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Best no foreign transaction fee credit cards of November 2020

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.
Jennifer Doss, CardRatings Editor Last Updated, November 19, 2020

Our credit card articles, reviews and ratings maintain strict editorial integrity; however we may be compensated when you click on or are approved for offers (terms apply) from our partners. How we make money.

0% intro APR credit cardsConsider 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.

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.

LIST OF WINNERS

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARDS WITH 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 100,000-miles bonus (worth $1,000 in travel) after you spend $20,000 in the first 12 months or earn a 50,000-mile bonus (worth $500 in travel) after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.

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 Pre✓™ membership.
  • The rewards are more generous than many credit cards with travel rewards: unlimited two miles per $1 spent on every purchase.
  • 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 a $95 annual fee and as annual fees go, it isn't too steep. But still…
  • 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.

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.

The Bonus: Earn 60,000 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

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 no foreign transaction fees to worry about, so you'll save money there.

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).
  • 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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

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 60,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards® points (worth $750 in travel) after you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

The Rewards: Earn two points per $1 spent on travel and dining out as well as one point per $1 on all your 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

The information related to this credit card has been collected by CardRatings and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

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.

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 ways. You'll also enjoy saving some money with a $300 statement credit reimbursement each cardholder anniversary year to cover travel costs. And, this card was named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine.

The Bonus: Enjoy 50,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards® points (worth $750 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 50,000 points is worth $750. Those points could be worth even more, however, if you choose to transfer them 1:1 to one of multiple airline loyalty programs.

The Rewards: Earn three points per $1 spent on dining out and on 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:

  • We've mentioned it, but it bears repeating: There's an amazing signup bonus of 50,000 points, worth $750 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • The card comes with a lot of perks such as trip cancellation and interruption insurance; and if you sign up for Global Entry or Pre✓™, you will receive up to $100 for the application fee when using the Sapphire Reserve® 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, still…
  • 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.

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. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.

The Bonus: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership.

The Rewards: Earn 5X points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel (starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5X points on 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 U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership. All other eligible purchases earn one point per $1 spent. 

Annual Fee: $550

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • People who often use Uber should love the free rides in the U.S., which is up to $15 a month, plus a bonus of $20 in December. 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.

CONS:

  • You will pay for all of the lovely perks that come with this credit card. The annual fee is $550.
  • You know how with some credit cards, if you can't pay off the balance, you'll just pay it off the next month or the next? You can't do that with this card as it's a charge card, not a credit card. You won't retain this card for long if you can't pay everything off, every month.

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

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Once again, this is a card with a 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 worldwide as well as four points per $1 at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in supermarket purchases, then one point). Earn 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). Lastly, you can save with up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year to cover incidental fees with one pre-selected qualifying airline.

Annual Fee: $250

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • Among many travel perks, a very helpful one is the $100 in statement credits, paid per calendar year, that kicks in when you have incidental fees like checked bags and in-flight beverages (provided that you're using the American Express Gold Card to pay for those fees - and that it's with a qualifying airline). (Please note, this offer expires in 2021.)
  • Sometimes cards that earn bonus rewards on restaurant purchases only earn those rewards at U.S. restaurants. This card, however, earns four Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide so it's great for international dining as well.
  • The card is metal, not plastic (but alas, it is not gold). Sure, it's a little thing, but it feels really cool to use, and it's likely to hold up in your wallet better - those microchips in plastic can break sometimes.
  • 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. That's $120 in savings a year.

CONS:

  • The annual fee is a fairly hefty $250.
  • You do have a Pay Over Time option for eligible purchases over $100, but this isn't a traditional credit card which could be a drawback for you.

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

 

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BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARDS WITH NO ANNUAL FEE

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

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

Why We Like It: This is a no-annual-fee card that offers top-of-the-line rewards on your travel purchases to the tune of three points per $1 spent. That's on top of the other categories in which you can quickly rack up rewards.

The Bonus: Rake in 20,000 bonus points after your spend $1,000 in the first three months. Additionally, you won't pay interest on purchases or balance transfers for an introductory 12 months, making this a great option for taking it on an overseas trip or spending a few extra months paying off a vacation splurge. After the intro period the APR becomes 13.99%-25.99% Variable.

The Rewards: Earn three points per $1 spent on travel, which includes flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. You'll also earn three points per $1 spent at gas stations and on rideshares and transit purchases, as well as on popular streaming services. Furthermore, feel free to dine out or order in while on vacation as you'll earn three points per $1 on those purchases, too. All your other purchases earn one point per $1.

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • The generous points that you receive with this card do not expire, and there are no blackout dates.
  • There's no annual fee.
  • If you've been looking for a 12-month introductory offer of 0% interest on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, well, you've found it. (And then you'll pay 13.99%-25.99% Variable.)

CONS:

  • You may have noticed that while you'll get three points for a lot of purchases, grocery shopping wasn't listed. If you do a lot of supermarket shopping, and you may well, then you might not be as excited about this card.
  • Requires excellent credit, which is only a con if your credit isn't so stellar.

Read our full Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card review.

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Discover cards are kind of known for the fact that they don't charge annual or foreign transaction fees, as well as their coveted matching offer for new cardholders. This card includes all of that, plus unlimited 1.5x miles for every dollar spent on all purchases. Discover cards might not be as widely accepted abroad, however, they're more commonly accepted now than ever, making this card a great option for travel near and far.

  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There's no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • Turn Miles into cash in any amount, any time. Or redeem as a statement credit for travel purchases like airfare, hotels, rideshares, gas stations, restaurants and more with no blackout dates. However you redeem, Miles keep the same value. And Miles never expire.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
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PROS:

  • No annual fee!
  • The mile match offer has the potential to pay off huge if you play your cards right.
  • You can freeze your account in seconds on the mobile app or website if you've had your credit card stolen, or you think you've lost it, or you want to, well, stop yourself from impulse shopping.

CONS:

  • Yes, we consider the match offer to be a pro…and also a con. At least potentially. To earn this bonus, you have to wait until your account anniversary, which might not be ideal for some credit card users.
  • Because of the match bonus, you effectively earn three miles per dollar spent, but after your first year as a cardholder, the 1.5X earn rate might not seem as desirable.

Read our full Discover it® Miles review.

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 bonus once you spend $500 with the card within your first three months of opening an account. Also enjoy an introductory 0% purchase APR for 15 months – a 15.49% - 25.49% (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.
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months (then 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable))
  • Enjoy all the great benefits of this card without the cost of an annual fee.

CONS:

  • It doesn't take much to earn it ($500 spend in the first three months), but at $200, the welcome bonus isn't eye-popping. It's still nice though considering the fact that this card doesn't charge an annual fee AND offers a nice intro 0% APR period.
  • Earning 1.5% 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.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

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

Why We Like It: With this card, it pays to be a loyal customer. 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 12 billing cycles for purchases. After the intro APR ends, See Termswill 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.
  • This card offers a simple rewards earning structure meaning your rewards can accumulate quickly without a lot of thought or planning.

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 Reward 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.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARDS WITH 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 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 to $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.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
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PROS:

  • No annual fee.
  • 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 potential 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, 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.

Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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

Why We Like It: The Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a top choice for foodies. It offers a cash back reward on dining and entertainment that is unmatched by other cards. It also comes with a host of benefits that include complimentary concierge service, travel accident insurance and extended warranty protection on purchases. Rewards don't expire, and the annual fee is waived for the first year.

The Bonus: Earn a $300 cash bonus when you spend $3,000 within three months of opening an account.

The Rewards: Earn an unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases. Plus, you get 2% cash back at the grocery store and 1% back on all other purchases.

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

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • A card that rewards foodies is a winner in our book. Earn a whopping 4% cash back on dining purchases - both at restaurants and on takeout.
  • You also earn 2% back on your grocery store purchases and 1% on all your other purchases. There's no cap on what you can earn and rewards won't expire for the life of the account.
  • This card offers a lot of extra perks, like complimentary concierge service, travel accident insurance and extended warranty protection on purchases.

CONS:

  • There is a $0 intro for first year; $95 after that annual fee.
  • If you're more of a homebody, and you don't go out on the town a lot, this may not be a great card for you.

Read our full Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card review.

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: In addition to no foreign transaction fees, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card also has no annual fees, and because it earns an unlimited, flat-rate 1.5% cash back on every purchase made, we think this is a stellar card for any low-maintenance credit card user to hold. It also has a 15 month 0% introductory APR period for purchases (then 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable) APR will apply), making it an excellent option for anyone looking for some extra time to pay off an outstanding balance or large purchase.

The Bonus: Earn a one time $200 cash bonus once you spend $500 with the card within your first three months of opening an account. Also enjoy an introductory 0% purchase APR for 15 months – a 15.49% - 25.49% (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% percent on all purchases made.
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months (then 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable))
  • Enjoy all the great benefits of this card without the cost of an annual fee.

CONS:

  • It doesn't take much to earn it ($500 spend in the first three months), but at $200, the welcome bonus isn't eye-popping. It's still nice though considering the fact that this card doesn't charge an annual fee AND offers a nice intro 0% APR period.
  • Earning 1.5% 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.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARDS 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 on Deserve after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles with your EDU 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 review.

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: No foreign transaction fee credit cards for students make good sense as it's common for students to spend a semester or more studying abroad. It's important for students to have a card to use while doing so, that won't rack up a lot of extra fees. Being a student is expensive enough— and living abroad especially so. Even if not studying abroad, trips abroad can add up, and every penny saved counts. That's why we like the Discover it® Student chrome card. Not only is it a no foreign transaction fee card, but it's also a no annual fee card, and one with good rewards to boot.

  • 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. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.
See More

PROS:

  • This is a student credit card that hasn't forgotten you're a student: You'll receive a $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to five years.
  • More evidence that this card knows you're a college student: You don't need a FICO score to get it. But once you do get it, you'll get your FICO credit score for free– and so you can see how this card is helping you build credit.
  • No annual fee. When you're in college, the last thing you want is for extra money to go toward an annual fee.

CONS:

  • While the cash back rewards are good, they aren't necessarily the highest.
  • The usual occasional gripe with Discover: fewer merchants accept Discover than, say, Mastercard or Visa, and so that may sometimes be irksome.

Learn more in our Discover it® Student chrome review.

4
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: Another solid Discover option, this card also has no annual fees and an end of the year match, but it earns rewards a bit differently than the Chrome card. Instead of consistent categories that earn bonus rewards, the Discover it® Student Cash Back earns 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.

  • 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. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • 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.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 12.99% - 21.99% applies.
See More

PROS:

  • We've mentioned it before, but we're talking an attractive rewards program: You'll 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.
  • We love the Good Grades Reward, which provides a $20 statement credit each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next five years.
  • Especially helpful for new cardholders who have never paid a monthly credit card bill: If you're late with your first payment, there's no fee.

CONS:

  • Rotating categories can be annoying if you aren't good with keeping up with that sort of thing.
  • Discover doesn't allow co-signers (quite a few credit cards don't), and this is a student credit card. So if you were hoping mom or dad could help you apply for this, no such luck.

Read our full Discover it® Student Cash Back review.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARDS FOR FAIR OR LIMITED CREDIT

4
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This no-annual-fee card isn't a traditional credit card. Instead, you're approved for a specific line of credit that you then spend against using your card. Since it's a line of credit, you have set repayment schedule and amount and can anticipate your payments each billing cycle.

The Rewards/Bonus: You can earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back when you make your payments.

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Fair

PROS:

  • There are no fees. None. No fees. No annual fee, no cash advance fee and no late fee.
  • The credit card looks like a credit card but acts more like a personal line of credit. If you don't pay off what you owe by the end of the month, your purchases are combined into a single personal loan with a fixed rate and fixed term. This is designed to keep you from having debt that spirals out of control and takes you a couple dozen years to pay off.
  • Available for people with low credit scores, even people with bankruptcy on their record.

CONS:

  • Just because the credit card operates like a personal line of credit, and you'll have a more predictable payment schedule, it doesn't mean you can't overspend and get in over your head. Don't become complacent with this card.
  • It isn't really a card designed for people with no credit. Bad credit is fine. New credit, not so much.

Read our full Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards review.

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 Rewards/Bonus: There's no true rewards/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 Secured Mastercard® from Capital One builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the three major credit bureaus.

Annual Fee: $0

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, we should clarify, since some joker is already thinking, "Great, I'll make my payments on August 4 - 2071." But that is 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.

Read our full Secured Mastercard® from Capital One review.

4
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This card is ideal for those who have solid money management skills but no credit history. Applicants without a credit score can link to their bank account to prove their creditworthiness. For those approved, credit limits start at $500 and run to as much as $10,000. The card not only provides access to credit for those with no score, but it offers up to 1.5% cash back as well.

The Bonus: No fees whatsoever. No late fee, international fee, annual fee, or any-other-kind-of-fee.

The Rewards: Up to 1.5% cash back after making 12 on-time monthly payments; 1% cash back on eligible purchases. Plus, earn 2% - 10% cash back when you use your card with select merchants.

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good, Limited History

PROS:

  • As you've likely gathered, this card was designed for people with no credit.
  • There are rewards on this card - on a credit card for people with new credit. That rarely happens. You'll get up to 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • No fees - no annual, no late payment fee, no nothing.

CONS:

  • It isn't designed for people with bad credit, just no or little credit history.
  • No signup bonus. True, you can't have everything. But still…
  • There's no ability to get cash advances on this card, which is a little unusual. This could almost be put in the "pro" column, though, since paying for cash advances is usually exorbitant and thus often a bad idea.

Read our full Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card review.

BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CARDS FOR BUSINESSES

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 on 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.

Annual Fee: $95

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • A welcome bonus worth up to $1,250?! This may be an unbeatable offer…
  • Points never expire, and they are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel.Some helpful perks, such as cell phone insurance for the primary cardholder and employee phones on the same account (for no extra cost).
  • Oh, and wait there's more, like 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.

Capital One® Spark® Miles 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 50,000 miles, worth $500 in travel.

The Rewards: Earn an unlimited two miles per $1 spent on all purchases and five miles per $1 spent on car rentals and hotel bookings through Capital One TravelSM.

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

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • The flexibility of the rewards should help you save even more money. Instead of having to put your miles toward a partnered hotel chain or airline, you can choose the hotel or airline (hint: it will probably be the one with the best deal, like the cheapest room or seat).
  • A lot of extra features, such as free employee cards, a mobile app to manage purchases, car rental insurance, purchase protection, lost luggage reimbursement and up to a $100 credit for one Global Entry or Pre✓™ application fee.
  • 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 a $95 annual fee - but on the plus side, the first year, it's waived.
  • It's a very good card for the business traveler. If that isn't you, you may want to look elsewhere.

Read our full Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business review.

5
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: The American Express® Business Gold Card grabbed our attention with its flexible rewards categories and payment options. Its annual fee is a little higher than other cards on this list, but its generous rewards program helps to make up for the difference.

The Bonus: Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of opening an account.

The Rewards: Earn four points per $1 spent, up to $150,000 each calendar year, for two select categories in which your business spends the most. Eligible categories include airfare purchased directly from airlines, U.S. grocery store purchases and U.S. gas station purchases among others. All other purchases earn an unlimited one point per $1 spent.

Annual Fee: $295

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • Yes to the no: In other words, we like that the card offers a "No Pre-Set Spending Limit." You won't get unlimited spending, but the card will adjust your limit depending on your payment history, credit record and financial resources. So if you tend to spend a lot and always pay it back, you should be able to keep doing that.
  • This card has high spending caps in each of the bonus categories, so businesses with higher spending needs can enjoy more rewards from the outset.
  • As you would hope, the card comes loaded with perks, including a global assist hotline (get sick or run into legal trouble while traveling? Call the hotline), baggage insurance and travel accident insurance.

CONS:

  • The annual fee is $295. Kind of steep, but we've seen worse, and at least you get a lot of perks and rewards for it.
  • Because it's a charge card and not a credit card, you can't carry a balance from month to month. Fine for some business owners and executives, but maybe not fine for others.

Read our full American Express® Business Gold Card review.

4
About Our Ratings

Why We Like It: This card carries a hefty annual fee, but it can be worth it if you are a frequent business traveler. The Business Platinum Card comes with a lucrative rewards program, airport lounge access, elite status with hotel brands Marriott and Hilton and business platinum travel service. You'll also get a $200 airline fee credit each year.

The Bonus:Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first three months of card membership.

The Rewards: Earn five points per $1 spent on flights and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com. You can earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more. When points are redeemed for eligible airfare, you'll get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 points per calendar year.

Annual Fee: $595

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

PROS:

  • There are a lot of perks with this card, including admission (with two guests) to airport lounges around the world.
  • You'll receive a $200 airline fee credit each year - to go toward things like checked in baggage and various airline fees.
  • Does your business need to occasionally upgrade technology? Of course it does. You'll receive up to $200 in statement credits every year ($100 every six months) for U.S. purchases with Dell.

CONS:

  • An annual fee of $595. It's likely worth it if you travel a lot and spend a lot. If you don't see yourself as a corporate bigwig and more of a mom and pop operation, you may want something else.
  • This isn't a traditional credit card or charge card, which could be a downside for you. Instead, you'll have the Pay Over Time option for eligible purchases over $100.

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

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.

Additionally, you don't necessarily have to be traveling 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.

Credit card companies charge these fees to cover the cost of converting the currency to U.S. dollars, and they are usually a percentage of the converted amount. While fees can vary depending on the credit card issuer, 3% of the purchase price is common.

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.

CHOOSING THE BEST CREDIT CARDS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL

Having the right credit card in your pocket can make traveling overseas all the more enjoyable. 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, you could easily add 3% or so to the cost of your trip in fees alone.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

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. 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 card instead of cash while traveling. 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.
  • 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.

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; The Platinum Card® from American Express: See Rates and Fees; American Express® Business Gold CardSee Rates and Fees; The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: See Rates and Fees

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.

Comments
2 Comments

  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 »