The Best Credit Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees
Using a credit card overseas carries the additional expense of a foreign transaction fee. These ten cards offer rewards and benefits without the extra cost.
Have you ever noticed a fee labeled "FX" on your credit card statement?
That's a foreign transaction fee, a charge applied for currency conversion on a purchase made in another country.
These fees can vary, but usually are just a few cents per purchase.
Not a huge amount, until you think about how many purchases you might make abroad—and then the charges start to pile up.
While these fees are usually low, they are a percentage of the transaction.
Making larger purchases abroad can drain an already-strained budget.
Thankfully, credit card companies know this and have issued a number of credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.
These cards operate exactly like a standard credit card without costing you more just because you use it outside of United States borders.
There are also benefits to using rewards cards overseas in that the exchange rate in many countries favors the US dollar.
We've compiled a list of the best credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
Pick one card from the list below and stop spending money unnecessarily while traveling abroad.
3 things to know about foreign transaction fees
Before you choose one of these credit cards, here are a couple of things to keep in mind.
The average foreign transaction fee is 3%. That means you're spending roughly $0.03 extra for every dollar you spend for the company to convert your USD to a foreign currency.
This amount adds up quickly.
For instance, if you purchase a $1,000 airline ticket from a foreign airline company, the total cost will be $1,030.
That ticket just cost you $30 in fees. Ouch.
You don't have to be overseas to see a foreign transaction fee. You could live in the center of Kansas and make an online purchase from a company without a U.S. website and still see a foreign transaction fee applied to your card.
Credit card issuers charge this fee to cover the costs of currency conversion to foreign banks.
Even debit cards face foreign transaction fees. When you spend money in a country with a different currency, you pay a little bit extra for your bank or credit card company to convert the funds from USD.
How We Picked These Cards
Offers more than just no foreign transaction fee. Every card on this list was chosen because it did not charge a foreign transaction fee but still yielded benefits to cardholders in another way.
The majority of these cards are aimed at travelers. After all, who is more likely to face FX fees: an international businessman or the average suburban dad?
We also focused on security. Identity theft is a risk no matter where you are. In the excitement of travel, it can be easy to forget basic safety guidelines.
These cards all implement multiple security measures to protect cardholders again fraud.
Bank of America (BoA) Travel Rewards Card
It yields massive benefits for BoA customers
The BankAmericard Travel Rewards card provides extreme value—that is, if you're a Bank of America customer.
The card caters to the everyday spending needs of frequent travelers and has no annual fee, so the rewards begin stacking up immediately.
Score an extra 20,000 points if you spend $1,000 within 90 days of opening the account
The sign-up bonus threshold is easy to reach. A few bills or even a single, more expensive flight is enough to push you over the $1,000 limit.
Earn 1.5 points for every dollar spent. The points are unlimited and never expire.
Bank of America customers see higher rewards rates. Customers with less than $20,000 in their accounts over the past three months receive a point bonus of 10% and a rewards rate of 1.65%.
Customers holding $20,000–$50,000 over the past three months receive a point bonus of 25% and a rewards rate of 1.88%.
Customers with $50,000–$100,000 over the past three months see a 50% point bonus and a 2.25% rewards rate.
Finally, customers with over $100,000 see a 75% point bonus and a rewards rate of 2.63%.
These increased rates can be a major boon to someone with an existing BoA account, but for potential cardholders with a different primary bank, the rewards carry less weight.
Redeem your points when you want without worrying about blackout dates
Any traveler knows the irritation of trying to book a flight with points, only to discover they aren't eligible for redemption on those dates.
Bank of America allows you to redeem points without blackout dates or restrictions.
Book through the BoA Travel Center for increased rewards. Every dollar you spend on travel through BoA's Travel Center yields three points rather than the normal 1.5.
You can make use of this to stretch your rewards even father.
This tool is one of the strongest offerings by Bank of America and gives the company's points more value compared to the competition, especially if you already receive higher rates.
Maintain an active checking or savings account and receive more points. All customers with an active checking or savings account receive 10% points dividends on credit card purchases.
If you're willing to take the extra step, opening a BoA savings account can be an easy way to earn more rewards with little effort.
"What is the value of rewards points?"
Each point is worth one cent when redeemed for travel, so the sign-up bonus of 20,000 points is worth around $200.
Each dollar you spend earns you 1.5 cents.
If you redeem points for something other than a statement credit, the value drops significantly.
Apply online for the fastest results
If you apply online through Bank of America's sign-up form, you can receive a response in just 60 seconds.
This is the fastest and easiest way to apply, although you can also visit your local Bank of America branch and apply in person.
You're most likely to qualify with a credit score of 700 or higher.
Barclay Arrival World Plus Elite MasterCard
One of the most secure options for travel
Barclay's top-tier travel rewards card offers a significant sign-up bonus, lucrative rewards scheme, and no annual fee for the first year.
Although it can be difficult to reach an actual person for customer service, the Barclay Arrival World Plus Elite MasterCard is a solid choice for any traveler.
Spend $3,000 within 90 days of opening the account and get 40,000 bonus miles
The Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite has an awesome sign-up bonus.
Spend just $1,000 per month for three months and you'll receive bonus miles equivalent to a $400 travel statement credit.
This bonus isn't the highest amount offered, but it falls on the upper end of the scale.
Earn 2x miles for every dollar spent. You don't have to shop in specific categories to earn rewards.
No matter what you purchase, you'll earn double miles—an easy way to rack up rewards.
Get 5% toward your next redemption each time you redeem. You can get more value from your points just by using them.
Redeem a smaller number of points before redeeming points for larger purchases
The 5% bonus Barclay customers receive after redeeming points increases the value of those points from roughly one cent per point to 1.05 cents per point.
Spend a smaller number of points before redeeming for a larger purchase and you can make the value of your points go farther.
The lowest rewards threshold is $100. Your points are best used for hotel stays and flights, not smaller expenses like taxi rides.
While this may be a downside for some, just pay the taxi ride out of pocket and pay for that four-star hotel next month with your points.
Points can be only be put towards purchases made in the last four months. You can't use points for credit on purchases made longer than 120 days ago.
"What qualifies as travel with the Arrival Plus?"
To determine whether a purchase qualifies for rewards points, you need to look at the merchant category code (MCC).
For the Barclay Arrival Plus, the following expenses are considered travel:
- Hotels and motels
- Car rental agencies
- Travel agencies
- Taxis, limousines, and buses
- Cruise lines
- Discount travel sites
Aim for a credit score of 700 or higher to qualify
The Barclay Arrival Plus gives big rewards, but these rewards often come with strict qualification requirements.
Cardholders need a credit score of "Excellent" or higher. You'll want to make sure your credit score is above 700.
The annual fee is waived the first year. After that, the cost becomes $89 per year—in other words, you'll need to earn 8,900 miles to break even (around $4,450.)
If you aren't a frequent traveler, the high annual fee lessens the benefits of the card.
Capital One Venture Rewards Card
It has a huge sign-up bonus
The Capital One Venture Rewards frequently sees placement on top travel rewards card lists.
With its 50,000-mile sign-up bonus, 2x rewards structure, and no minimum to redeem, this card is a fantastic choice for travelers.
Spend $3,000 in the first three months and receive 50,000 bonus miles
These 50,000 bonus miles are worth roughly $500 of travel.
These miles can be redeemed at any time with no need to worry about blackout dates.
Cardholders receive 2x miles per dollar spent. There are no rotating categories to keep track of or activate, making it easy to earn points.
Miles are unlimited and never expire. As long as you keep your Capital One account in good standing, you can continue to accumulate miles.
Save up points and spend them on a dream chip to the Seychelles.
Book where you want and receive a statement credit later
Capital One allows you to book your travel on any site you want, and then use the Purchase Eraser to receive a statement credit for that expense.
Miles can be applied to any travel purchases made in the previous 90 days.
Book through Capital One and use your points to pay the cost. If you find a cheaper flight or hotel through Capital One, there's no need to use the Purchase Eraser.
Just book directly with the credit card company.
There is no minimum to redeem. Unlike other cards, you can redeem your points for as much or as little as you want.
This means you can use the Purchase Eraser to cover the taxi ride home from the airport or for other small expenses.
"Is the Venture card worth the annual fee?"
The Venture Card has the potential for massive rewards and waives the first year of the annual fee.
Each year after that is $95. You need to spend at least $400 per month using the card to break even.
If you spend more than that each month and travel often, then yes, the Venture card is worth the annual fee.
Apply online and potentially get an answer in 60 seconds
Applying online for a Venture rewards card is the fastest and easiest way.
In most cases, you'll receive an answer in 60 seconds or less. If not, Capital One will mail their decision to you within 7–10 business days.
You need a credit score of 700 or higher. Travel rewards cards are notorious for strict credit requirements.
If you can, you'll want to improve your credit score before you apply.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Great for a sign-up bonus
This card is one half of Chase's popular travel rewards card duo: the Sapphire Preferred and the Sapphire Reserve.
Its significant sign-up bonus and rewards scheme make it popular among consumers.
Spend $4,000 in three months and get $625 toward travel
Chase Sapphire Preferred customers receive a whopping 50,000 bonus miles if they spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening the account.
This is equal to $625 in travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards—and one of the highest sign-up bonus amounts we've ever seen, beat only by the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Cardholders receive 2x points on travel and dining. These points never expire, so you can build up a huge number and redeem them all at once.
Cardholders receive 1x point non-travel purchases. Buy groceries, pay the bills, etc. It's an easy way to get points without a lot of extra effort.
Cardholders get an extra 5,000 bonus points by adding an authorized user. The bonus points are awarded when you make a purchase within the first three months of the account opening.
Tack this on to the already-valuable sign-up bonus and the Chase Preferred becomes one of the best options for a travel rewards card.
Redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for the best value
Points are usually worth one cent when used for cash back or travel expenses, but Chase Ultimate Rewards increases this value to 1.25% when you redeem for travel expenses.
Transfer rewards to partner programs for even more value. The Chase Sapphire Preferred allows you to transfer to partner airline programs where your points may be worth as much as four cents each.
You need to spend $4,750 to break even. The Sapphire carries an annual fee of $95 after the first year.
The annual fee can feel like a lot more when you have to spend almost $5,000 for your rewards to be worth anything, but if you're a big spender, the Chase Sapphire Preferred can be one of your biggest earners.
"Can you own the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve at the same time?"
Though both cards have stringent sign-up requirements, it is possible to apply for and own both cards at the same time.
The catch is that Chase only allows one sign-up bonus at a time. If you receive both cards, you can only receive the 50,000 point bonus from one of them.
Reduce your credit utilization to improve approval chances
One of the strongest determining factors for approval is your credit utilization, or the amount of available credit you use.
By reducing this, you can improve your credit score and give yourself a much better chance of approval.
You need a score of "Excellent" or better. Your credit score should be 720 or higher on average to qualify for the Sapphire Preferred.
This is one of the hardest cards to qualify for, so you'll want to take any additional steps you can to improve your chances of approval.
Applying online is the easiest way. The online form takes only a few minutes to fill out.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The best rewards card for frequent travelers
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the sister card to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but with many more benefits.
Redemption rates are higher and cardholders are given an annual credit of $300 each year.
Receive 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 after sign up
Cardholders receive a significant sign-up bonus worth $750 in travel due to the Reserve's redemption rate bonuses.
That $750 bonus is worth enough for a roundtrip flight to Europe and back.
As far as sign-up bonuses go, they don't often get better than this.
Cardholders get 3x points on travel and dining. If you travel frequently, put this card to work and earn triple the points.
Earn 1 point per $1 on other purchases. Points never expire, so you can accumulate points until you're ready to take a trip somewhere.
The Sapphire Reserve gives a 50% redemption bonus
Redeem your points through Chase Ultimate Rewards and receive even more value.
This bonus makes the 50,000 point sign-up bonus worth $750 in travel.
There are no blackout dates or travel restrictions. Anytime you want to travel, you can book a flight through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
The catch is the $450 annual fee. Cardholders receive a $300 travel credit each year for free that helps offset the charge.
Other card benefits also help soften the blow.
One of these benefits is a $100 Global Entry application fee credit—a no-brainer for frequent travelers that hate standing in line for customs.
Another is a Priority Pass Select that grants access to airport lounges worldwide.
"Is the Sapphire Reserve worth it?"
The $450 annual fee raises concern in many cardholders, especially because the first year isn't waived like with many other cards.
However, the Sapphire Reserve grants a $300 travel credit annually. Using this brings the annual fee down to $150—still more than most cards, but usually worth it if you travel often.
The $0.015 point redemption value is almost unheard of in travel rewards cards, and the access to airport lounges makes the wait for takeoff less tiresome. With these in mind, the Sapphire Reserve is worth it despite the hefty annual fee.
Make sure your credit looks good before applying
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is wildly popular but also difficult to qualify for.
Applying online can result in a fast decision, but you'll want to make sure your credit history is as clean as possible.
A score of 720 or higher is needed. Travel rewards cards are known for strict requirements, and a card with a $450 fee is even harder to qualify for.
Starwood Preferred Guest Card
Great for airline loyalty members
Many airlines accept Starpoints at a 1 to 1 ratio, making this card perfect for topping off rewards from another card.
However, it can also be extremely useful for people that prefer Marriott hotels.
Receive 25,000 points if you spend $3,000 in three months
The sign-up bonus is a bit lower than competitors, offering only 25,000 points compared to 50,000 or more.
Receive 4x points at participating SPG hotels and resorts. You'll receive two points from Starwood and two points from Amex for every dollar spent at participating locations.
Receive 2x points at participating Marriott Rewards hotels. That's per dollar spent at participating locations.
Receive one point for all other purchases. The value comes from spending money at hotels and resorts, but you can still accumulate points on day-to-day purchases.
This card isn't the best choice for the average cardholder, but it can be a boon to those that prefer Marriott hotels over all others.
The best redemption value comes from transferring to airline programs
The best way to take advantage of your Starpoints is to transfer them to an airline partner program at a 1:1 value.
You receive 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 points you transfer with this method.
You can only transfer 79,999 Starpoints in a 24-hour period, which means you should never transfer more than 60,000 in a day.
This self-imposed limit means you get the 5,000 point bonus on your next 20,000.
This redemption method is valuable because it allows you to take advantage of airline programs you might not be able to use otherwise, such as Asiana Airlines or Japan Airlines.
"Who is the Starwood Preferred Guest card good for?"
This card appeals to a specific demographic: frequent travelers that prefer Marriott hotels and resorts.
The Starwood Preferred Guest card can yield free nights at Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, and SPG properties.
This card also offers tremendous benefits to frequent passengers of American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and any other SPG airline partners because of the 1:1 transfer rate.
Apply online and become an automatic Starwood Preferred Guest member
The online application for this card asks the usual questions but also asks if you are enrolled in the Starwood Preferred Guest program and for your guest number.
If you are not a member of this program, you will be automatically enrolled if you are approved.
There is a $95 annual fee. If you travel any of the previously mentioned airlines and can take advantage of the rewards offered by the Starwood Preferred Guest card, then the fee is well worth it.
On the other hand, you'll have to spend a minimum of $2,375 (and that's only if you go to Marriott resorts) to break even on the annual fee.
Citi ThankYou Premier
A rewards credit card for the average traveler
Many of the cards on this list specialize in one area of travel or another, but the Citi ThankYou Premier serves travelers of all types.
Its earning and rewards structure can be a bit complicated, however.
The ThankYou Premier doesn't have a sign-up bonus
Although cardholders won't receive a noteworthy bonus for signing up, there are several perks to owning the ThankYou Premier.
You earn three ThankYou points per dollar spent on travel. You'll also earn two ThankYou points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment and one point per dollar on all other purchases.
The Citi Price Rewind refunds price differences on purchases made in the last 60 days. If you find a better price on an item you purchased with your Citi ThankYou Premier in the last 60 days, Citi will refund you the difference.
Redeem points through ThankYou Travel Center for better value
ThankYou points redeemed for airfare through the Travel Center are worth 25% more.
You can also redeem points for gift cards from the ThankYou Rewards collection, but those lack the 25% bonus.
Transfer points to participating airline loyalty programs. The minimum transfer is 1,000 points, but there is no fee for doing so.
"Is there a sign-up bonus?"
Although the Citi ThankYou Premier received a bonus for a short time after the City Prestige launched, the offer is no longer available.
For reasons unstated, Citi is no longer offering a sign-up bonus for the ThankYou Premier card.
The ThankYou Premier requires "Excellent" credit
You'll need a score of 720 or higher to qualify in most cases, although there are always customers who claim to qualify with lower scores.
The annual fee is $95. You'll need to earn 9,500 points to break even annually after the first year.
Applying online is the easiest way to qualify. Just use the online sign-up form and follow the steps.
Capital One Quicksilver
One of the best flat-rate cash back cards
Though many of the cards on this list are travel-focused, the Capital One Quicksilver is a cash back card with a great rewards system.
Earn $150 cash back by spending $500 within three months
This is a one-time bonus available to new card members.
If you spend $500 within three months (and easily doable feat), you'll receive $150 cash back as credit to your account.
You earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Every dollar spent earns you 1.5 cents with no upper limit on how much you can earn.
Redeem cash back for account credit, check, or gift cards
You can choose how you want to redeem the cash back you've accumulated.
Checks take a bit of time to process, but account credit will process more quickly and appear on your statement.
Gift cards take about the same length of time as a check to be processed and mailed.
There is no annual fee. You begin to build value with your first purchase.
"Are there bonus categories?"
The Capital One Quicksilver doesn't have rotating bonus categories that yield higher rates, but this can be beneficial to people who prefer a simpler rewards system.
The Quicksilver is aimed at people with "Excellent" credit
The simplest way to apply for a Capital One card is through their website.
Doing so can give you a decision in as little as 60 seconds. To improve your chances of qualifying, try to have a credit score of 720 or higher.
Capital One Secured
A powerful option for rebuilding credit
If your credit score is damaged and you don't qualify for rewards credit cards offered by other credit card issuers, the Capital One Secured MasterCard might be the right choice for you.
There is no sign-up bonus
The focus of the Secured MasterCard is on rebuilding credit and learning smart practices.
Though there isn't a sign-up bonus, you can gain access to a higher credit limit if you make your first five monthly payments on time.
There are no rewards to redeem
Cardholders don't need to worry about redemption rates.
"How does the Capital One Secured MC work?"
When you apply for this card, Capital One evaluates your credit history and assigns you a credit line of $200 while requiring a deposit of $49, $99, or $200 based on your credit score.
The card regularly reports to the three major credit bureaus and helps improve your credit score through responsible use.
Applying online is the easiest way to get the Capital One Secured MasterCard. There are few requirements and because the card requires a deposit, nearly anyone can qualify.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus
Most useful for frequent Southwest fliers
This card is noteworthy because of its significant sign-up bonus and low spending threshold.
Earn an extra 40,000 bonus points after you $1,000 within three months of opening the card to qualify.
You'll earn two points per $1 on Southwest purchases. You'll also earn this same rate on Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases, and one point per dollar on all other purchases.
Redeem points for flights, gift cards, hotel stays, and more
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card gives multiple redemption options. Flights to more than 90 destinations can be paid for with points.
Gift cards can be redeemed for as few as 3,000 points. You can choose cards from more than 70 top merchants.
Rapid Rewards points can be used on more than 50 global carriers. You aren't limited solely to domestic flights with your Rapid Rewards points.
"What credit level do you need for approval?"
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus requires a minimum credit score of 700 or higher. This means applicants with "Good" credit ratings can still qualify.
Apply online through the Chase website
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card is issued by Chase, and their website is the easiest way to apply.
You will be automatically enrolled in the Rapid Rewards program on approval. The application requests your Rapid Rewards number, but if you do not have one you will automatically be enrolled if you are approved.
Cards with no foreign transaction fees are perfect for travelers
No one wants to pay a penalty just for foreign currency conversion, especially when you want to take advantage of the local exchange rate.
Whether you use a credit card or a debit card, you'll usually have to pay a small fee.
These ten credit cards are some of the best options on the market for frequent travelers that want to use their credit cards abroad but don't want to worry about those pesky fees.
There are options for everyone, no matter your credit level - choose the one that's best for your needs.
Do you use credit cards without foreign transaction fees?
How have these cards worked out for you?
Any great tips or Stephen King-level horror stories to share with the rest of us?
Let us know in the comments below.