|3 must-have cards for affluent travelers|
Tuesday, 04 September 2012 00:00Written by Christie Quimby
Do Not Fly Without These...
Financial management through credit card use has become perfunctory though hidden fees and charges are still a burden frequently levied on international travelers. Comparison shopping various loyalty program rewards, foreign currency transaction fees and annual fees has the potential to earn informed travelers significant advantages.
Diners Club International
A recent business alliance makes the Diners Club card welcome everywhere MasterCard is accepted. Their loyalty program pays an equal dollar for point system with points easily converted to air miles with virtually any airline carrier in the world. The annual enrollment fee for the “Club Rewards” program is $75 and bumps the reward system to two points per dollar spent with surprisingly generous redemption rewards. The Diners Club card also grants access to over 130 international airport lounges, imposes no pre-set spending limit and assists in reclaiming the value added tax paid on European Union purchases. Despite the $80 annual fee, the Diners Club card should be included on any international travelers ‘must have’ list.
Though not as broadly accepted as MasterCard and Visa, American express remains a choice credit card with significant benefits, most notably the absence of a pre-set spending limit. Foreign currency transaction fees are an industry standard 2%, and the annual fee remains a burdensome $75. There is an additional $40 charge for the much-touted Membership rewards program that offers anywhere from one to ten points for each dollar spent. Award winning customer service and truly exceptional travel planning tools keep American express in the top three of preferred travel cards.
What Capital One Visa or MasterCard lacks in sophistication is compensated for in substance. International travelers find this card highly desirable as it does not charge foreign currency transactions fees and purchases are converted at the foreign exchange rate when they are posted. Though most Capital One cards have no annual fee, the high APR will encourage even small balances to be paid in full each month. The No Hassle Cash Rewards card refunds 2% of gas and grocery purchases and 1% of all other purchases where as the Venture One Rewards awards 1.25 air miles per dollar charged. The value of the Visa or MasterCard logo, practically ensuring worldwide card acceptance, is one reason this card claims a top spot in most travelers’ credit card repertoire.
Virtually all major credit cards offer travel insurance, emergency card replacement and online account management. The true value of international credit cards generally equates to the ability of customer service to remedy travel issues quickly, liberal card acceptance worldwide, generous loyalty programs and the extent of the fees and rates imposed. A relatively small amount of time invested in comparing credit card features now can often add up to big travel rewards later.