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A guide to no foreign transaction fee credit cards
No foreign transaction fee credit cards can save you a ton of money in fees and give you access to a range of travel perks. As always, it’s essential that you travel enough and spend in ways that actually justify having the card. Here, we explore how no foreign transaction fee credit cards work, plus how to compare the value in rewards and perks.
Comparing the best no foreign transaction fee credit cards
|Credit Card||Best For:||Annual Fee||Creditcards.com’s Review Score|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||Sign-up bonus + general travel rewards||$95||4.1 / 5|
|Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card||Travel rewards||$0||3.7 / 5|
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card||Cash back||$0||3.0 / 5|
|Citi Premier® Card||Hotel rewards||$95||4.3 / 5|
|Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card||Flat rate rewards||$0||3.6 / 5|
|Discover it® Cash Back||Rotating bonus categories||$0||4.5 / 5|
|Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card||Marriott rewards||$0||3.3 / 5|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||International travelers||$550||4.5 / 5|
|Discover it® Miles||New cardholders||$0||3.7 / 5|
|American Express® Gold Card||No blackout dates||$250 ||4.5 / 5|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Lounge access||$695||4.4 / 5|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||Sign-up bonus||$95||4.1 / 5|
Editor’s picks: No foreign transaction fee credit card details
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Best for sign-up bonus + general travel rewards
Why we picked it: This top Chase credit card has everything you need in a travel rewards credit card: a generous base rewards program (2X points on restaurant and travel purchases; 1X points on general purchases), uber-lucrative sign-up bonus (100,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months), and, of course, no foreign transaction fees.
Pros: The current sign-up bonus is the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s best-ever offer, worth around $1,250 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can also rack up even more points by taking advantage of Chase’s referral bonus policy; It lets you earn up to 75,000 Ultimate Rewards points per year by referring a friend for the card (15,000 points per approval).
Cons: There is a $95 annual fee, not waived the first year, which might be more than some cardholders are willing to pay.
Who should apply? If you’re on the hunt for a travel rewards credit card and you don’t mind paying a small (for the category) annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred allows you to accrue Ultimate Rewards points quickly.
Who should skip? This well-rounded card has broad appeal but the spend required to earn the bonus may be out of reach for someone on a tight budget.
Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred Card review.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card: Best for travel rewards
Why we picked it: The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card makes travel rewards even more accessible by allowing you to redeem your points as a statement credit for any travel purchase made on the card within the last 12 months. Plus, you can earn 25,000 welcome bonus points after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of card membership.
Pros: A rewards rate of 1.5 points per dollar spent makes it easy to stack up travel rewards, even if you’re not already a frequent traveler. If you’re already a Preferred Rewards member, you may be able to boost your rewards by 25% to 75%, depending on your account balance.
Cons: The rate for cash redemptions is disappointingly low at .6 cents per point.
Who should apply: With an easily attainable welcome bonus and flexible flat-rate rewards program, this is a great card for travelers who can’t be bothered to keep track of spend categories. Bank of America customers can earn even more through the Bank of America Travel Center.
Who should skip? Someone hoping for a long list of fancy travel perks may be disappointed in this simple flat-rate card. Big spenders could potentially earn more with a card that rewards for specific bonus categories.
Read our Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card review.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for cash back
Why we picked it: The Quicksilver is an easy-to-understand rewards card: It gets unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and has a sign-up bonus of $200 for spending $500 in the first three months. As an added welcome, this flat-rate card offers a 0% intro APR offer on purchases for 15 months (15.49% to 25.49% variable rate thereafter) – a perfect window to purchase a trip to be paid off in increments while temporarily avoiding interest. In addition, this card charges no annual fee.
Pros: The rewards program is incredibly flexible. There’s no expiration and no cap on rewards earned. Rewards are redeemable at any amount.
Cons: While its flexible, simple rewards and achievable intro offer make this an easy-to-use card, there are more valuable rewards out there for experienced cardholders.
Who should apply: Travelers with good to excellent credit (a score of 670 or higher) who prefer an uncomplicated rewards program will be pleased with this flat-rate, no-foreign-transaction-fee card. Plus, the intro APR offer makes it a great choice for anyone plotting a big post-vaccination bucket list getaway to be paid off over time.
Who should skip? High rollers would be better off with a card that offers more valuable rewards in specific bonus categories.
Read our Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card review.
Citi Premier® Card: Best for hotel rewards
Why we picked it: You’ll not only earn 3X points per dollar spent at hotels, but this versatile card offers the same rewards rate for purchases at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations and air travel. Also, once a year, get $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, when you book through thankyou.com or 1-800-THANKYOU.
Pros: The annual fee is quite low, at $95, for the rewards you get, which include a sign-up bonus of 80,000 points after a $4,000 spend within the first three months. Another perk of this card is its concierge service for help with bookings, something usually only available with premium cards with much higher fees.
Cons: There aren’t many, although anyone hoping to rake in the rewards on everyday purchases may be less than thrilled with the 1X per dollar rate. Plus, all travel must be booked directly through Citi.
Who should apply: This card offers a lot of value for globetrotters who regularly dine out, order take out, gas up the car or book hotels and flights. It’s even better if you’re an existing Citi client and are already familiar with its ThankYou Points program.
Who should skip? This is a great high-value card with no foreign transaction fees and a high rewards rate on everyday purchases. Again, there’s not much to dislike about this card, but infrequent travelers and homebodies may miss out on some of its best perks.
Read our Citi Premier® Card review.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Best for flat rewards rate
Why we picked it: The VentureOne offers travelers a 1.25X miles rate on all purchases, plus no annual fee. Miles don’t expire for the life of the account and there’s no limit to how much you can earn with this card. To welcome new cardholders, Capital One awards 20,000 miles after spending $500 in the first three months (a $200 value towards travel).
Pros: On top of all the great travel benefits, this card comes with an intro 0% APR offer on purchases for 12 months, followed by a regular APR of 15.49% to 25.49% (variable). You also get fraud coverage and emergency card services.
Cons: Travelers may feel a tad underwhelmed by the list of airline partners, which so far excludes any major domestic carriers.
Who should apply: Anyone on the hunt for a no-foreign-transaction-fee rewards card with no annual fee, with good to excellent credit (a score of 670 or higher).
Who should skip? Again, those who typically fly domestic and prefer to stick to legacy carriers will be disappointed by this card’s airline partners. Bigger spenders may find more value in a card with bonus categories.
Read our Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card review.
Discover it® Cash Back: Best for rotating bonus categories
Why we picked it: One of a select few offering its level of rewards, the Discover it Cash Back offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in spend each quarter on rotating categories such as restaurants, wholesale clubs and even online retailers (activation required). After hitting the $1,500 threshold in a quarter, the rewards rate drops to 1% (the same as all other purchases). Your earnings will be matched at the end of your first year as a cardholder thanks to Discover’s Cashback Match™, which can reward moderate spending with as much as $600 cash back when capitalizing on rotating categories (when you hit the required spend threshold each quarter). One thing to remember is that you’ll have to enroll for the boosted rewards before each quarter.
Pros: There are plenty of options when it comes to redeeming rewards, including gift cards, account credits and more. Also, the cash back rate is one of the best available.
Cons: Due to limited international availability, travelers should research whether Discover is accepted where they’re traveling.
Who should apply: This versatile cash back card is a good match for travelers willing to be strategic in their spending. If you think you’ll have difficulty keeping up with rotating categories, you might be better served by a flat-rate card.
Who should skip? If keeping track of bonus categories sounds like a tedious chore, you may be better off with an unfussy flat-rate card.
Read our Discover it® Cash Back review.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card: Best for Marriott rewards
Why we picked it: With no annual fee, the Marriott Bonvoy Bold rewards both for loyalty spending and general travel spending. Earn up to 14X points at over 7,000 hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™. Also, earn 2 points for every dollar spent on other travel purchases, including airfare, taxis and trains. Earn 30,000 points after a $1,000 spend within the first three months.
Pros: The broad list of airline partners combined with Marriott’s huge network of global properties make this an especially attractive card for world travelers.
Cons: It isn’t always easy to find room availability despite the fact that there aren’t technically any blackout dates. That can be especially problematic during busy periods like, say, a post-vaccination travel boom.
Who should apply: Marriott loyalists looking for a fast-track to status can’t go wrong with this no-annual-fee card.
Who should skip? Someone who rarely stays at Marriott properties won’t fully enjoy the perks of this card.
Read our Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card review.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best for international travelers
Why we picked it: Unlike most, this card features an annual travel credit of $300 for cardholders to spend anywhere in the world. The Sapphire Reserve rewards cardholders with 3X points on travel and 3X points on dining after going through your travel credit, plus 10X points on Lyft through March 2022 and 1X points elsewhere. The $550 annual fee may give you pause. But here’s the kicker: Points are unlimited, don’t expire and receive a 50% boost on travel rewards when redeeming through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
Pros: As a sign-up bonus, Chase offers 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. That means your sign-up bonus is worth $900 when you redeem for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
Cons: Besides the high annual fee, it’s hard to find fault with such a well-rounded card. Redemption options are pretty versatile, yes, but there is a lower rewards value when it comes to merchandise.
Who should apply: Jetsetters who spend enough on dining and travel to justify the high annual fee can get a lot back in travel protections and premium frills.
Who should skip? Infrequent travelers may not get to use the full range of benefits included with this card, and the high annual fee will deter folks on a budget.
Read our Chase Sapphire Reserve® review.
Discover it® Miles: Best for new cardholders
Why we picked it: The solid 1.5X miles earned on all purchases can really add up, plus your miles matched at the end of your first year.
Pros: The lack of annual fees, foreign transaction fees and miles limits plus the flexible redemption options make for a powerhouse travel card for beginners.
Cons: While this may not be a total dealbreaker for budget travelers and newbie cardholders, miles can’t be transferred to airline loyalty programs
Who should apply: If you’re looking for a travel credit card but you don’t want to get locked into confusing points offers or an annual fee, the Discover it Miles just may have what you’re looking for.
Who should skip? Travelers who typically fly one airline or a specific airline alliance may be better off with a co-branded card that offers more carrier-specific perks.
Read our Discover it® Miles review.
American Express® Gold Card: Best for no blackout dates
Why we picked it: Not only does the American Express Gold Card offer no blackout dates, it provides cardholders with bountiful rewards and hard-to-miss bonus categories. Earn a welcome offer of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 within the first six months of card membership. Also, earn 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1X point). Finally, earn 4X points at restaurants, including takeout and delivery, 4X points on Uber Eats purchases, as well as 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. While the annual fee of $250 may make you hesitate, these rewards are bodacious.
Pros: With the exception of the $25,000 cap on rewards earned via U.S. supermarket purchases, there are no points limits. Better still, points don’t expire and can be applied to just a portion of qualifying travel purchases if you so choose.
Cons: Yes, the $250 annual fee is a little on the high side but well worth it once you consider the potential rewards.
Who should apply: This card will benefit travelers who spend a good bit at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets and prefer to redeem rewards on travel versus cash back.
Who should skip? Both the annual fee and welcome offer threshold may be a little high for someone on a budget.
Read our American Express® Gold Card review.
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for lounge access
Why we picked it: With the Platinum Card in your wallet, you’ll enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, which Amex says is the only card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary locations around the world. The high-end card also offers flexibility while traveling, with 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year) and 5X points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. This option also features unlimited points that won’t expire, a welcome offer of 100,000 points after a $6,000 spend within the first six months and no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).
Pros: For those able to meet the spend threshold, the welcome offer is a whopper. Plus, points never expire and there are no caps on earning them. Travelers will also appreciate the range of travel partners, including Delta Air Lines.
Cons: The Platinum Card does not come cheap – bringing along a $695 annual fee – but does its best to directly make up for it with up to a $100 fee credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck, and Uber and hotel credits (enrollment required).
Who should apply: Those willing to shell out the $695 annual fee will certainly get their money’s worth in top-notch travel perks including lounge access, Hilton Honors gold status, and a number of handy travel protections. If you’re constantly on the go, these benefits can be enormously useful.
Who should skip? This card certainly brings the perks but at an annual fee that infrequent travelers will find too high to justify.
Read our review of The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Best for sign-up bonus
Why we picked it: The Venture Rewards’ sign-up bonus is straightforward and plentiful – earn 60,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. It does come with a $95 annual fee, but this card also offers 2X miles on all purchases, plus convenient features like a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit and easily transferable miles.
Pros: For international travelers, the Venture card boasts an impressive roster of airline partners including Avianca, Etihad, Turkish Airlines and more. Plus, there are no blackout dates, no expiration dates and no limits on earning miles.
Cons: Miles transfer at a less-than-ideal 2:1.5 ratio with most transfer partners, and the Venture’s list of airline partners in the U.S. is limited.
Who should apply: Big spenders who regularly go abroad will find a lot to love about this versatile card beyond the sign up bonus.
Who should skip? If you travel just a few times a year and tend to stick to domestic trips, you won’t get full use of this card’s great international perks.
Read our Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review.
What is a foreign transaction fee?
Foreign transaction fees are charges that credit card issuers and payment networks place on purchases made in a foreign currency or on purchases that involve a foreign bank. Usually, a foreign transaction fee is around 3% of the purchase price. So for every $100 you spend, you would have to pay an extra $3 in foreign transaction fees.
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.
Further reading: Learn more about foreign transaction fees and how to avoid them.
How to choose the right credit card with no foreign transaction fee
- Make sure the card fits your lifestyle. Before anything else, you want to be certain that a new credit card is affordable, your typical purchases are rewarded and that any additional benefits serve your needs.
- Check for additional fees. Even if you’re saving on foreign purchases, an insurmountable annual fee or extreme penalty fees may be cause to look elsewhere for certain cardholders. A few no foreign transaction fee credit cards come with hefty annual fees, something to look for if you’re not a heavy spender or luxury traveler.
- Check where the card is accepted. When looking to apply for a card to take on your travels, be sure it’s accepted in the countries you’re interested in exploring. Most options have widespread acceptance, but it’s especially important to check if you’re looking to spend in Africa, Asia and lesser-traveled parts of the world.
- Find rewards that fit you. With such a wide range of cards offering no foreign transaction fee, you’ll want to look at the variety of rewards being offered. Where you spend most often is where you want to be rewarded, so search for a card that hits on the categories that fill up your budget. Plus, you may want to make sure the card allows for rewards on international purchases.
- Note any additional benefits. Thanks to the nature of no foreign transaction fee cards, many options give cardholders perks that make travel a bit easier. Add-ons like free checked luggage, priority boarding, trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance and more are common with these cards; looking through all your options may reveal a benefit you didn’t know you needed.
Which credit cards are the most internationally accepted?
While Visa is number one in most parts of the world, Mastercard and UnionPay are usually next in line, according to 2020 data from The Nilson Report. Visa and Mastercard have a long-established international presence – both are accepted by tens of millions of vendors across 200+ countries and territories worldwide. The big exceptions to the Visa/Mastercard dominance are Asia, where UnionPay makes up about 70% of all card spending, and Canada, where Interac comes in second with 47% of the market there.
When traveling, a good rule of thumb is to diversify the credit cards you’re carrying. That means you should carry cards from more than one issuer and network, just in case your favorite card isn’t accepted.
Foreign transaction fees by card issuer
Below are the standard foreign transaction fees for top issuers. Some issuers, like Capital One and Discover, elect not to charge a foreign transaction fee on any of their credit cards. Of course, even different cards from the same brand can vary in their fees.
Do I need a chip-and-PIN card for foreign transactions?
It’s a good idea for overseas travelers to have a chip-and-PIN card, but not necessarily a requirement.
Until a few years ago, U.S.-issued cards were swiped using magnetic stripe technology. Now, like Europe, our credit cards have an EMV chip. What happens after you insert the chip differs depending on where you are. While U.S. merchants will usually ask for your signature, European merchants may ask for a four-digit PIN.
The PIN provides an added layer of security and may be required at some overseas vendors — for example, at European train kiosks. However, the problem was more widespread when the technology first emerged. Nowadays, most merchants can bypass the pin portion of the transaction if you don’t have one.
How we picked the best no foreign transaction fee credit cards
- Rewards: rates, type, ease of redemption: There are a variety of people who can benefit from avoiding foreign transaction fees, from small business owners to travel enthusiasts. We chose credit cards with high rewards rates in spending categories to match, like business rewards and travel benefits.
- Travel perks: One reason you may be hoping to avoid foreign transaction fees is that you have international travel plans. Some of the travel perks you’ll find among our top credit cards with no foreign transaction fee include free checked bags, rental car insurance, airport lounge access and TSA PreCheck credits.
- Sign-up bonus/welcome offer value: Many of the best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees also come with lucrative sign-up bonuses or welcome offers. We compared the value of cash back, airline mile and point bonuses to ensure you’re getting the most overall value from these picks.
Number of no foreign transaction fee cards we analyzed: 938
All 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.
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