No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards

July 17, 2018 - Traveling is expensive enough. Save money with a credit card that has no foreign transaction fee. Whether you're sampling local cuisine or shopping online abroad, these are the best cards that give you one less thing to worry about. And for even more travel perks, check out our list of travel cards from our partners.

July 17, 2018 - See the best no foreign transaction fee credit card offers from our partners below.

Summary

Here Are the Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards of 2018:

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Good to Excellent Credit Recommended (670-850) ? CreditCards.com 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.
at Chase's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
80,000 points
?

Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

Annual Fee
$89
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add your first authorized user and make your first purchase in the first three months from account opening
  • Enjoy a Free Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide. Plus, enjoy a free reward night when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
  • Earn 10 points per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
  • IHG Rewards Club Bonus points are redeemable at hotels such as InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Kimpton®, EVEN® Hotels, Indigo® Hotels & Holiday Inn®

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$89
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

Show More

Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured

797 Reviews

See Rates & Fees

Bad to Fair Credit Recommended (300-670) ? CreditCards.com 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.
at Discover's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
Cashback Match
?

Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
24.74% variable

See Rates & Fees

Show Less

Highlights

  • No Annual Fee, cash back on every purchase, and helps you build your credit with responsible use.
  • Your Secured Credit Card requires a refundable security deposit up to the amount we can approve of at least $200 which will establish your credit line. You will need to provide your bank information when submitting your security deposit.
  • We will automatically begin reviewing your account starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Receive Free Social Security number alerts— Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
24.74% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
10.99% for 6 months

View All Card Details

Show More

United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card
Excellent Credit Recommended (740-850) ? CreditCards.com 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.
at Chase's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
40,000 miles
?

40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open plus $100 statement credit after your first purchase.

Annual Fee
$95, waived first year
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • Extended for a Limited Time - Offer ends 8/15/18. 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open plus $100 statement credit after your first purchase.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • New! Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel stays
  • New! Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® Fee Credit
  • New! 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $100 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0 Intro for First Year, then $95
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

Show More

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Fair to Good Credit Recommended (580-740) ? CreditCards.com 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.
at Capital One's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
No current offer
Annual Fee
$39
Regular APR
24.99% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
  • Help strengthen your credit for the future with responsible card use
  • Get customized alerts and manage your account with the Capital One mobile app

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$39
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
24.99% (Variable)
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

Show More

Expedia®+ Voyager Card from Citi

Expedia®+ Voyager Card from Citi
Excellent Credit Recommended (740-850) ? CreditCards.com 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.
at Citi's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
25,000 points
?

Earn 25,000 Expedia+ bonus points after $2,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening*

Annual Fee
$95*
Regular APR
15.74% - 23.74% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • Earn 25,000 Expedia+ bonus points after $2,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening*
  • Points redeemable for $350 towards your stay at a +VIP Access™ hotel
  • 4 Expedia+ bonus points per $1 spent on eligible Expedia purchases including flights, hotels, activities and travel packages*
  • 2 Expedia+ bonus points per $1 spent on dining out and entertainment*
  • 1 Expedia+ bonus point per $1 spent on other purchases*
  • Enjoy Expedia+ gold status each year of cardmembership*
  • $100 Annual Air Travel Fee Statement Credit can be used toward airline incidentals or for either the Global Entry or the TSA Pre √® application fees*

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$95*
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
15.74% - 23.74%* (Variable)
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

Show More

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

British Airways Visa Signature® Card
Excellent Credit Recommended (740-850) ? CreditCards.com 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.
at Chase's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
Up To 100,000 points
?

50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Earn an additional 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $10,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening for a total of 75,000 bonus Avios. Earn a further 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening for a total of 100,000 bonus Avios.

Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn an additional 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $10,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening for a total of 75,000 bonus Avios.
  • Earn a further 25,000 bonus Avios after you spend $20,000 total on purchases within your first year from account opening for a total of 100,000 bonus Avios.
  • Every calendar year you make $30,000 in purchases on your British Airways Visa card, you’ll earn a Travel Together Ticket good for two years.
  • In addition to the bonus Avios, you will also get 3 Avios for every $1 spent on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad.
  • Chip Technology allows you to use your card for chip based purchases in Europe & beyond, while still giving you the ability to use your card as you do today at home.

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$95
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

Show More

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

2,937 Reviews

Excellent Credit Recommended (740-850) ? CreditCards.com 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.
at Chase's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
40,000 points
?

Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Annual Fee
$99
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn unlimited points that don't expire as long as your card account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions, Bags fly free® and no change fees
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events and more

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$99
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

Show More

Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card

Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Credit Card
Excellent Credit Recommended (740-850) ? CreditCards.com 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.
at Chase's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
75,000 points
?

Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Annual Fee
$95
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn 6X points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards & SPG hotels.
  • 2X points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Guaranteed Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year.
  • Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • Coming in 2019, 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • Earn unlimited Marriott Rewards points and get Free Night Stays faster.

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$95
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

Show More

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
Bad to Fair Credit Recommended (300-670) ? CreditCards.com 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.
at Capital One's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
No current offer
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
24.99% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, determined based on your creditworthiness
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It's a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
24.99% (Variable)
Intro Balance Transfers APR
N/A

View All Card Details

Show More

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature®  Card
Excellent Credit Recommended (740-850) ? CreditCards.com 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.
at Pentagon FCU's Secure Site

At A Glance

Intro Bonus
$100
?

$100 bonus after spending $1,500 in purchase transactions within 90 days of account opening.

Annual Fee
See Terms
Regular APR
11.24% - 17.99% variable

Show Less

Highlights

  • 0% APR promo balance transfer rate for 12 months now through September 30, 2018. After that, the APR for the unpaid balance and any new balance transfers will be 11.24% to 17.99%. APR will vary w/the market based on Prime Rate. 3% balance transfer fee per transaction. Subject to credit approval. $100 bonus after spending $1,500 in purchase transactions within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Rate and offers current as of June 1, 2018 and subject to change.
  • Earn 5 points on gas purchases at the pump. Fuel purchases for airplanes and boats do not receive cash back rewards.
  • Earn 3 points on supermarket purchases
  • Earn 1 point on all other purchases
  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No cash advance fee
  • Chip enabled for added security
  • Federally insured by NCUA
  • Variable rate as low As 11.24% APR

Rates & Fees

Annual Fee
See Terms
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Regular APR
11.24%-17.99% Variable
Intro Balance Transfers APR
0% for 12 months

View All Card Details

Show More


Back to top

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank's website for the most current information.

Comparing Credit Card Offers with No Foreign Transaction Fee

Updated: July 17, 2018

You just got back from a pricey trip abroad and while reviewing your credit card statement, you noticed the expected airfare, lodging and food charges, but also “foreign transaction fee” charges. What’s that all about?

Traveling is expensive enough. Save money with a credit card that has no foreign transaction fee. Whether you’re sampling local cuisine or shopping online abroad, these cards give you one less thing to worry about. And for even more travel perks, check out our list of travel cards from our partners.

Many credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee, but there are some that don’t. If you are a frequent traveler or shop online with overseas vendors, it might be worth your while to find a card without a foreign transaction fee. To get to our top picks, we evaluated over 50 credit cards without a foreign transaction fee using the following criteria: other rates and fees, general rewards rates, sign-up bonuses, point values, redemption options, customer service and other miscellaneous travel benefits. Here are our results, along with helpful tips to help you make a decision on the right card.

We not only explain what you need to know about foreign transaction fees, but also how to plan for your overseas travel financial strategy, and pick the right card to accompany your travels. Take a look below:

We not only explain what you need to know about foreign transaction fees, but also overseas travel and picking the right card. Take a look here.


Best no foreign transaction fee credit cards of 2018

Card NameBest For:Foreign Transaction FeeIssuer's Regular Foreign FeeAnnual Fee
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit CardOnline bonus0%3%$0
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit CardHotel purchases0%None$0 intro for first year, then $95
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardFlexible travel rewards0%3%$0 intro for first year, then $95
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® CardNo annual fee0%3%$0
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit CardEasy travel redemption0%None$0
Capital One® Quicksilver® CardFlat-rate cash back0%None$0
Discover it® Cash BackRotating bonus categories0%None$0
Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit CardFood and dining enthusiasts0%None$0
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit cardEasy sign-up bonus0%3%$0
Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard®Heavy spenders0%3%$150 (waived first year)

Methodology

No foreign transaction fee credit cards analyzed: 938

Criteria used: Rates and fees, rewards rates, rewards categories, sign-up bonuses, point values, redemption options, redemption flexibility, credit needed, travel benefits, transfer partners, international customer service, security, ease of application

Details on our top picks

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

The Bank of America Travel Rewards' 1.5X points on all purchases has the VentureOne Rewards beat, although the sign-up bonus of 20,000 points after a $1,000 spend within the first 90 days is comparable.

There's no expiration on points and you can earn up to 75% bonus if you are a Preferred Rewards customer. If you like the idea of redemptions on a multitude of travel purchases, no loyalty necessary, this is a good option.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

The Venture Rewards' greatest asset is now the 10X miles on hotels booked and paid through hotels.com/Venture. Also new to the card is the $100 credit for Global Entry or Pre-Check.

This card has a sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles after a $3,000 spend in the first 3 months of card membership, as well as 2X miles on all purchases. But it's this card's hotel rewards feature that puts it in its very own class.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Sapphire Preferred's 2X points on worldwide travel and restaurants not only includes hotels and airfare, but also taxis and trains. There's also the 50,000 points after a $4,000 spend in the first 3 months of card membership.

Because of the Sapphire Preferred's unique position as a Chase Ultimate Rewards card, you can earn a 25% bonus when redeeming points for travel on the Ultimate Rewards portal. You can also transfer rewards from Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards and still enjoy that boost. A little-known benefit of the Sapphire Preferred – you can get primary rental car waiver damage, which means this insurance is used even before your personal auto insurance.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

This card is a great option to take abroad. Not only does it come with no foreign transaction fee, its 3x points per dollar spent on travel (and dining) is a surefire way to rack up rewards on your business trip or vacation.

If you know you'll be making a major international trip soon, you'll want to take advantage of its 30K point sign-up bonus for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. By selecting this card over competing options, you could also save a great deal long-term as the Propel offers all of these benefits with no annual fee.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

With its hotels.com offer, this card pulls ahead of the pack, even with its lukewarm 1.25X miles on all purchases. There's a 20,000-mile sign-up bonus after $1,000 in the first 3 months of card membership, as well.

Miles don't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn. You also get Visa Signature benefits, such as extended warranty and complimentary concierge service.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Card

Capital One is competing head-on with the Wells Fargo Cash Wise with this card – $200 bonus after a $1,000 spend within 3 months of card membership and 1.5% back on all purchases.

What makes the Quicksilver pull ahead is that it has no foreign transaction fee, while the Cash Wise has a 3% foreign transaction charge, although the Cash Wise does have cellphone protection, if that's your thing.

Discover it® Cash Back

With Discover's famous double your rewards, this card's rewards are tough to beat. You can earn up to $300 for the year if you use the 5% rotating categories to the maximum of $1,500 a quarter (activation required), then another $300 back the end of your first year.

This card offers a 14-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers, with a regular variable APR of 13.74%-24.74%, making it start under the national average. Discover also advertises 100% U.S.-based customer service.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

An avid diner? This card's 3% back on unlimited dining is practically unmatched, given that there is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. And for the chef who likes to dine in, you can earn 2% back on groceries and 1% back on all other purchases.

The Savor also comes with a $150 bonus after $500 required spend within 3 months of card membership and 15-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers.

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

This card has the usual 1.5% back on all purchases and $150 bonus after a $500 spend in the first 3 months of card membership. What makes this card stand out from the others is the 10% anniversary bonus on all cash rewards each year.

Also, this cash rewards card separates itself with the no foreign transaction fee feature, which some cash back cards don't offer, as well as numerous travel and shopping benefits, including travel accident insurance and price protection refunds.

Barclays Arrival® Premier World Elite Mastercard®

This card is a ramped up version of the Arrival Plus, earning you the equivalent of 3X miles on your first $25,000 spent. Here's how it works: When you spend $25,000 each year, you earn 75,000 miles, after that it's 2X miles on all other purchases. It's basically like a sign-up bonus, but you have the opportunity to earn it each year, encouraging long-term loyalty.

There's also the increasingly popular $100 credit on Global Entry every five years and access to 850 airport lounges with Mastercard Airport Experience provided by LoungeKey (fees apply). Finally, the annual fee of $150 is waived the first year.

What is a foreign transaction fee?

Foreign transaction fees are charges – usually around 3 percent of the total amount – that many credit card issuers and payment networks place on purchases made in a foreign currency or on purchases that involve a foreign bank.

Usually, foreign transaction fees are a percentage of the amount of each foreign currency purchase, with no minimum or maximum. The card issuing bank may choose to pass that fee along to consumers; most do, and some tack on their own fees.

Banks can add foreign transaction fees onto any credit card charge that’s processed outside of the United States. These aren’t foreign exchange fees, so you can find these charges on your credit card statement even when you make overseas purchases in US dollars. In fact, you don’t even have to leave the country to get hit with foreign transaction fees; if you so much as place an online order from a foreign company, including something as innocuous as booking an airline ticket from a carrier that doesn’t have a US-based website — you could find yourself with an additional 3 percent fee rolled into the total cost of your transaction.

The bottom line is that, like baggage and passports, foreign transaction fees have been a standard part of international travel for years. Banks can get away with these fees… so they do, both ways: Our international counterparts are also being charged these fees on their foreign credit cards whenever they make purchases from US companies and on American soil.

Fortunately, the average consumer has gotten more and more savvy to these hidden costs, and credit card companies are dropping their fees in response.

If you’d like to avoid paying these unnecessary fees on any potential foreign transactions you make (including buying a postcard stamp in Canada) – you’ll want to consider a no foreign transaction fee card similar to the ones we introduce below. Here are the ins and outs of this fee, and advice on avoiding extra charges when traveling abroad.

How much is the typical foreign transaction fee?

Most foreign transaction fees vary between 2 percent and 3 percent of the purchase. Often, the fee has two parts: one charged by the payment network, such as Visa and Mastercard, and one charged by the card issuer, which can be anything from a bank like Chase, or a brand like Hilton.

Networks Visa and Mastercard typically charge a 1 percent fee for each foreign transaction. Issuers might tack on an additional 1 to 2 percent. American Express, which doesn’t use Visa or Mastercard’s payment system, often tacks on a foreign transaction fee of 2.7 percent onto its cards.

Again, a foreign transaction can be a purchase processed through a foreign bank (such as when you buy something from a non-U.S. retailer website), or when you travel overseas, including when you use an ATM. Note that there can actually be multiple fees at a foreign ATM, including a flat-rate international ATM surcharge as well as an ATM access fee.

Tips for spending internationally (before, during and after travel)

  • Diversify. “My biggest tip for spending overseas is to diversify; always carry both cash and credit,” says Lyn Alden, world traveler and founder of Lyn Alden Investment Strategy. “Credit cards are safer, more convenient and give better rewards, so I use them as my primary spending method. But when you're outside of your country, it's critical to have backups, and to have alternate ways to spend.” Some travel experts recommend that you carry 2 cards with different issuers and different networks.
  • Know your card terms. If you can't readily find information about foreign transaction fees, pick up the phone and call the number on the back of your card. It should also be displayed with your “rates and fees” clause. Note that terms of cards from the same issuer can vary. If you travel often, it may make sense to apply for a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees.
  • Research your overseas bank network. Check if your bank is part of a global ATM network that you can use to access cash overseas for free – or at least at a lower cost.
  • Always pay in the local currency. Sometimes, foreign merchants will offer to convert your purchase to U.S. dollars before you pay with your card. Decline so that you avoid dynamic currency conversion costs that you’ll have to shoulder. “So many places try to say ‘convenience,’ but the rate is not favorable to the traveler,” says travel blogger Suzanne Wolko of PhilaTravelGirl.com.
  • About those traveler's checks. “Don’t bother; they are too much of a hassle,” says Wolko.
  • Call your bank. Make sure they are aware that you may use your ATM card in the country you will be traveling to, says Wolko.
  • Use only credit abroad. Some travel experts actually advise that you not use a debit card in a foreign country. That’s because you are protected when there is an unauthorized charge on your credit card, and you might be protected if a product isn’t delivered as promised. A debit card, with your PIN, can mean free money for the bad guys, if your bank doesn’t have protections in place for you. Check with your financial institution.
  • Try local apps. Wolko advises that you use apps tied to your credit card to avoid dealing with cash or credit cards, such as Uber, Lyft or MyTaxi.

How to choose the right credit card with no foreign transaction fee

  1. Does the card fit your lifestyle? OneSavvyDollar.com founder Ogechi Igbokwe says he knew that once he graduated from grad school, he planned to travel overseas, so a card with no foreign transaction fee made sense.
  2. Does it come with an annual fee? Says Igbokwe: “Golden rule when making a purchase: The cost of getting a thing must never outweigh the benefit.” So, make sure you will recoup on the annual fee or that the card has an advantage that makes the fee worthwhile.
  3. Is it widely accepted? “A no foreign transaction fee card is only good if it is accepted everywhere you go,” says Natasha Rachel Smith of TopCashback.com. For example, she says, while 2 of the major card networks are less common outside of the U.S., Visa and Mastercard are more popular overseas.
  4. Any rewards? Because there is such a wide range of cards offering no foreign transaction fee, you’ll want to look at rewards that are offered. However, “Prior to applying for any card, check the terms and conditions to make sure the card allows you to receive rewards on international purchases,” says Smith.
  5. What other features are there? Krista Canfield McNish, of travel website and blog FoodWaterShoes.com, has a card that covers up to $1,500 in trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance per trip for nonrefundable expenses due to personal or family injury, illness, or death if you booked your trip with your card, which she says is a handy bonus. “I also love that the card doesn’t require me to call [the issuer] or to log in online to notify them of upcoming travel before I take off,” McNish says.
  6. Chip and PIN or chip and signature? Most U.S.-based cards are chip and signature (for now), while in other parts of the world, such as Europe, they use chip and PIN. Both are designed for increased safety. (If your card is exclusively magnetic stripe, (the old, common system) that could be an issue for overseas travel – best to apply for a card that carries the chip technology, called EMV.) For the most part, chip and signature will work fine overseas, provided there is a cashier, but if this is an issue for you, check with your bank to see if your card uses a PIN.
  7. Have you done your research? “Keep in mind that not every country is U.S. credit card-friendly (for example, European cards are more likely to work in countries like Cuba than U.S. credit cards), so it's a good idea to do your homework before you take off,” says McNish.

What our experts are saying

Credit card holders are typically charged foreign transaction fees when they purchase items while overseas or when they make purchases that use an overseas bank to process the transaction.

Why? “Because banks have to convert your money spent into U.S. dollars so they can charge your account,” said Victoria L. Fillet, a financial adviser with Blueprint Financial Planning in Hoboken, New Jersey. That conversion costs money, and some card-issuing banks pass that cost along to consumers in the form of foreign transaction fees.

According to Nessa Feddis, vice president and senior counsel for the American Bankers Association, foreign transaction fees also help banks offset the greater fraud risks associated with international transactions. "There are risks and costs associated with any money conversion,” she said.

This trend of disappearing foreign transaction fees is expected to continue, according to industry experts, which is good news for consumers.

“It’s called ‘competition,’” ABA’s Feddis said. “Cards without foreign transaction fees are widely available in a highly competitive market as banks fight to attract and keep customers. For people who don’t travel abroad it may not be important, but there are many for whom it might be very important. So you will see banks respond. It’s the customers who drive the credit card features and terms.”

Want more information?

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!

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, we ask that you do not disclose confidential or personal information such as your bank account number, phone number, or email address. Keep in mind that anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by the card issuers or advertisers. Additionally, the card issuer or advertiser does not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.