Before my trip around the world I never really thought about a credit card, but especially if you are traveling outside of Europe for a longer period of time, a credit card is a must. But in the jungle of providers, it is not so easy to choose. Many offer bonus services like travel insurance, but do you need it at all?? I give here an overview based on my experience and research.
A few years ago I was faced with the problem of how to get money on my world trip. I have compared numerous providers and had meanwhile also already several credit cards of most different providers. Of course, every provider wants to advertise for itself and so I quickly did not know what to do and I first ended up with a cash card. Now, almost five years later, I have looked into the issue again. For this, the company Covomo, which compares insurance companies, provided me with an analysis of credit cards*.
Pure payment cards
When it comes to pure payment, the DKB credit card and the Number26 credit card of the online bank are the best. Both do not cost any fees and you can withdraw free of charge at the ATMs. There are fees for direct payment. I have had the DKB card for years, I had chosen it because it just doesn't cost any fees and is a pre-paid credit card. That means that I have to load money on it beforehand. However, I have to say that my experience with the card was not all positive. I refer at this point also to Ute from Bravebird, who also had a problem and even complained. My tip is always to check all debits and to transfer money to the card early enough, that can take several days, even if it is only from your own account to the card.
By the way, my normal Sparkasse account came with a Mastercard with similar options. Therefore I would also recommend to simply ask at the local bank.
Cards with additional benefits
My first credit card was a silver Sparkasse card, which I got due to a promotion one year without fees. I was satisfied and got, again with a promotion, a gold card with extra benefits. This included up to 60 days of international health insurance, supplemental dental insurance, vision care, and and and. However, every time I withdraw cash abroad it costs 5,50€. As soon as it was possible, I cancelled the card more or less annoyed again and always insured extra. I won't go into exact insurances here, but many cost around 5€ per week. Then I asked myself whether this procedure is correct or whether the conclusion of a card with additional benefits may be worthwhile. A credit card test confirmed my suspicions: An extra contract for travel health insurance is more worthwhile. I'm only going into the reference to the trip here, because in other scenarios, the premium credit card might be worth it after all. However, you should always read the terms and conditions carefully beforehand and see if the planned trip also fits in.
How Backpacker's Guide to the World Pays
Above I already mentioned my DKB card and Sparkassen Mastercard, every time I travel I take both with me. I make sure that I load enough money onto the DKB card in good time. Before I inform myself about the situation bzgl. ATMs in the destination country and designate the less common card as a backup card that I keep separate from the other one. Additionally, I always pocket $50 and $30 because you never know. By the way, I only have the $30 because I just have it left over from a trip, so it shouldn't hurt.
Beforehand, I plan how much money I will need and how often I want to withdraw. After the withdrawal I pay in cash. Tip: Don't put all your money in your wallet. With ATMs I make sure that they are preferably in banks or airports/train stations, since outside ones can be manipulated more easily. Also you should always cover the PIN entry no matter which machine you use.
How do you pay abroad? And how are your experiences with the mentioned credit cards?