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Best no foreign transaction fee credit cards of 2017 from our partners

By , Site Editor

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Best no foreign transaction fee credit cards of 2015

Whether you spend months saving for that big trip overseas or you have the funds to globe trot regularly, you probably don’t like the idea of paying up to a 5 percent fee each time you use your credit card outside the United States. The fact is, more than 80 million Americans traveled abroad in 2016 and you can bet that most of those people would rather NOT pay foreign transaction fees on all their purchases as they explore and enjoy their trip.

Consider this: If your card charges a 3 percent foreign transaction fee and you spend $1,500 on your card while you're enjoying your trip, you'll end up paying another $45 in fees. It's not a ton of money in the grand scheme, but still, why pay it if you don't have to?

If you're thinking, "Yeah, but I bet I'll have to pay a hefty annual fee for those cards," think again. There are a litany of cards out there that charge little or no annual fee plus offer the cost-savings of no foreign transaction fees.

And, by the way, 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 ubiquitous 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. In general, Visa and MasterCard have the highest acceptance rates around the world, but Discover has been busy expanding its network in the past few years as well.

So here are our picks for the best cards with no foreign transaction fees*.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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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 50,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards® points (worth $625 in travel) after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. Earn another 5,000 points by adding an authorized user and making a purchase in that same time frame.

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. And, by the way, your points are worth 25 percent more if you redeem them for travel. Read our full review.

Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year.

Credit Needed: Excellent/Good


Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

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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.

The Bonus: Enjoy 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. Then, redeem those 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. Read our full review.

Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year.

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

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Why We Like It: A solid signup bonus, reasonable annual fee, easy rewards earning and redemption, plus a bonus every time you redeem – what's not to like?

The Bonus: Enjoy 40,000 bonus miles – worth $400 in travel – after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card membership.

The Rewards: Earn two miles per $1 spent on all your purchases – no categories or limits to keep track of. Then, when you redeem your miles, you'll receive 5 percent of your rewards back to put toward a future redemption. Read our full review.

Annual Fee: $89, waived the first year.

Credit Needed: Excellent


Discover it® Miles

Discover it® Miles

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Why We Like It: No annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and the opportunity to effectively earn three miles per $1 spent on all your purchases in the first year.

The Bonus: Discover will MATCH all the miles you earn during your first year as a cardholder. That means earning 20,000 miles in your first year will actually mean you've earned 40,000 miles once your account anniversary rolls around.

The Rewards: Earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all your purchases. Redeem those rewards for statement credit to cover your travel expenses charged to your card. Read our full review.

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card

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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 those rewards you earn can go directly toward your next great trip.

The Bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. Plus, if you maintain an active Bank of America® checking or savings account, you'll receive a 10 percent customer points bonus on every purchase.

The Rewards: Earn 1.5 points for every $1 your spend. See full review and more details.

Annual Fee: $0


Fifth Third TRIO Credit Card

Fifth Third Trio Credit Card

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Why We Like It: If you're traveling abroad, you're likely also spending a lot of time eating out. That's why the bonus rewards on restaurant purchases (among other things) are so intriguing with this card.

The Bonus: Earn 10,000 Real Life Rewards® after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. That's worth $100 in cash back.

The Rewards: Earn 3 percent back at restaurants and 2 percent back on gas and grocery and drug stores (up to $1,500 combined spending quarterly for these categories).

Annual Fee: $0


Avoid hidden surcharges on 'no-FTF' cards

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:

  • Despite what your bank might tell you, merchants don't always welcome every American credit card equally. Stores might request or require you to use a card that transacts on their preferred network. If you prefer to carry an American Express or Discover card, pack a "spare" Visa or Mastercard to ensure acceptance.
  • 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.
  • Use ATM cash advances for emergencies only. Even "no-FTF" credit cards 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.

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.

If you're planning to travel abroad, compare no foreign transaction fee credit card offers and choose the best travel rewards credit card with other perks that suit your lifestyle.

Methodology: CardRatings editors have been rating and reviewing credit cards for nearly 20 years. We bring that two decades of experience to our review process as we consider the rewards, rates, fees, perks and features of each card and how those things relate to our "best of" categories. Sometimes the categories and their criteria are straightforward; in others we consider such features as the ease/flexibility of the rewards redemption process in addition to the earning of the rewards themselves. We’re constantly reviewing our lists as credit card terms change often – if there’s a better card that rises to the top, we update our lists to reflect that change. Our goal is ensuring the consumer has the most up-to-date information so he/she can make the best possible credit card decision for their lifestyle and needs.

2 Comments

  1. Curtis Arnold July 20, 2015 at 12:32 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 at 8:52 am
    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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