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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.
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!
2. Bank of America
Bank of America will NOT add foreign transaction fees to purchases made in ANY US territory.
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.
You will not pay foreign transaction fees using ANY Barclaycard in ALL US territories.
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!
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.
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!
As long as the charges are made in US dollars, you won’t pay foreign transaction fees in US territories using ANY Citi card.
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.
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.
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:
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard – 2.1% back on travel when you redeem for $100+ travel purchases
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel
- Citi Prestige – 3X Citi ThankYou points on travel
- Citi ThankYou Premier – 3X Citi ThankYou points on travel
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!