt's UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient capital of Memphis — are also expected to be added to the museum's collection in due course. The treasures include multiple tombs, ancient workshops and burial shafts full of priceless antiquities, such as a mummy believed to be the most complete one ever found in Egypt.
To accommodate the influx of tourists expected in 2024, Cairo's hotel scene is rapidly expanding, too. Among the new properties currently in the pipeline are points-friendly accommodations like a Hyatt Centric, a Hilton and a Waldorf Astoria, plus the luxurious rebranding of the historic Shepheard Hotel into the Mandarin Oriental Shepheard, Cairo.
Unsurprisingly, Cairo's prime position on the Nile and proximity to other historic destinations also make it an excellent place to embark on a river cruise , especially in 2024. Several top river cruise lines offer itineraries that start or end in the city, making it possible to tack on visits to other ancient sites like Luxor and Aswan, Egypt. New standout ships to consider include Viking Aton (the fourth of six ships Viking expects to be sailing the Nile by late 2025) and AmaLilia (AmaWaterways' second ship devoted to Nile River cruises).
TPG tip: It should become easier than ever to reach this historic metropolis thanks to more nonstop routes from the U.S. to Cairo in the works. In addition to adding new nonstop flights from Newark to Cairo this past summer, Egyptair has filed a request with the Department of Transportation to launch service between Los Angeles and Cairo in the coming months. If approved, service on the Star Alliance carrier would give visitors yet another convenient way to reach the ancient city.
— Christine Gallipeau
Note from TPG editors : We want to acknowledge that all eyes will be on the widening conflict in the region as we end 2023 and look ahead to next year. Before planning your own trip to Egypt, stay up to date on State Department advisories , current events and the unfolding situation in neighboring Israel and beyond .
Best for rediscovering paradise right on our doorstep
Dazzling white- and pink-sand beaches; calm, clear seas shaded in myriad hues of blue; and easy access from various U.S. hubs have long made the Bahamas a top tourist destination. Expect 2024 to be an extra-buzzy year for this Caribbean nation, though, thanks to new hotels, exciting cruises and more flights from major airlines.
Goldwynn Resort & Residences on Nassau's famous Cable Beach was 2023's big hotel debut, offering 81 studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom suites just a short drive from the airport so visitors could be on the beach within an hour of landing. Set to open mid 2025, the ultraluxurious Montage Cay will occupy a 48-acre private island in the Abacos. The $352 million project will feature 50 oceanfront suites with private plunge pools and outdoor showers. The property will also comprise villa residences and a 47-slip marina for private yachts.
The Bahamas are drawing even more interest from major cruise lines, too. Norwegian Cruise Line christened its exciting Norwegian Viva megaship with a short cruise to its Bahamian private island, Great Stirrup Cay, in November 2023. The line's second Prima Class vessel, Viva, boasts the "fastest slides at sea," a three-level go-kart racetrack and millions of dollars of art on board. Royal Caribbean's new Oasis Class ship, Utopia of the Seas , is also set to start sailing short new cruises focusing on the Bahamas in 2024.
Cruise lines are adding new private-island experiences, too. Slated to open in summer 2024, Disney's Lighthouse Point in Eleuthera will offer amenities ranging from an adults-only beach to a family water play area and food hall-style dining. The destination is being designed with the environment in mind, too — about 90% of its electricity will be provided via solar panels.
TPG tip : Getting from the U.S. to the Bahamas will be easier than ever in 2024, especially from the West Coast. Alaska Airlines is adding seasonal nonstop flights from both Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) four times weekly and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) three times weekly to Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS). The services will run from Dec. 15, 2023, to April 9, 2024. JetBlue is launching its own new flight between Nassau and Los Angeles beginning in November 2023 that will fly once per week on Saturdays. Delta debuted a new nonstop from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Nassau this fall as well.
— Becca Blond
NEWS... BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT
Lesser-known hotel chain named ‘best in the UK’ and rooms start from just £42 per night
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Demand for staycations may still be going strong, but the price of accommodation can really sting when planning a UK trip.
But fear not, as a budget hotel chain has just been named as the best in the UK – and you may not have even heard of it.
The consumer experts at Which? analysed cleanliness, comfortable beds, and value for money to create the rankings and a winner has been crowned.
It turns out, the top spot was taken by Premier Inn Hub – with a 77% customer satisfaction rating.
These Hub hotels differ from typical Premier Inn rooms – with a slightly smaller and more modern offering.
Each standard space includes a touchscreen control panel to change the lighting and temperature, a pull-out desk, a 40-inch smart TV, high-powered monsoon shower, a double bed and hidden storage – with a bigger room option available as well.
But it’s clear the compact size hasn’t put customers off. In fact, they’re pretty impressed by the affordable price tag, too – with rooms starting from £42 per night.
Not to mention the fact Premier Inn Hub hotels can be found in central locations in London and Edinburgh, so guests won’t need to travel far either.
Speaking about the findings, Which ? said: ‘The UK’s largest hotel chain has landed one of the top spots in our past 10 surveys. This year it was pipped to the post by its spin-off brand, Hub, which you’ll only find in London and Edinburgh.
‘Its spotless rooms are small – some don’t even have windows – but they’re in great locations, right in the city centre.
‘And they squeeze in everything you get in an ordinary Premier Inn, except a kettle.’
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