The digital nomad lifestyle has so many benefits for those willing to take the leap of faith to start traveling. Digital nomads can save money by keeping fixed expenses low, enjoy the freedom of traveling more than most people could ever imagine, and get to experience something new every day.
However, there are often hidden costs associated with the digital nomad lifestyle that you might not expect. Foreign transaction fees, airline baggage fees, and more can eat into your daily budget as a digital nomad.
Having the right credit card can help you navigate this! If you’re a digital nomad – or looking to start digital nomad life – check out this selection of the very best credit cards for digital nomads.
We’ve added the cards that you’ll need to make digital nomad travel easier, cheaper, and even a little more luxurious. Plus, we’re sharing the digital nomad credit cards that make running a business from the road so much easier.
What Should Digital Nomads Look For in A Credit Card?
We have our own experience with maximizing credit card benefits, but we wanted to speak with a financial expert about everything digital nomads should consider when applying for credit before writing this article.
We spoke with Eric Simonson, the CEO of Abundo Wealth, and he pointed out some of the most important things to look for when considering a credit card as a digital nomad:
- No Foreign Transaction Fees: This will be very important as digital nomads move between countries.
- Travel Protections: Look for perks like the more obvious travel delay and cancellation insurance, but think deeper, too. Simonson pointed out that lost or stolen luggage coverage may be the biggest overlooked benefit: “Since digital nomads are usually carrying their whole life with them when they travel, having additional coverage through your credit card can be important.”
Other popular things to look for in a credit card as a digital nomad can include benefits like credits for Uber, airport lounge access (Amex Platinum is the ULTIMATE lounge access card!), rental car insurance, hotel and airline elite status, and credits towards the cost of the Global Entry / TSA PreCheck statuses for U.S. travelers.
Scared about that annual fee? Simonson says this: “It is also important to prioritize getting a card that accumulates travel reward points as those can oftentimes be even more lucrative than cash back, especially for someone who presumably travels as much as a digital nomad. These points alone will usually far outweigh the card’s annual fee.”
While travel hacking and making the most of points and airline miles can seem intimidating at the outset, it’s often much easier than you think. And it often starts with one of these credit cards.
Don’t think about traveling without a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers. We’ve used NordVPN for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, at home or abroad.
Best Credit Cards for Digital Nomads
The cards we’ve identified as some of the best credit cards for digital nomads range from relatively basic cards with low annual fees to luxury cards for nomads looking to make the most out of their travel and remote working lifestyle.
We’ve also added personal cards and business cards, for the digital nomads who operate their businesses from the road.
Our personal recommendation? Get at least one personal card, a business card if you need it, and – if you travel enough and are loyal enough to one particular airline – add an airline-specific card to your wallet to maximize your miles.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is one of the most popular travel rewards credit cards out there, and an excellent choice for both the casual traveler and the digital nomad looking to make the most out of their credit card.
For a credit card with such a low annual fee – just $95 – it has many fantastic perks which easily justify the annual fee several times over.
These are some of the perks you can expect with the Chase Sapphire Preferred:
- Huge sign-up bonus (try to sign up when the bonus is pumped up to 100,000 points!) when you spend at least $4,000 in the first three months
- $50 annual hotel credit
- Tons of travel protections, like rental car insurance, trip delay, and cancellation insurance, lost baggage reimbursement, etc.
- Up to 5x points per dollar on travel spending
Experts on travel hacking love to call the Chase Sapphire Preferred the entry-level card into the world of points, miles, bonuses, and perks. In many ways, it is – the low fee makes it accessible, and you’ll get so much more from it than you would a standard cash back card.
However, it’s a winner whether you’re just getting started making the most of your credit card, or you’ve been at it for years.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Depending on your spending habits and the perks you’re looking for, the Chase Sapphire Reserve – the higher-tier version of the Sapphire Preferred – might be the better option for you.
Here are some of the additional benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve:
- Priority Pass Select Airport Lounge Access
- $300 travel credit each year
- Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credits
- Even better travel insurance covering rental car insurance, emergency dental, and medical travel coverage, and canceled/delayed trip insurance.
If you’re a frequent traveler – less of a slomad, perhaps! – you’ll earn more points on travel with the Chase Sapphire Reserve than you would with the Preferred, with a maximum of 10x points per dollar, versus a maximum of 5x points per dollar.
If you make sure you’re maximizing the benefits of the Reserve, it can be well worth choosing over the Preferred as the very best digital nomad credit card.
Chase Ink Business Preferred
If you’re a digital nomad who owns your own business, don’t forget about the credit card needs of your business. Your remote business will have unique needs that many other types of businesses won’t, so make sure you’ve got the credit card to best fit and support you.
The Chase Ink Business Preferred is by far the best credit card for digital nomads that operate their own digital nomad business.
With the unique combination of travel rewards and business rewards that are tailored to businesses that may operate remotely, you’ll get the best of both worlds with this unique card.
These are just a few of the best perks for you are your business:
- 3x points on digital nomad relevant expenses like social media and search engine advertising and purchases, internet, phone, and travel
- Cell phone protection (up to $1,000 if your phone is stolen or damaged)
- Travel insurance that includes baggage delays and trip delays and trip cancellations
- Rental car insurance
- Purchase protection
If you’re after the hefty 100,000 points sign-up bonus, make sure you’ll be able to hit the minimum spending amount – $15,000 in three months. This may be out of reach depending on your business size, but others will find it easy to reach.
You’ll find other Chase Ink Business cards with lower spending amounts to reach their bonuses, but these will incur a 3% foreign transaction fee, and sign-up bonuses lower to $750.
If you’re a digital nomad in the market for both a personal card and a business card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred (or Reserve) and the Chase Ink Business Preferred is by far the best combination.
Because these all are Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, you can pool points together to redeem them, making them more valuable (and useful to you).
American Express Platinum
If you’re looking to make the most out of all your travel as a digital nomad, you need the American Express Platinum card.
This card is a hands-down favorite among travel hackers and seasoned travelers, who rightfully call it the supreme card for airport lounge access.
Here are just a few of the incredible perks you’ll get as an American Express Platinum cardholder:
- $200 hotel credit
- $200 credit towards airline fees
- $240 digital entertainment credit
- $200 Uber credit
- Complimentary gold status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors
- Global Entry / TSA PreCheck credit
- Platinum Card Concierge to help you get dinner reservations, concert tickets, and more.
The list goes on and on. As you can imagine, if you use these perks wisely and take advantage of everything this credit card offers, it will be worth more to you than the card’s annual fee. Especially as a digital nomad!
American Express Business Platinum
The American Express Platinum card also exists as a business card – if you’re looking for many of those benefits you’d find in the consumer card but would prefer to have a card for your business, it’s a great option to consider.
Not every perk is the same – check carefully before applying! – but you’ll likely want to choose either one or the other.
Delta Skymiles Reserve
If you’re a frequent Delta traveler or just a traveler looking for lounge access, the Delta Skymiles Reserve is for you.
The biggest perk of this card is the Delta Sky Club lounge access, and additional access to the luxurious American Express Centurion Lounges – if you don’t already have access to them with the Amex Platinum.
These perks pay for the card’s $550 alone – faithful Delta fliers that purchase the Sky Club access pay $545 for the perk. You’ll also get a free checked bag on flights, priority boarding, a Global Entry / TSA PreCheck credit, no foreign transaction fees, and more.
The card isn’t the best for purchases outside of Delta – you’ll just get 1x points on non-Delta purchases, but it may be worth it to have as a card in your repertoire if you love Delta and are looking for lounge access.
For a digital nomad constantly on the move – especially if you plan to be based near some of those Centurion Lounges – it can be a great choice.
United Quest Card
If you travel with any regularity on United, or are looking for a great airline card to start accumulating miles, the United Quest card might be the perfect option for you.
This is United’s middle-of-the-road card, with an annual fee of $250, but bonuses and perks that correspond with a much more expensive card.
The bonus is huge – up to 100,000 miles – giving you a big bang for your buck right out of the gate, and in comparison to other airline credit cards. You’ll also earn more miles on both United purchases (3x miles) and other travel purchases (2x miles) than you would in other comparable airline credit cards.
Even without the sign-up bonus, statement credits on Global Entry/TSA PreCheck and $125 yearly towards United purchases means the annual fee almost pays for itself.
United Club Infinite Card
If you’re a frequent and dedicated United flier, you may want to consider upgrading from the United Quest to the United Club Infinite Card. Though the annual fee is higher, it comes with a major perk – United Club membership, which means you’ll have access to United Club lounges and certain Star Alliance lounges.
Of course, the $525 annual fee is hefty for an airline credit card, but considering the cost of United Club membership can run up to $650 alone, this card may well be worth it for frequent travelers.
You’ll also get a whole host of other perks, like IHG platinum status, Global Entry/TSA PreCheck statement credit, and an unending array of travel protections and travel insurance.
As far as airline credit cards go, the United Club Infinite Card is perhaps the best you’ll find on the market.
Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.