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Which card to use when you mostly live abroad?

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Moderator Emeritus

Re: Which card to use when you mostly live abroad?

Discover is very hit or miss, those “outdated payment terminals” are ubiquitous in many places in my direct experience.

My personal experience, if going to Asia take a Visa unless things have materially improved in the last two years that I have been stuck in Cali for all travel.

Amex was better than Discover which is saying something... eventually I just swiped my CSR everywhere without issue other than a few local currency only places and the Schwab debit card kept me flush with paper when needed.



        
Message 11 of 24
Established Member

Re: Which card to use when you mostly live abroad?

I primarily use my CSR but I also recently got the Alliant cash back card which I’ve been using for non bonus spend. In addition I also have a Schwab debit card and my chase sapphire debit card for no fees to pull out cash when needed. I’m currently in Australia and cards are accepted everywhere so there is exactly no need for cash. If I lived overseas the majority of the time I would treat it the same exact way as being on vacation. Amex acceptance seems to be a little lacking here but I would use it here anyway because it doesn’t pay bonus points on any categories outside the US.
Message 12 of 24
Valued Contributor

Re: Which card to use when you mostly live abroad?

I'm in mainland China quite a bit out of the year.

 

I use my AmEx SPG at Marrriott hotels only. True story, I stayed at a brand new Marriott proerty about a year or so ago. They were not setup to accept my AmEx SPG. It took them hours to figure it out by calling their bank, their finance person, etc. . Finally they got it to work and thanked me because now they would be able to accept AmEx cards. I'd just gotten my AmEx and it was the first time I tried to use it in China. After that experience, I never tried to use it outside of Marriott. 

 

My use of Discover is quite hit or miss. Although Discover is supposed to be accepted anywhere UnionPay is accepted, some terminals work, others don't, usually due to usually error.  Even a Walmart did not accept my Discover card a couple of years ago and I visited on several different occassions and tried. Eventually, I gave up. 

 

Therefoere, my Cap 1 Venture is my primary card if the business accepts credit cards and I'm not paying in cash.

"Hover mouse over cards to see CL and APR info"


Message 13 of 24
Established Contributor

Re: Which card to use when you mostly live abroad?

Capital One cards don't charge FTF, so if you like their rewards program, they can be good. Otherwise, the USBank Altitude Reserve is a great option if you live somewhere where mobile pay is commonly accepted. 

 

Otherwise, the CSR, Citi Premier/Prestige, or Wells Fargo Propel (amex) are solid options as well. 



[2/2019]
Message 14 of 24
Regular Contributor

Re: Which card to use when you mostly live abroad?


@Revelate wrote:
My personal experience, if going to Asia take a Visa unless things have materially improved in the last two years that I have been stuck in Cali for all travel.



I was just in Thailand in February. Mastercard was accepted everywhere.

Message 15 of 24
New Member

Re: Which card to use when you mostly live abroad?

I travel pretty much and I normally use my regular cards. After recently problems I came through, I realised it is also good to have a special card while I'm aborad. Check here https://www.comparamais.pt/cartao-de-credito to have an idea of which credit cards have better deals when you are abroad.

Message 16 of 24
Valued Contributor

Re: Which card to use when you mostly live abroad?

I've thought about looking into a certain Countries CC, as Amex offers a linup for Aisan region. Which seemed kind of odd given teh DP's that Amex isn't widely as accepted over there.

 


@MAZDA3 wrote:

I was just in Thailand in February. Mastercard was accepted everywhere.


Good to know, planning a trip there in December, And was trying to figure out which cards to take, and which ones to leave home. Though i had planned to use a couple Amex just to pay for Lodging online, but was't sure if I had to physically present them upon check in.  I can at least leve the card I use to pay for Airfare at home. 

Message 17 of 24
Mega Contributor

Re: Which card to use when you mostly live abroad?

In the UK, the US Bank Altitude is working great (getting 3x=4.5 for travel) almost everywhere because payment with mobile wallet is so common (well, NFC/contactless in general)   And Paypal MC for things like Amazon.co.uk

 

Amusing story:  one place that didn't have NFC/contactless was a "3" store, one of the major mobile networks.  I had started using my phone to pay, and he said "That won't work", then "That's the first time that has ever worked."   The beauty of Samsung Pay with MST!  (UK Samsung phones don't have this)

Message 18 of 24
Regular Contributor

Re: Which card to use when you mostly live abroad?

Visa/Mastercard > Amex > Discover in terms of acceptance. There is also the issue of travel notice and fraud alerts which tend to trip when you use your card abroad. BOA for example will send you text messages to confirm certain charges but this is not that helpful because some vendor's POS will reject your card while waiting for the confirmation. If it's a restaurant, you can confirm and ask them to run it again but if you are in line for a grocery store or trying to catch a train it can be tricky. For me it has been only a few vendors. Although sometimes your card will get accepted one day and rejected on another day at the same vendor! My Amex has worked every single time abroad (where Amex is accepted).

 

I also keep my cards linked to my Google Fi number. Honestly, it's the best plan to have if you are traveling a lot. I've used it in almost a dozen country. Just get off the plane and you have a working phone/mobile data. If you plan to make a lot of local non data calls then just get a local sim but for me making calls via Viber/Whatsapp/Wechat is good enough. The reason I bring this up is because your bank will freak out when they can't reach you to confirm or investigate a charge overseas. I also set travel notices with each card but doesnt seem to do much in terms of transaction acceptance. 

 

Have a back up card. So many times at dinner I've had to give another card. Can be embarrassing if it's a business dinner. All of the above comments pretty much applies to cards issued by US and Non-US banks.

 

As for perks, I cant really comments on the cards I dont have but for me the BOA Travel Rewards is a great card to have. It's a Visa, No AF, No FX fees. 1.5 points for all spends. Redeeming is just picking which charge on your statement you would like to redeem for and clicking a button. You'll get more points as well if you have a certain level of assets parked at BOA just like the Cash Rewards. One perk I wish I had was primary insurance by using a card for car rentals so the CSP/CSR and a few other cards would fill that niche. Be careful to read the fine print on that one as well. Not all cards cover rentals overseas. 



BOA Americard $1000 | Sept. 2018-CLOSED Aug. 2019
BOA Travel Rewards $4200 | May 2019
Amex Hilton Ascend $15000 | July 2019
FICO 729
Next cards: Chase World of Hyatt (free night!) --> CSP --> Amex Platinum
Message 19 of 24
Regular Contributor

Re: Which card to use when you mostly live abroad?


@iheartwings wrote:

Also, don't forget, Discover has no FTF, and I don't think it has limits on where categorical spending occurs (like AmEx). So, you could get 5% on Uber now and 5% on restaurants in Q3 in foreign countries. 

 

 



But in most countries it's less accepted than the barter system.

 

I live in Canada and use US cards almost exclusively. Visa and Mastercard are miles ahead of Amex and Discover in acceptance. You need one of the two outside the USA






Message 20 of 24
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