Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone.

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone.”

Africa is the world’s second largest continent, and it offers some of the most breathtaking travel destinations in the world. You can visit the prison where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner in South Africa. In Egypt, you can see the pyramids. Tanzania boasts the Serengeti National Park where you can get an up-close look at exotic animals. With so much to see and do on this exciting continent, why waste a second of your trip worrying about how you’re going to pay for things? We’ve already got you covered with three great credit cards that are perfect for traveling in Africa.

United Explorer 

After one year, this card has a $95 annual fee. The card has a variable APR that can be anywhere between 18.24%-25.24%.

This card is perfect for traveling to Africa because you earn one MileagePlus mile per dollar for everyday purchases and two MileagePlus miles for each dollar spent on hotels, dining, and with United Airlines. MileagePlus miles can be redeemed for awards flights with United and all other airlines in the Star Alliance. South Africa Airways, Egypt Air, and Ethiopian Airlines are all members of Star Alliance, so this card could make traveling in Africa cheaper. 

Awards flights to Africa cost between 40,000-190,000 MileagePlus miles depending on the class you fly in. The cheapest business class tickets cost 70,000. When you spend $2,000 within the first 90 days of owning your card, United awards 40,000 MileagePlus miles. If you reach that spending target, you will have already earned 42,000 miles. If you spend $28,000 more, your flight to Africa will be free.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

With Chase, you don’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees. After the first year, the card has an annual fee of $95, and the variable APR for this card fluctuates between 18.24%-25.24%.

When you spend on this card, you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. For every dollar you spend, you earn one point. When you spend on travel and dining, you earn two points per dollar. Points can be redeemed in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Center or with Chase’s airline and hotel partners.

If you spend  $4,000 within 90 days of earning your card, you unlock 50,000 bonus points, which is enough for about $625 worth of travel in the travel center. Chase rewards points can be traded for points with the following airlines and hotels: Aer Lingus, British Airways, Air France KLM, Iberia Plus, JetBlue, Singapore Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott. Chase points can be traded in increments of 1,000, and are accepted as one point in partner airline and hotel points programs.

The 50,000 bonus gives you enough points with many of the participating airlines to fly to Africa. With United, you will have 20,000 points left over. You will be over the $4,000 spending target if you spend $1,500 a month on your card. If you have bills of this amount that you are already able to pay on time, pay them with your card for those three months.

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AmEx Everyday Preferred

This card does have a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, so you will pay a little extra if you use it in Africa. Like most other travel credit cards, it comes with a $95 annual fee.

The AmEx everyday preferred card caters to your everyday spending, which makes it easier to earn points quickly. You’ll earn three points for every dollar you spend in a grocery store and two points for every dollar spent on gas. For all other purchases, you earn a point for every dollar spent. If you make more than thirty transactions in one billing period, you can earn 50% more points per dollar.

Points earned on an American Express card can be used with any airline that is a member of ANA or Star Alliance. A few of the airlines that AmEx points can be redeemed with are United, Air France KLM, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Delta, and Kenya Airways.

There is no bonus for spending a certain amount within the first 90 days of earning this card, so you will have to earn 50,000-100,000 points directly from spending to redeem a rewards flight with this card. If you make more thirty transactions per billing period and use this card for groceries, you can earn enough points by only spending $12,500-$25,000.

Why you should use a credit card abroad

When traveling, using a credit card offers you more protection. If your cash is lost or stolen, you have no way of getting it back. If your credit card is lost or stolen, you can have it canceled or report any fraudulent charges. Africa is a great place to use a credit card because it is a large continent made of many countries with their own currencies. If you plan on traveling to more than one country in Africa, as many travelers do, using a credit card will save you the hassle of endless currency conversions. Many credit cards have rewards of some sort, and you’re likely to spend way more than you usually do on an international vacation. This is a perfect opportunity to earn cash back or rack up rewards points.

What to look for in an international credit card

When you’re deciding on a credit card to use in Africa, there are many aspects of the card you should consider. Does the card have a foreign transaction fee? If it does, there will be an added fee to every purchase you make abroad. If possible, it is best to avoid these fees.

In some countries, customers who pay with a card that does not have an EMV chip will be asked to show a form of I.D. Your American I.D. may or may not be acceptable in every country, so its best to use a card that is equipped with an EMV chip to avoid any hassle. Although chips are more commonly required than PINs in Africa, it is great to get a card that also has a PIN as an added layer of protection.

Some card types are not commonly accepted in certain areas of the world. In Africa, Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted. Although consumer customs vary from country to country, it is wise to bring some cash with you to Africa because you will likely encounter some vendors who do not accept credit cards at all. Lack of credit card acceptance is far less common in major cities.

Which travel card is right for your Africa trip?

The best travel credit card for your trip depends on your spending habits. Points can be earned quickly with the AmEx everyday card and the points can be redeemed with a wide variety of airlines. If you make several purchases per billing period and spend heavily on groceries, it can take roughly $25,000 to earn enough points for a free flight to Africa with this card. With the United Explorer card, you need to spend $30,000 to earn a free flight to Africa. It will take only $4,000 to earn enough points to fly to Africa with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

If you don’t spend a lot on groceries and gas or you don’t make thirty transactions in one billing period, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a great option because it requires the least amount of spending to earn a free trip to Africa. If you spend heavily on groceries or gas or want a little more flexibility in the airlines you can fly with, the AmEx card may make more sense for earning your flight, but American Express is not always accepted in Africa.

The Chase and United cards are both from Visa, so they would be widely accepted in Africa. Unless you have a unique spending situation, the Chase card is best.

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“Many of the listings that appear on this website are from companies which we receive compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products.”

Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the listings that appear on this website are from companies which we receive compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products.

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