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US government issues new warnings about the risks of international travel

Jan. 26, 2021
4 min read
US government issues new warnings about the risks of international travel
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There was a strong new advisory from the Biden Administration today Jan. 26, 2021. In addition to the new requirement that all international airline passengers have a negative COVID-19 test, the federal government has new, stern warnings about overseas travel.

In a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of State, the government is now saying, "U.S. citizens should reconsider non-essential travel abroad."

The new memo also suggests that Americans postpone all non-essential travel.

CBS News was the first to report on the new language.

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The memo outlines three reasons that Americans shouldn't be traveling internationally right now:

  • You could have difficulty accessing a test while you're abroad.
  • You could test positive and get stuck abroad for an extended period of time.
  • You could have difficulty accessing or financing medical care.

The government is basically suggesting that if you travel, you may be on your own when it comes to getting home and dealing with the costs and time involved in a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

On testing, the memo reads:

"The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remind all travelers that beginning tomorrow, January 26, all air passengers two years of age or older arriving to the United States must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding. This order applies to both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens."

The new testing requirement went into effect today, but so far there's not a ton of information out there on how it's being implemented and/or enforced.

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Related: What it's like now that the U.S. requires a COVID-19 test?

As TPG has reported there are many coronavirus tests available. Your best bet right now remains the PCR test usually done via nasal swab. There are now sites being set up that can turn PCR tests in as little as three hours. I was able to get a PCR test done at LAX for a recent trip to test out Kauai's new resort bubbles.

But the U.S. government will also be accepting rapid antigen tests and antibody tests. Do note that home-tests are not being accepted for this new requirement. Airlines are the ones enforcing the new rules. Passengers are supposed to provide written documentation of test results in order to board their flights. The airlines are accepting paper or electronic copies of negative test results.

Related: How rapid COVID-19 testing can help travelers

If you need to find a quick coronavirus test, TPG reporter Victoria Walker wrote about tips on that here. Note that finding testing sites overseas will be harder in some countries than in others. Be sure to check with your hotel and see if they provide testing or if they might be able to get a doctor or practitioner to come to your hotel.

Related: Onsite COVID-19 tests may be the most valuable hotel perk of 2021 — these resorts have them

What happens if you test positive while in another country? TPG reporter Chris Dong wrote about that here.

From the new harsher tone being adopted by the Biden Administration, however, it sounds like you may not be able to count on Uncle Sam to come to the rescue. As Dong points out, you should have a plan and be prepared to spend the money (or points) necessary for a potentially long quarantine.

Featured image by AFP/Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023