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Best no foreign transaction fee credit cards of 2019 from our partners

Last Updated, December 12, 2018

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Best no-foreign-transaction-fee credit cards of 2019Consider this: If your card charges a 3 percent foreign transaction fee and you spend $2,000 on your card while you're enjoying your trip, 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? The fact is, more than 87 million Americans traveled abroad in 2017 (the last full year for which data are currently available) 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.

Good thing you don't have to pay those fees if you have the right credit card in your wallet. 

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

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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.

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 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card review.

Annual Fee: $0 Intro for First Year, then $95

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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 percent 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 percent more, if you redeem for travel through Ultimate Rewards®. Read our full Chase Sapphire Reserve® review.

Annual Fee: $450

Credit Needed: Excellent


Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

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 30,000 bonus points after your spend $3,000 in the first three months. Additionally, you won't pay interest on purchases or balance transfers for the first 12 months, making this a great option for taking on that overseas trip and spending a few extra months paying off a splurge while on vacation. After the intro period the APR becomes 14.49%-26.99% 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. 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. Read our full Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card review.

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


Citi Premier Card

Why We Like It: A modest annual fee, solid signup bonus, easy rewards earning and, of course, no foreign transaction fees.

The Bonus: Rake in 50,000 ThankYou® points (worth $625 in airfare when redeemed through the ThankYou® Travel Center) after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. Alternatively, the bonus is worth $500 if redeemed for gift cards through ThankYou.com.

The Rewards: Earn three points on travel purchases, including at gas stations; two points on dining out and entertainment; and one point on all your other purchases. Read our full review of the Citi Premier Card.

Annual Fee: $95, waived for first 12 months*. Citi is a CardRatings advertiser

Credit Needed: Excellent


Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

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, plus it 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 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. Plus, you'll earn 10 miles per $1 spent when you use your card to book stays via Hotels.com/Venture. That's in addition to the Hotels.com rewards program through which you earn a free night for every 10 nights you stay through the site.

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. Read our full Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card review.

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

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


American Express® Gold Card

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.

The Bonus: Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first three months. Also receive 20% back as a statement credit at U.S. restaurants within the first three months, up to $100 back. (Offer available to new Card Members who apply by January 9, 2019.) American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.

The Rewards: Receive three Membership Rewards® points for every $1 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or via amextravel.com; earn four Membership Rewards® points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants and four times the Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 in purchases each year, than 1X.

Up to $10 in monthly statement credits are available when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required. Then, there is a $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline. Read our full review of the American Express® Gold Card.

Annual Fee: $250. Terms apply. See Rates and Fees.

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent


Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

Why We Like It: A reasonable annual fee, easy rewards earning and redemption, a solid bonus AND 5 percent of your miles back to use on a future redemption each time you redeem.

The Bonus: For a limited time, earn 70,000 bonus miles – worth $700 in travel – after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

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

Annual Fee: $89 (waived first year). See Rates and Fees

Credit Needed: Good/Excellent


Discover it® Miles

Discover it® Miles

(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)

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 Discover it® Miles review..

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent, Good


Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

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. 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. If you're a Preferred Rewards client, that bonus will be 25-75 percent depending on your tier.

The Rewards:Earn 1.5 points for every $1 you spend. Read our full Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card review.

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent/Good


TRIO® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank

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 bonus points 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: N/A

Credit Needed: Good, Excellent

Please Note: Fifth Third Bank is a regional institution that serves customers in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina. Readers residing outside that region are not eligible for Fifth Third credit card offers. You can browse additional no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card offers here.


Best practices with "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:

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. In general, 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.
Still, 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.
– 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 "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.

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 »