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Best Credit Cards for Travelers

For a long time, we here at SmarterTravel have been recommending plastic as the best way for travelers to spend money: credit cards for big-ticket purchases, debit (ATM) cards for cash. But which cards to choose? Clearly there is no single best card. What’s best for you depends on what you want by way of extras and special features. I’ve identified different traveler profiles and identified the plastic that best suits their needs.

My analysis is based on long-term use and not on one-time enrollment or transfer incentives. I assume you either pay your complete bill every month or have the option to do so, so I do not consider APRs, nor do I consider credit-score qualification. Many credit cards that assess an annual fee waive the fee for the first year.

If you travel to foreign countries, cards that do not assess a foreign-transaction fee are especially attractive; I note cards with this feature. Chip-enabled cards were once very rare, but chip cards will become widely available in 2015.

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