Best Credit Card for Traveling To Europe in 2024

Written by |

Are you going to travel to Europe in 2024?

Having the right rewards credit card in your wallet can both earn you cash back and save you money on transaction fees. The net positive from a card that does both can be worth hundreds of dollars on your trip!

So how do you know which card is right for your trip?

In this article, we’ll help you find your answer by addressing some important questions like:

  • Will the card I pick be accepted by European businesses?
  • How do I get the most credit card rewards for purchasing my travel to Europe?
  • Which card will earn me the most rewards on my spending while I’m in Europe?
  • Why is prioritizing a card with no foreign transaction fees so important?
  • Are there other junk fees attached to international credit card transactions?

We’ll also provide some recommendations for what we’ve deemed the “best” credit card options for traveling to Europe. You can read more about our full methodology here.

Best Credit Card for Traveling To Europe Right Now

5 Things To Consider When Picking a Credit Card for European Travel

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are several factors that can differentiate a good and bad choice for the credit card you use for traveling abroad.

Those factors are a little different for each consumer, but there are a few non-negotiables. And making the right decision could be worth hundreds of dollars!

Here are five things to consider before you apply:

  • Card acceptance in Europe: Mastercard and Visa are the most widely accepted credit card processors in Europe. So, while American Express and Discover have great card options that are widely accepted in the United States, it’s going to be best to avoid counting on them as your primary spender in Europe.
  • Foreign transaction fees are a big deal: You’re going to want a card that promises “no foreign transaction fees” for your trip to Europe. Many credit cards have a foreign transaction fee that is tacked onto every purchase you make outside of the United States. This can cost you 3% or more on each non-U.S. purchase. That can add up quickly!
  • Rewards program structure: This will be a substantial part of the potential cash back you could earn from your trip to Europe. Look for a card that offers at least 2% back all purchases. But know that some cards may offer 5% back or more on certain spending categories. Dining and travel may be bonus categories worth paying special attention to for this trip.
  • Maximize the rewards you can earn on your travel purchases: While you’re going to want to earn solid rewards on your spending while in Europe, it’s also important to ensure you’re getting good rewards on your airfare and hotel bookings. You may want to consider a travel credit card for these bookings. You may also be able to earn $500 or more by using a credit card with a strong welcome bonus.
  • Make sure you’re avoiding conversion fees at the point of purchase: This isn’t necessarily impacted by the credit card that you choose, but it’s something money expert Clark Howard wants everyone to know about spending while you travel. Oftentimes point-of-sale terminals will default to converting your purchase to U.S. dollars rather than using local currencies. That could result in an additional 10% or more being tacked onto your purchase. Double-check when you swipe to ensure that the transaction will be processed in the local currency.

Clark’s Favorite for Travel: Capital One Venture X Rewards Card

Why This Card Could Work for Traveling to Europe

This card is one of Clark’s favorites for travel.

You’ll earn at least 2% back in miles on all purchases and as much as 10% back in miles on travel that is booked through Capital One’s portal.


It will also net you lounge access in 2024, help you avoid foreign transaction fees and will cover the cost of your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership.

You may be concerned by the $395 annual fee, but there is an easy-to-redeem annual $300 travel credit available that effectively makes it a $95 per year card.

This card is in Clark Howard’s wallet, and it is his favorite travel credit card for a reason.

“I think it’s absolutely great,” Clark says. “How could I say that you should spend $395 per year on a card? They give you $300 of it back as travel credits for travel you purchase through their travel portal. So the net annual fee is $95. And on top of some travel benefits, you get free airport lounge access … Plus, you get 2x miles on all of your purchases, just like a 2% cash back card.”

Best for High-Volume Travel and Lounge Access: Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

Why This Card Could Work for Traveling to Europe

If you’re the type of person who is constantly on the go, you may benefit from having one of the “Cadillac” travel credit cards.

This card has a steep annual fee, but it provides some premium travel benefits that frequent flyers may consider worth the cost. And you get a chance to effectively slash that fee by earning a $300 travel credit each year.

You’ll get a membership to Priority Pass, which includes access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. In total, Chase boasts that it has more than $1,200 worth of partner benefits included with this card.

You can maximize the value of your travel purchases by booking through Chase Travel?.

Best for Welcome Bonus Offer: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Why This Card Could Work for Traveling to Europe

If you’re looking to earn a bonus for booking your travel to Europe, this card has an offer that could really add up. Chase makes the welcome bonus worth even more if you’re willing to redeem it for more travel within their Chase Travel ecosystem.

This card also offers point multipliers for spending on travel and dining, which are likely to be two key categories for your trip.

This card isn’t in Clark’s wallet, but it is another of his favorite travel card selections.


Best for Bonus Spending Categories: Citi Premier® Card

Why This Card Could Work for Traveling to Europe

This is another travel card that offers a nice welcome bonus offer without a massive annual fee.

And you’ll earn 3 points per dollar spent on spending categories like gas, dining, hotels and air travel that could mesh well with your spending on the European trip.

Best for No Annual Fee: Wells Fargo Autograph Card

Why This Card Could Work for Traveling to Europe

If you’re looking for a rewards credit card that has no annual fee, this could be the right choice for your upcoming trip.

Not only will you avoid an annual fee, but you’ll also avoid foreign transaction fees and have a chance to earn some nice rewards along the way.

You’ll have a welcome bonus opportunity, and you’ll get 3x points on purchases like dining, airfare, hotels, car rentals, public transit, gas and more. Those are likely to be some of your most-used spending categories during a trip to Europe.

Best for Everyday Cash Back Rewards: Alliant Visa Signature Card

Why This Card Could Work for Traveling to Europe

This card could serve both as your go-to credit card for the European trip and as an everyday spender when you get back home.

You’ll have to sign up for a membership to this credit union to apply for the card and satisfy the account requirements to be considered a Tier 1 rewards member, but doing so will earn you 2.5% cash back on every purchase you make up to $10,000 per billing cycle.

Combining the 2.5% back with no foreign transaction fee and no annual fee could make this a really smart add to your wallet for spending while traveling abroad.

Methodology for Credit Card Analysis

For the purposes of determining which credit cards are “best,” we got input from Clark Howard and sought to find cards that fit his credit card strategy best.

Team Clark spent many hours reviewing the rewards credit cards on the market, assessing them for several factors including:

  • Annual fees
  • Rewards programs
  • Welcome offers
  • Length of introductory APR periods
  • Balance transfer introductory periods
  • Additional fees (transaction or otherwise)
  • Perks offered to cardholders
  • Reputation of the financial institution issuing the card

We did not factor in non-introductory APR as a part of the evaluation, because interest rates are going to vary based on your financial circumstances. Clark recommends never carrying a balance on credit cards, so the non-introductory interest rate shouldn’t matter for your card anyway.

We also did not include offerings from local or regional banks or credit unions because they’re not available to everyone. Often, local institutions will have desirable cards, so we recommend that you compare your local bank or credit union’s cash back credit cards to the ones that made this list.

Are you going to travel to Europe soon? Have experience using a credit card in Europe? What credit card is your choice? We’d love to hear from you in the community.

How many credit cards should I have? How Many Credit Cards Should I Have? - Are you worried that the number of credit cards you have could have a negative impact on your financial life? Is there a “right” number of credit cards for one person to have in 2024? The answer is a little…
Welcome bonuses can be a great way to boost the value of a credit card. Best Credit Card Sign-up Bonuses for 2024 - Team Clark spent hours reviewing the market for credit card sign-up bonuses and evaluated them according to the guidelines for usage set by money expert Clark Howard. Clark believes credit cards with exorbitant annual fees are a bad idea for most…