Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees with These 11 Credit Cards

Using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees while spending abroad can help you save money and avoid pesky fees.
4 minute read | 10/3/19Oct. 3, 2019
Man with red backpack looking out over view

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.

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. This is known as a foreign transaction fee.

The good part is, there are plenty of credit cards with no foreign transaction fees, and 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.

11 top credit cards with no foreign transaction fees

Card Additional benefits Annual fee
Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®
  • Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
  • 2X miles on every purchase
  • 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption
  • 0% intro APR for the first 12 billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening
$89 (waived first year) 
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 $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers
$0
Capital One® Venture® Rewards
  • 10X miles on bookings with Hotels.com through January 2020 and 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 (waived first year) 
Chase Ink Business Preferred
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • 3X points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, or phone services, and advertising purchases with social media and search engines; 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
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases
  • 25% more in 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 stations; 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 at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, and more up to the quarterly maximum along with 1% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% intro APR for 14 months on purchases and 0% for transfers that post to your account by December 10, 2019 intro APR on balance transfers for 14 months from date of first transfer
$0
Discover it Miles
  • 1.5X miles on all purchases and receive matched miles your first year
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 14 months
$0
Gold Delta SkyMiles
  • Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months and get a $50 credit on your statement after you make a Delta purchase in the first 3 months (limited time offer - expires 10/30/2019)
  • 2X miles on purchases made directly with Delta, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
  • First checked bag on Delta is free
$95 (waived first year) 
Wells Fargo Propel
  • Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • 3X points on eligible dining, transportation, travel, and streaming services 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 on qualifying balance transfers
$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 to jumpstart your 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 bonuses

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 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

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.

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