Using a credit card is an ideal way to combine safety and convenience when traveling. You will have fraud protection, an itemized spending record and no need to fumble with foreign currency. However, many credit cards will charge a foreign transaction fee, or FTF, of 3 percent on every purchase made abroad. Though it may not sound like much at first, this can add up to be quite a dent in your travel budget. CardRatings.com provides a list of credit cards that do not charge a foreign transaction fee, so you can spend that 3 percent on something really worthwhile – like a snow globe.
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The foreign transaction fee, or FTF, is a fee usually made up of 1 percent charged by the transaction network - such as MasterCard or Visa - and 2 percent charged by the issuing bank, for a total of 3 percent. Banks charge this fee for the convenience of exchanging currency. However, as this process becomes commonplace, many banks have opted to remove the fee from certain credit cards.
All credit card networks (AmEx, Discover, Visa and MasterCard) and most major issuers (Chase, Citi, Capital One, to name a few) offer at least one card without FTF. All credit cards from Discover and Capital One do not charge a FTF. Included on our list are select cards from Chase, Discover and Barclaycard. CardRatings.com does the work for you by listing credit cards from our partners that do not charge a foreign transaction fee, so you can compare the other benefits provided to find which card would match you needs.
Using a credit card without a foreign transaction fee while abroad is ideal for a number of reasons. First, you have fraud protection with your credit card. If your cash is stolen, you will be out the money. However, if your card is stolen and used, by law the maximum you would owe for unauthorized charges is $50 per card. However, with most companies zero-liability policies, you will not be liable for the charges and you will not lose any money. Second, your credit card statements acts as a record of your spending, ideal for making sure your trip matches up with your travel budget. Lastly, dealing with foreign currency can be confusing and overwhelming. If counting out coins before trying to catch a metro train makes you panic, it’s much easier to use your card to purchase a pack of metro tickets with your credit card and save your pocket change for the street performers.
Though perks and rewards will change depending on card issuer, many of these cards are associated with some of the best rewards programs available for frequent travelers. Perks on some cards include free checked baggage, airport lounge access and trip insurance. Other rewards programs offer point systems that are able to be used on almost every aspect of your travels from using points to book flights to earning points on purchases such as gas and dining out. Also, many of these FTF-fee cards include a EMV chip embedded in the card to increase security. This chip technology will make it much easier when traveling in Europe, where chip-and-pin cards are now the standard. CardRatings.com provides an outline of each card highlighting additional card features and benefits.