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Today, TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig had to make a large purchase while traveling in Australia. Here’s how he decided which credit card to use.

This month, a product I’ve had my eye on for quite some time finally started shipping. It’s a wide-angle lens from Olympus that’ll make review photos — particularly those shot in tight quarters on airplanes — look exceptional. (Photo geeks: It’s the 7-14mm f/2.8; a mighty fine lens.)

I ordered this lens and expected it to arrive in the US before I departed for my current trip to Australia. Long story short, it didn’t make it. And today I arrived in Sydney without the lens. With quite a few activities planned over the next two weeks that could really benefit from some wide-angle photography, I decided to track down the 7-14 in Sydney. It cost $1,549 AUD (about $1,140) including tax, which, while no small sum, is considerably less than the $1,299 plus tax it commands back in the US, not even factoring in the 10% in taxes I’ll get back at the airport.

A photo I captured with my new wide-angle lens in Sydney. Zero buyer's remorse here.
A photo I captured with my new wide-angle lens in Sydney. Zero buyer’s remorse here.

With a big overseas purchase looming, I researched which card to use and settled on the Chase Ink Plus, thanks to the fact that I’m an authorized user on TPG’s business account and my purchase would be covered against damage or theft for 120 days. The card covers claims up to $10,000, and also extends US product warranties by an extra year (the latter likely wouldn’t apply with a lens purchased in Australia).

Sadly, the charge was declined, since this isn’t a card I often use internationally. Not to worry; I had a back-up plan. I pulled out my Enhanced Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN, and the transaction went through without a hitch. The coverage length isn’t quite as generous, but the lens is still protected against damage, theft or loss for 90 days, with the same $10,000 claim limit.

The American Express Platinum Card offers protection against damage and loss.
The American Express Platinum Card offers protection against damage and loss.

Be sure to consider the following when making a large purchase abroad:

1. Use a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees
2. Confirm damage and loss protection before making a purchase
3. Worry less about category bonuses — few products purchased abroad are eligible
4. Keep an eye on your credit limit to ensure you have enough to cover future expenses
5. Ask the merchant to process the transaction in the local currency

What’s your strategy when it comes to making large international purchases?

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR
Regular APR
16.24%-23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.