10 Best “No Foreign Transaction Fee” Credit Cards for Travel (2017)

10 Best “No Foreign Transaction Fee” Credit Cards for Travel (2017)

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Posted: July 3, 2017
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

Planning a trip to another country can often be an involved process as dealing with passports, new languages, and unfamiliar customs can add layers of complexity to any journey. Even traveling somewhere where they speak English, such as taking a holiday in London, can come with other necessary adaptations — like learning to drive on the proper side of the road.

And, of course, there is the fact that currencies tend to change at the border, meaning your money will have to change, even if your language doesn’t. In an age where fewer Americans are carrying cash each year, the first thought on many minds is to turn to their trusty credit card while abroad.

But while many foreign businesses, especially in Europe, will accept credit cards from major issuers, many of those issuers charge cardholders for the cost of converting purchases to and from the local currency. These foreign transaction fees can be 3% or more of the purchase price, taking a bite out of your vacation budget. Luckily, tons of great credit cards can be had that charge no foreign transaction fees, many offering other great perks, too.

Travel Rewards | Cash Back | No Annual Fee | Chip-and-Pin | Business

“Travel Rewards” Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees

A natural fit for a credit card with no foreign transactions fees, travel rewards offer points or miles for every dollar spent, as well as often giving bonus miles for travel-related purchases. When comparing travel rewards cards, consider the rate at which you will earn rewards, as well as any bonus categories in which you may spend frequently.

Another thing to compare when looking at different travel rewards offers is the signup bonus. An easy way to jump-start your rewards, signup bonuses typically offer a large lump sum of points or miles for completing specific spending requirements in a given time period.

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $400 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $59 after that
Excellent, Good

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.99% - 23.99% Variable
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Excellent Credit

The best travel rewards programs will also offer flexible redemption options, allowing cardholders to redeem their rewards free from blackouts or brand restrictions. And while some travel rewards credit cards only allow points to be redeemed for airline tickets, the points and miles from our top picks can be used for many travel expenses, including flights and hotels.

Screenshot of Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal

Some travel rewards give more value when redeemed through the issuer’s travel portal.

Additionally, points redeemed for travel can often provide a greater per-point value than when they are redeemed for cash back or gift cards. The main catch here is that cardholders are typically required to use the credit card company’s branded travel portal to book their travel, so weigh the extra point value against the difference in price when you redeem.

“Cash Back” Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees

When considering a trip overseas, or just over the border, cost is always of concern, so anywhere savings can be had is worth exploring. That’s where the cash back card comes in handy, acting like a rebate on every purchase that can save you a bundle on your trip — especially when your cash back card also charges no foreign transaction fees.

The main decision you’ll have to make when choosing a cash back card is whether you’d like to earn rewards at a flat rate for every purchase, or if you would benefit more from a category-based program that gives bonus points for specific purchases. You’ll also want to give some consideration to the signup bonuses offered by each card before making your choice.

Discover it® - Cashback Match™ Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Our Take: "One of our favorite cards, with long 0% intro APRs, low ongoing APRs, awesome cash back rewards, and lots more.
  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate quarterly, up to $1,500 per quarter when you sign up for the quarterly bonus
  • 1% cash back on all your other purchases
  • With Cashback Match you could turn $200 into $400, as the card matches the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year (only for new cardmembers)
  • No limit to the amount of cash back that can be matched"
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
11.99% – 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

CASH BACK RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Use your Quicksilver card and get 50% back as a statement credit on your monthly Spotify Premium subscription, now through April 2018
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months; 13.99%-23.99% variable APR after that
  • Balance transfers also have a 0% intro APR for 9 months; 13.99%-23.99% variable APR after that; a 3% fee applies to each balance transferred
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 9 months
0% for 9 months
13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

Another factor to keep in mind when looking at cash back cards is the process for redemption. Some cash back programs will only redeem your rewards as a statement credit, while others will also send you a check or gift card. You’ll also want to note any minimum redemption requirements; at 1.5% cash back, it can take about $1,600 worth of purchase rewards to reach a $25 minimum redemption amount.

“No Annual Fee” Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees

In a perfect world, every credit card would come without fees — and we’d all have jet-packs. Sadly, we’re still a long way from universal backpack propulsion devices, but we can get pretty close to a fee-free credit card by choosing one with no annual fee and zero foreign transaction fees. It can even help you travel.

In fact, our top picks for no annual fee cards to take abroad come complete with travel rewards programs that can help you save on your airfare or hotels. They can also eliminate the need to pay interest fees on your trip with an introductory 0% APR offer, making these credit cards about as fee-free as you can get.

Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Our Take: "If you're looking for a card that gives you air miles, your search is over. This card helps you earn free flights with multiple airlines, awards very generous bonuses, and offers a low APR to boot.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar spent
  • Cover travel costs by redeeming the miles in any amount for a statement credit
  • Fly any airline, any time
  • No blackout dates
  • At the end of your first year, the card automatically matches the miles you've earned (only for new cardmembers)"
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
11.99% – 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 12.99%-22.99% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
12.99% - 22.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

Furthermore, because there’s no annual fee to weigh down your rewards, the signup and spending rewards can be even more valuable, so compare programs carefully. In particular, if you’re going to be using your card a lot over the next year, Discover’s unique matching program may be your best value. Otherwise, the lump-sum bonus offered by Capital One could be a better bet.

“Chip-and-Pin” Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees

Already becoming ubiquitous in the US, the EMV credit card is the latest effort to make credit card transactions more secure and the cards themselves harder to duplicate. The EMV credit card is often called a chip card for the prominent chip — actually an integrated circuit — embedded in it, used to store the card’s account and verification information.

Graphic of Chip-and-Pin Card Use

The chip-and-pin cards standard in many European countries use a four-digit pin rather than a signature.

The EMV cards used in the US are often authorized by the cardholder’s signature, much like the traditional magnetic stripe cards. In many European countries, however, they instead use a chip-and-pin system, which requires a four-digit pin similar to a debit card.

Although most EU merchants can process chip-and-signature cards, travelers may run into some compatibility problems. This is particularly likely when trying to use self-service payment machines, such as ticket kiosks, which use an offline transaction verification processes that US credit cards are not typically configured to use.

To avoid any potential pitfalls — or the need to carry pocketfuls of the local currency — frequent travelers may wish to pick up a chip-and-pin card before their trip. With a good chip-and-pin card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, you’ll be buying like a native in no time.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card Review

at Bank of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  • 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days — that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want — you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Comes with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% - 75%
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles
N/A
15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® Review

at Barclaycard'ssecure website

AIR MILES RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.4/5.0
  • Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days - that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made while traveling abroad
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% for 12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)
16.99%, 20.99% or 23.99% Variable
$89 - Waived first year
Excellent

As with other types of credit cards, you’ll want to compare rewards and signup bonuses when choosing a chip-and-pin card for your trip. You should also want to consider any annual fees, as these can take a bite out of your bonuses.

“Business” Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees

Although many of our no foreign transaction fee picks are perfect for a fee-free vacation, not all trips are for pleasure. And when you’re traveling for business, cost can be even more important than when you’re on a pleasure jaunt, with every penny coming out of your company’s bottom line. So why waste precious profits on foreign transaction fees?

Our picks for business cards with no foreign transaction fees are the perfect fit for any international executive or continent-hopping consultant, offering your choice of a card with unlimited cash back or one offering blackout-free travel rewards. You’ll also see solid signup bonuses that can really help your business purchases pay off.

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earning unlimited 2% cash back could mean thousands of dollars each year going back into your business
  • Plus, a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Use Spark Cash across all your business spend, with no categories to limit your purchasing
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $59 after that
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
  • Get employee cards at no additional cost, and earn rewards from their business spend
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $59 after that
Excellent, Good

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 on every purchase, every day
  • Plus, a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account, and there are no categories to limit where or what you buy
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $59 after that
  • There's no limit to the amount of miles you can earn
  • Redeem miles for travel, cash back, gift cards and more
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.99% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $59 after that
Excellent, Good

No matter which card you choose, keep in mind that a business credit card is not intended for purchases you will need to pay off over a long period of time. The interest rates charged by credit cards make it a bad idea to carry a balance for very long.

Save a Little & Travel a Lot with the Right Card

No matter how well you plan and prepare, going on vacation can sometimes leave you feeling, well, as though you need another vacation. This is especially true when traveling abroad, and dealing with all of the paperwork and cultural complications that foreign travel entails. As exhausting as the trip can be, however, the bill you open afterward can be what really takes it out of you.

Fortunately, with the right credit card, you can cushion the blow. Not only can you cut your expenses by 3% or more by choosing a card that charges no foreign transaction fees, but you can boost your value by selecting one with great rewards, no annual fee, or a convenient chip-and-pin configuration. Yes, with the help of a good credit card, you can globe-trot like a pro.