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13 Best Travel Credit Cards for Digital Nomads in 2021

by | Last updated Sep 17, 2021

 

Did you know that you can’t just save money by using certain credit cards while traveling but actually MAKE money by using the right ones? That’s right! You can get money for free with travel credit cards via cashback, rewards, or sign-up bonuses. That’s why you should definitely take a look at the best travel credit cards for digital nomads, expats, and long-term travelers.

The following list shows you the best credit cards for travelers 2021, gives you important tips for using them, and provides interesting alternatives, such as free international debit cards, that could save you even more money.

Best Travel Credit Cards at a Glance

If you’re in a rush, check out this overview of the best travel credit cards 2021:

Credit CardBest Credit Card for...Type of CardAnnual FeeLearn More
1. Capital One VentureOne Credit CardBest All-Rounder Credit CardVisa CardFreeLearn More
2. Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit CardBest Travel Rewards Credit CardVisa CardFreeLearn More
3. Capital One Quicksilver Credit CardBest Credit Card for Occasional TravelersVisa CardFreeLearn More
4. Barclays Miles & More World Elite CardBest Miles Rewards Credit CardMastercard$89Learn More
5. American Express® Green CardBest Credit Card for Frequent TravelersAmerican Express$150Learn More
6. Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit CardBest Credit Card for Point BeginnersVisa Card1st year: free, after that $95Learn More
7. Citi ThankYou Premier Credit CardBest Credit Card for Everyday Life & TravelMastercard1st year: free, after that $95Learn More
8. Capital One Spark Miles for BusinessBest Miles Rewards Business Credit CardVisa Card1st year: free, after that $95Learn More
9. Chase Ink Business Preferred CardBest Cash Back Business Credit CardVisa Card$95Learn More
10. Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit CardBest Premium Travel Credit CardVisa Card$450Learn More
11. American Express Platinum Credit CardBest Business Travel Credit CardAmerican Express$550Learn More
12. N26 StandardBest Online Bank & Mobile BankingDebit MastercardFreeLearn More
13. Wise Multi-Currency AccountBest Money Transfer ServiceDebit Visa CardFreeLearn More

Let’s start with the best travel credit cards that are popular for their benefits, rewards, and low fees:

1.      Capital One VentureOne Card

Capital One VentureOne is surely one of the most popular travel credit cards out there. It comes with many benefits that every digital nomad, expat, or frequent traveler will love:

  • 20,000 bonus miles when spending $500 in the first 3 months,
  • 25x miles back on every dollar you spend with this card,
  • Hotel upgrades and discounts on certain retailers,
  • Waiver for rental car collision damage,
  • Complimentary concierge service,
  • No foreign transaction fees.

On top of that, you can get the Capital One VentureOne for free – no annual fees!

VentureOne Credit Card

2.      Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card

The Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card is a brilliant card for occasional travelers. Here you can expect the following benefits:

  • 5 points for every dollar you spend using this card,
  • 25,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months,
  • Extra bonus points for Bank of America customers,
  • Redeem points for flights, car rentals, hotels, or other travel expenses,
  • No foreign transaction fees.

The best part about it is that the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card is another free credit card for travelers, which means there is no annual fee.  

Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card

3.      Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

The Capital Quicksilver Credit Card doesn’t come with too many travel-specific perks but is surely a great option for every occasional traveler. This is what you can expect:

  • 5% cash back on every purchase,
  • $200 cash bonus if you spend $500 in the first 3 months,
  • Hotel upgrades and shopping discounts,
  • Complimentary concierge service,
  • Waiver for rental car collision damage,
  • No foreign transaction fee.

The Capital One Quicksilver is another free credit card where you don’t have to pay an annual fee.

Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

4.      Barclays Miles & More World Elite Card

The Barclays Miles & More World Elite Card is a MasterCard, that is particularly great for frequent travelers. Here are some of the perks:

  • 2x miles per $1 spent on ticket purchases from Miles & More airline partners,
  • 1x miles per $1 spent on all other purchases,
  • 2 Lufthansa Business Lounge vouchers per year,
  • Companion ticket after each account anniversary,
  • Up to 15% off hotels and rental cars,
  • 50,000 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months,
  • No foreign transaction fees.

The annual fee for the Barclays Miles & More World Elite Card is $89.

Miles and More Lufthansa Credit Card

5.      American Express Green Card

The American Express Green Card is another great travel credit card that comes in handy if you travel frequently and enjoy staying in hotels and booking tours or car rentals. Here are some of the benefits:

  • 45,000 bonus points if you spend $2,000 in the first 6 months,
  • 3x points at restaurants, takeouts, and deliveries,
  • 3x points on transits, including trains, buses, subway, and more,
  • 3x points on travel, e.g. airfare, hotels, cruises, tours, car rentals, and more,
  • 1x points on all other purchases,
  • No foreign transaction fees.

So the American Express Green Card comes with some very nice bonus point opportunities. For this, you pay an annual fee of $150.

American Express Green Card

6.      Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

There is a reason why the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the most popular travel credit cards out there:

  • You can earn 2% on travel, restaurants, and at-home dining,
  • 50,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months,
  • Extra bonus points for grocery store purchases, Peloton membership, and more,
  • Redeem points as cashback or rewards in the travel portal,
  • Get comprehensive insurance for things like rental cars, baggage delays, or trip cancellation,
  • Travel and emergency assistance services,
  • No foreign transaction fees.

You can test the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card for free in the first year. After that, the annual fee is $95.

Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

7.      Citi ThankYou Premier Card

The Citi ThankYou Premier Card might not be as popular as the before mentioned cards but it nonetheless comes with some great features:

  • Up to 3x points back for travel, hotels, gas stations, supermarkets, dining, or entertainment,
  • 60,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months,
  • Get points that are worth 25% more when booking through the travel center,
  • Insurance for travel and car rental,
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Again, here you get the first year for free and pay an annual fee of $95 after that.

Citi Premier Credit Card

8.      Capital One Spark Miles for Business

The Capital One Spark Miles for Business is a great business credit card with even better travel-related rewards:

  • 5x miles on hotels and car rentals,
  • 2x miles on every purchase,
  • 50,000 miles if you spend $4,500 within the first 3 months,
  • Points can be transferred to 12+ travel partners,
  • $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA pre-check,
  • No seat restrictions or blackouts,
  • No foreign transaction fees.

The Capital One Spark Miles for Business is free in the first year and $95 per year after that.

Capital One Spark Miles Credit Card

9.      Chase Ink Business Preferred Card

The Chase Ink Business Preferred is another brilliant business credit card for traveling and running your own business. This is what you can expect:

  • 3x points per dollar on the first $150,000
  • 3x points on digital ad spend, e.g. Google ads or Facebook ads,
  • 3x points on travel-related expenses,
  • 100,000 bonus points if you spend $15,000 within the first 3 months,
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Despite the great business features, the Chase Ink Business Preferred Card is only $95 per year.

Chase_Business_Preferred Credit Card

10.  Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card is probably only for people who spend a larger sum of money on traveling with premium airlines and first-class hotels. Here you can profit from the following perks:

  • 3% cash back on travel and dining,
  • Access to airport lounges,
  • Upgrades at top resorts and hotels,
  • Reimbursement of Global Entry and TSA pre-check,
  • Up to $300 annual travel credit,
  • 50,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months,
  • Insurance for car rental, lost luggage, trip cancellations, and emergency transportation.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

As you can see, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a premium credit card. That’s why you pay a $450 annual fee. But again, you get a $300 annual travel credit in return.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

11.  American Express Platinum Card

As the name suggests, the American Express Platinum Card is another premium card that comes at a premium price but also offers some outstanding bonuses:

  • $200 airline fee credit (can only be used for meals, checked bags, etc., not the flight itself),
  • $200 Uber credit,
  • $100 Global Entry or TSA pre-check credit,
  • 5x points on flights and hotels booked with AmexTravel.com,
  • 100,000 bonus points if you spend $5,000 in the first 6 months,
  • Membership to certain car rental services and car rental insurance,
  • Access to airline lounges,
  • Benefits on hotels, shopping, and entertainment,
  • No foreign transaction fees.

To get these great benefits you have to pay a hefty price: The annual fee for the American Express Platinum Card is $550.

American Axpress Platinum Credit Card

Best Travel Debit Cards

There are a few reasons why you should consider getting a travel debit card on top. To mention a few:

  • You don’t qualify for a travel credit card, e.g. due to your credit score.
  • You want to have a backup solution just in case you lose your credit card or it isn’t accepted in a certain region or shop or because it suddenly doesn’t work anymore (happens more often than you may think!).
  • On certain occasions, it is cheaper to use a debit card than a credit card.

That’s why I quickly want to show you the absolute best travel debit cards that you could easily get:

 

12.  N26

If you’ve been following me for a while, you will know that I LOVE the online bank N26. I’ve been using them for many years now and can’t recommend them enough. Here you can register for a free bank account online (no need to go to a local branch!).

They have some great plans that include free money transactions, free payments, and even free withdrawals. On top of that, you get a fantastic app that generates automated statistics on your spending behavior, e.g. how much money have you spent this month on eating out, drinks, or entertainment (super helpful to stay on budget!).

And you will find bonuses for different shops and services in the app that vary frequently. So don’t forget to check this out.

If you want to learn more about this bank, have a look at my N26 review or head straight to the N26 website and register today.

N26 Review Debit Card

13.  Wise, formerly TransferWise

Another fantastic online banking solution that I’m using regularly. Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, started as a money transfer service that allows you to send money from one currency to another at the real exchange rate and with minimal fees (eight times cheaper than a normal bank transfer!).

Today, they have added more features to their services. For instance, you get a multi-currency account which means that you receive international account details, e.g. in USD, EUR, GBP, or AUD, that enables you to send, receive, and spend money in different currencies without paying any transaction fees.

You also get a debit card that you can use all around the world or simply use it with Apply Pay. 

These are plenty of fantastic features that you should definitely check out! Have a look at my Wise review or head straight to the Wise website to register your account for FREE!

Wise Debit Card

 

Extra Tips for Using Credit Cards when Traveling

Before you get 20 credit cards and start spending your hard-earned money, please have a look at these credit card tips first:

  • Although some of these cards give you a lot of credit, make sure you don’t overspend. Always keep in mind that you need to have the amount of your credit card debt on your bank account at the end of the month when the debt gets deducted. So don’t go too crazy.
  • Also, be mindful of your credit score when you choose a credit card. Maybe your score is not the best so you don’t qualify for certain cards.
  • In some countries, having too many credit cards can lower your national credit score even without having any debts.
  • While I’d recommend against having too many cards at once, you could surely go for 1 to 3 different ones. This allows you to take advantage of the different benefits these cards come with.

Card Payment

The Verdict: Travel Credit Cards for Digital Nomads

As you can see, there are plenty of great travel credit cards out there. Which one you should go for mainly depends on your personal needs, for instance, how much money you want to spend during your trip or what you mainly want to spend your money on.

In case you don’t qualify for a travel credit card or if you want to have a backup solution, you should also get a free debit card – for instance, with N26 or Wise, where you can do free international transactions, payments, and even withdrawals.

No matter what credit card or debit card you go for, make sure to always watch your spending behavior to not overspend and put your credit score at risk.

Man with credit card and laptop

Denise Mai

Denise Mai

Founder of Digital Nomad Soul

Hi, I’m Denise – a travel addict and remote work enthusiast. I have been traveling the world since 2008 and explored, worked, and lived in more than 80 countries. To me, there is nothing better than the freedom and flexibility that comes with a location-independent lifestyle.

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