No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards 2015

Posted by CreditCardGuru

Foreign transaction fees can make a trip even more expensive. In addition to what you’re already spending on souvenirs and meals out, you’re paying an extra 2 percent or 3 percent to your bank every time you swipe your card – and more than canceling out any rewards you’d get.

But if you have a card in your arsenal that doesn’t charge these fees, you don’t have to worry when you leave the country. These days, there are plenty of options – read on for a selection of good cards for travelers that waive foreign transaction fees (as of January 2015).foreign currency from various countries

Note: If you’re going abroad, having a card with EMV smart chip technology can make life easier. Cards with this type of chip are the norm in many other countries, and, if your card doesn’t have one, you might not be able to use it at certain retailers and kiosks. Many point-of-sale terminals abroad (especially those in large tourist destinations) are compatible with magnetic stripes — although you might need to know enough of the language to explain to a confused cashier what to do. You’d think that cards designed for travel (especially those that go so far as to waive foreign transaction fees) would come equipped with these chips – but some don’t.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards

Out of all the major players in the credit card world, Capital One is the only issuer that hasn’t ever succumbed to charging foreign transaction fees. None of their cards charge foreign transaction fees, but, for travelers, the best option is the Venture (available in two versions). Go here to compare the Venture cards side by side. The only problem? Cap One doesn’t yet provide cards with EMV chips.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire PreferredIn addition to this card having no foreign transaction fees, there are other reasons it’s good for travelers. You earn an unlimited 2 points per dollar on travel expenses, 2 points on dining and 1 point on all other purchases. You can redeem your points for almost anything (including cash back). However the best way to use your points is for air or hotel expenses because Chase gives you 25 percent more value that way. For example 10,000 points = $100 cash back — or $125 towards airfares and hotel rooms when you book through Ultimate Rewards. The bonus offer right now is ridiculously lucrative.

Discover it

Discover itA year ago Discover decided to drop the foreign transaction fee on all of their credit cards. Their international acceptance is poor in Europe (and the cards don’t have EMV chips), but they’re an excellent (actually, the best) choice for the following countries:

  • China: Because they’re accepted everywhere China UnionPay is, Discover is actually the most widely accepted credit card in China.
  • Japan: Can be used anywhere that takes JCB (which is the largest card network in Japan)
  • South Korea: Use anywhere that takes BC card (South Korea’s largest card network)

Even though Diners Club is now a dud in the United States, they’re still quite popular in some South American and European countries. Since Discover bought Diners Clubs’ international payment network about five years ago, you can now use your Discover card at any foreign merchant that accepts Diners Club.
Check out this review of Discover’s 5 percent cash back program.

American Express Platinum

American Express PlatinumIf you want a high-end travel credit card with no foreign transaction fees, then AmEx Platinum is in a class of its own. If you don’t travel much, it won’t be worth it because of the $450 membership fee. However, even for the occasional traveler, the value of the benefits can trump the fee many times over. For example, you get more than $450 worth of benefits every time you stay at 700+ high-end hotels across the globe (get free room upgrades, food/drink/spa credits, etc.). This is why it’s a favorite not only for foreign travel, but also domestic. Here is our detailed review of the American Express Platinum.

Keep in mind: If you go with any AmEx card besides this one, the Delta Gold, the Delta Platinum, the Delta Reserve or the invite-only Centurion, expect to pay a foreign transaction fee of 2.7 percent.

American Express is a CreditCardForum advertising partner.

Marriott Rewards Premier

Marriott Rewards PremierA couple years ago, Chase and Marriott decided to improve the credit card program, and now it’s one of the best out there if you regularly or even occasionally stay at Marriott properties. You earn 5 points per dollar at 3,800 Marriott locations; 2 points on airline ticket purchases directly with airlines, car rental agencies and restaurants; and 1 point elsewhere. Plus, the card has an EMV chip. The annual fee is $85, waived the first year.

Use this link to earn 50,000 bonus points (awarded after you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months from account opening).

United MileagePlus Explorer

United MileageplusChase has waived foreign transaction fees across the entire suite of United MileagePlus cards, although none of them have EMV chips yet. The MileagePlus Explorer, which has the lowest annual fee ($95, waived the first year), gets you 2 miles per dollar spent with United, 1 mile per dollar everywhere else and a bunch of travel perks, including waived baggage fees (for the first bag), priority boarding and two free tickets to the United Club lounge each year.

Right now, you can get 30,000 bonus miles (after spending $1,000 in the first three months) if you snag this offer.

British Airways Visa Signature

British airways visa signatureConsidering this card is affiliated with an international carrier, it should come as no surprise that it waives foreign transaction fees and comes with an EMV chip. You get 2.5 Avios for every dollar spent with British Airways and 1.25 Avios per dollar spent elsewhere. You can use your points stateside, too, as you can redeem your Avios to book reward travel on American Airlines. The annual fee is $95.

If you apply now, there’s an offer for 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $2,000 on purchases within three months of opening your account.

BankAmericard Travel rewards

BankAmericard Travel RewardsThis card has no annual fee and allows you to earn 1.5 points per dollar spent (or 3 points per dollar spent on BofA’s Travel Rewards Center). Those points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed to offset the full or partial cost of travel purchases made with the card. It has an embedded EMV chip and a sign-up bonus of 10,000 points after you make $500 in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening. You can get that bonus by applying here.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit CardWhile Southwest is just beginning to broach international travel (it recently announced plans to expand service to Aruba, Jamaica and Mexico), it already waives foreign transaction fees on its Rapid Rewards Premier card. You’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent with Southwest, as well as with Southwest’s hotel and car rental partners — and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Each year the account stays open, you’ll get an anniversary gift of 6,000 points. The card carries an annual fee of $99 and does not have an EMV chip.
Right now, there’s an offer of 25,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening your card. You can apply for it here.

Delta SkyMiles American Express cards

gold-delta-skymilesAmerican Express is now waiving foreign transaction fees on its Delta co-branded Gold, Platinum and Reserve cards. All three cards give you 2 SkyMiles per dollar on Delta purchases, but each has different benefits, sign-up bonuses and annual fees.

Compare all three cards here.

Wells Fargo Propel 365 and Propel World

Wells Fargo Propel 365Both of these cards (which debuted May 2014) waive foreign transaction fees. Only the World version has an EMV chip, however. Each of the cards has its own unique bonus structure and benefits. You can learn more about them by reading our review.

PenFed Travel Rewards card

PenfedNot just the Travel Rewards card waives foreign transaction fees — all of PenFed’s credit cards do. This one, however, gets you 5 points on airfare purchases (if you buy tickets directly from the airline) and 1 point on otherpurchases. Strangely enough, although this card is designed for travelers, it doesn’t have an EMV chip, even though several of PenFed’s other card offerings do.

PenFed, being a credit union, also has some membership requirements. If you aren’t in the United States Military and Uniformed Services (or another qualifying organization), you have to make a small donation to join either the National Military Family Association or Voices for America’s troops. Read our PenFed Travel Rewards card review for more pros and cons.

Other cards’ foreign transaction fees

Most credit cards charge between 1 percent and 3 percent for foreign transactions. But just to give you an idea of how they compare, here’s a list — ranging from the highest to lowest – of what each issuer normally charges for the majority of their cards (obviously the above cards are exceptions):

3 percent fee for most Bank of America Visa & MasterCards, Citi, Chase, HSBC, US Bank, Wells Fargo, Fifth-Third Bank, Barclaycard

2.7 percent fee for all American Express cards that don’t waive foreign transaction fees

2 percent fee for Comerica, Bank of America AAA Member Rewards

1 percent fee for USAA, Navy Federal, Bank of America Virgin Atlantic MasterCard

Written or last updated Jan. 13, 2015

Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

19 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Zodess June 3, 2014 at 7:22AM

    Bank of America started charging a 3% conversion fee in November 2013.
    EverBank charges only a 1% conversion fee, and NO ATM fees in the United States or Europe.
    Watch out for ATM fees. Even if you’re charged nothing for conversion fees, your money can still get eaten up by ATM fees.

  2. jack May 16, 2014 at 7:19PM

    United does not wave the foreign currency transaction fee contrary to the above info. I just called and was informed that that is only applicable to the Explorer card ($95 annual fee)

  3. SeaDoc May 5, 2014 at 10:24PM

    One card left out with no foreign transaction fees is the Chase Business Ink card… Works like a charm…

  4. Edi Matzel April 26, 2014 at 11:27AM

    I was really interested in the Hawaiian Card, but the charge an annual fee of $89. With the money they make off of us in interest, the fee is just too much.

  5. Anonymous April 12, 2014 at 12:43AM

    The regular (and slightly less rewarding) Chase Sapphire has no annual fee, but still waives foreign transaction fees. Both versions of the card have chip technology.

    ^this is wrong

    • E June 24, 2014 at 11:05AM

      Is this wrong? Chase Safire does not waive foreign transaction fee?

      • Kristin McGrath June 24, 2014 at 2:42PM

        Thanks for catching that! We’ve updated the article.

      • TX July 23, 2014 at 11:58PM

        He means the part about “both versions have chip technology” – only the preferred version has the chip tech.

  6. Tesh in Hawaii January 12, 2014 at 12:00PM

    I also have the United Milage Plus Explorer and as of last year traveled to India with no fee. Why is it not listed at the heading of this site. Going again this year, will use only that card.

  7. Bob in Lebanon, NJ October 15, 2013 at 11:34AM

    Effective this year the United Explorer Card does not charge foreign transaction fees

  8. Texas Traveler May 4, 2013 at 10:39AM

    Don’t do business with USAA.

    I am a healthcare provider, a sole proprietor. I provided six months of service to a girl with USAA health insurance, got them better, and sent them on their way. USAA wouldn’t pay for it. Six times we sent them the documentation and billing information. Each time we waited, then called to confirm, and they said they’d never heard of me or the paperwork. I suspect their incoming fax machine is a combo fax-shredder. Apparently they make their money by simply claiming ignorance of the bill. I’ll never take another USAA patient again.

    • Lee Barr June 11, 2013 at 9:48AM

      Tx Traveler: While this is not the place for this post, I will address one thing: there is no such thing as USAA health insurance. They use Humana. Your beef is with Humana, not USAA.

  9. Dani in oregon September 5, 2012 at 12:41PM

    PenFed does not charge Transaction fees

  10. brianb08 August 22, 2012 at 2:31PM

    Bojangles, not sure you got the correct info from USAA. My experience has been it’s a 1% charge, which is also reflected on this info page on the usaa site.

  11. Bojangles August 7, 2012 at 3:24AM

    I have a USAA credit card and they most certainly charge 3%. I spoke to them about this yesterday. Their the debit cards are 1% though.

  12. Kay April 3, 2012 at 3:22PM

    What is the actual B of A cards you have since they have many others, also with Merrill Lynch. KAY

  13. Rachel March 31, 2012 at 8:15AM

    I have 2 Bank of America Visa cards and they only charge me 1% for foreign transaction fees.

  14. JohnB222 February 20, 2012 at 7:00PM

    Wanted to comment, PenFed credit union no longer charges FTF’s on any of their cards…making any selection from their lineup good contenders!

  15. Ray in Florida January 18, 2012 at 1:11PM

    Thankfully the British Airways card from Chase no longer charges an international transaction fee either.

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