Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards of 2018
Don't let unnecessary fees weigh you down as you travel the world. Lighten your load with these options.
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. But some cards 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.
Our pick for
Flat-rate travel rewards
This card has long been the champion of flexible travel rewards and has set the standard for a slew of similar cards. Its competitive annual fee and high flat-rate rewards keep it at the top. It earns 2 miles per $1 spent on all purchases, and miles can be redeemed for 1 cent each as a credit against most travel expenses — including hotel stays and airfare booked through any travel site, as well as timeshares, cab fares and cruises. It also comes with a generous sign-up bonus: Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
After the first year, you’ll have to spend at least $4,750 a year to make up for the annual fee and come out ahead. Capital One’s definition of travel also doesn’t include amusement parks, tourist attractions and RV rentals.
For easy miles earning and redemption, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is a winner. A sign-up bonus makes the offer even sweeter.
What really sets this card apart is its big sign-up bonus and rewards transfer options. The bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 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.
After the first year, you’ll have to spend at least $4,750 annually to come out ahead. 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.
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
This card gives you many of the perks of a travel card without the price tag: It has an annual fee of $0. You get 1.5 points per $1 spent on anything, and you can redeem points at a value of 1 cent apiece for credit against any travel purchase. This card also happens to have one of the broadest definitions of “travel” in the industry — not just flights, hotels and other routine expenses, but also the cost of visiting an amusement park, an aquarium or a fortuneteller. Bank of America® customers with an active checking or savings account can earn 10% more points, and if you maintain high balances in affiliated accounts, you can earn 25% to 75% more through the Preferred Rewards program. Plus, there's a sign-up bonus: 20,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $200 statement credit toward travel purchases
If you don’t have a Bank of America® account, you can earn a higher rewards rate with other cards — and if you spend enough, could come out ahead even after paying an annual fee.
For travelers on a budget, this credit card offers excellent value. For those with large balances in affiliated Bank of America® savings and investment accounts, it’s even better.
The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card delivers outstanding value from the get-go with a big sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem 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.
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.
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
0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months
14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR
Recommended credit score
recommended credit score
The best cash back cards make rewards easy to earn and easy to redeem, and this card does that better than most. You earn a flat 1.5% cash back on every purchase, and there’s no minimum redemption amount. That’s music to a frugal traveler’s ears. The annual fee is $0. This card also comes with an introductory 0% APR period and a fair sign-up bonus: One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening Among cash back cards with no foreign transaction fees, it offers the best rewards and benefits and is widely accepted overseas.
Unlike many travel rewards cards, which let you stretch your value by redeeming points or miles selectively, this card won't give you more than 1.5 cents back per dollar spent.
If you’re a frugal type, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months is a simple way to earn more on every dollar spent, at home and abroad.
Our pick for
24.74% Variable APR
Recommended credit score
recommended credit score
This card pays 1.5% cash back on all purchases — the same as on the regular Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months for excellent credit. That makes it one of the most valuable cards available for those with average credit. Plus, you can redeem cash back in any amount.
There's an annual fee of $39. To earn enough rewards to make up for the fee, you’d have to spend $2,600 a year. For some, that’s a tall order. The card also lacks a sign-up bonus. The ongoing APR is 24.74% Variable APR, so it’s not a good pick for carrying a balance.
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.
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.
The ongoing APR is 20.24% 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.
Studying abroad? Adding this student credit card to your wallet before the big trip could help you save on fees.
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.
|Bank of America®||3%|
|U.S. Bank||3% (2% for transactions in U.S. dollars)|
NerdWallet’s credit cards team selects the best cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen in multiple categories.
Last updated June 19, 2018.
To recap our selections...
NerdWallet's Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards of 2018
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
: Best for Flat-rate travel rewards
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
: Best for Sign-up bonus
- Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
: Best for No-annual-fee travel rewards
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
: Best for Business travel
- Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months
: Best for Cash back
- Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
: Best for Average credit
- Deserve® Edu Mastercard for Students
: Best for Students