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Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards of May 2019

Robin Saks FrankelMay 23, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

NerdWallet's Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards of May 2019

Our pick for

Flat-rate travel rewards

Barclaycard Arrival Plus Credit Card

on Barclays's website

Rates & Fees

on Barclays's website

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$89

Waived first year

Regular APR

18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable based on your creditworthiness

Intro APR

0% intro APR for the first 12 billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening

recommended credit score

Light on flash but loaded with value, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® is an excellent companion for travelers who value flexibility with their rewards.

Our pick for

Bonus travel rewards

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

18.24% - 25.24% 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.

Our pick for

No-annual-fee travel rewards

Bank of America BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card Credit Card

on Bank of America's website, or call (800) 211-3740

on Bank of America's website, or call (800) 211-3740

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

17.24% - 25.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 12 billing cycles

recommended credit score

For travelers on a budget, the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card offers excellent value. For those with large balances in affiliated Bank of America® savings and investment accounts, it’s even better.

Our pick for

Business travel

Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

on Chase's website

Annual Fee

$95

Regular APR

18.24% - 23.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

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.

Our pick for

Cash back

Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

on Capital One's website

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR

Intro APR

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

recommended credit score

If you’re a frugal type, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card is a simple way to earn more on every dollar spent, at home and abroad.

Our pick for

Average credit

Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card

on Capital One's website

on Capital One's website

Annual Fee

$39

Regular APR

26.96% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

If you don’t carry a balance and your credit is “meh,” the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card may be your best bet for rewards with no foreign transaction fee.

Our pick for

Students

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

on Deserve's website

on Deserve's website

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

20.99% 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.

Summary of Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards of May 2019

Credit CardBest ForIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeLearn More
Barclaycard Arrival Plus Credit Card

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

on Barclays's website

Flat-rate travel rewards

0% intro APR for the first 12 billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening

18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable based on your creditworthiness

$89

Waived first year

on Barclays's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

on Chase's website

Bonus travel rewards

N/A

18.24% - 25.24% Variable APR

$95

on Chase's website

Bank of America BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card Credit Card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

on Bank of America's website, or call (800) 211-3740

No-annual-fee travel rewards

0% on Purchases for 12 billing cycles

17.24% - 25.24% Variable APR

$0

on Bank of America's website, or call (800) 211-3740

Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

on Chase's website

Business travel

N/A

18.24% - 23.24% Variable APR

$95

on Chase's website

Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Cash back

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR

$0

on Capital One's website

Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Average credit

N/A

26.96% Variable APR

$39

on Capital One's website

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

on Deserve's website

Students

N/A

20.99% Variable

$0

on Deserve's website

Credit CardBest ForIntro APRRegular APRAnnual FeeLearn More
Barclaycard Arrival Plus Credit Card

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®

on Barclays's website

Flat-rate travel rewards

0% intro APR for the first 12 billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening

18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable based on your creditworthiness

$89

Waived first year

on Barclays's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

on Chase's website

Bonus travel rewards

N/A

18.24% - 25.24% Variable APR

$95

on Chase's website

Bank of America BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card Credit Card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

on Bank of America's website, or call (800) 211-3740

No-annual-fee travel rewards

0% on Purchases for 12 billing cycles

17.24% - 25.24% Variable APR

$0

on Bank of America's website, or call (800) 211-3740

Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

on Chase's website

Business travel

N/A

18.24% - 23.24% Variable APR

$95

on Chase's website

Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Cash back

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR

$0

on Capital One's website

Capital One QuicksilverOne Credit Card

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Average credit

N/A

26.96% Variable APR

$39

on Capital One's website

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students

on Deserve's website

Students

N/A

20.99% Variable

$0

on Deserve's website

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 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.

Issuer Foreign transaction fee
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.

» MORE: Foreign transaction vs, currency conversion fees 

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 May 23, 2019

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.