Best of

Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards of October 2020

NerdWalletOctober 21, 2020

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Most credit cards tack an extra charge onto all purchases made outside the United States. These foreign transaction fees are typically around 3% of the purchase. So if you spent, say, $1,000 on hotels during a European vacation, the extra fees might cost you $30. Some cards, however, don't charge these fees. Any travel credit card worth carrying should have no foreign transaction fee. Also, some issuers — most notably Capital One and Discover — don't charge the fee on any of their cards. Here are our favorite cards without the fee.

Some of our selections for the best no foreign transaction fee credit cards can be applied for through NerdWallet, and some cannot. Below, you'll find application links for the credit cards from our partners that are available through NerdWallet, followed by the full list of our picks.

NerdWallet's Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards of October 2020

Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards From Our Partners

Our pick for

Bonus travel rewards

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is best in class for travelers looking for an outsize sign-up bonus and opportunities to transfer their points to leading loyalty programs.

Pros

What really sets this card apart is its big sign-up bonus and rewards transfer options. The bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. When using the card, you’ll earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining, and 1 point per $1 everywhere else. Points are generally worth 1 cent, but they’re worth 25% more when used to book travel through Chase. They can also be transferred at 1:1 rate to several airline and hotel loyalty programs, including United, Southwest, Marriott and Hyatt. Finally, we should mention that fans of this metal card love the high-end impression it makes when they pull it out.

Cons

A big chunk of this card’s value rests in its sign-up bonus; other travel cards have better long-term rewards. Also, this card doesn’t offer the perks — free checked bags, priority boarding — of airline-specific cards.

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
  • See if you qualify for a better offer with Chase:

Our pick for

Business travel

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

15.99% - 20.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

If your business needs a good travel card, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card offers great rewards in common spending categories, and the sign-up bonus is outstanding.

Pros

The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card delivers outstanding value from the get-go with a big sign-up bonus: New Offer! Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards® You earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel, telecommunications, shipping and advertising on social media and search engines, on up to $150,000 in combined spending each year. All other spending earns 1 point per dollar. Points are worth 1.25 cents apiece when used to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; they can also be transferred on a 1:1 basis to travel partners such as United, Southwest, Marriott and Hyatt.

Cons

As with most credit cards with generous rewards, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card has an annual fee: $95. There’s a limit to how much spending earns 3 points per dollar; it’s a high limit, but it’s still a limit.

  • New Offer! Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases - with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • $95 Annual Fee

Our pick for

Students

on Deserve's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

18.74% Variable

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Studying abroad? Adding the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students to your wallet before the big trip could help you save on fees.

Pros

The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students doesn’t require applicants to have a co-signer or security deposit, and international students don't need a Social Security number. That makes it a little easier to get approved — even for students with limited credit histories. Plus, it comes with a solid 1% back on all purchases and a one-time reimbursement for Amazon Student Prime. The annual fee is $0.

Cons

The ongoing APR is 18.74% Variable, so carrying a balance on it could get expensive in a hurry. You also must be currently enrolled at a U.S. college or university to get approved.

  • Receive one year of Amazon Prime Student on Deserve after spending $500 in the first three billing cycles with your EDU card (Lifetime Value of $59).
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases with your Deserve EDU Mastercard. Once approved, you'll automatically start earning cash back on all purchases.
  • Feel secure with cell phone protection up to $600.
  • No deposit required. No annual fees.
  • No international transaction fees on purchases abroad so you can travel with confidence.
  • No Social Security Number required for international students to apply.
  • Refer A Friend Program: Refer anyone to Deserve using your personal referral code. Upon approval, card activation and use, you'll receive $30 and so will your referral. Referral bonuses are unlimited!
  • Manage and track your spending, set automatic payments and securely freeze your card all through one easy to use app.
  • See if you prequalify with no impact to your credit score in minutes.
  • Deserve Mastercards are issued by Celtic Bank, Member FDIC.
  • Enjoy Mastercard Platinum Benefits intended to make your life easier like Mastercard ID Theft Prevention™ and Master Rental®.

FULL LIST OF EDITORIAL PICKS: BEST NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE CREDIT CARDS

Click the card name to read our review. Before applying, confirm details on the issuer’s website.

Our pick for: Flat-rate travel rewards

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is probably the best-known general-purpose travel credit card, thanks to its ubiquitous advertising. You earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, and miles can be redeemed at a value of 1 cent apiece for any travel purchase, without the blackout dates and other restrictions of branded hotel and airline cards. The card offers a great sign-up bonus and other worthwhile perks. Read our review.

Our pick for: Bonus travel rewards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2X points on travel and dining for a reasonable annual fee. Points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel booked through Chase, or you could transfer them to about a dozen airline and hotel partners. The sign-up bonus is stellar, too. Read our review. 

Our pick for: No-annual-fee travel rewards

One of the best no-annual-fee travel cards available, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card gives you a solid rewards rate on every purchase, with points that can be redeemed for any travel purchase, without the restrictions of branded airline and hotel cards. Bank of America® has an expansive definition of "travel," too, giving you additional flexibility in how you use your rewards. Read our review.

Our pick for: Business travel

The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card starts you off with one of the biggest sign-up bonuses of any credit card anywhere (assuming you spend enough to earn it), then gives you bonus rewards in common business spending categories. Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel booked through Chase, or you can transfer them to about a dozen airline and hotel partners. Read our review.

Our pick for: Cash back

The original 1.5% flat-rate cash-back card still holds its own in a now-crowded field. The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers a compelling combination of a good rewards rate, redemption flexibility, sign-up bonus and introductory 0% APR period. Read our review.

Our pick for: Average credit

This card for people with fair or "average" credit pays the same cash-back rate as the regular Quicksilver card, which targets people with excellent credit. The key difference is that this version charges an annual fee while the regular one does not. Read our review.

Our pick for: College students

The Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students doesn’t require applicants to have a co-signer or security deposit, and international students don't need a Social Security number. That makes it a little easier to get approved — even for students with limited credit histories. Plus, it comes with a solid 1% back on all purchases. Read our review.

OTHER RESOURCES

Top credit card issuers’ foreign transaction fees

Here’s a look at the standard foreign transaction fees charged by major U.S. credit card issuers. It’s important to note that many of these issuers waive the foreign transaction fee on certain cards, including the ones listed above. Some major issuers don’t charge foreign transaction fees on any of their cards.

  • American Express: 2.7%

  • Bank of America®: 3%

  • Barclaycard: 3%

  • Capital One: 0%

  • Chase: 3%

  • Citi: 3%

  • Discover: 0%

  • U.S. Bank: 3% (2% for transactions in U.S. dollars)

  • Wells Fargo: 3%

Using credit cards internationally

Which credit cards work worldwide?

Whether you're in the U.S. or a foreign country, your ability to use a credit card at a merchant depends on whether the merchant accepts that card's payment network. The four major U.S. networks — Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover — all have an international presence, alhough to varying degrees.

In the U.S., Visa and Mastercard are ubiquitous. If a merchant accepts credit cards, it almost always accepts Visa and Mastercard, although there are a few exceptions, such as Visa-only Costco. Discover is a close third, just a hair behind the leaders. American Express is widely accepted, just not as widely as the other three. Smaller merchants, in particular, are less likely to take AmEx. Even so, when traveling in the U.S., you should be able to get by with a card on any of the four networks.

Outside the U.S., Visa and Mastercard are also dominant worldwide networks. And while American Express has a strong presence overseas — it has more cardholders outside the U.S. than in — it doesn't match the extent of Visa and Mastercard. Discover is a smaller player outside the U.S. If you're planning to travel internationally and your primary card is American Express or Discover, it's best to bring along a Visa or Mastercard as a backup.

Should I use dynamic currency conversion?

When you buy something with a credit card in a foreign country, your receipt will show the cost in the local currency. When you get your statement, however, you'll see that the charge has been converted to dollars. Your payment network takes care of the conversion, and you can usually be confident that you're getting a fair exchange rate. (A 2016 NerdWallet study found that Visa and Mastercard tended to convert currency at near-market rates, which is about the best you can get.)

Sometimes when you're shopping overseas, merchants will ask if you want your purchases to be denominated in dollars rather than the local currency. This is known as "dynamic currency conversion." It seems attractive, as it allows you to see how much you're spending in terms you understand — say, $50 rather than 5,000 Japanese yen or 45 euros. But dynamic conversion is usually a bad deal. That's because the exchange rates are considerably worse than what you'd get if you made your purchase in the local currency and then let your credit card network handle the conversion.

One other thing about dynamic conversion: It won't get you out of paying foreign transaction fees. If your card charges a fee on overseas purchases, it doesn't matter if those purchases are in dollars, yen, euros, rubles or whatever. You'll still pay the fee.

Do I need a chip-and-PIN card?

Most credit cards issued in the U.S. are "chip-and-signature" cards. When you make a purchase at a store, the chip embedded in the card passes information to the merchant's computer system. Further, the chip protects that information with a one-time code so that if the data is stolen, it can't be used to make a counterfeit card. It's all very high-tech. But then you complete the transaction by verifying your identity in a decidedly low-tech way: You sign your name — and you might not even do that.

Cards issued in other countries have "chip-and-PIN" technology. You use the card the same way, but instead of signing your name to complete the transaction, you have to enter a four-digit code, or PIN. This adds a layer of security by making it harder for someone to use a stolen card.

When traveling abroad, you'll usually be able to use a U.S.-issued chip-and-signature card for in-person transactions. Among the places where you can't use one is at self-service kiosks and vending machines. These typically require chip-and-PIN.

Among major issuers in the U.S., Barclays offers chip-and-PIN on its cards. Some credit unions oriented toward military servicemembers who may be deployed overseas also offer chip-and-PIN functionality. If you don't have a chip-and-PIN card, it's not a crisis situation. You'll just have to plan ahead and keep in mind that if you need to buy something like train tickets, you'll have to go up to the window and buy from a live person rather than from a ticket machine.

Finally, be aware that simply having a PIN for your credit card does not make it a chip-and-PIN card. Many cards allow you to get cash advances for an ATM using a PIN. A PIN for accessing cash advances is not the same as one for verifying transactions though chip-and-PIN technology. If in doubt, ask your issuer.

Credit cards or travelers checks?

Travelers checks have been mostly replaced in travelers' wallets by credit and debit cards, which also solve many of the security problems that travelers checks were created to address. So while you can still get travelers checks, most travelers would find them more trouble than they're worth.

Back before credit cards were as widely used and accepted as they are today, people who didn't want to risk carrying a lot of cash on a trip would rely on travelers checks. A traveler might go to a bank or travel agency in their hometown and buy, say, six $100 checks, which they would sign at the bank. At their destination, they'd use the checks at stores or restaurants that accepted them, or exchange them for cash at a hotel or bank. When they redeemed the check, they'd sign it again, and the recipient would compare the signatures to verify the check.

Among the advantage of travelers checks:

  • If they were lost or stolen, the issuer would replace them, so you didn't lose money. Nowadays, credit card issuers can cancel a lost or stolen card and expedite a replacement just as quickly.

  • You could exchange them for cash far from home. The wide acceptance of credit cards makes cash less critical to carry, and credit cards can provide cash in a pinch. And, of course, debit cards can get you cash, too.

  • You could use them in places that didn't accept out-of-town personal checks. Today, credit cards are accepted at millions more locations than travelers checks ever were.

Travelers checks still have their uses. But when you combine the dwindling number of places that accept travelers checks with the fees you have to pay to get them, most leisure travelers will be better off with the cards they already carry.

Major issuer travel cards with no foreign transaction fee

A good travel credit card should not charge a foreign transaction fee. Most airline cards do not charge this fee, nor do these popular general-purpose travel cards:

Last updated on October 21, 2020

Methodology

NerdWallet's Credit Cards team selects the best credit cards with no foreign transaction fee based on overall consumer value, as evidenced by star ratings, as well as their suitability for specific kinds of consumers. Factors in our evaluation include annual fees, rewards rates and redemption options, introductory and ongoing interest rates, bonus offers for new cardholders, international acceptance of the card's payment network, and other noteworthy features such as travel perks.

Frequently asked questions