Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees with These 10 Credit Cards

Using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees while spending abroad can help you save money and avoid pesky fees.
Last updated May 18, 2020 | By Matt Miczulski
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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.

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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
  • 1.5X points on all purchases everywhere, every time
  • Earn 25,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 statement closing dates
$0
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards
  • 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase, every day
  • Earn a $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases
$0
Capital One® Venture® Rewards
  • 2X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100)
$95 
Chase Ink Business Preferred
  • Earn 100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months
  • 5X points on Lyft rides; 3X points on the first $150,000 spent each year on travel, shipping, internet, cable, or phone services, and advertising purchases with social media and search engines; and 1X points per $1 on everything else
  • 25% more in travel redemption when booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
$95
Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 5X on Lyft rides, 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases
  • 25% more in airline & hotel travel redemption when booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards
$95
Citi Premier
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 3X points on travel, including gas; 2X points on restaurants and entertainment; and 1X points on all other purchases
  • Points worth 25% more on airfare when booked through Citi
$95
Discover it Cash Back
  • 5% cash back in quarterly rotating categories (including gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, and Amazon.com), up to quarterly maximum; 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • 0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases and 0% (for transfers that post to your account by by October 10, 2020) intro APR on balance transfers for 14 months
$0
Discover it Miles
  • 1.5X miles per dollar on all purchases
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 14 months
$0
Gold Delta SkyMiles
  • Earn 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • 2X miles on purchases made directly with Delta, at restaurants, and at U.S supermarkets; and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
  • First checked bag on Delta is free
$99 (waived first year) 
Wells Fargo Propel
  • Earn 20,000 points when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months
  • 3X points on eligible dining, transportation, travel, and streaming service purchases; and 1X points on other purchases
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months and 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months
$0

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.

Special perks

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

Benefits

  • $150 early spend bonus
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months
  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day