Q: What are the best no foreign transaction fee credit cards offered by U.S. banks and credit unions that duplicate the European EMV "chip and PIN" design?
A: According to officials at Visa Inc., a handful of American banks and credit unions have issued a total of over a million chip-and-PIN credit cards to U.S. account holders. These cards offer extra security and compatibility with European payment terminals, but they call attention to the practice of charging up to 5 percent in foreign transaction fees for every purchase made outside the United States.
Although I edited your question for clarity, you mentioned a few reasons why credit card companies impose fees on foreign transactions. Payment platforms, like MasterCard and Visa, charge banks a processing fee that used to cover the cost of international wire communications for overseas, real-time authorizations. These days, such a fee seems like pure profit, but it's been grandfathered into most cardholder agreements.
Likewise, many banks charge a fee for foreign currency conversion. In the years before the European Union consolidated their currencies into the Euro, paying 2 or 3 percent for this service actually saved business travelers plenty of time and money. Again, technology and trade have made this fee a revenue driver that most credit card users tolerate as the cost of doing business. Lenders who waive foreign transaction fees have found they can attract the kind of customer whose loyalty across multiple financial products will make up for a relatively small revenue stream.
Therefore, only a handful of no foreign transaction fee credit card offers meet both of your criteria. Here are a couple:
- J.P. Morgan Select Card. Chase launched this elite credit card with chip-and-PIN built in by default, promising concierge-style customer service with no foreign transaction fees.
- British Airways Visa Signature Card. Once Chase's manufacturing partners perfected their EMV process, the bank started including chip-and-PIN as an option for this no foreign transaction fee airline credit card.
Bank of America and U.S. Bank have also started issuing EMV-enabled credit cards to a handful of their corporate accounts, with foreign transaction fees negotiated as part of a large corporation's overall banking relationship. Likewise, Wells Fargo has tested the technology with a handful of its existing account holders.