No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards

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% or 3% 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, your options are growing – read on for a selection of good cards for travelers that waive foreign transaction fees (as of June 2015).foreign currency from various countries

Note: If you are planning to travel abroad this summer, 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, both of which have EMV chips). Go here to compare the Venture cards side by side.

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 couple years ago Discover decided to drop the foreign transaction fee on all of their credit cards. Their international acceptance isn’t ideal, 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: Some other American Express cards do charge foreign transaction fees.

Oh, and by way of disclosure, 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.
Use this link to earn 80,000 bonus points (awarded after you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months from account opening).

United MileagePlus Explorer

Chase 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 3 Avios for every dollar spent with British Airways and 1 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 20,000 points after you make $1,000 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 version of the card has its own unique bonus structure and benefits. The sign-up bonuses and annual fees also differ by card. 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% fee for all American Express cards that don’t waive foreign transaction fees

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

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

Written or last updated June 17, 2015

 
Comments
The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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.

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)

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

Bob in Lebanon, NJ

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

Texas Traveler

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.

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.

PenFed does not charge Transaction fees

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.

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.

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

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

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

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