If you’re planning on traveling abroad, it’s a good time to consider the many benefits a credit card has to offer when it comes to all the purchases you’ll be making.
With a travel rewards credit card, not only will you avoid having to carry around large amounts of cash, but you’ll also have the added benefit of fraud protection — and, depending on the card, the chance to earn rewards on your purchases.
One of the caveats you may face, however, is a fee that might be charged each time you swipe your card abroad, which is also usually the case with a debit card. This is known as a foreign transaction fee.
The good part is, with many options out there it’s likely that there's a great no foreign transaction fee credit card option for you. You can rest easy — or travel easy — knowing you’re not getting dinged every time you buy something.
What are foreign transaction fees?
A foreign transaction fee is what your credit card issuer charges for foreign currency purchases made through their network.
To process these foreign transactions, your card issuer might charge you a percentage of the purchase, usually between 1 to 3%. While this may not seem like much, it can quickly add up, considering it applies every time you use your card internationally.
This fee isn’t only reserved for physical purchases abroad either. Any transaction you make online from a non-U.S. retailer could be subject to a foreign transaction fee.
You can check the terms and conditions or your card’s website to determine if it charges this type of fee. If the card does and it makes sense for your situation, you may want to consider having a backup travel credit card that doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees.
10 top credit cards with no foreign transaction fees
|Card||Additional benefits||Annual fee|
|Bank of America Travel Rewards||
|Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards||
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards||
|Chase Ink Business Preferred||
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||
|Discover it Cash Back||
|Discover it Miles||
|Gold Delta SkyMiles||
||$99 (waived first year)|
|Wells Fargo Propel||
What to look for in a card with no foreign transaction fees
Credit cards with no foreign transaction fees won’t do you much good if you can’t use them, so check to make sure your credit card is widely accepted wherever you’re heading. Cards using the Visa or Mastercard networks are probably your best bet in this regard, as they have the highest number of merchants in their networks when compared to Discover and Amex.
If you’re considering a card that comes with travel rewards, there are some additional factors you may want to look for:
A sign-up bonus with a minimum spending threshold you can meet
A sign-up bonus is a huge opportunity for cardholders to jumpstart progress toward free or discounted travel. Since you often have to spend a fair amount within the first few months, consider your normal day-to-day spending and see if it aligns with the requirement.
Category or spending bonus
To continue earning points, you want a credit card that will reward you for the things you’re likely already spending your money on, such as groceries, restaurants, gas, and entertainment. If you frequently travel abroad, having a travel rewards credit card that rewards you for every purchase will ensure you’re reaping all the benefits and that you’re not missing out on any points.
Whether it’s travel insurance, cell phone protection, or free checked baggage, many credit cards offer great perks that can make your life easier. Compare all the benefits while you’re shopping around to make sure they align with what you need the most.
Avoiding foreign transaction fees while abroad is a no-brainer
While some of these cards charge annual fees, these can be offset by the lack of foreign transaction fees and by taking advantage of other card perks. Many of these credit cards can help you get to where you’re going using travel rewards and will reward you for your spending while you’re there.
The perfect card for you depends entirely on your goals and spending habits, but using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees is a simple way to save money while traveling abroad.
No-Frills Cash Back
- $150 early spend bonus
- No annual fee
- 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months
- 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day