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Published March 29, 2024

Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards in Canada for 2024

The majority of credit cards charge a 2.5% fee on every purchase you make abroad. Avoid it by choosing a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. A U.S. dollar credit card can also be handy if you make frequent U.S. purchases.

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Have you ever looked at your credit card bills after returning home from a trip abroad and been shocked at how much each purchase actually cost you? Or ordered something online from an American retailer that turned out to be more expensive than you expected? It’s not that the exchange rate is worse than you thought — your credit card issuer likely added a foreign transaction fee, or FX fee, to the purchase.

‘No foreign transaction fee’ credit cards, sometimes referred to as international credit cards, don’t charge you extra when you shop abroad. If you travel often or make frequent foreign transactions online, one of these credit cards could help you save some cash.

Here are the best ‘no foreign transaction fee’ credit cards, according to NerdWallet’s analysis. 

Best ‘no foreign transaction fee’ credit cards in Canada

Best for: Rewards points

Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card


$120

20.99% / 22.99%

1x-6x Points

Up to 40,000 Points
Our take
Why we like it

Not only does the Scotiabank Gold American Express card reward you with impressive rates in six popular spending categories, but it also comes with no foreign exchange fees.

Pros
  • No foreign exchange fee on any foreign currency purchases while travelling abroad or shopping online — you just have to pay the exchange rate.


Cons
  • The bonus rewards rates drop down to the 1x flat rate after a $50,000 annual spend. This sounds like a lot, but much of your daily spending is probably included in the six bonus categories, so you might hit the limit faster than you’d think.
Card details
  • Earn up to $650* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points. Offer ends July 1, 2024.
  • You will not pay 2.5% foreign transaction fees on any foreign currency purchases, including online shopping and when travelling abroad. Only the exchange rate applies.
  • Earn 5X Scene+ points for every $1 CAD spent on eligible grocery stores, restaurants, fast food, and drinking establishments. Includes popular food delivery and food subscriptions.
  • Earn 5X Scene+ points for every $1 CAD spent on eligible entertainment purchases. Includes movies, theatre, and ticket agencies.
  • Earn 3X Scene+ points for every $1 CAD spent on eligible gas and daily transit. Includes rideshare, buses, taxis, subway, and more.
  • Earn 1X Scene+ point for every $1 spent on every other purchase.
  • You’ll earn 6X Scene+ points for each $1 CAD charged to your account on all eligible purchases¹ at Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Foodland, FreshCo, Voilà by Sobeys, Voilà by IGA, Voilà by Safeway, Chalo! FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, IGA West, Les Marchés Tradition, Rachelle Béry and Co-Op.
  • Discounted Priority Pass™ membership, which grants you access to over 1200 VIP lounges around the world.
  • Score deals on shopping, dining, travel and more with Amex Offers®, and experience special events and discounts with American Express Invites®.
  • Access to Amex Front Of The Line® presale and reserved tickets.
  • To be eligible, $12,000 (individual) annual income is required. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
  • Terms and Conditions Apply. Click ‘Apply Now’ for complete details.

Best for: Premium perks and low interest rate

Scotiabank Platinum American Express® Card


$399

9.99%

2x Points

Up to 60,000 Points
Our take
Why we like it

With low rates and a generous rewards program, the Scotiabank Platinum American Express card is a unicorn for frequent travellers seeking luxury perks, premier travel benefits and exceptional interest rates on purchases and cash advances.

Pros
  • Low interest rates, no foreign transaction fees, and an impressive insurance package that includes comprehensive travel insurance coverage and newly-added mobile device insurance.
  • Luxury travel privileges include 10 free VIP airport lounge visits per year with a complimentary Priority Pass membership.


Cons
  • The $399 annual fee is quite a bit higher than other rewards cards, but frequent travellers seeking a low rate on purchases and cash advances can easily make the yearly cost worthwhile.
Card details
  • Earn up to $2,100* in value in your first 14 months, including up to 60,000* bonus Scene+ points. Offer ends October 31, 2024.
  • You will not pay 2.5% foreign transaction fees on any foreign currency purchases, including online shopping and when travelling abroad. Only the exchange rate applies.
  • Earn 2X Scene+™ points for every $1 CAD you spend on all your eligible purchases.
  • Scene+ points can be redeemed for travel purchase, merchandise and other non-travel rewards such as gift cards and prepaid cards.
  • You must redeem a minimum of 5,000 points per travel-related rewards redemption, equivalent to $50 in travel savings. Points must be redeemed within 12 months of the purchase date.
  • $399 annual fee.
  • Redeem points for any flight, any time through Scene+ Travel, a full-service travel agency. Plus, take advantage of a best price guarantee on airfare.
  • Get a Hertz #1 Club Gold membership for special privileges and rental car benefits at over 8,500 locations in 147 countries.
  • Enjoy culinary events and experiences, entertainment, luxury fashion, tours, and more through American Express benefits, including American Express Invites, Platinum VIP offers and access to 24/7 premium concierge services for restaurant reservations, show tickets, and gift purchases.
  • Lounge access at over 600 VIP airport lounges around the world with a complimentary Priority Pass membership, which includes 10 free visits per year.
  • 12 types of insurance provided, including 31-day travel medical benefits — up to $2 million in coverage — for you, your spouse and any dependent children under the age of 65. 10-day coverage available for those over the age of 65.
  • Preferred rates: 9.99% for purchases, 9.99% for cash advances.
  • To be eligible, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
  • Terms and Conditions Apply. Click ‘Apply Now’ for complete details.

Best for: Businesses

Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite Business* Card


$199

19.99% / 22.99%

1.5x Points

Up to 40,000 Points
Our take
Why we like it

Enjoy complimentary access to airport lounges, pay no foreign transaction fees, and earn Scene+ points on every business purchases with the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite Business* Card.

Pros
  • Pay no foreign transaction fees when shopping online or outside of Canada.
  • Complimentary Visa Airport Companion Program membership with six airport lounge visits per year.
  • Plenty of travel perks and insurance coverage.


Cons
  • No accelerated earn rates in specific spending categories.
Card details
  • $199 annual fee.
  • Earn 1.5X the Scene+™* points for every $1 spent on purchases for your business.
  • Enjoy no Foreign Transaction Fees whether you make purchases online or outside of Canada.
  • Get access to airport lounges with your complimentary Visa Airport Companion Program membership when you fly for your business.
  • Use your points for travel, merchandise, gift cards for your business and more.
  • $10,000 credit limit minimum, up to $150,000 unsecured.
  • Most items purchased with your Card are insured against theft, loss or damage for 90 days from the purchase date and the manufacturer’s warranty is doubled for up to one year.
  • Turn business purchases into business savings with Visa SavingsEdge.
  • Visa Infinite Benefits with your Card which include Visa Infinite Concierge and the Luxury Hotel Collection.
  • Travel Emergency Medical Insurance – Breathe easy with comprehensive coverage Coverage is provided for eligible persons under age 65 for up to 25 consecutive days and for eligible persons age 65 and older for up to 10 consecutive days.

Best for: Airport lounge access

Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card


$150

20.99% / 22.99%

1x-3x Points

Up to 35,000 Points
Our take
Why we like it

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card offers competitive earn rates and easy-to-understand redemption on travel — 1 point equals 1 cent in travel savings.

Pros
  • Complimentary Visa Airport Companion Program membership, with six free airport lounge visits included every year, which is more than typically included with a credit card.
  • No foreign transaction fees.


Cons
  • The accelerated rate on travel purchases only lasts three months — but you can earn up to 42,500 points, worth $425 in travel savings.
  • The annual $1,000 bonus requires you to spend $40,000 per year on everyday spending on the card.
Card details
  • Earn up to $1,100+ in value in the first 12 months, including up to 35,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived on your first supplementary card. Offer Ends January 3, 2024.
  • The only major bank credit card offering you no foreign transaction fees, including for shopping online or abroad.
  • Your Award Winning Card For Travel.
  • Earn 2 Scene+ points on every $1 you spend on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and daily transit purchases (including buses, subways, taxis and more).
  • Earn 1 Scene+ point on every $1 you spend on all other eligible purchases.
  • You’ll earn 3X Scene+ points for each dollar charged to your account on all eligible purchases¹ at Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Foodland, FreshCo, Voilà by Sobeys, Voilà by IGA, Voilà by Safeway, Chalo! FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, IGA West, Les Marchés TradItIon, Rachelle Béry and Co-Op.
  • Airport lounge access through complimentary Visa Airport Companion Program membership, plus six complimentary lounge visits per year from the date of enrollment, providing you with access to 1,200+ airport lounges globally, including participating Plaza Premium Lounges.
  • Visa Infinite* benefits including Visa Infinite Concierge, Visa Infinite* Luxury Hotel Collection, Visa Infinite* Dining Series, and Entertainment & Lifestyle Offers.
  • Access to Scotia SelectPay™.
  • To be eligible, $60,000 (individual) or $100,000 (household) annual income is required, or a minimum assets under management of $250,000. Also, you must have a Canadian credit file and be a Canadian resident of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
  • Terms and Conditions Apply. Click ‘Apply Now’ for complete details.

Best for: Prepaid cards

Wealthsimple Card


$0

1%

$0

Unlimited
Our take
Why we like it

Beginner investors interested in learning more about building wealth will feel right at home with the Wealthsimple Card, a no-fee prepaid Mastercard that earns 1% cash back on purchases. Use the rewards to support your TFSA, invest in stocks, ETFs and crypto, or fund your linked spending (Cash) account, where you can send, spend and receive money instantly with the Wealthsimple Cash app.

Pros
  • Use a Visa or Mastercard debit card to instantly deposit up to $3,500 per day (up to a maximum of $35,000 per month).
  • Effortlessly build an investment portfolio by transforming cash back rewards into stocks, ETFs or cryptocurrency deposited directly into a trading account.


Cons
  • There’s no brick-and-mortar location for Wealthsimple customers, so you need to be comfortable managing your money with an online-only company.
  • $5,000 per day spending limit; ATM withdrawals are limited to $500 per transaction/$1,000 per day.
  • Cash rewards invested into cryptocurrency are subject to Wealthsimple Crypto’s 1.5-2% fee.
Card details
  • General fees and features: Wealthsimple does not charge any fees to use the Wealthsimple Card.
  • Currency conversion fee: Mastercard will determine the applicable exchange rate from the range of rates available in wholesale currency markets for the applicable processing date, which may vary from the rate Mastercard itself receives.
  • ATM withdrawals: Wealthsimple does not charge any fees for withdrawing cash, but you may see a standard ATM withdrawal fee (usually about $3.00) when you make a withdrawal at an ATM. ATM Withdrawal limits are $500 per transaction and $1,000 per day.
  • Reload methods: Add funds to your card by making a deposit via a linked bank account, a wire transfer, your Visa or Mastercard debit card, or an institutional transfer to move an account from another institution.
  • Rewards: Earn 1% cash back on eligible purchases. Cash back rewards can go directly into your Spend account, be added to the cash balance of a stock trading or crypto trading account, or be used to auto-purchase the cryptocurrency of your choice in your crypto trading account. Use the card anywhere Mastercard is accepted — in-store, in apps, or online. Pay bills, use direct deposit, and e-Transfer.
  • The Wealthsimple Card is available as part of the everyday spending account, which comes with both a digital and physical card that you can manage right from the Wealthsimple app.
  • Use the app to manage your rewards and spending preferences, or lock your card if something happens to it. Your balances are all updated in real-time, too — even if you’re using the physical card
  • Add your Wealthsimple Card to Apple, Samsung or Google Pay digital wallet.
  • Use the Wealthsimple Cash app to send and receive payments to anyone else who uses the Cash app without paying fees. You can also send money to people who don’t have the Cash app yet. They will receive a prompt to download the app and claim the money you sent them.
  • Your money is protected for up to $100,000 through CDIC.
  • To be eligible, you must be a Canadian resident with a Social Insurance Number of the age of majority in the province or territory where you live.
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Methodology: How we evaluate cards

NerdWallet Canada selects the best credit cards based on overall consumer value and their suitability for specific kinds of consumers. Factors in our evaluation methodology include annual and other fees, rewards rates, the earning structure (for example, flat-rate rewards versus bonus categories), redemption options, bonus offers for new cardholders, introductory and ongoing APRs, and other noteworthy features such as airline or hotel perks or the ability to transfer points. Charge cards are not included on this list.

    Summary of the best ‘no FX fee’ credit cards

    Card nameBest forAnnual fee
    Scotiabank Gold American Express cardBest for: Rewards points.$120.
    Scotiabank Platinum American Express cardBest for: Premium perks and low interest rate.$399.
    Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Business CardBest for: Businesses.$199.
    Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite CardBest for: Airport lounge access.$150.
    Wealthsimple CardBest for: Prepaid cards.$0.

    What to know about credits card with no foreign transaction fee

    Credit card fees can be confusing to untangle, and foreign transaction fees are no different. Learn how and when they’re applied so the bill from your next international adventure doesn’t include any surprises.  

    What is a foreign transaction fee?

    When you buy something that’s not in Canadian dollars using your credit card, the issuer typically charges a fee — such as 2.5% of the purchase price. This fee is called a foreign transaction fee.  You may not have noticed it before, since it’s rolled into the total charge that shows up on your statement.

    It doesn’t matter if you’re making an online purchase in U.S. dollars from your Canadian living room or paying for dinner out in Istanbul. If the product or service is being sold in a foreign currency, it’s typically subject to fees. Fortunately, there are credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees. However, the card’s network may markup the exchange rate by a small amount.

    Visa and Mastercard exchange rate markups

    In addition to the transaction fee charged by the issuer, credit card networks typically markup the cost of converting money. For example, the Bank of Canada may list the exchange rate from USD to CAD as 1.35 (for every $1 USD you spend abroad, you’re spending $1.35 CAD). But when you use your credit card, the network (e.g., Visa) may be using a slightly marked up rate of 1.36, meaning for every $1 USD you spend, you’re actually spending $1.36 CAD. So, the conversion is costing you slightly more.     

    You can use the below calculators from Visa and Mastercard to estimate your total transaction costs. American Express does not post conversion markups for Canada publicly.

    Dynamic currency conversion

    It’s worth noting that some merchants allow you to choose between the local currency or your home currency, which is known as dynamic currency conversion, or DCC. If you choose to pay in CAD, you’ll pay the exchange rate set by the merchant at that moment, which can be considerably higher than the standard rate. Therefore, it’s often advisable to pay in the local currency. 

    How to calculate foreign transaction fees

    While most credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee of around 2.5%, some can be higher. You’ll have to check your credit card terms and conditions for the specific fee you’ll be charged. 

    To calculate how much you’re paying in FX fees, follow the below steps: 

    1. Convert the amount you’re spending to Canadian dollars using the most up-to-date exchange rate. (If you want a more accurate calculation, you can use the currency exchange rate issued by your credit card network). 
    2. Divide that figure by 100. 
    3. Then multiply it by the transaction fee.

    Let’s do the math

    Let’s say you’re visiting the United States and you want to pay for a meal that costs $50 USD, and your card’s foreign transaction fee is 2.5%. Assuming your credit card’s network’s current exchange rate for USD to CAD is 1.35, here is how the calculation works out:

    1. $50.00 USD x 1.35 = $67.50 CAD
    2. $67.50 / 100 = $0.675
    3. $0.675 x 2.5 = $1.69

    The foreign transaction fee for this purchase would be $1.69. And your total would be $69.19 CAD.

    Should I use a U.S. dollar credit card?

    If the majority of your purchases are in American dollars, credit cards like the BMO U.S. Dollar Mastercard or Roger’s World Elite Mastercard can be handy, as U.S. purchases earn a higher reward rate. However, a foreign transaction fee will still apply. 

    You also need to consider how you’ll pay your monthly credit card bills. A U.S. dollar credit card may require you to pay your bill in USD. If you don’t have a steady stream of U.S. income, you’ll need to convert your Canadian dollars to USD before you can pay your bills — which also comes with fees.

    Although paying a 2.5% conversion fee may not seem like a lot, it can add up over time. If you travel frequently and plan to make more than a few sporadic purchases in foreign currencies, consider getting a ‘no foreign transaction fee’ credit card to help you keep costs down.

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