Will You Pay Foreign Transaction Fees in US Territories Like Puerto Rico?

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Million Mile Secrets reader Antonio commented:

Will using a credit card that charges foreign transaction fees, such as the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard, in Puerto Rico incur fees?  I wasn’t sure if Puerto Rico was considered “foreign” to US banks.

Great question, Antonio!

Purchases made in Puerto Rico (and other US territories like American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, or the US Virgin Islands) are generally NOT considered foreign transactions.

Will You Pay Foreign Transaction Fees In US Territories Like Puerto Rico

Will You Be Charged Foreign Transaction Fees on Your Puerto Rican Vacation?

I can’t guarantee the rules for every bank.  I called the major banks and NONE add foreign transaction fees to purchases made in US territories.

But a few require the purchase to be in US dollars!  I’ll explain.

You Won’t Pay Foreign Transaction Fees in US Territories With Major Bank Cards

Note:   Discover and Capital One do NOT add foreign transaction fees to any of their cards – anywhere!

If you have credit cards issued by smaller banks, call the number on the back of your card to confirm their policies before you travel.

1.   American Express

I called American Express and they assured me that charges made in US dollars in ANY US territory will NOT incur foreign transaction fees.

The official currency of all US territories is the US dollar, so this shouldn’t be a problem!

Will You Pay Foreign Transaction Fees In US Territories Like Puerto Rico

In US Territories, You Won’t Pay Foreign Transaction Fees on Purchases Made in US Dollars With AMEX Cards

So you can use cards which normally add foreign transaction fees, like the American Express Everyday Preferred or the Hilton Honors Card from American Express without worrying about paying extra!

2.   Bank of America

Bank of America will NOT add foreign transaction fees to purchases made in ANY US territory.

Will You Pay Foreign Transaction Fees In US Territories Like Puerto Rico

Visiting Talofofo Falls in Guam? You Can Safely Use Bank of America Cards Without Being Charged Foreign Transaction Fees!

If you’re collecting Alaska Airlines or Virgin Atlantic miles, you can safely use cards like the Bank of America Alaska Airlines or Bank of America Virgin Atlantic without paying foreign transaction fees.

3.   Barclaycard

You will not pay foreign transaction fees using ANY Barclaycard in ALL US territories.

Will You Pay Foreign Transaction Fees In US Territories Like Puerto Rico

Traveling to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands? You Can Use Any Barclays Card With Confidence

Cards like the Barclaycard Wyndham and Barclaycard Choice Privileges normally add foreign transaction fees.  But you’re safe using them in US territories (to pay for your hotel stays, for example) without being charged a fee!

4.   Chase

I spoke to a Chase representative who said transactions made on ANY Chase card in any US territory will NOT have foreign transaction fees added.

Will You Pay Foreign Transaction Fees In US Territories Like Puerto Rico

When You Activate the Bonus, You Can Use Your Chase Freedom to Buy Gas in US Territories – With NO Foreign Transaction Fees.  This Deal Is Good Through September 30, 2015

There are Chase cards with great 5X category bonuses, like the Chase Freedom or Chase Ink Cash, which normally add foreign transaction fees.  So remember to bring these cards with you when you travel to US territories!

5.   Citi

As long as the charges are made in US dollars, you won’t pay foreign transaction fees in US territories using ANY Citi card.

Will You Pay Foreign Transaction Fees In US Territories Like Puerto Rico

Antonio Can Visit Old San Juan and Not Worry About Foreign Transaction Fees

So Antonio can use his Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® on his trip to Puerto Rico!

6.   US Bank

You won’t pay foreign transaction fees in US territories with US Bank cards, either.

Will You Pay Foreign Transaction Fees In US Territories Like Puerto Rico

Visitors to Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, Won’t Be Charged Foreign Transaction Fees

Folks could use their US Bank Club Carlson card to earn 5X points everywhere when they travel to US territories.

What About Other North American Destinations?

Even though we’re close neighbors, purchases made in Canada and Mexico will incur foreign transaction fees.  It might still be worth it for some folks, because the US dollar is strong against the Canadian dollar and Mexican peso this year.

Will You Pay Foreign Transaction Fees In US Territories Like Puerto Rico

Be Sure to Use a Card That Does NOT Add Foreign Transaction Fees If You Visit Our Friends to the North!

To avoid being charged extra when you travel outside of the US and its territories, use a card that does NOT charge foreign transaction fees.

And preferably 1 that earns bonus miles and points for travel, like:

Bottom Line

Major credit card issuers do NOT charge foreign transaction fees on purchases made in US territories like Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the US Virgin Islands.

I checked with the big banks, but if you have a credit card from a local or smaller financial institution, it’s best to call and check their policy.

And the safest bet is to always use cards that don’t add foreign transaction fees when you travel abroad!

Thanks for the question, Antonio!

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11 responses to “Will You Pay Foreign Transaction Fees in US Territories Like Puerto Rico?

  1. What in the world does the relative strength of the U.S. dollar at a given point in time compared to the Canadian dollar or Mexican peso have to do with when it is worth incurring an extra junk fee? You should leave your fee-charging cards at home when you travel abroad.

  2. Must be a slow news week. Ok, I too wondered before my first trip to PR. and nope, it hadn’t as yet dawned on clueless me that in ANY US Territory, US dollars are the currency. (and thus, why would you charge fees for converting dollars to dollars?)

    ….. but to the average ‘merikin, they also speak spanish, so they must be “fereigners” … 🙁

    Ah so make everybody feel good, and do the “research.” Great pictures, naturally. I’d have been more stunned if you found any bank that charged “foreign currency” conversion/transaction fees on US soil. (anywhere) If Donald Trump owns any banks cards, maybe they do.

  3. I am from New York and I live here in Puerto Rico since 30 years and I use the travel credit cards and travel hacks shopping in Walmart Walgreens Office Depot the same thing in USA, The only difference is that many Gas stations dont want to sell gift cards with credit cards , They only want cash to sell you a $100 visa or master card gift card .I have to keep asking in other towns for the Gas category of 5% Freedom Cash Back and accept credit cards ….

  4. I live on Guam and have numerous different credit cards. I have never been charged fees

  5. I could have saved you a lot of time, US Territories are part of the territory of the United States, so no, you will not be charged a foreign transaction fee as you are not in a foreign location. It would make exactly as much sense to ask if you were going to be charged that fee on your trip to Hawaii.

    To answer the next question, no you do not need a passport to go to Puerto Rico.

  6. @sunny guam – I am relocating to Guam soon. What miles / points are best for award air travels from Guam? Thanks

  7. Actually Will– US Bank does charge 2% of every PR transaction for their Cash+ card. I’m glad I called to check. (I checked with two different US Bank numbers, both the number on the back of the card, as well as my local branch). Anywhere out of the 50 states is considered foreign. 2% for American territories charged in US dollars, 3% if it needs to be converted.

  8. Puerto Rico is territory of USA and their banks are monitored by federal government bank laws and some banks charge some fees and some dont. The fee is not to convert the US dollar to US dollar like someone wrote here, the fee is for the service at the ATM.If that bank accepts your card because is an affiliate of the bank it might not charge you nothing, if not some fee might apply. But if you have a doubt ask your bank before you travel and ask them which banks in territories are free of fee charge. That simple, by the way dont walk with too much cash on you outside continental US.

  9. Actually bank of America just told me there is a 3% fee on every transaction with my debit card… not just ATM withdrawals in puerto rico. If i use thier partner bank they wave the per transaction fee, but NOT the the 3% fee. My alaska air mile BOA card doesnt have a fee go figure… after much protesting that its not international, but a territory that uses us money… where my car insurance covers me, the state department doesnt require a passport so why do they consider puerto rico international they said theyd put a waiver on my debit card for the 3 % fee. I fly out in a couple of days so we will see…

  10. NEWSFLASH!! I was charged a $15 fee at BofA when I used my debit card to book a hotel room even though the transaction was USD. I was so upset and was going to switch to Chase after being with BofA for 15yrs but the chase rep told me that they also consider Puerto Rico a foreign territory as well as the Virgin Islands. Gotta love this capitalistic society.

    • Cannot speak about debit with Chase or Bank of America but regarding credit cards, I haven’t been charged any fee whatsoever from Chase nor Bank of America in Puerto Rico. I also have Amex and Discover credit card with the same result, no fees. Lastly, a Discover debit that also doesn’t get any fees not even in affiliate ATMs. Not only that, special card benefits like price protection, return protection, etc, of some cards also work in Puerto Rico without any issue.

      What I do think is that there’s a lot of misinformed Americans in the banking industry regarding anything that involves Puerto Rico.