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Best Study Abroad Credit Cards

Studying abroad can be an adventure, but to make the most of it, you’ll need a plan for keeping your finances running smoothly.A credit card can be an ideal payment tool while traveling — not only because students can use it to build their credit while earning rewards, but also because credit cards can offer peace of mind thanks to travel benefits, robust fraud protections and more.If you’re a student, here are the credit card options you might qualify for and how to determine which ones might work best for you.

Best Study Abroad Credit Cards List

Barclays Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

The Barclays Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard is a good card for travel, with an $89 annual fee that’s waived for the first year.Cardholders get 2X miles per dollar spent on every purchase, a 0% intro APR for balance transfers, and a variety of World Elite Mastercard benefits.There’s also a signup offer of 60,000 bonus miles for paying the annual fee and spending $5,000 in the first 90 days after account opening. That would be worth $600 when redeemed, providing a 12% return on your spending.

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students

The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students is a good credit card for students, offering 2X points per dollar for dining and entertainment purchases.There’s an introductory offer of 2,500 bonus points for spending $500 in the first 3 months, worth up to $25 when redeemed. It’s a pretty small bonus overall, but it’s easy to get.Cardholders also get a 7-month 0% introductory APR on purchases, followed by a regular rate of 16.49%–26.49% Variable.Some shopping and travel protections are included, along with Citi’s Concierge service, a rare find on a student credit card.See how this card compares to another popular student card in the Discover it® for Students vs Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students.

Capital One® Journey® Student Credit Card

The Capital One® Journey® Student Credit Card is good for students with limited or average credit who want to build credit and get rewarded for it.This card is actually available to anyone, whether you’re a student or not. It’s a solid option to build or improve your credit, while earning a bit of cash back too.

Student Credit Cards

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

  • Earn 2,500 bonus points after spending $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • 2,500 ThankYou? Points are redeemable for $25 in gift cards, electronics and other great rewards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • Earn 2X Points on Dining Out & Entertainment
  • Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with Chip Technology
  • No annual fee*

Discover it® for Students Credit Card

  • New! Free Social Security Number alerts, we%u2019ll monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.*
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you%u2019ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like Amazon.com, restaurants, ground transportation and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 13.99% - 22.99%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

Discover it® chrome for Students Credit Card

  • New! Free Social Security Number alerts, we%u2019ll monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.*
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you%u2019ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter - no sign-ups needed. 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 13.99% - 22.99%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

Journey Student Rewards Credit Card from Capital One

  • Earn 1% cash back on all your purchases. Pay on time to boost your cash back to a total of 1.25% for that month
  • There's no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn, and rewards won't expire for the life of the account
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Pay no annual or foreign transaction fees
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Pick the monthly due date that works best for you

SelfScore Achieve for Students Card

  • Build U.S. credit history with no-cosigner or deposit required
  • No SSN required for international students
  • 1% cash back on all purchases
  • 0% intro APR for 6 months and then 19.74% variable APR thereafter
  • Credit limit up to $5000
  • No annual fee. No fee on first late payment
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Includes MasterCard Platinum Benefits like Price Protection, Travel Assistance, Extended Warranty and Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver

Know what you qualify for

You can apply for a credit card once you turn 18, but under the Credit Card Act of 2009, consumers under 21 are required to have either a co-signer or independent income to qualify for a card. Note, however, that many major credit card issuers don’t allow co-signers, and many young college students won’t be able to meet the independent income requirement.

Students 21 and older also still need a source of income to be approved, but they’re allowed to list any income they have reasonable access to — such as income earned by a partner or spouse.

No matter your age, though, it can still be difficult to get approved for a credit card if you lack a credit history.

Why you should have a study abroad cerdit card?

1. Credit Can Be Cheaper Than Cash

You probably don’t want to carry all your cash in your wallet, and debit cards can come with hefty foreign transaction fees and international ATM fees. And when you’re taking money out multiple times per week, all those charges are going to add up.

Luckily, using a credit card abroad may save you some money. First, you won’t be hit by those transaction fees. Second, if you choose the right card, you won’t be charged any foreign transaction fees. That means you can buy all the souvenirs you can afford without worrying about paying extra.

2. You’re Covered In The Event of Fraud

You might lose your wallet or it could be stolen while abroad. This kind of stuff just happens. If you’re carrying cash, there’s no way you’re getting your money back. But with credit, you may be able to freeze your account in seconds and have a new card sent to you overnight. Typically, your card can be monitored for fraudulent purchases and with some cards, you may not be liable for anything a thief purchased on your account.

3. You Can Earn Rewards Anywhere

Studying abroad isn’t all play. You’ll be hitting the books pretty hard too, so why shouldn’t you get rewarded? “The additional perks come in handy when traveling,” says Pretell. Some typical rewards include cash back, airline miles, free credit alerts, and fraud protection — all of which can come in handy no matter where you are.

4. You Build Credit Even While Abroad

Building credit is one of the main advantages to carrying a credit card and you’re not doing that if you’re using cash. While you’ve got one eye on the Eiffel Tower, the other one should always be looking toward the future. If you charge sensibly and pay your bills on time, your credit history may improve when you buy tickets for an eye-catching attraction…and pay off that balance responsibly.

Selection criteria: what makes a great study abroad credit card?

The best credit cards for students living in a foreign country will have low fees. In particular, their credit card should have no foreign transaction fees. These are fees imposed by most credit cards on all transactions processed outside of the United States. These fees can apply when paying in US dollars, and can even be imposed on foreign purchases made from home.

For example, if you purchase airfare or a tour online from a foreign company, you might end up with an unwelcome fee on your bill. Typically, foreign transaction fees are three percent of the amount charged, but there are a growing number of credit cards that no longer have this expensive, and unnecessary fee.

Other features to look for are travel emergency assistance services, which can be helpful when students encounter the unexpected.

Finally, students will want a card that they can be approved for, as most are young adults with a limited credit history.

Why is a No Foreign Transaction Fee Card Important for studying abroad students?

Most US credit cards charge an extra 3% when you use them for transactions in foreign currency.

3% may not seem like a lot, but it adds up. Let’s say that you’re a student studying abroad who spends, say, $750 per month for 12 months. That’s $9,000 in spending ($750 per month X 12 months).

You will pay $270 in fees if your credit card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee ($9,000 in annual spending X 3% foreign transaction fee).

You can save the $270 by getting a card which doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and even earn miles and points!

Bottom line

Traveling abroad for the first time can be scary, so the last thing you want to worry about is whether you have enough cash on hand. That’s why you should opt for a credit card, even if you only use it for emergencies.

The best credit cards for study abroad won’t charge extra fees every time you use them outside the country. But you’ll also want your card to have a decent line of credit in case you need, for example, to leave a country quickly via an expensive last-minute plane ticket.

If a student card doesn’t meet that need, a parent can easily add their college student to an existing credit card as an authorized user. The student will have full use of the card abroad, but the parent remains responsible for repayment. In some cases, the parent’s timely payments will also be reflected on the student’s credit history, helping to build good credit.

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Best Study Abroad Credit Cards Tips

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