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No Foreign Transaction Fee Cards
Readers often ask which credit cards do not charge the 1% to 3% foreign transaction fee for using the card for transactions in foreign currency. Most credit cards will charge you a fee for purchases in a foreign currency.
The cards listed on that page do NOT charge a foreign transaction fee if you use them for transactions in foreign currencies.
My favorite no-foreign transaction fee card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred which offers double points for travel (airfare, hotel, car rental, parking etc.) and dining. And you almost certainly are spending most of your money on travel and dining when you’re on vacation!
However, sometimes it could be worth paying the foreign transaction fee if you’re trying to hit the minimum spending required to get a large sign-up bonus on a new credit card.
I’ve also listed the cards in a table in this post to make it easier to sort through.
|Sign-Up Bonus||Minimum Spending||Annual Fee|
|Barclaycard Arrival Plus||40,000 Points||$3,000 in 3 Months||$89 (waived for the 1st year)|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||40,000 Points||$4,000 in 3 Months||$95 (waived for the 1st year)|
|Chase Ink Bold (No Longer Available)||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Chase Ink Plus||50,000 Points||$5,000 in 3 Months||$95 (waived for the 1st year)|
|Chase Hyatt||2 Free Nights||$1,000 in 3 Months||$75 (waived for the 1st year)|
|Chase British Airways||50,000 Points||$2,000 in 3 Months||$95 (waived for the 1st year)|
|Chase Southwest Premier||25,000 Points (Every few months there is a 50,000 point offer)||$1,000 in 3 Months||$99 NOT waived|
|Chase IHG||60,000 Points||$1,000 in 3 Months||$49 (waived for the 1st year)|
|Chase Marriott Premier||70,000 Points + 1 Free Night (Category 1 to 4)||$2,000 in 3 Months||$85 (waived for the 1st year)|
|Chase Fairmont||2 Free Nights||$3,000 in 3 Months||$95 NOT waived|
|Chase United Explorer||30,000 Miles + 5,000 for an additional user (plus $50 statement credit when you make a test booking on United.com)||$1,000 in 3 Months||$95 (waived for the 1st year)|
|Chase United Club||Lounge Access, $100 statement credit after 1st purchase||None||$395 NOT waived|
|Chase Ritz Carlton||2 Free Nights at a Tier 1 to 4 Ritz-Carlton||$4,000 in 3 Months||$395 NOT waived|
|Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve||2 Weekend Nights||$2,500 in 4 Months||$95 NOT waived|
|Citi Prestige||50,000 Points + Yearly $250 Airline Fee Credit, Lounge Access, Other Perks||$3,000 in 3 Months||$450 NOT waived|
|Citi ThankYou Premier||50,000 Points||$3,000 in 3 Months||$95 (waived for the 1st year)|
|Citi American Airlines Executive||50,000 Miles + Lounge Access||$5,000 in 3 Months||$450 NOT waived|
|American Express Premier Rewards Gold||25,000 Points + $100 Annual Airline Fee Credit||$2,000 in 3 months||$195 (waived for the 1st year)|
|American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum||50,000 Points||$3,000 in 3 Months||$475 NOT waived|
|American Express Platinum||40,000 Points + Lounge Access and $200 Annual Airline Fee Credit||$3,000 in 3 months||$450 NOT waived|
|American Express Business Platinum||40,000 Points + Lounge Access and $200 Annual Airline Fee Credit||$5,000 in 3 Months||$450 NOT waived|
|American Express Starwood Preferred Guest (Starting August 11, 2015)||25,000 Points||$3,000 in 3 Months||$65 (waived for the 1st year)|
|American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business (Starting August 11, 2015)||25,000 Points||$5,000 in 6 months||$65 (waived for the 1st year)|
|Discover it||$50 after 1st purchase||None||None|
|Discover it Miles||None||None||None|
I found it interesting that the only American Express credit card which does not charge a foreign transaction fee is the American Express Platinum (business and personal) card which has a high annual fee of $450 for the regular Platinum card and $475 for the Mercedes Benz (personal) version. All the other American Express cards have foreign transaction fees which make them uncompetitive compared to Chase, Citi, and Capital One.
Yup, even the American Express Delta Reserve with a $450 annual fee charges a 2.7% foreign transaction fee!
Chase has the most credit cards which do not charge foreign transaction fees, which includes the Chase Sapphire Preferred, United Club , British Airways, Southwest Premier, Hyatt, Marriott Rewards Premier, Fairmont, Ritz-Carlton, Priority Club, Ink Plus, and Ink Bold cards.
And the British Airways, Marriott & Hyatt cards even have a chip, but as I wrote earlier, I wouldn’t go out of my way to get a US credit card with a chip since US cards don’t use the Chip and PIN version used in Europe.
Citi doesn’t have as many no foreign transaction fee cards as Chase, but the Citi Hilton Reserve, Thank You Premier, and American Airlines Executive card don’t charge foreign transaction fees. Of these cards, the Citi Hilton Reserve is my favorite since you get 3 points per $1 spent and the sign-up bonus includes 2 free Hilton weekend nights.
And the Thank You Premier & Hilton Reserve cards even have a chip, but as I wrote earlier, I wouldn’t go out of my way to get a US credit card with a chip since US cards don’t use the Chip and PIN version used in Europe.
Capital One & DiSCOVER
Capital One & Discover cards also don’t charge foreign transaction fees across all their cards, but they earn cash back instead of airline and hotel points. I prefer earning miles and points to cash back, but they could be useful to some, especially since their cards don’t have an annual fee.
Dynamic Currency Conversion
But you may still be charged a 3% fee when traveling if you use a no foreign transaction fee credit card! Usually businesses will ask you, or the credit card reader will prompt you, to select your bill in either the foreign currency (say euros) or your home currency (US Dollars).
However, if you choose US dollars instead of the local currency, you pay a premium in addition to the exchange rate included by Visa and MasterCard and the foreign transaction fee charged by the bank which issued your credit card.
Seeing a foreign transaction in your US dollars is a benefit for many travelers who don’t like to do the math while shopping, but it will cost you 3% or more for the convenience. Even if you have a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
See this post for more details on why you should always pay for foreign purchases in the local currency and not US dollars.
Cards which don’t charge foreign transaction fees can save you money when traveling, but be sure to always choose to be billed in the local currency to avoid the extra fee!
I’m curious which credit cards readers use when they travel!
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