Credit cards accepted in most countries abroad. We encourage you research your destination to see which credit cards are usually accepted.
There are a number of credit card brands that are typically issued in the U.S. (e.g., Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express). It has been our experience that Visa and MasterCard are accepted more widely abroad than others, but acceptability can depend on where you are. It is useful to do research on which cards are more likely to be accepted where you will be traveling.
Foreign transaction fees
Some cards charge a fee for each transaction, often 2-3%. Others have no transaction fee. Before you leave, check on fees to help you decide which cards to use.
Some cards are targeted to international travelers and provide a live, 24/7 support line for problems. Check with your credit card issuer to see what support they will provide for you when you are abroad.
With rare exceptions, credit card companies will put a hold on an account when they see an international purchase being made on the card. To avoid a hold, call the card company before the trip and put a travel notice on the account.
Don’t take what you don’t plan to use
Take only those cards that you plan to use, including a backup card. If you would not use it under any circumstances, leave it at home.
Notes and recommendations from Cornell travelers
Some have reported not being able to use non-chip enabled credit cards in certain European countries.
You may want to contact your credit card issuer to activate a PIN code for any EMV chip enabled cards (read about chip and pin cards) you plan on taking abroad, as self-service terminals abroad usually require a PIN as well.
Updated 6/8/17 KMR