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Best no foreign transaction fee credit cards of September 2021

Using a credit card that charges foreign transaction fees could cost cardholders who frequently travel abroad or shop with foreign vendors hundreds of extra dollars a year. CardRatings editors break down the best no foreign transaction fee credit cards and discuss their numerous perks.
Brooklyn Lowery, CardRatings Senior Manager Last Updated, September 20, 2021

Best no foreign transaction fee credit cards of 2021Consider this: If your card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee and you spend $2,000 on your card while enjoying your trip abroad, you'll end up paying another $60 in fees. It's not a ton of money in the grand scheme, but still, why pay it if you don't have to? According to the National Travel and Tourism Office, more than 83 million Americans traveled abroad in 2019. We don't have statistics for how many of those people were traveling WITHOUT a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card, and who were therefore paying fees on every foreign purchase made on their trip, but we think it's safe to say that most of those people would have preferred to have kept that extra money to themselves. Traveling with the right credit card can help you do just that, and we have plenty of options from our partners and more below.

TOP NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARDS

With the right no foreign transaction fee credit card from our partners, you could potentially save yourself hundreds of dollars next time you travel abroad. In fact, even if you don't travel abroad, one of these cards could save you money if you buy products from international merchants. If you're buying some awesome clothes from a British designer's website with prices listed in pounds, you'll be on the hook for conversion fees if you don't use a no-foreign-transaction fee card. Set yourself up for this success by browsing (and using) our top picks for the best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARD FOR FLAT-RATE TRAVEL REWARDS

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: We love a card with an easy rewards structure when it comes to both earning those rewards and redeeming them. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card checks both those boxes. You can fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime and not have to worry about blackout dates. Plus, you can transfer your miles to multiple leading travel loyalty programs. It also offers you a Global Entry or TSA Pre✔™ application fee reimbursement, a perk that's rare among cards with this low of an annual fee.

The Bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within three months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel.

The Rewards: Earn two miles per $1 spent on all your purchases.

Redeem your rewards for statement credit to cover a variety travel purchases including those with airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies and more. There are no blackout dates or value conversion formulas to worry about. Your miles are always worth $.01 each when you redeem them for statement credit to cover travel purchases. For example, a $500 travel purchase would require 50,000 miles to cover the full cost.

Annual Fee: $95

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • Enjoy up to a $100 application fee credit to cover Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™ membership.
  • While your rewards are quite flexible and can be redeemed for any eligible travel purchase, you can also choose to transfer your miles to one of a number of hotel or airline loyalty programs, which could yield even more value.
  • Here's a benefit that a lot of people probably don't think about much, until they get to the rental car counter. When the clerk asks, "Do you want to pay for insurance for your rental car?" you can confidently say, "No thanks." Because as long as you're renting with the Capital One Venture card, you're covered with its auto rental collision damage waiver.

CONS:

  • There's an annual fee and, as annual fees go, it isn't too steep. But still, it needs to be considered.
  • If you decide to redeem for cash instead of travel, you won't be maximizing the full value of your rewards. So it's good for travel, but not as useful as a cash-back rewards card.

Read our full Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 81.6 84.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.9 8.2
Customer Service 8.3 8.4
Website/App Usability 8.5 8.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.8 9.1
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.1 8.6

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CARD FOR TIERED TRAVEL REWARDS

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This is a card with a slightly higher-than-typical annual fee, but it offers plenty of solid perks and rewards to justify it, plus that whole, "no foreign transaction fees" part. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.

The Bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of card membership.

The Rewards: Earn four Membership Rewards® points per $1 spent at restaurants including takeout and delivery; four points per $1 at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in supermarket purchases, then one point); and three Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. You can also earn up to $10 total in statement credits monthly, that's up to $120 each year, when you pay with your card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Boxed, Ruth's Chris Steak House and participating Shake Shack locations (enrollment required).

Annual Fee: $250

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • Start membership off on the right foot with 60,000 bonus points earned by spending at least $4,000 in the first six months after opening an account.
  • Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • If you do a lot of carryout or delivery, you'll appreciate the $10 monthly statement credits when you pay with your American Express Gold card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. (Enrollment required.) That's $120 in savings a year.

CONS:

  • The annual fee is a fairly hefty at $250.
  • American Express cards aren't as widely accepted, especially internationally, as a Visa or Mastercard. You may want to bring along another card when you travel overseas just in case.

Read our full review of the American Express® Gold Card.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 88.9 84.6
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.8 8.3
Customer Service 9.1 8.7
Website/App Usability 8.9 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.2 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.7 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARD FOR EVERYDAY PURCHASES

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: ThankYou® Points are a nice reward currency to have around as they can be redeemed directly for travel, gifts cards and more or they can be transferred to a number of travel loyalty programs. It's also nice that this card offers some appealing additional perks, including a newly added annual hotel bonus credit. Citi is a CardRatings advertiser

The Bonus: Earn 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

The Rewards: Earn three ThankYou® Points per $1 spent for restaurant, supermarket, gas station, hotel and air travel purchases. Earn one point per $1 on your other eligible purchases.

Annual Fee: $95

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • There are a lot of excellent everyday rewards-earning opportunities here, so you can rack up a bank of ThankYou® Points pretty quickly.
  • Receive $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more each calendar year.
  • There are a travel loaylty program partners for your Thank You® Points and that could make them worth even more.

CONS:

  • Keep in mind the annual fee; the $100 hotel credit would more than offset that, though, if you're able to take advantage (see the Pros above for more on that).
  • While there are a number travel partners to which you can transfer your rewards, but they aren't necessarily the most popular ones out there. Take a look to ensure you can use those partners or that you'll still get good value with your rewards.

Read our full Citi Premier® Card review.

We have not polled this card yet, but would love to hear your thoughts on it if you are a cardholder. Comment below or email us at editor@cardratings.com to share more about your experience.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARD FOR THE WELCOME BONUS

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Sure, it's nice to avoid foreign transaction fees, but wouldn't it be nice if your card also rewarded you for traveling and – since you know you want to – sampling the local cuisine while you're there?

The Bonus: Rake in 100,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards® points (worth $1,250 in travel) after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

The Rewards: Earn five points per $1 on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; three points per $1 on dining (including eligible takeout and delivery), select streaming services and online grocery store purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs); two points on travel; and one point per $1 on other purchases. Plus, earn five points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's three points in addition to the two points you already earn on travel. And, by the way, your points are worth 25% more if you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. You can also transfer those points to a number of popular airline and hotel loyalty partners, making them potentially worth even more.

Annual Fee: $95

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • The high ongoing rewards rates, including 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, is terrific, but we really love that with these rewards, there are no blackout dates, restrictions or expiration dates.
  • Love to eat? This card offers unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service (just make sure you activate it by 12/31/21).
  • The trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance, especially these days, should help make everyone feel relieved about booking a trip with this card.

CONS:

  • There is an annual fee of $95. Could be worse, but still, nobody enjoys paying an annual fee.
  • This card's rewards earning works well for a certain type of spender, but not everyone. Remember you'll earn two points per $1 spent only on travel and dining out. If those aren't among your regular spending categories, you might be better off with a different card.

Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 82.3 84.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.3 8.3
Customer Service 8.4 8.7
Website/App Usability 8.2 8.1
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.7 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.8 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CARD FOR AIRPORT LOUNGE ACCESS

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: As a premier luxury card, this card comes loaded with benefits. It offers airport lounge access, a travel concierge service, elite status with partnering hotel brands Marriott and Hilton, up to $200 a year in statement credits to cover incidental airline charges, like baggage fees and in-flight refreshments, charged on the card with a pre-selected airline, and more. All that comes at a cost in the form of a higher annual fee but for the frequent traveler, the benefits might be worth the price. Enrollment required for select benefits. 

The Bonus: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend $6,000 within the first six months of opening your account.

The Rewards: Earn five points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel (up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year) as well as five points per $1 spent on prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com. Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases during your first six months of card membership. All other eligible purchases earn one point per $1 spent. 

Annual Fee: $695

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • People who often use Uber should love the up to $15 a month, plus $35 in December, in Uber Cash for Uber rides and Uber Eats orders. That's up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • Earn $100 in credits at Saks Fifth Avenue store each year - two credits of up to $50, one for January through June, and another July through December. You can also stack the credit with other promotions, to save even more.
  • If you fly a lot, you're sure to enjoy the $200 a year for airline incidental fees with one qualifying pre-selected airline – a reimbursement for expenses such as checked bags or in flight refreshments.
  • Enrollment required for select benefits. 

CONS:

  • You will pay for all of the lovely perks that come with this  card. The annual fee is $695.
  • We always have to remind readers of this: American Express cards have more limited acceptance, especially overseas. That network is always growing, but you do need to keep it in mind.

Read our full The Platinum Card® from American Express review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 87.8 88.1
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.7 8.8
Customer Service 8.8 9.1
Website/App Usability 8.5 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.0 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 9.1 8.8

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARD FOR DINING ABROAD

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: If you're someone who enjoys the finer things when you travel, you'll appreciate this luxury card that not only allows you to avoid paying foreign transaction fees but also ensures you're being well rewarded all along your jet-setting way. You'll also enjoy saving some money with a $300 statement credit reimbursement each cardholder anniversary year to cover travel costs (and more during this season of pandemic-disrupted travel).

The Bonus: Enjoy 60,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards® points (worth $900 in travel) after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. Your points are worth 50% more if you redeem them for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®, hence 60,000 points is worth $900. Those points could be worth even more, however, if you choose to transfer them 1:1 to one of multiple airline and hotel loyalty programs.

The Rewards: Earn 5 points per $1 on air travel and 10 points per $1 on car rentals and hotels booked through the Ultimate Rewards® portal immediately after earning your $300 annual travel reimbursement. Earn three points per $1 spent on dining out and on other travel that isn't eligible for the annual $300 travel statement credit reimbursement, and one point per $1 on all your other purchases. Remember, too, that they're worth 50% more, if you redeem for travel through Ultimate Rewards®.

Annual Fee: $550

Credit Needed: Excellent

PROS:

  • During the time when COVID all but halted travel, Chase updated the rules for its $300 travel reimbursement. Through Dec. 31, 2021, gas station and grocery store purchases also count toward earning that travel credit AND you'll still earn points on those purchases (remember, you don't earn 3x points on travel purchases until you've completely claimed your travel reimbursement).
  • The card comes with a lot of perks such as trip cancellation and interruption insurance; and if you sign up for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®, you will receive up to $100 for the application fee when paying with your card.
  • Have somewhere to go? Cardholders receive one free year of Lyft Pink (a value of at least $199), the ridershare service's membership program that offers a discount (15%) on each ride as well as additional perks such as priority airport pickups and relaxed cancellations.

CONS:

  • There is an eye-popping $550 annual fee. Sure, you get a lot for it, but you can't overlook it.
  • If you want to add an authorized user to your account, you'll pay a $75 annual fee for each user you add.

Read our full Chase Sapphire Reserve® review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 79.6 85.6
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.9 8.5
Customer Service 7.9 8.7
Website/App Usability 7.9 8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.3 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.0 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARD FOR TRAVEL REWARDS WITH NO ANNUAL FEE

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: With this card, it pays to be a loyal customer (we explain in the Editor's Take tab). And, since there is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, all the rewards you earn can go directly toward your next great trip.

The Bonus: Earn 25,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days – that can be a $250 statement credit toward your travel purchases.

The Rewards: Earn 1.5 points for every $1 you spend. Plus, enjoy 0% introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases. After the intro APR ends, 13.99% - 23.99% Variablewill apply.

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent/Good

PROS:

  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards member you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase depending on your membership tier.
  • This card offers a simple rewards earning structure meaning your rewards can accumulate quickly without a lot of thought or planning.
  • This is a nice choice for existing Bank of America customers (particularly those with Preferred Rewards status) who enjoy a lot of flexibility with their travel rewards. There is no brand loyalty to consider or blackout dates to worry about with this card.

CONS:

  • The rewards and intro offer are decent for low to average credit card spenders but if you heavily use your card you’d likely be better off with a travel rewards card that offers a more substantial rewards program. Sure, you might have to pay an annual fee for that, but if you’re using your card often enough, you’ll likely quickly offset that.
  • The fact that Preferred Rewards members can earn up to 75% more points is fantastic, but you must have a Bank of America and/or Merrill investment account and a specific average account balance to qualify.

Read our full Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 84.2 86.0
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.4 8.5
Customer Service 8.5 8.6
Website/App Usability 8.4 8.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.6 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.3 8.8

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARD WITH FLAT RATE CASH-BACK REWARDS

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Thanks to no rotating categories or spending caps, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card makes earning cash back simple. With unlimited 1.5% cash back earned on every dollar this card rewards you for every purchase you make, no matter the amount, no matter the category. In addition to no foreign transaction fees, this card also boasts no annual fees, so it's a great everyday card to hold.

The Bonus: Earn a one time $200 cash back bonus once you spend $500 on the card within your first three months of opening an account. Also enjoy an introductory 0% purchase APR for 15 months – a 14.99% - 24.99% (Variable) APR will apply after the first 15 months.

The Rewards: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made.

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • With this card there are no categories or caps to worry about. Simply earn unlimited 1.5% on all purchases made, making it a solid option for the person who wants a simple credit card.
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months (then 14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)).
  • Cash-back rewards cards that don't card a foreign transaction fee aren't super common. It's nice to have this option if cash back rewards are what you're looking for.

CONS:

  • It doesn't take much to earn it ($500 spent in the first three months), but at $200, the welcome bonus isn't eye-popping. It's still nice, though, considering this card doesn't charge an annual fee AND offers a nice intro 0% APR period.
  • Earning 1.5% cash back on every purchase is nice for the ocassional credit card user, but if you use credit cards heavily, a card with an annuel fee might be worth it for you.

Read our full Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 89 85
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.9 8.4
Customer Service 8.9 8.5
Website/App Usability 8.9 8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.3 9.1
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.9 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARD FOR ROTATING CATEGORIES CASH BACK REWARDS

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It:: Not only is this a no annual/no foreign transaction fee, cash-back credit card, it's a cash-back credit card with an excellent new cardholder intro offer. New Discover it® Cash Back cardholders can look forward to an automatic dollar-for-dollar match on all the cash back earned at the end of the first year of card membership. That means the 5% that can be earned at different places each quarter (up to the quarterly maximum of $1,500 spent each time you activate) is essentially worth 10% during the first year, and the 1% earned on all other purchases is equivalent to 2%. This is a hard offer to beat.

  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back in any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • #1 Most Trusted Credit Card according to Investor's Business Daily.
  • No annual fee.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
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PROS:

  • No annual fee or, as evidenced by its inclusion on this list, foreign transaction fees.
  • Intro 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months (then, 11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR).
  • The match bonus Discover offers is unique, and has the potential to reward you big time. If you plan your spending right, you have the opportunity to walk away with a ton of extra cash at the end of your first year as a cardholder.

CONS:

  • If you don't want to keep up with rotating categories or quarterly activation, this might not be the best card for you. Plus, there's a cap each quarter on the amount of bonus rewards you can earn, which could feel limiting for some users.
  • Fewer merchants accept Discover than, say, Mastercard or Visa, so that may sometimes be an annoyance.

Read our full Discover it® Cash Back review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 87.7 88.7
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.8 8.8
Customer Service 8.8 8.9
Website/App Usability 8.6 8.7
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.2 9.3
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.6 8.8

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARD FOR SMALL BUSINESS TRAVEL REWARDS

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This card is a top choice for small business owners. It has a modest annual fee, a stellar signup bonus and a unique cell phone insurance benefit that covers both yours and your employees' devices. You can also request free cards for your employees and set individual limits on each one to make it convenient to control and track business spending.

The Bonus: Earn an impressive 100,000 bonus points when you spend $15,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account. Those points are worth $1,250 in travel rewards through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program.

The Rewards: Earn three points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent each account anniversary year in combined purchases of travel; shipping; social media and search engine advertising; and internet, cable and phone services. You'll get an unlimited one point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Points never expire, and they are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal.

Annual Fee: $95

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • A welcome bonus worth up to $1,250?! That's a tough offer to beat on a card with this low an annual fee.
  • Points never expire, and they are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel.
  • There are a number of helpful perks, such as cellular phone insurance for the primary cardholder and employee phones on the same account (for no extra cost when you pay your bill with the card; terms and deductibles apply), as well as purchase protection, extended warranty protection, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, roadside dispatch and an auto rental collision damage waiver.

CONS:

  • An annual fee of $95. There are business credit cards with far higher annual fees, but an annual fee is an annual fee.
  • Alas, there are no special 0% intro APR deals.

Read our full Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 83.4 81.7
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.4 8.3
Customer Service 8.5 8.2
Website/App Usability 8.2 8.0
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.4 8.4
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.1 7.9

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARD FOR BUSINESS CASH-BACK REWARDS

Capital One Spark Cash for Business

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Part of why we like this card is its simplicity. It focuses on the benefits small business owners need - such as free employee cards, year-end summaries and easy accounting - without all the extras that can inflate the annual fee on other cards.

The Bonus: Spend $4,500 in the first three months to earn $500 cash back.

The Rewards: Earn an unlimited 2% cash back on all eligible purchases.

Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • What business can't use some cash back on purchases you're making anyway? Since it's unlimited, this could add up significantly and quickly.
  • A lot of extra features, such as free employee cards, the ability to set employee spend limits, a mobile app to manage purchases, rental car collision insurance, extended warranty protection and more.
  • You'll get a year-end itemized report of spending an and easy-to-download purchase record. That may sound like a boring holiday gift, but in the next few months, when you do your taxes, you'll be thrilled to have it.

CONS:

  • There is an annual fee to consider – but on the plus side, the first year, it's waived.
  • Since you're on the no-foreign-transaction fee page, it's safe to assume your business requires some travel. If that's the case, you might get more value out of the travel version of this card, Capital One Spark Miles for Business

Read our full Capital One Spark Cash for Business review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 79.5 82.4
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.8 8.0
Customer Service 8.0 8.4
Website/App Usability 7.9 8.5
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.3 8.7
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.0 8.3

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARD FOR STUDENTS

4
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Not only does this card not require a credit history, it also doesn’t require a Social Security number from international applicants, making it a solid choice for international students studying in America. Instead, Deserve looks at your full financial picture considering a number of factors, like how you manage your money, if you pay your bills on time, etc., to predict your future credit potential. This makes it a great card for U.S. applicants looking for a good no foreign transaction fee credit card to use while studying or traveling abroad, as well as for international applicants who need a card to use while traveling home and elsewhere.

The Bonus: Receive one year of Amazon Prime Student after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles with your card. Plus, enjoy complimentary cellphone insurance up to $600.

The Rewards: Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases, and credit limits up to $5,000. Also includes Mastercard Platinum Benefits like car rental collision damage waiver, roadside assistance, travel assistance services, price protection, extended warranty and ID theft protection.

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good, Limited History, No Credit History

PROS:

  • It's a great card for anybody who is new to credit. It doesn't require a credit history to apply; you also don't need to furnish a Social Security number, and so it makes it easier for international applicants to apply.
  • It's also a swell card for college students. You'll get a year's worth of an Amazon Prime Student membership with this card.
  • The rewards aren't bad, too, considering that you can get away with not having much of a credit history: 1% unlimited cash back on all purchases.

CONS:

  • There are student credit cards that offer more rewards than 1%, and so if you think you can do better, you may be right.
  • Balance transfers and cash advances aren't allowed. Frankly, that's probably a good thing - it can keep you out of collecting too much debt and having things spiral out of control. But some cardholders may be a bit bummed to learn this.

Learn more in our Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 70.7 Did not survey
Features Satisfaction 7.0 n/a
Customer Service 7.2 n/a
Website/App Usability 7.0 n/a
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.8 n/a
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 6.8 n/a

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARD FOR FAIR CREDIT

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: A card that's available to folks with fair credit wouldn't necessarily be one you'd expect to offer rewards or come without foreign transaction fees. But this card checks both those boxes.

The Bonus: There's no traditional bonus with this card, but that's not unusual for a card available to those with fair credit.

The Rewards: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back for every purchase – rewards ARE fairly unusual for a card of this credit-needed type, so don't overlook this perk.

Annual Fee: $39

Credit Needed: Average, Fair, Limited

PROS:

  • Extra features and no foreign transaction fees are a bit tough to find on a card for people with fair credit, but this one offers just that.
  • There isn't a traditional bonus offer, but you can earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases, which is, again, not all that typical for a card for fair credit applicants.
  • The credit tracking tools available with this card could be just what you need to qualify for a higher-tier card down the road.

CONS:

  • It's disappointing that there isn't a solid bonus offer with this card.
  • While not high, the annual fee is something to consider. You only need to average about $220 spent per month on the card to fully offset the fee, but it is something to keep in mind.

Read our full Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 86.6 Did not survey
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.4 n/a
Customer Service 8.8 n/a
Website/App Usability 8.9 n/a
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.3 n/a
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.9 n/a

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARDS FOR BAD CREDIT/LIMITED CREDIT

4
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This is a no annual fee card designed for people working on their credit score – but people with lower credit scores travel abroad too! For these people, it's good to have options that will help to save money on fees.

The Bonus and Rewards: There are no true rewards or bonus offered with this card; however, cardholders can get access to a higher credit line in as little as six months, with no additional deposit needed. Unlike a prepaid card, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card helps cardholders build credit when used responsibly since the issuer does regularly report your usage to the three major credit bureaus.

Annual Fee: $0

Security Deposit: In order to establish your initial line of credit, you need to make a $49, $99 or $200 security deposit (determined by your application and credit history). The amount is fully refundable when you close your account or graduate to a non-secured card, assuming your account is in good standing.

Credit Needed: Limited, Bad

PROS:

  • You may not have to shell out $200 of your own money to get the $200 credit limit. You may get it by paying $49 or $99, based on your credit history. And the money is refundable.
  • No annual fee. Being a secured credit card, you'd hope not, right? But some secured credit cards have them.
  • You can set your own due date. That is, you can set your monthly due date, an excellent feature that should help you manage your cash flow.

CONS:

  • No rewards program. Many secured credit cards don't have them, but some do. Not this one, though.
  • At 26.99% (Variable), the APR is kind of high. Some secured credit cards have a lower APR. Since you're working to build a solid credit history, you'll want to do your best to pay off your balance in full every cycle anyway, though.

Read our full Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card review.

2020 Scores 2019 Scores
Overall Score 81.7 81.4
Features Satisfaction 8.1 8.1
Customer Service 8.2 8.2
Website/App Usability 8.2 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.6 8.4
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.1 8.0

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

WHAT IS A FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE?

A foreign transaction fee is a fee, generally a percentage of the purchase, charged by a bank when a credit card is used to make a purchase in a foreign currency. People usually think of these in relation to physically being in a foreign country and making a purchase from a merchant there, but these fees may also be charged if you withdraw money from an ATM in a foreign country.

And, in fact, you don't necessarily have to physically be in another country to be charged a foreign transaction fee; purchases made online from overseas stores may be processed in another currency and can result in a fee.

Most major banks have cards that charge foreign transaction fees as well as those that don't. Discover and Capital One, however, are different in that none of their cards charge foreign transaction fees, hence several of those cards made our list above.

HOW MUCH ARE FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEES?

Most credit cards have foreign transaction fees ranging between 1% and 3%. That said, if there's going to be a foreign transaction fee on your credit card, and there often is, it'll probably be 3%.

The fees cover the bank's expense for converting purchases from one country's currency into American dollars. Some credit cards pass on the cost of converting that currency to the consumer, and some credit cards take the hit so you don't have to.

But 3% doesn't sound like much to pay for the convenience of using a card, right? Well, it adds up. Consider the following scenarios:

  • A family of four is headed on a 12-day European adventure. Hotels, rental cars, food, museum/site entry fees, souvenirs and incidentals add up to $6,000. Their credit card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, so they spend about $180 in foreign transaction fees on that trip.
  • A young professional hears about a new electronic notebook that would make their job much more organized. The professional saves up $700 for this pricey gadget and then places their online order through a Norwegian manufacturer. Since their credit card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, they will pay $21 in foreign transaction fees.
  • A small business owner sources fabric from a producer in India. Each bolt of fabric costs 10,000 INR (Indian rupees) or about $135 USD (as of this writing). Tack on a 3% foreign transaction fee and each bolt costs a little over $139. The business owner buys 500 bolts of fabric annually, which means that they will spend about $2,000 in foreign transaction fees in a year. 

Most often, credit cards that specialize in travel rewards or tout themselves as great travel companions won't charge foreign transaction fees, but that certainly isn't the case across the board. In particular, if you have a no-annual-fee co-branded card – that is, one that allows you earn loyalty points or miles with a given airline or hotel – it could very well charge foreign transaction fees, so it's always important to check your individuals card's fee structure just to be sure.

WHEN DO I PAY A FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE?

If you have a credit card that charges foreign transaction fees (check the fine print, like your credit card's website, where it discusses fees), you will pay that fee any time you make a purchase from a merchant whose products or services are billed in a currency besides U.S. dollars.

That generally happens in two scenarios.

  • You're traveling in another country, and you're using your credit card to pay for hotels, taxis, food at restaurants and so on.
  • You're sitting at your computer, and you spot a beautiful dress that you love, so you buy it, not realizing that you're purchasing the item from a company headquartered abroad and that processes transactions in the foreign currency (or through a foreign bank) even though it's showing you prices in U.S. dollars.

You won't see the fee at the checkout in either of the above scenarios; instead, you'll notice it when you take a look at your credit card statement in a few weeks. You statement will have several sections:

  • Transactions - those are your purchases and returns
  • Payments - any payments you've made during the billing cycle
  • Interest - any interest accrued on various types of transactions
  • Fees - foreign transaction fees, annual fees, balance transfer fees and more will show up here

Because you don't see the fee as you're making your purchase, it can be tough to keep track of how much that 3% is adding up if you're using your card repeatedly while traveling. That's why no-foreign-transaction-fee credit cards are so important.

DO ALL MAJOR CREDIT CARD COMPANIES CHARGE FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEES?

No, not all banks charge foreign transaction fees on their credit cards. Capital One and Discover, for instance, both boast a no-foreign-transaction-fee policy for their credit cards.

Policies, however, are always subject to change, so make sure you check your card's specific terms if you have questions.

CHOOSING THE BEST CREDIT CARDS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

Having the right credit card in your pocket can make traveling overseas all the more enjoyable and secure. Not only does it minimize the need to exchange currency, but many cards also come with extra perks like trip interruption insurance and baggage insurance.

If you plan to travel outside the country, selecting a card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees is essential. Otherwise, go ahead and assume that every souvenir your buy, every meal you eat, every hotel bill you pay with your credit card will cost you 3% more once those fees are figured in. Yes, it can add up quickly.

Beyond that, choosing the best credit cards for international travel comes down to the following factors:

  • Credit score: You'll need to find a card that matches your credit profile. We've included credit guidelines for all the cards listed above. Note that you don't have to have perfect credit in order to qualify for a no-foreign-transaction fee card. We've included above our picks for the best cards with that feature for those with fair/average credit as well as for those with limited/bad credit. Don't settle for paying a fee just because your credit isn't in the excellent range.
  • Destination: Make sure your card will be accepted in the locations you plan to visit. Visa and Mastercard are often more widely accepted than Discover and American Express, though both of those issuers are growing their networks all the time.
  • Features: Depending on the credit card, you may get access to airport lounges, car rental insurance, trip interruption insurance or baggage insurance among other benefits. Look for a card that has the features you're most likely to use.
  • Rewards: If a card offers rewards, be sure they are applicable to your travel plans. Consider signing up for a card that earns points that can be used across multiple airline and hotel brands.
  • Fees: Finally, don't overlook fees. While a card may not have foreign transaction fees, it may charge an annual fee, cash advance fees and balance transfer fees among others.
  • Chip-and-PIN technology:While almost every new credit card issued today comes with chip technology, not all are Chip and PIN cards. A PIN is often necessary to complete transactions in many countries so be sure your new card is PIN enabled for overseas travel. All of the cards that made our list above are Chip and PIN ready cards, but you may need to contact your issuer to request the PIN. If you don't know your PIN already, be sure to contact your bank far in advance of your trip (many take 7-10 days to send you a new PIN via mail).

BENEFITS OF NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARDS

There are many reasons to use one of the credit cards listed above on your next vacation or business trip – or if you're shopping with foreign merchants from the comfort of your own sofa. The benefits of the best no foreign transaction fee credit cards include excellent rewards, wide acceptance overseas and plenty of customer support no matter where you travel. There's also the added security of using a credit card instead of cash or a debit card while traveling (or shopping online). Think about it; if you lose cash, or if it's stolen while you're traveling, you're out of luck. If you lose your credit card, or if it's stolen, your situation won't be quite as dire. You might be without your card for a bit, but at least you aren't out that money.

What's more, many of these cards have additional features, like travel insurance, as mentioned above. Look for a rewards card with great benefits and you could save money now while racking up points for your next getaway.

HOW TO USE A NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARD

Even if you pick one of these "no-FTF" credit cards for your next international adventure, you could still get socked by fees from local banks or retailers. Here's how to keep your trip surcharge-free:

  • Merchants don't always welcome every American credit card equally. It used to be that American credit cards lacked some of the safety features required to use a card overseas (this is pre-chip-and-PIN technology becoming more common in the U.S.); these days, American credit cards generally have the technology needed to travel abroad. The only real thing you'll likely need to consider is whether your issuer is widely accepted. As we already mentioned, Visa and Mastercard have the highest acceptance rates around the world, BUT, Discover and American Express have been busy expanding their networks in the past few years as well, so don't be so quick to rule these issuers out. With that said, some stores might request or require that you use a card that transacts on their preferred network, so it might be wise to carry a back up card from a different issuer just in case.
  • Watch for "dynamic currency conversion" offers. Point-of-sale systems in tourist havens often use an unfavorable exchange rate while tacking on processing fees. Ask to do business in local currency and let your bank save you money.
  • Keep your receipts. You never know if you're going to need them for clearing customs or discussing a charge with your credit card company after you get home. It's always better to be safe than sorry. If you don't want to hold on to the paper copies, at least snap a quick photo with your phone before discarding the receipt.
  • Use ATM cash advances for emergencies only. Even credit cards with no foreign transaction fees can charge hefty cash advance processing fees. Plus, you'll usually have to pay a surcharge to a local ATM operator that can run as high as $20 in tourist districts. Instead, drop cash into an online checking account with a no-fee debit card. Even if there is a fee to withdraw money using your debit card, you'll likely still save money this way. Especially because many U.S. banks have partner banks abroad who reduce or waive the fee for partner users.
  • Finally, protect yourself against pickpockets by writing down your credit card companies' emergency phone numbers and key account details before you leave. Keep a copy separate from your wallet or valuables. If your card gets lost or stolen, your bank's emergency assistance team can help replace your card or provide an emergency cash advance much more quickly than if they have to look up and verify your account information.

Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September and October 2020 to conduct surveys among 1,746 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2020-Aug. 31, 2020 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were added to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents' scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to "How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?" was double weighted.

Ranking Methodology: CardRatings experts review the fine print, details, perks, rewards and features of hundreds of cards and compare them side-by-side with similar cards. A card that makes an excellent balance transfer card may not make a great cash-back rewards card even though it offers those rewards. While the Best of the Year list is announced annually, that list – and all other “best of” lists on CardRatings – are regularly reviewed and updated as issuers change the terms and features of each card often.

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: American Express® Gold Card: See Rates and Fees; terms apply; The Platinum Card® from American Express: See Rates and Fees; terms apply

Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.

Comment
2 Comments

Reviews
  1. Curtis Arnold
    July 20, 2015 - 7:32 pm
    Mark- the card companies generally get preferred exchange rates due to their size. So, you can get you cake and eat it too in some cases!

    Curtis Arnold
      Reply »  
  2. Mark Jeffrey
    March 31, 2015 - 3:52 pm
    I am going to Mexico. The present exchange rate is 15.30 per 1 USD. I am thinking of getting one of these cards. Is there a way to find out what the credit card company will charge the card holder for the daily exchange rate? In other words, I can't believe I can use their card, not pay any FTF and still be billed at the 15.30 peso rate.

    Perhaps this is a free lunch!

    Regards,

    Mark
      Reply »  
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