Gabe Douek

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.”

Where will your next great travel adventure take you? For a variety of reasons, Brazil is a great option. You can see world-renowned locations like the Christ the Redeemer statue, visit the world’s most beautiful beaches, and see enthralling Brazilian soccer matches with your own eyes. Whether you’re buying pão de queijo from a food stand on the street or you’re buying a swimsuit from a trendy store, you’re going to need a simple way to convert your U.S. dollars to Brazilian reals. We’ve got a few suggestions for credit cards that will give you one less thing to worry about during your vacation of a lifetime.

Chase Sapphire Preffered Card

During your trip, you can use this card without worrying about pesky foreign transaction fees. After the first year, there is an annual fee of $95, and the variable interest rate on this card is guaranteed to stay in the range of 18.24%-25.24%.

By spending on this card, you can also earn discounts that will make your trip cheaper. For every dollar you spend, you earn one point. When you spend on travel and dining, you earn two points per dollar. Your points can be used in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Center, which offers discounts on traveling for cardholders, and you earn more points for booking through the Center.

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. All Chase rewards points can be converted into rewards points for 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. It takes 1,000 Chase points to get 1,000 airline or hotel points.

The 50,000 bonus gives more than enough points to take a free flight to Brazil with any of the airlines mentioned. If you get the card at a time when you know that you can spend $4,000 in three months, you can get a free flight to Brazil, which takes a huge chunk off the cost of your trip. To spend $4,000 in three months, you need to spend roughly $1,334 each month. 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.

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

This American Express card does not have a foreign transaction fee. Beginning in the second year, cardholders pay an annual fee of $95, which is pretty standard. This card has a variable interest rate that stays between 17.99%-26.99%.

You earn two SkyMiles for every dollar spent with Delta and one SkyMile per dollar on all other purchases. Gold cardholders get priority boarding on Delta flights. If you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of owning the card, you earn 30,000 bonus SkyMiles. If you spend at least $50 with Delta within the same time frame, you will get $50 wiped off of your balance owed.

As of the time of this article’s publishing, the average flight from JFK to Sao Paulo costs 100,000 SkyMiles. After spending $1,000 in the first 90 days, you will earn 1,000 SkyMiles for your spending as well as the bonus of 30,000, which leaves you at a grand total of 31,000 SkyMiles. To earn enough for a free flight to Brazil, you would need to spend $70,000 more. 

Delta has about 20 airline partners that will also accept SkyMiles. To use SkyMiles with a partner, you must book through the Delta website. One of the partners that should be of particular interest for a trip to Brazil is a Brazilian airline called GOL. This airline has great rates on flights from one Brazilian city to another. You can also earn SkyMiles on some Gol flights.

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card

This American Express card has a variable interest rate that will never be higher than 26.99%. After one year, there is an annual fee of $95. This card is affiliated with the Starwood Preferred Group (SPG,) so it helps you earn points that can be redeemed for free nights at participating hotels. Starwood points are redeemable with any SPG or Marriott hotels.

With this card, you can earn points very quickly. On everyday purchases, you earn two SPG points for every dollar you spend. When you spend money with an SPG or Marriott hotel, you earn six points for every dollar you spend. If you spend at least $3,000 within 90 days of earning your card, you get a points bonus of 75,000. SPG also awards cardholders with a free night’s stay at any SPG or Marriott hotel for each year you own the card. Although you don’t use points to redeem this perk, the free night can only be worth a maximum of 35,000 points.

There are plenty of SPG and Marriott hotels to redeem your points in Brazilian cities large and small. The number of points required to pay for a night in a hotel depends greatly on the actual cost of booking that particular room. At the time of this article’s publishing, the cost in points at most Brazilian hotels is between 17,500-35,000.

By spending only $1,000 per month in the first 90 days of having the card, you will earn 75,000 bonus points. Those points can be redeemed for four nights in a hotel that only charges 17,500 points per night. Especially if you are staying for a week or more, the cost of your hotel can easily be higher than the cost flying to Brazil.

Why you should use a credit card abroad

Whether you’re traveling to Brazil or anywhere else, it’s much safer to use a credit card when traveling. Foreign travelers are targets for thieves and scam artists. If you pay with American dollars or frequent currency exchange locations, you make it obvious that you are not a local. If you are a victim of fraud or any other confusion as far as how much you were charged for something during your Brazilian getaway, you can easily appeal the charge with your credit card company. It’s far more difficult to appeal a charge that was paid for in cash.

What to look for in an international credit card

The best travel cards do not have any foreign transaction fees. You’ll only have to pay back what you spend (plus interest) rather than worrying about extra fees.

The most important factor to consider is whether your card is accepted in your destination. In Brazil, Visa and Mastercard are the most accepted card types. Discover and American Express are usually accepted in major cities like Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, but they are hit and miss in smaller cities and with smaller vendors.

Since travel is already expensive, it’s important to consider what benefits you can get in return for spending. It’s best to choose a card that earns rewards points that can be redeemed for free flights, car rental, or hotel stays.

Which travel card is right for your Brazil trip?

If you’re definitely staying in a Marriott or SPG hotel, the Starwood card could be more appealing. You can quickly rack up enough points by spending $3,000 within the first three months. If you’re definitely flying with Delta, it makes sense to acquire SkyMiles, but you’ll need to spend $71,000 before you can get enough SkyMiles to cover a trip to Brazil. That’s a huge amount of money to spend in a few months, but it could be done if you have a few years before your trip.

For most people, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card makes the most sense. It’s a Visa card, so you don’t have to worry about it being accepted. You can use these points to pay for either a hotel or a flight. In most cases, spending $4,000 within the first 90 days will be enough to cover either your flight or your accommodations in Brazil.

“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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