Finding a card with no foreign transaction fees used to be a challenge. But now there're lots of options. The cards listed below all process foreign currency transactions with no additional fee. These cards can save you money when you travel abroad, or even if you shop online in another country. Some even come with additional travel benefits. Checkout this listing of offers from our partners and pick the one that's right for you.
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at Bank of America's
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at Capital One's
at Wells Fargo's
at U.S. Bank's
Like baggage and passports, foreign transaction fees used to be a standard part of international travel. With few exceptions, credit card issuers and networks would charge fees – usually 3 percent – for every transaction made abroad.
For a vacationer in Paris, that meant an extra 3 cents were tacked on to every dollar charged to the card. Mon dieu!
But beginning around 2010, more banks began courting well-heeled travelers with credit cards that didn’t carry the fee.
That trend continues today, and with only a little effort you can avoid paying foreign transaction fees. We’ve put them together, so none of the cards listed above carry foreign transaction fees.
However, you still have a lot of options, so how do you choose?
As an international travel, you have a lot of opportunities to optimize your travel spending, so travel rewards cards are a great place to start looking.
You have a few options here. General purpose rewards cards from your major banks have the advantage of flexibility; they can be redeemed across all airlines and hotels. That’s great if you like to shop around to find the best deals for your travel.
Those who show consistent loyalty towards a given brand will find that their rewards cards can be very lucrative.
If you fall somewhere in between the two, a bank-issued card will work best if it has transfer partners. These partner programs allow you to transfer points or miles into brand-specific program at varying conversion ratios. This can make your points go further if you tend to gravitate towards a certain airline or hotel.
Whichever path you choose, you’ll need to know your total credit spend and where you spend it. You’ll need the total to figure out where you can hit the minimum spend for sign-up bonuses. The spending breakdown will determine which overall rewards program will maximize the return on your spending.
Once you’ve found the strongest rewards programs, consider which cards offer some fringe travel perks. These can include (but aren’t limited to) TSA pre-check, lounge access and free checked bags.
Finally, it never hurts to look for the lower interest rates among your potential offers. This will come in handy if you know you will carry a balance on the card.
different kind of foreign fee
There’s also a similar sounding fee that travel experts say you’re better off avoiding – the dynamic currency conversion fee. Many foreign shops will offer to convert your bill to the local currency. That may sound polite, but it is rarely a wise financial move.
If you choose to see your bill in native currency, vendors are charged a dynamic currency conversion fee, which gets passed on to the consumer, usually at a marked-up rate. Rates vary, but you could pay something as high as 5 percent. On a $100 purchase, that’s $5.
One other consideration is that the United States is well underway in making the switch to EMV chip cards. This security standard was adopted in most of the rest of the world already, but in a different form. With few exceptions, Americans are being issued chip-and-signature cards, which use the signature as the second form of validation. More common around Europe and elsewhere are chip-and-PIN cards, which require a PIN number to complete a transaction.
Most shops around the world can accept the U.S. signature-based cards, but they may not work at unstaffed kiosks. A few U.S. cards, while they default to a signature-based transaction, are capable of handling PIN transactions as well, so ask for that option of it is important to you.
Once you narrow your choice down to a few products, you can find product-specific reviews for travel cards, hotel cards and airline cards. Use these reviews to help make your final application decisions!