No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards

Posted by Madison on January 18, 2011

Are you planning on international travel? A big expense you can avoid with careful planning is foreign transaction fees from your credit card.

By default, most credit cards include an international transaction fee when you make purchases abroad. There are, however, a few select credit cards that offer no foreign transaction fees as one of their perks.

Typical Foreign Transaction Fees

I looked through many of my credit cards to find the foreign transaction fees for each one. For the most part, almost all of them charged 3%. I did find one old card with a visa foreign transaction fee that was 1%.

And of the 50+ credit cards I looked through, I only found one with no foreign transaction fee; however, unfortunately it’s an old card you can’t get anymore. So that doesn’t really help you.

Adding Up Foreign Transaction Fees

If you plan to spend a few thousand dollars on international travel, adding a 3% foreign transaction fee to all of your costs will add up quickly!

For example, a $3,000 vacation would incur $90 in transaction fees. Obviously, since you can avoid the $90 with some advance planning, it makes sense to look for a card that will let you make those purchases for free.

Foreign Transaction Fees at Home

Even if you don’t leave the country, you still might face a foreign transaction fee. For example, we recently purchased a subscription online. Even though the transaction seemed flawless and the shipment arrived from the United States, we were still charged a foreign exchange transaction fee from our credit card.

Apparently, the company that processed the subscription was based in Canada. So I was charged a Chase foreign transaction fee of 3%. Luckily the subscription was cheap or I would have been pretty upset.

If you’re looking to avoid foreign conversion fees, your best best is to apply for a credit card with zero foreign transaction fees. After your international travel, your wallet will thank you!

If you're looking for a new credit card, be sure to check out our credit card directory!

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Comments to No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards

  1. The last I heard, Capital One did not charge Foreign Transaction Fees. We used it all over Europe just over a year ago with no fees.

    Richard Rohde

    • Good to know Richard. I don’t have any credit cards from Capital One, does your earn cash rewards?


      • I concur. We got our CapitalOne two years ago, partially because thy had 2% cash back (it’s 1% now), and partially because yo can print your own pictures on them. When we traveled to Europe, finding out they didn’t have foreign transaction fees was a nice bonus, too.


    • I concur as well – I’ve traveled a number of times with a pleasant surprise that capital one does not charge. Now at the same time – to make money, I’m sure they charge a fee for the forex spread.

      And yes – there is a cashback reward program.


  2. As long as the charge is made in US dollars, I believe American Express doesn’t charge the foreign transaction fee.

    I often shop at AbeBooks, which is an online marketplace for books. AbeBooks is a Canadian company and I always use my Amex to purchase from them, although it is not my main card, because AbeBooks charges my credit card in US$ and Amex won’t charge me the foreign fee for it.

    If the charge was made in other currencies, Amex also charges the foreign fee, unfortunately.

    Hope it helps.


    • Thanks hamnori!

      I wonder if there is a way to tell ahead of time if a company will make the charge in US dollars or in a foreign currency?


      • I first have to mention that my comments only corresponds to the “Foreign Transaction Fees at Home” part in your article.

        I actually have no idea how to know the currency in advance, other than asking them, but I would say that only the foreign businesses which are closely connected to US will have an option to charge in US$. Otherwise, the charge is very likely to be made in their local currency.
        AbeBooks is kinda special case.

        Another option might be to pay via PayPal, if the merchant accepts it.


  3. Chase is notorious for this! Some cards have a 1% fee, which is still better than 2%.


  4. I had just finished my budget spreadsheet updating including a trip to London when I found this article.

    Those 3% fees on my chase amazon visa card do add up even after a week. $15 in fees over 5 days. My next vacation might be several months this summer (believe me I’ve earned it!).

    I don’t want to ding my credit score by applying for a new card w/ 0% foreign transaction fees since a home purchase may be in the future. Frustrating because Dave Ramsey & Suze Orman would give me an A+ for my efforts in budgetting and saving. Suppose I’m stuck here paying extra fees for a low mortgage vs. saving now and paying a higher interest rate…

    Master Allan

    • Master Allan,

      I’m wondering if one of the credit card companies like Citi would let you convert another card to a no foreign transaction fee card?

      That might be a way around getting an inquiry on your credit report.

      Enjoy your vacation to London!


  5. I always hated those fees when I traveled – now I know I have an option not to pay them

    Katie Christianson

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