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It’s fair to say that most of us rely on our credit cards when travelling.

With the ease of using a card for international payments, the protection they offer, and amazing travel rewards, it makes sense too.

Credit cards are used by approximately two thirds of people today, and whether you’re choosing the best travel credit card Canada, or shopping for something with no international fees in Australia, it’s almost become essential for travelers to have one.

It’s incredibly important to practice fiscal responsibility, and use a credit card responsibly, and if you can do that, there are a lot of benefits to having one in your arsenal.

The following are reasons why credit cards have become a travel essential.

Why a Credit Card is Now a Must for Traveling

Better Protected Payments

credit card for travel RF

You’re much better protected when making a payment via credit card in terms of fraud and refunds, and this is especially relevant to purchasing flights, which are the biggest thing you’re likely to buy.

You often hear horror stories of airlines going bust and customers being out of pocket. By paying via a travel credit card you’ll be able to claim a chargeback should anything go wrong with your flights.

A chargeback voids a credit-card transaction by withdrawing funds that were previously deposited into a merchant’s bank account and applying credit back to your card. Think of it as a way to reverse your charges.

The same applies to your hotel and, well pretty much anything else you buy with it.

You’ll also find you’re protected in circumstances where you’ve lost your card or been the target of theft while traveling.

If your card goes missing you can call and immediately cancel it. However if you loose a wad of cash, there’s not a lot of hope that you’re going to see that money again.

You Can Save For Your Next Trip While You Spend

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Every payment you make via a travel credit card will earn you rewards. This may come in the form of cash or potentially air miles. Either way, you’ll be able to pay for some of your next holiday by spending money on this trip.

The average a person spends around $900 in their first year of owning a travel credit card, while earning $277 in rewards. The type of rewards, and the % you earn will vary depending on your credit card, so make sure you research the best options.

Some cards come with points bonuses just for singing up, some come with bonuses if you spend (for example), $1,000 in the first 3 months. Some offer double the points if you make purchases at certain businesses or locations.

There are dozens of great cards out there offering air miles these days and you’d be surprised by how quickly they add up. It’s very important though to make sure you’re not excessively spending on things you wouldn’t normally be, just to earn the points.

Photo by Jim Holmes for AusAID via DFAT

A Spare Method of Payment

Credit card travel RF

Now, we wouldn’t wish this upon anybody, but things can go wrong while travelling. The world can be a scary place at times, while we can all also drunkenly leave our bags by a beach bar, never to see our wallet or purse again.

Having a spare method of payment is always a useful plan and a travel credit card is ideal for this. Not only will it help you if you lose your original method of payment, it’ll also come into use should you require extra budget in emergency.

We recommend doing some research about which cards are accepted in the destination you’re traveling to. For instance, many locations don’t accept American Express, so it may not be practical to make an AMEX your emergency card.

And in the interest of fiscal responsibility, make sure you have a strong mindset that your emergency card is only for emergencies. If you know you’ll be too tempted to use it if you have it on you, leave it in the hotel safe with your passport.

Travel Insurance

Bear in mind that when it comes to stress, it’s not the short-term issues that are the problem. It’s the long-term ones.

If you’re doing a lot of travelling, a number of credit cards will offer travel insurance complete with it. Credit cards in Canada and North America are usually best for this, though other countries have similar programs as well.

This will protect you further in case of emergency, and also save you having to mess around sorting out travel insurance with a different company.

Keep in mind that you’re usually only covered for trips that you paid for using that specific credit card, and it’s important that you request the product disclosure statement (PDS) and understand what you are and are not covered for.

Credit card travel insurance can be really fabulous, or really basic; it will vary from card to card. You may not be covered for activities like snow sports, or cruise travel, so could need to take out additional coverage.


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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.



  1. I have been using credit cards for so many years (at least 54) that I rarely, if ever, had any cash on me.

    • I’m now the same, I don’t usually bother exchanging cash when I get to a new destination now that everything operates off card. I usually try to remember to convert a little bit for emergencies, or street food, but I don’t often have any on me.

  2. I use my cards quite a bit Meg. Neat to see more card options in developing nations. Back in 2011 when I began traveling to places like Thailand Bali, everything was a cash deal. Forget about credit cards. But slowly, and surely, cards are accepted in developing lands these days. Lagging a bit but still cool to flash plastic and pay.

    • Absolutely Ryan, I remember traveling around Eastern Europe around 10 years ago, and it was all cash too. It’s really fabulous that technology has paved the way for a reasonably universal method of payment no matter where you go (for the most part anyway) :)

  3. This is such a nice blog very informative and helpful thank you for sharing with us.

    • Thanks Zahid, glad you enjoyed the post.

  4. They also come in useful for opening locked doors.

    • Lol good to know … and for sticking in the light switch when you have to leave a hotel key to leave the electricity on :D

  5. Absolutely. I don’t buy a stick of gum without earning points/miles if I can avoid it. I travel with the Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve. Killer combo. The Chase is especially useful. It offers a buffet of travel related benefits.

    • Great minds must think alike, we travel with the same cards. I usually use the insurance and lounge access on the Amex, but then use Chase for the rewards. Really is a great combo! :)

  6. Let’s not forget that a credit card is imperative for making hotel and flight reservations! (Although technically you could use a Visa/MC debit card)

    • Absolutely, great point Nora. I know a couple of people who get by using their Visa / MC debit cards now, but I see it as such a waste of points lol!

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