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A guide to no foreign transaction fee credit cards
If you travel a lot or make overseas purchases from the comfort of your home, no foreign transaction fee credit cards can save you a lot of money in fees and give you access to a range of travel perks. 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|
|Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card||Travel rewards||$0||3.7 / 5|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||Sign-up bonus||$95||4.1 / 5|
|Discover it® Cash Back||Rotating bonus categories||$0||4.5 / 5|
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card||Cash back||$0||3.1 / 5|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||Sign-up bonus + general travel rewards||$95||4.3 / 5|
|Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card||Flat rate rewards||$0||3.4 / 5|
|Discover it® Miles||New cardholders||$0||3.7 / 5|
|Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card||Marriott rewards||$0||3.3 / 5|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Lounge access||$695||4.4 / 5|
|Citi Premier® Card||Hotel rewards||$95||4.3 / 5|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||International travelers||$550||4.3 / 5|
|American Express® Gold Card||No blackout dates||$250 ||4.5 / 5|
Editor’s picks: No foreign transaction fee credit card details
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. On top of all that, there’s no foreign transaction fee.
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 Bank of America 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 0.6 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 or jump back to this card’s offer details.
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: 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 or jump back to this card’s offer details.
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.
Who should skip? If you think you’ll have difficulty keeping up with rotating categories, you might be better served by a flat-rate credit card.
Read our Discover it® Cash Back review or jump back to this card’s offer details.
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 (14.99% to 24.99% 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: Its flexible rewards and intro offer make this an easy-to-use card, but there are more valuable rewards out there for experienced cardholders.
Who should apply: Travelers with good or 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 or jump back to this card’s offer 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. Cardmembers get a generous base rewards program of 5X points on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, 3X points on dining and 2X points on other travel purchases (1X points on general purchases). There’s also a lucrative sign-up bonus (60,000 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 worth $750 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 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points per year by referring a friend for the card (20,000 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 one of the best travel credit cards 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 or jump back to this card’s offer details.
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 bonus 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 and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a regular APR of 14.99% to 24.99% (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 with good or excellent credit (a score of 670 or higher) who is on the hunt for a rewards card with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee
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 or jump back to this card’s offer details.
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 are 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 new 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 or jump back to this card’s offer details.
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 from account opening.
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 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 or jump back to this card’s offer details.
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 states has over 1,300 airport lounges in 140 countries. 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 credit card 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 or jump back to this card’s offer details.
Citi Premier® Card: Best for hotel rewards
Why we picked it: You’ll not only earn 3X points per dollar spent on air travel and at hotels, but this versatile card offers the same rewards rate for purchases at restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations. 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 of $95 is quite low 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: 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? There’s not much to dislike about this card, but infrequent travelers may miss out on some of its best perks.
Read our Citi Premier® Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.
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. And when purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, you can earn 10X points on hotels and car rentals as well as 5X points on air travel. You can even earn 3X points on other travel and dining purchases and 1X points elsewhere. (The 10X, 5X and 3X travel rewards rate only applies after you earn your $300 travel credit.) And 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 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. That means your sign-up bonus is worth $750 when you redeem for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
Cons: This is a well-rounded card, but it comes with a high annual fee of $550. And despite the versatile redemption options (including travel, cash, and gift cards), there is a lower rewards value when you redeem for cash, gift cards or merchandise than when you redeem for travel booked through Chase.
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 or jump back to this card’s offer details.
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 like a welcome offer of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months of card membership. You’ll also earn 4X points in the following categories: at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1X point), restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and on Uber Eats purchases. There’s also 3X points earned on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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.
Cons: The $250 annual fee is a little on the high side but could be 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 or jump back to this card’s offer details.
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. 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.
Usually, a credit card foreign transaction fee is around 3% of the purchase price. Of that 3%, your card issuer typically charges 2% for processing the transaction and the remaining 1% is for converting the transaction from one currency to another. To put this in perspective, a $100 purchase would cost you an additional $3 in foreign transaction fees.
Which credit cards work internationally?
You won’t have trouble using your credit card at home. In the U. S., the four major credit card networks – Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover – have an acceptance rate of 99% or higher among merchants who accept credit cards. But it’s a different story overseas.
According to their respective websites, Visa, Mastercard, and Discover are accepted in over 200 countries and territories around the world. But Visa and Mastercard are more widely accepted at over 70 million merchant locations compared to Discover’s network of over 50 million merchants. And while American Express has made great strides to increase its international presence beyond 160 countries, it still doesn’t match the power of Visa or Mastercard.
But that doesn’t mean your Discover or American Express card won’t provide tremendous value when traveling abroad or making purchases with a foreign bank. It’s just a good idea to have a backup plan, which should include carrying a Visa or Mastercard, as well as your debit card for cash withdrawals and that rare occasion when a merchant doesn’t accept any credit card.
Pros and cons of a no foreign transaction fee credit card
Pros of a no foreign transaction fee credit card
- You can rack up rewards. Some credit cards with no foreign transaction fees offer cash back rewards on popular spending categories in addition to travel cards offering points and miles.
- You’ll have access to travel perks. Along with base rewards and no foreign transaction fees, premium travel credit cards typically offer trip cancellation insurance, supplemental auto insurance, free checked bags, airport lounge access and other notable amenities.
- You’ll get a fair exchange rate. When you get your statement after buying something with a credit card in a foreign country, you’ll see that the charge has been converted to U.S. dollars. Your payment network will take care of the conversion, and you can usually be confident that you’re getting a fair exchange rate.
Cons of a no foreign transaction fee credit card
- You may need to pay an annual fee. Annual fees are common among mid-tier and premium travel credit cards, which often don’t charge foreign transaction fees. When evaluating whether to get a card that carries an annual fee, it’s important to determine whether that fee can be offset or recouped with reward earnings, added perks, or if you can shoulder the added cost.
- Your payment network may not have coverage. While Visa and Mastercard payment networks seem to be everywhere, some regions don’t accept certain credit card networks. When it’s time to travel, take credit cards from at least two different networks and always have cash on hand.
How to choose a no foreign transaction fee credit card
Who should get a no foreign transaction fee credit card
- The frequent international traveler. If you travel abroad somewhat regularly, credit card charges for foreign currency transactions can have a significant impact on your personal finances.
- The international online shopper. You don’t necessarily have to travel in order to rack up foreign transaction fees. For someone who routinely shops at international online shops, those fees can really sting, especially once you factor in foreign shipping expenses.
Who should skip a no foreign transaction fee credit card
- The balance carrier. Some cards in this category have APRs that are usually on the higher end of average, which can mean a lot when it comes to carrying a balance on the card and what purchases you make abroad. Make sure to be aware of what you’ll be charged if you can’t pay your bills off in full each month.
How to make the most of a no foreign transaction fee credit card
- Contact your bank before you travel. Make sure to notify your bank before you travel, as banks will often freeze an account on suspicion of fraud if they detect unusual activity, such as a purchase being made thousands of miles from the cardholder’s address.
- Come prepared with multiple cards. Whether you’re traveling domestically or abroad, your ability to use a credit card at a merchant depends on whether the merchant accepts that card’s payment network. If you’re planning to travel internationally and your primary card is American Express or Discover, it’s best to bring along a Visa or Mastercard as a backup.
- Know how your rewards programs define “travel.” It’s important to pay attention to the specifics to get the most from your rewards credit card. Many rewards cards offer bonus points on smaller travel purchases, but issuers have their own definitions of travel. Some issuers put expenses such as rideshares and parking fees in the travel category, while others don’t.
Foreign transaction fees by card issuer
Below are the standard credit card 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. Nowadays, however, 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 credit card 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.
More information on credit cards with no foreign transaction fees