Study Abroad Resources

Studying abroad is a unique experience that allows you to immerse yourself in a new culture and travel to different countries easily and frequently. With these new opportunities comes the responsibility of financial planning. Allocating your limited funds as a student can be difficult, especially with an entirely new currency and the burden of an exchange rate.

Quick Tips for Using a Credit Card When Studying Abroad

  • Choose a credit card that is universally accepted. You want to be sure your card will be accepted in every country you travel to, in addition to the home country you study in.
  • Try to choose a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. Many credit card companies charge an average fee of 1-3% for every transaction, in addition to the ATM fees the local banks charge.
  • Contact your bank in advance to let them know you will be abroad and provide a list of your potential travel destinations. This will ensure your card is not declined for fraud reasons.
  • If you choose to use a debit card, be sure to put more money than you think you need on the card in case of an emergency.
  • Sign the back of your credit card and always have photo identification. European countries take theft seriously and will refuse your card if they think it’s stolen.
  • Know the exchange rate, especially in your home country. Rates can fluctuate without warning, but having a general idea will help you avoid any scams.
  • If you keep your money in a global bank with international locations, you can avoid ATM fees. Some of these banks include HSBC, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.
  • Take advantage of travel planning and budgeting apps. Having access to your spending at all times can help you stay on track with your budget and be aware of fluctuating exchange rates.

Best Credit Cards for College Students Studying Abroad

When choosing the right credit card for your abroad travels, it is important to consider the travel, security, and theft solutions that will be most beneficial for you.

If you are traveling to Europe, it might be useful to apply for a credit card with EMV (or “chip”) technology. These cards are embedded with a microchip that stores cardholder information to increase data security.

Many European countries use chip-enabled credit card machines because it makes cloning and fraud much more difficult. If you don’t have a chip card, you may want to choose a card with $0 fraud liability. This means if your card is ever lost or stolen, you will not be responsible for fraudulent purchases.

One of the other important aspects to consider is foreign transaction fees. These add up quickly, so it’s best to choose a card with no foreign transaction fees. Choosing a card with travel assistance is a good idea because you want to be prepared for any emergencies that may arise. We have put together a list of the best credit cards for students studying abroad.

Capital One® Journey® Student Credit Card

For People with
No Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 20.24% (Variable)
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 1% cash back for every $1 spent on all purchases. Pay on time and that goes up to 1.25% cash back.

Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 13.99%, 18.99%, or 23.99% (Variable)
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 2,500 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $500 within the first 3 months of cardmembership.
  • 2 ThankYou® Points per dollar spent on purchases for dining at restaurants and entertainment.
  • 1 ThankYou® Point on other purchases.
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points with this card
  • Redeem ThankYou Points for merchandise, travel rewards, gift cards, cash and more
  • Travel with ease and enjoy global acceptance with Chip Technology
  • No annual fee

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $89 (waived the first year)
  • Interest Rate: 15.99% or 19.99% (Variable)
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem for travel statement credits
  • Chip card technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months for each Balance Transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, currently 15.99% or 19.99%, depending on your creditworthiness.
  • Complimentary online FICO® Credit Score access for Barclaycard Arrival Cardmembers

BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 14.99%-22.99% (Variable)
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 10,000 online bonus points if you make at least $500 in purchases in the first 90 days - that can be a $100 statement credit towards travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - no blackout dates and restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Now with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 14.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25%-75%. Click "Apply Now" to learn more about Preferred Rewards

Exchange Rates in Popular Study Abroad Countries

An exchange rate is the value of one country’s currency in terms of another currency. The exchange rate of U.S. Dollars will vary depending on the country. Most students know exchange rates exist, but they don’t know what an exchange rate really means.

For example, if 1 U.S. Dollar equals .73 Euros, you lose about 37 cents per U.S. dollar. This is because with the current exchange rate, 1 Euro equals 1.36986 USD. Knowing the current exchange rate before you travel can help you get the best conversion possible.

How to Maximize Your Study Abroad Experience

  1. Plan your travels in advance. There are great deals from airlines such as EasyJet, RyanAir, and WizzAir when you purchase tickets ahead of time.
  2. Stay on your budget by utilizing your kitchen. Going out to dinner abroad can be expensive and different than in the United States. Free water and bread rarely exist abroad so make sure to ask the restaurant before you order.
  3. Take time to explore your home country. Visiting other countries can be great, but take advantage of the one-time opportunity to travel locally. It can also be an easy way to save money.
  4. Socialize with local students in your area. They can help you find the best food at the best prices and free activities to do in the city.
  5. Use the public transportation. It is a great way to explore the city, learn the culture and avoid the cost of taking taxis.
  6. Be aware of the money tipping policy in your city. We tip for customer service in the United States, but many other countries view tipping as rude and unnecessary. Eliminating tips from your budget is a way to save money for travel, pubs, and local events.

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