Foreign transaction fees can often be overlooked by travelers when planning a trip abroad. These fees, which are typically 2% to 3% of each international purchase, can add up and impact your overall travel expenses. To avoid these additional charges, consider using a no foreign transaction fee credit card that allows you to make purchases abroad without incurring surcharges.
While foreign transaction fees are an important consideration, they are not the only factor to take into account when choosing a credit card for travel. Many travel credit cards come with an annual fee, so it’s essential to evaluate the overall benefits and rewards offered by the card to see if it aligns with your spending habits and travel preferences.
To help you find the best credit card options for international travel, we conducted an extensive analysis of various credit cards from different issuers. Our curated list features the top choices that can save you money and enhance your travel experience without the burden of foreign transaction fees.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card falls into the premium travel card category with a $395 annual fee, but it offers an array of valuable benefits in return. Cardholders can enjoy rewards, bonus miles, and access to a wide network of airport lounges. The card’s rewards program is extensive, offering 2 miles per $1 on purchases, 5 miles per $1 on flights booked through Capital One Travel, and 10 miles per $1 on hotels and rental cars booked via Capital One Travel. Additionally, cardholders receive a 10,000 bonus miles welcome offer and up to $300 in annual travel statement credit for bookings through Capital One Travel.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is renowned for its points potential and travel perks. Cardholders can earn bonus rewards on travel and dining, gain access to airport lounges through Priority Pass Select, and enjoy trip protection benefits. The unique feature of this travel credit card is the value of rewards, called Ultimate Rewards®, which are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel bookings through the issuer. This enhancement allows cardholders to maximize the value of their rewards and make their dream trips a reality.
Bilt World Elite Mastercard®
The Bilt World Elite Mastercard caters to renters seeking a no annual fee credit card with a straightforward rewards program. Rent payments made using the Bilt card earn rewards without the extra expense of transaction fees that landlords typically charge for credit card payments. Even if your landlord only accepts checks, you can still use the Bilt Rewards app to pay with your card, and Bilt will send a check on your behalf. Bilt rewards can be redeemed for travel, transferred to travel partners, used toward the next month’s rent payment, or saved up for a down payment on a future home.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a popular travel rewards card with an appealing rewards program and generous welcome bonus. With a relatively low annual fee of $95, it provides various perks and protections for travelers. One standout feature is its lack of foreign transaction fees, making it an excellent choice for international travelers. The rewards program offers 5 points per $1 on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3 points per $1 on dining and select streaming services, 2 points per $1 on all other travel purchases, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card
For those in search of a travel rewards card with a sizable welcome bonus and valuable perks, the U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card is worth considering. Cardholders receive complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership, annual statement credits, and a high earning rate of 3 points per dollar spent on travel and mobile wallet purchases, with no additional surcharges for international spending. The card’s annual fee is $400, and it offers 5 points per $1 on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly through the Altitude Rewards Center, 3 points per $1 on travel purchases and mobile wallet spending, and 1 point per $1 on all other eligible purchases.
Should you get a no foreign transaction fee credit card?
Credit cards with no foreign transaction fees often go unnoticed, but they can be incredibly advantageous. These cards can be a lifesaver during international trips as they can save you significant amounts of money. By eliminating foreign transaction fees, you avoid the hassle of dealing with cash exchange and carrying large amounts of money. Additionally, you’ll benefit from competitive exchange rates, making your purchases abroad more cost-effective.
Having a credit card with no foreign transaction fees is beneficial for all types of travelers, whether you frequently explore the world or embark on occasional trips. Many credit cards charge a substantial 3% fee every time you use them abroad, and these fees can quickly accumulate over the course of your journey. By choosing a card without foreign transaction fees, you’ll be able to allocate your travel budget more efficiently and enjoy a smoother financial experience during your travels.
Guide to no foreign transaction fee credit cards
- Foreign transaction fees are charges applied by credit card companies when you make a purchase in a currency other than U.S. dollars. This includes both in-person purchases while traveling internationally and online purchases from foreign websites or merchants.
- The cost of foreign transaction fees is typically a percentage of the purchase amount. Most cards charge around 3%, but some may charge anywhere between 1% to 4%. However, many travel cards, such as airline, hotel, and general-purpose travel cards, do not impose foreign transaction fees.
- Banks levy foreign transaction fees to cover the cost of converting dollars into another currency. Payment processors like Visa and Mastercard charge the bank issuing your card a 1% fee for the conversion. The bank adds its surcharge on top of that and passes it on to you.
- There are some issuers, such as Capital One and Discover, that do not charge foreign transaction fees on any of their cards. However, others may charge this fee on some cards but not on others. It’s essential to read the terms and conditions of any card you’re considering to understand potential fees when traveling abroad.
- To avoid foreign transaction fees, opt for a card that doesn’t include this charge and use it for purchases made abroad. Many no foreign transaction fee credit cards are available, providing a hassle-free solution for international transactions.
- Using a credit card while traveling internationally can be advantageous. Credit cards offer protections against loss or theft, fraud protection, trip cancellation coverage, baggage insurance, and access to emergency services when abroad.
- When traveling with a credit card, ensure it doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Additionally, check if your card network (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, etc.) is accepted by the places you plan to stay.
- While credit cards can be useful, avoid using them to withdraw cash in foreign countries. This can result in currency conversion fees, cash advance fees, and foreign transaction fees if applicable.
- Some merchants may offer to charge your card in the local currency or your home country’s currency. It’s best to choose the local currency and let your bank handle the conversion to avoid unnecessary currency conversion fees.