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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Chase just announced that beginning June 1, 2013, the United MileagePlus Explorer Card will no longer charge a 3% foreign transaction fee. This is a nice change and I hope it prompts other issuers to get rid of these fees, especially on travel rewards cards that encourage people to go abroad! I yearn for the day we can live in a no-foreign-transaction-fee world. 🙂
I just got the Explorer card through a targeted 60,000 mile sign-up bonus so it’s nice to know I can use it abroad. I generally use my Sapphire Preferred for purchases abroad to take advantage of the 2x on all travel and dining expenses (vs. just 1x on the United Explorer) especially since it has primary auto insurance benefits, which will come in handy when traveling in other countries.
For international travelers, avoiding foreign transaction fees is critical. Most credit cards will charge a ridiculous 1-3% fee on all purchases processed outside of the US. Note: you don’t even need to leave the country to get hit with these fees – if you ever purchase something and the vendor processes the charge outside of the US, you can expect to get dinged with the nuisance fee.
Luckily, there are many great travel credit cards that do not charge these fees and here are some of the best including their current sign-up bonus offers.
50,000 Avios for the Chase British Airways Visa Signature Card . $95 annual fee.
50,000 points for the Chase Ink Bold. $95 annual fee, waived for the first year.
50,000 points for the American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum. $475 annual fee.
50,000 points for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. $95 annual fee, waived for the first year.
40,000 miles for Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. $89 annual fee waived for the first year.
30,000 points for the Citi Thank You Premier. $125, waived for the first year.
40,000 points for the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card. $99 annual fee.
50,000 points for the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card. $99 annual fee. Update: This offer is no longer available. View the current offer for the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card here.
1 Complimentary night for the Chase Ritz-Carlton Visa. $395 annual fee.
2 Free nights + 1 each anniversary for the Chase Hyatt Credit Card. $75 annual fee.
2 Free nights with the Chase Fairmont Visa. $95 annual fee.
2 Weekend night certificates with the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve. $95 annual fee.
50,000 points for the Chase Marriott Premier Visa. $85 annual fee, waived for the first year.
60,000 points for the Chase Priority Club Visa. $49 annual fee, waived for the first year.
25,000 points for the American Express Platinum. $450 annual fee.
25,000 points for the American Express Business Platinum. $450 annual fee.
50,000 miles for the Citi Executive AAdvantage World Mastercard. $450 annual fee.
20,000 points for Barclaycard Arrival. No annual fee.
20,000 points for the PenFed Travel card. No annual fee.
20,000 points for Capital One Venture card. $59 annual fee, waived for the first year.
20,000 points for the Capital One Venture One card. No annual fee.
10,000 points for the Bank of America Travel Rewards. No annual fee.
$100 Statement credit for the Chase United Club Card. $395 annual fee.
5% Cash Back on gas purchases on the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa. No annual fee.
Capital One Spark for Business. No annual fee.
If you know of any other fee-free points/miles cards, let me know and I’ll add them to the list.
Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, the 50,000 miles are worth $700. In addition, you can earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) toward elite status after spending $40,000 in a calendar year. As of July 23, 2017 this is the only card that offers Admirals Club lounge access so if you are an AA flyer this card might make sense for you. Aside from lounge access the primary cardholder will receive a Global Entry application fee credit every 5 years, first checked bag free for up to 8 travel companions on domestic itineraries and a 25% discount on eligible in-flight purchases on American Airlines flights.
- Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
- Admirals Club® membership for you and access for guests traveling with you*
- Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users
- Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year*
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
- Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases*
- First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation*