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Top Travel Credit Cards That Waive Foreign Transaction Fees

by on February 10, 2014 · 11 comments

in Credit Cards

One of the main benefits I always look for when considering a travel credit card is whether or not it waives foreign transaction fees (forex fees for short). Many issuers will charge their cardholders between 1-3% of the value of transactions processed outside the US – meaning for every $100 you spend in a foreign country, you could be paying $3 on top of that to do so.

What’s worse – you don’t even have to be making the purchase outside the country to get slammed with a foreign transaction fee, it just depends on where the vendor processes the charge.

Time for a round of applications? Here are some great current offers.

Make sure your credit cards don’t charge forex fees.

That’s why I always consider it as a factor when applying for credit cards. And even more importantly, whether to carry a card with me when I travel abroad. Many credit cards advertise waiving foreign transaction fees, and they have to state plainly in a card’s terms and conditions whether they charge such a fee, but if you have any questions or doubts, you can always call your issuer and ask a customer service representative.

You should always double check whether the credit card you are applying for has 0% in foreign transaction fees. Do this by clicking the Terms & Conditions link before you submit your application. Foreign transaction fees will be listed under  Fees -> Transaction fees table (usually the last fee listed).

Be sure to read your credit card's terms and conditions for the disclosure of foreign exchange fees.

Be sure to read your credit card’s terms and conditions for the disclosure of foreign exchange fees.

As a side note, many foreign merchants are now asking if you want to pay in local currency or US dollars. This is called Dynamic Currency Conversion, and I would always recommend choosing local currency because you’ll get a better exchange rate (you can be sure the vendor is taking a cut of the conversion action) and you don’t have to worry about forex fees anyway.

The good news is that more and more top-tier travel credit cards are waiving these fees – including the Delta co-branded American Express cards starting May 1, 2014, and the United Explorer card from Chase, both of which are recent no-forex converts, so it’s easier than ever to find great cards that won’t ding you when traveling.

I have tried to compile a comprehensive list below, but if you have a favorite card that I’ve left out, please feel free to comment.

Note: Capital One and Discover both offer 0% foreign transaction fees across their product lines.

American Express

Update: The offer mentioned below for the Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here.

Update: The offer mentioned below for the Business Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here.

50,000 points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months for the American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum. $475 annual fee.

25,000 points when you spend $2,000 in 3 months for the American Express Platinum. $450 annual fee.
25,000 points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months for the American Express Business Platinum. $450 annual fee.

Starting May 1, 2014:
30,000 miles when you spend $1,000 in 3 months for the Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex, $95 annual fee waived first year.
5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles and 35,000 bonus miles when you spend $1,000 in 3 months for the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Amex, $150 annual fee before May 1, $195 thereafter.
10,000 Medallion qualifying miles and 10,000 bonus miles with first purchase for the Delta Reserve Amex, $450 annual fee.

Barclaycard

40,000 miles when you spend $1,000 in 90 days for the Arrival, $89 annual fee waived the first year.
20,000 miles when you spend $1,000 in 90 days for the Arrival, no annual fee.
35,000 miles with first purchase for the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercardbusiness and personal versions, $89 annual fee.
Up to 35,000 miles after first purchase and making a balance transfer within 30 days for the Lufthansa Miles & More Mastercard, $79 annual fee.

Capital One (All cards, but listed are the key travel related rewards cards)

20,000 points when you spend $2,000 in 3 months for Capital One Venture card. $59 annual fee, waived for the first year.
20,000 points when you spend $2,000 in 3 months for the Capital One Venture One card. No annual fee.
Capital One Spark for Business. No annual fee.

Chase

50,000 points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months for the Chase Ink Plus. $95 annual fee, waived for the first year.
50,000 points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months for the Chase Ink Bold. $95 annual fee, waived for the first year.
50,000 Avios when you spend $2,000 in 3 months for the Chase British Airways Visa. $95 annual fee.
40,000 points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. $95 annual fee, waived the first year.
50,000 miles when you spend $2,000 in 3 months for the Southwest Premier Visa, $99 annual fee.
$100 statement credit with first purchase for the Chase United Club Card. $395 annual fee.
50,000 miles when you spend $2,000 in 3 months for the United MileagePlus Explorer Visa, $95 annual fee waived the first year.
2 Free nights after you spend $1,000 in 3 months +1 free night each anniversary for the Chase Hyatt Visa. $75 annual fee.
2 Free nights after you spend $1,000 in 3 months with the Chase Fairmont Visa. $95 annual fee, waived the first year.
80,000 points after you spend $1,000 in 3 months for the Chase Priority Club Visa. $49 annual fee, waived for the first year.
50,000 points
after you spend $1,000 in 3 months for the Chase Marriott Premier Visa. $85 annual fee, waived for the first year.
70,000 points after you spend $2,000 in 3 months for the Chase Ritz-Carlton Visa. $395 annual fee.

Citibank

100,000 miles after you spend $10,000 in 3 months for the Citi Executive AAdvantage, $450 annual fee.
2 weekend night certificates after you spend $2,500 in the first 4 months with the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve. $95 annual fee.
50,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months for the Citi Thank You Premier. $125, waived for the first year.

Discover

$150 Cash Back after you spend $750 in the first 3 months on the Discover It card, no annual fee.

Other

20,000 points when you spend $2,500 in the first 3 months for the PenFed Travel card. No annual fee.
5% Cash Back on the PenFed Gas Card. No annual fee.
10,000 points after making $500 in purchases in the first 3 months for the Bank of America Privileges card. $75 annual fee, waived for the first year.
10,000 points after making $500 in purchases in the first 90 days for the Bank of America Travel Rewards. No annual fee.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Stratos

    yeah, good luck using Discover abroad…

  • Steve

    Isn’t Discover big in China?

  • LAKnight

    It is just sad that US Airways MasterCard doesn’t waive foreign transaction fee while its annual fee is even higher than Lufthansa Miles & More Mastercard in Barclays Bank. Well, US Airways MasterCard will be gone anyway after the merge, and we will see.

  • stuart

    I’ve wondered, do the no fee cards simply offer a worse exchange rate to make up for the lost fee?

  • Dude

    Where do you see that the Discover card offers $150 cash back? When clicking on the link, it doesn’t say anything to that extent.

  • Nate

    The link in the first post of this thread still gives you the $150 cash back offer after spending $750 in the first 3 months of having your new Discover it card:

    http://frequentflier.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=5813&sid=3148f0310ab59aacc51d855c4bdc044d

  • Miles

    A couple of corrections:

    The Ritz Carlton card no longer offers a 70K signup bonus, and
    the Citi Prestige also has no ForEx fees.

  • Dude

    Thanks!

  • http://www.doctorofcredit.com/ doctorofcredit

    Haha, it’s bad enough using it in the US. Don’t think I’ve seen any support outside of the US.

  • Michael Breneisen

    Brian, Foreign transaction fees are not the only way credit card companies make money. Have you ever compared the exchange rates used by credit card companies? Thanks.

  • Asian_Bro

    What about the Chase Palladium card?
    I’ve been trying to get my banker to waive the annual fee this year. Not successful yet.

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