Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Traveling with Kids - Week 4 Credit Cards

Four weeks before leaving is a great time to take a look at which credit cards are available and the terms of current cards.

Why is this important? 
Many credit cards impose an international fee per transaction. This will eat your money faster than anything else. Be aware of:

  • If the card has international fees
  • What is the charge for cash advances (getting money out of the ATM)
  • Is there a yearly fee associated with the card
  • Are there any bonuses (airline miles for signing up and spending $2K-$3K in the first 3 months)
  • What is the dollar to sky mile ratio
  • APR 
We found that the Barclay MC and the Bank of America chip and pin visa worked the best for our needs. We wanted a card with no international transaction fees, one that earned us sky miles and one with a reasonable yearly fee. 

Both cards offered 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. One card waived the yearly fee the first year and neither card has international transaction fees. We decided to go with the Bank of America card specifically because it has a chip and pin associated with it. The card itself has a chip embedded into it. Some places in Europe do not accept a card unless it has these specific features so we thought we would be safe and get it. With airfare alone we were able to earn the bonus points no problem. 

The Barclay MC has a 2 point per dollar spent towards sky miles/travel. They also give you 10% back in miles when you book your travel points through them. This is the best deal we could find. The Bank of America visa gives 1.5 points per dollar and no interest the first 12 months. Still a good option.

Be aware that each time you need to withdraw money a cash advance fee is incurred. It is better to put everything on the card and pay it off when you get home. Take some cash or euros for those small out of the way places that may not take a credit card, they still exist.

Check into this early enough to apply and receive the card without having to pay rush fees. Depending on credit scores, the Barclay card states it can take up to 4 weeks to hear back if not immediately approved. 

My philosophy is to get a card that works for you by earning money, points, or travel rewards.