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If you plan on traveling overseas or purchasing online from an overseas vendor, you can save a small fortune by investing in a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Overseas transaction fees are typically around 3%, so for every $1,000 you spend abroad, it will cost you roughly $30 if you use the wrong rewards card.
Thankfully, the list of credit cards without foreign transaction fees includes some of the best travel rewards cards available to U.S. consumers. Whether you’re paying for a local food tour in Hanoi, purchasing a flight from an airline with no U.S.-facing website, or buying the finest Middle Earth Manuka Honey from New Zealand (yes, you can actually buy Hobbit Honey), these are the best cards to use and not have to pay a foreign transaction fee on your purchase.
Best Cards Without Foreign Transaction Fees
|Credit Card||Best For||Welcome Offer||Bonus Rewards Categories||Annual Fee|
|Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card||Cash back rewards||$300 Cash Back after you spend $3000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening||4% Cash Back on dining. 4% Cash Back on entertainment. 2% Cash Back at grocery stores. 1% Cash Back on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.||$0 intro for first year; $95 after that|
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card||No annual fee||Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $200 cash redemption value||Many ways to earn 3X points. Earn 3X points on eating out and ordering in. Earn 3X points on gas stations, rideshares and transit. Earn 3X points on popular streaming services. Earn 1X points on other purchases||$0|
|Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card||Transferable rewards - business card||Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.||Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases - with no limit to the amount you can earn.||$95|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Transferable rewards - premium card||Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.||Earn 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.||$550|
|Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®||Fixed-value rewards||Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days||Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase||$89 (waived first year)|
|The World Of Hyatt Credit Card||Hotel rewards||Earn up to 50,000 Bonus Points - 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Plus an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend a total of $6,000 on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.||Earn 9 points total per $1 spent at Hyatt - 4 Bonus Points per $1 when you use your card at Hyatt hotels & 5 Base Points per $1 you can earn as a World of Hyatt member||$95|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Transferable rewards||Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®||Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide||$95|
|Citi Prestige® Card||Transferable rewards - premium card||Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening.||Earn 5X points on purchases at airlines, travel agencies, and restaurants (including cafes, bars, lounges and fast food restaurants); 3X points on purchases on hotels and cruise lines; and 1 point on all other purchases.||$495|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Transferable rewards - premium card||Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. - Terms Apply||5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.||$550 - Rates & Fees|
|Citi Premier℠ Card||Transferable rewards||Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.||Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations. Earn 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on entertainment. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.||$95|
|Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card||Fixed-value rewards||50,000 Miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening||2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day.||$0 intro for first year; $95 after that|
|U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card||Fixed-value rewards - premium card||Earn 50,000 points when you spend $4,500 in the first 90 days of account opening||Earn 3X points for every $1 on eligible net travel purchases and mobile wallet spending||$400|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®||Airline rewards||Earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening||Earn 2X AA miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, at restaurants, and on gas stations purchases, and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases||$99, waived for first 12 months|
How to Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees
If you choose the right rewards card, you don’t have to make any extra effort to avoid this nasty fee. Just use your card for every purchase, and your transaction will be converted to U.S. dollars on your statement—typically at a much better exchange rate than you’ll get exchanging U.S. dollars for local currency.
The reason you get a great exchange rate is that payment processors convert huge volumes of foreign currency every day. That means you’re getting the wholesale rate Visa or Mastercard pay on all their global transactions, will little or no markup.
However, the banks have one additional trick up their sleeves: When making a purchase abroad, you may be given a choice between paying in U.S. dollars or the local currency. You definitely don’t want to convert the transaction to dollars. This service, also known as Dynamic Currency Conversion, is a huge ripoff.
Our Selection Criteria for Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees
When choosing our favorite cards with no foreign transaction fees, we’ve focused primarily on cards that earn transferable or fixed-value rewards, rather than co-brand cards earning airline miles or hotel points. With the current trend of award-chart devaluations and a steady transition to revenue-based rewards programs, points that transfer to a variety of airline and hotel programs offer much better value than points and miles issued by a single hotel or airline brand. We’ve also given plenty of weight to select bonus rewards categories, favoring travel, dining, entertainment, and gas purchases, as they make up a significant portion of vacation and business travel spending.
Another consideration we took into account when compiling this list was how widely the issuer is accepted overseas? In Australia, for example, Visa and Mastercard are accepted everywhere from major cities to small outback country towns. However, American Express cards aren’t as widely accepted and often have an additional ‘merchant fee' of 2-3% tacked on outside of major retailers. A lot of Amex cards also feature bonus spending categories that are restricted to U.S. vendors, so while there are plenty of Amex cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees, only one made it into the table above.
And, lastly, we look at how well the benefits account for the annual fee. We’ve included more premium travel cards, those with annual fees north of $400 than typically found in ‘best of' lists of cards with no foreign transaction fees. But, in this case, the majority of travel rewards cards with higher annual fees also offer perks such as travel and airline credits, complimentary lounge access, elite status benefits, and a wide range of travel and purchase protections that add an additional layer of value and security when traveling abroad.
Acquiring a rewards card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees is a great way of reducing the out of pocket expense of traveling overseas. Highlights include the Wells Fargo Propel Amex which earns a solid 3X points on a wide variety of travel and dining purchases and doesn’t charge an annual fee, and the class-leading Ink Preferred business card, which will net you 3x Ultimate Rewards points on travel (up to a combined $150K in bonus category purchases), without the premium annual fee charged on the Sapphire Reserve.
For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees)
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