What is the best credit card for travel and vacation? We wondered the same thing when we started traveling years ago. In fact, you need a credit card to book most airline tickets, hotels and other activities while traveling. We are now three world trips and many vacations down the road and use our credit card dozens of times a year. In this blog, we list the different options so that you can make a good choice about which is the best credit card for travel and vacation for you.
Table of contents
Best credit card for travel and vacation: what is a credit card?
Before we get into what is the best credit card for travel and vacation, let’s take a look at what a credit card is.
With a credit card, you borrow money temporarily from a credit provider and the money is not immediately charged to your account. It is like a loan from the credit card issuer to you. Your credit card is linked to your checking account, and once a month, all the payments you made with your credit card are then suddenly charged to your account.
Of course, keep an eye on this when this is approximately, because sometimes (especially with airline tickets or hotels) the amounts can be large and then there may not be enough in your checking account.
Nowadays you can pay with your credit card at a lot of companies. So if you are traveling you may well be able to pay with your credit card at the restaurant, hotel, toll road or gas station. We also do this regularly on our trips. But then why not just pay with your debit card? This is because your debit card is not accepted in all countries and a credit card is generally accepted. To ensure that you can always pay abroad, it is then useful to have a credit card behind you.
However, you should keep in mind that there is a spending limit on a credit card. For example, we can pay up to 5,000 euros per month with our credit card. Generally, we don’t reach this amount, so for us it’s totally fine. When abroad, however, it is nice to have a generous spending limit, since sometimes the deposit for a rental car, for example, is also tied up on your credit card. This may well be an amount in excess of 1,000 euros, in which case it is nice to have an ample spending limit.
Do you need a credit card when you travel? Yes then you actually always need it to pay for things in advance and also on the trip itself. We use our credit card for our travels dozens of times a year.
Best credit card for travel and vacation: pros and cons
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to having a credit card for travel and vacation.
Benefits to credit card for travel and vacation:
There are several advantages to a credit card. We list the various benefits below:
- Accepted worldwide: as we mentioned earlier in this blog, a credit card is accepted worldwide and thus you can pay with it in most places in the world unlike a debit card. We always like the thought that we always have a means of payment behind us, with which to pay. For example, we have regularly been at a hotel abroad where we could pay by credit card but not with our debit card.
- You pay in arrears: we don’t find this the biggest advantage, since we prefer to pay right away and have it debited from our account. But you don’t have to pay until later in the month and this doesn’t cost you anything.
- Savings system: some credit cards allow you to save points, which can then be used at a later date to get discounts on air travel, for example. This is a very big thing in the United States, but not yet very big in the Netherlands. We ourselves have never participated in a savings system. We will come back to this later in this blog of best credit card for travel and vacation.
- Purchase insurance: almost all credit cards include standard purchase insurance. This insurance covers purchases made with your credit card in the event of loss, theft or damage. You can also easily cancel a purchase if, for example, something goes wrong with your order.
- Customer service: most credit card companies have good customer service, which you can usually contact 24 hours a day. This is especially convenient when traveling, since you are often in a different time zone than your home country.
- Renting car: we regularly rent a car abroad and then almost by default a deposit is required for the car. If you do not have a credit card, you need to pay that deposit. With a credit card, the deposit amount is temporarily fixed on your card, but after the rental period, it is also taken off immediately.
Disadvantages to a credit card for travel and vacation:
Of course, there are some drawbacks to a credit card, despite them being a lot less than the advantages of a credit card, as far as we are concerned. We list them below.
- Credit card fees: of course, there are fees associated with a credit card. You pay a fixed amount per year for the use of your credit card.
- Fraudulent: your credit card can be misused if they have your credit card information. Usually the damage is compensated by the credit card company, so you don’t suffer any financial loss yourself. Of course, it is annoying.
- Cash withdrawal: this is more expensive than debit card withdrawal. Therefore, you obviously just need a debit card to withdraw money while traveling. You do, of course, need less and less physical money to pay abroad. At most if you go to a local market while traveling.
- Default interest charges: because the credit card company advances the money, of course, once a month you do repay this amount to the company. If you don’t do this then the amount outstanding becomes a loan and that can incur high interest costs. Therefore, make sure you pay the company nicely every month.
Best credit card for travel and vacation: which credit card to choose?
Of course, it can be difficult to get a good overview, which is now the best credit card for travel and vacation. We have listed the most well-known credit cards below and indicate for each credit card the different features that are important when you travel or vacation. Based on these features, you can more easily make your own decision about which credit card is best for your situation.
Best credit card for travel and vacation: ANWB credit card
The first credit card we cover in our blog of best credit card for travel and vacation is the ANWB credit card. The ANWB has nearly five million members, and for members of the ANWB, they have three different credit cards that members can purchase. These three different credit cards all differ slightly in what you get with them. We list the three credit cards below.
This is the ANWB’s most expensive credit card and it includes the most insurance. Your spending limit here is about 5,000 euros and you get two credit cards. You have purchase insurance here for 365 days and you can apply for 2,000 euros of emergency money if you lose your card. You can also use the Travel Service Line with this credit card, and your deductible is covered up to 1,500 euros if you rent a car. Also included with this credit card is traffic insurance. Often there is a discount offer with this credit card that you do not have to pay for the credit card for the first year, for example.
This credit card is a little cheaper, but it comes with a little less. For example, the spending limit here is about 3,750 euros and you pay an additional 4.50 euros for a second card. Purchase insurance here is 270 days and you get 1,000 euros of emergency money with this credit card if you lose your card while traveling. Also, the deductible covered when renting a car is slightly less here. This one is 750 euros. They often have a discount promotion with this credit card as well, where you pay only half for the first year.
So it kind of depends on what you think is important for a credit card. If you are going to look at what is the best credit card for travel and vacation from the ANWB then it is important if you are going to rent a car, for example. Insuring the deductible can often be quite pricey, and then even with the Visa Gold Card, you already have the money out of it.
Best credit card for travel and vacation: ABN AMRO Credit Card
The second credit card we cover in our blog on the best credit card for travel and vacation is that of the ABN AMRO. We have had our credit cards with this bank for more than a decade. We must say that this is to our great satisfaction. We have never had any credit card problems on all our trips and have been able to pay by credit card everywhere.
ABN AMRO has three different types of credit cards.
Standard ABN AMRO credit card
You have the standard ABN AMRO credit card. We also have these. You pay a fee of 1.70 euros per month for this, and this is also the credit card most commonly taken.
ABN AMRO gold card
You also have an ABN AMRO gold card and it offers a number of additional benefits. For example, the deductible when renting a car is co-insured. This can be a big advantage for many travelers, as you often pay a fair amount for this at car rental companies. In addition, with this credit card you get auto legal expenses insurance. With this credit card, you do pay a little more per month: 3.90 euros.
ABN AMRO prepaid card
The third credit card you can take out at ABN AMRO is a so-called prepaid credit card. You put a certain amount on your credit card and that’s the amount you can pay with. So you don’t borrow anything from the credit card company. You pay a one-time fee for three years right here. That means you’re stuck with this credit card for up to three years right away.
If you want more information about the different ABN credit cards just click on the blue link here.
Best credit card for travel and vacation: ICS World card
The third credit card we discuss in our blog best credit card for travel and vacation is the ICS World Card. The credit card company ICS is a subsidiary of ABN AMRO and also offers three different types of credit cards. Of course, there are differences in the price and what is included per card. We discuss the different maps below.
Visa World Card
This is the cheapest credit card from ICS and the cost for this credit card is three euros per month. The first year the credit card is free. You also get standard additional travel insurance with this credit card, which means you can save money on travel insurance with this credit card. In addition, the spending limit here is 5,000 euros.
Visa World Card Gold
With this credit card, you pay a little more per month, but then you get a second credit card with it. Also, the purchase insurance is slightly longer with this card. Instead of 180 days, here you have 365 days that your purchases are insured. Otherwise, there is little difference between these two maps.
Visa World Card Black
The last credit card offered by ICS is the most exclusive card and also the most expensive of the three. You do get very comprehensive continuous travel insurance with this credit card. Also, the service desk here is super good. This is also the most widely accepted credit card worldwide. In addition, with this Mastercard Black, you are welcome in 1,000 VIP Lounges at major airports in more than 75 countries. So this really is the most luxurious credit card from ICS in our blog of best credit card for travel and vacation.
Best credit card for travel and vacation: American Express
The last credit card we discuss in this blog of best credit card for travel and vacation is that of American express. American Express has four different Flying Blue credit cards for travelers, and again, there is a difference in the price you pay for them annually and what you get in return.
Flying Blue is the frequent flyer program of airline KLM. If you fly a lot for work or leisure with KLM, Air France or one of its airline partners, you will receive Miles from Flying Blue. You also save these miles with other expenses with your credit card such as when you fill up with gas, shop online or buy an airline ticket. If you spend a lot with your card, it can give you a discount again in the future when purchasing airline tickets. We list the four different credit cards from Mastercard.
This is the cheapest card from American Express and you get 2,500 miles as a welcome bonus here. Per transaction, you get half a mile for every euro. You can then later redeem these miles at KLM and airline partners to get discounts on air travel. You get two cards with this credit card.
This card is free for the first year and from then on you pay a higher annual fee than the Entry Card. You also get a welcome bonus of 2,500 miles here, but you save 0.8 miles for every purchase here per euro and 1 mile for every KLM airline ticket. So you pay a little more but also get more miles per euro.
For this card, you pay more than double the Silver Card per year, but you get 7,500 miles as a welcome bonus. You get 1 mile for every euro per purchase with this credit card and 1.5 miles for the purchase of an airline ticket. Also included with this credit card is travel insurance.
This is American Express’ most expensive card and really for business people who fly a lot. The card is three times more expensive than the Gold Card, and you pay 600 euros a year here. You do get a welcome bonus of 15,000 miles and 1.5 miles with every euro of every purchase and 2 miles with the purchase of an airline ticket. Again, travel insurance is included with the credit card.
Best credit card for travel and vacation: conclusion
Now what is the best credit card for travel and vacation you may be wondering now after reading this blog. For most travelers, the cheapest credit card is the best option. Most travelers just want to be able to pay by credit card and don’t need to get much else with it. Then the cheapest options from ABN AMRO and ANWB are great options!
However, it may be an option to look at the slightly more expensive card if you are going to rent a car, since you will be insured for your deductible. This can definitely save you money.
The ICS credit card can be interesting because it includes travel insurance and that you save money on this. So take a look at how much you spend per year on travel insurance and whether it makes money for you. The Flying Blue credit cards from American Express can be lucrative if you spend a lot with your credit card and that you save points this way, which you can then use later to get discounts on airline tickets from KLM and its partners.
In short put everything together for yourself and if you just want a credit card to pay just take the cheapest options from the different providers. So what is the best credit card for travel and vacation, it depends on several factors. However, we would always recommend traveling with a credit card because of the convenience!