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The last thing you want to worry about at the airport is that you’ve somehow forgotten to get a visa for your trip. Fortunately, US-issued travel docs rank near the top of a list of most powerful passports, offering holders visa-free access to 174 countries. There are a few notable exceptions, such as Brazil (although this will be waived in Brazil leading up to the 2016 Summer Olympics) and China (which allows a visa waiver for up to six days of transit). German and Swedish passport holders come out on top with no visas required for 177 and 176 countries, respectively.
The 11 countries with the most powerful passports are listed below, along with the number of countries which its holders can visit visa-free:
1. Germany: 177
2. Sweden: 176
3. Finland, France, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom (5-way tie): 175
4. Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands and United States (4-way tie): 174
Opposite the countries with the most access are those that fall to the bottom of the list, usually poorer and more unstable countries — Afghanistan passport holders can only enter 25 countries, while those with passports from Pakistan and Iraq are granted access to 29 and 30 countries, respectively.
If you do find yourself needing a visa to visit a foreign country, it’s not too hard to get one with a bit of preparation. We recommend using third-party visa services like Allied Passport & Visa — mention The Points Guy on your order form to get a $5 discount just for TPG readers.
For more on how to maximize your passport, check out our guide to getting free TSA PreCheck and Global Entry with your credit card. And if you’re renewing your passport soon, make sure the government doesn’t accidentally botch your replacement passport before a big trip!
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.
- 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