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Points and miles collectors have a bunch of great options to pick from when it comes to credit cards that charge no foreign transaction fees on overseas purchases. Unfortunately, folks looking for a simpler rewards program that provides cash-back rewards have a much more limited menu from which to choose.
That’s because many of the top cash-back credit cards from Chase and Citi charge a fee for any purchase you make in a foreign country, or even if the merchant just uses a foreign credit card processor. In fact, more than half of the 18 cash-back credit cards we surveyed charge a foreign transaction fee of either 2.7% or 3%.
If you don’t plan to travel outside the US, this shouldn’t deter you from choosing one of these cards, but if you are looking for a cash-back card and you have foreign travel plans, there’s no reason to pay an unnecessary fee for which you receive no benefit. Pick one of these seven cash-back cards as your next wallet travel companion.
Citi eliminated foreign transaction fees at the beginning of 2018 on the business and personal versions of the Anywhere Visa. This change makes the Anywhere Visa a more appealing card, particularly if you travel frequently outside the US.
Welcome bonus: None
Rewards: Earn 4% cash back on eligible gas worldwide for the first $7,000 per year (1% thereafter), 3% cash back worldwide on restaurants and eligible travel purchases, 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco andand 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Annual fee: None, but you have to pay your annual Costco membership fee.
Keep in mind: You have to be a Costco member to be eligible for this card. While this is a cash-back card, you can’t earn statement credits or redeem your rewards at any time. Instead, you’ll receive a reward coupon annually, redeemable for cash or merchandise at US Costco warehouses.
Although the Uber Visa is a cash-back card, you aren’t required to receive your rewards in the form of a statement credit. You can opt to redeem points for Uber credits or gift cards.
Welcome bonus: Earn $100 after spending $500 on purchases in the first 90 days.
Rewards: Earn 4% cash back on restaurants, takeout and bars, including UberEats; 3% back on airfare, hotel and vacation home rentals; 2% back on online purchases including Uber, online shopping and video and music streaming services and 1% on all other purchases.
Annual fee: None
Keep in mind: This cards also has two features you won’t see on many other credit cards. You’ll receive mobile phone insurance for up to $600 for damage and theft when you use the card to pay your phone bill, and if you spend at least $5,000 on the card in a year, you’ll get a $50 credit that will automatically be applied toward online subscription services such as Netflix.
This card is effectively a cash-back card since points are all worth the same 1 cent apiece when redeemed toward statement credits, travel, gift cards or charity donations.
Welcome bonus: 30,000 points (worth $300) after you spend $3,000 in the first three months
Rewards: Earn 3x points on dining and travel, including flights, hotels, homestays, car rentals, taxis, gas station purchases and rideshares and on select streaming services when you pay your bill with your card. Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Annual fee: $0
Keep in mind: If you don’t want to redeem for cash back, you can increase the redemption value when you redeem points for airfare at 1.5 cents each on the Wells Fargo travel portal. But you’ll have to own another card that earns Go Far Rewards points, like the Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card. And if you spend $50,000 in a calendar year on the Wells Fargo Visa, that redemption rate jumps to 1.75 cents per point, which would make 3x points worth as much as 5.25 cents per dollar when redeemed for airfare. (The information for the Wells Fargo Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.)
You can redeem your cash back in any amount with this card.
Welcome bonus: Earn a $300 cash bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
Rewards: Earn an unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases.
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Keep in mind: Capital One offers a pretty broad definition of what types of purchases are eligible for the 4% reward, including food trucks, coffee shops and fine dining establishments.
Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card
This card offers its best rewards on purchases you may not be likely to make while traveling overseas. But if you do, there’s a big caveat you should read in the “keep in mind” section below.
Welcome bonus: Receive a $70 Amazon.com gift card instantly upon approval.
Rewards: Earn 5% back at Whole Foods Market and at Amazon.com, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores and 1% back on all other purchases.
Annual fee: None, but you must be an Amazon Prime member to qualify. Prime subscriptions cost $119 annually.
Keep in mind: You won’t earn 5% back on purchases made at international Amazon retail sites (including but not limited to Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, or Amazon.co.jp), or any other website operated by Amazon or on purchases made at international Whole Foods Market sites.
This card offers the most simplicity out of any of the cash-back cards on this list with its lack of bonus categories or spending thresholds.
Welcome bonus: Earn $150 after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months.
Rewards: Earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
Annual fee: None
Keep in mind: While its flat-rate rewards return means you don’t have to think about bonus categories, other cards may offer better rewards on categories travelers may use most, like dining and transportation.
Discover it® Cash Back
Discover isn’t universally accepted, so it’s a good idea to learn beforehand if the issuer has a footprint in the country you plan to visit. Check this map before you go.
Welcome bonus: None, but Discover will match cash back on all purchases during your first year of card membership.
Rewards: Earn 1% cash back on all purchases and 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter made in rotating bonus categories. You must enroll each quarter to earn the bonus cash back.
Annual fee: None
Keep in mind: This card’s value for international travel largely depends on the rotating categories.
There are cash-back credit cards that offer a higher return than some of the cards on this list. But a higher return doesn’t matter if you’re getting smacked with a fee equivalent to — if not greater than — the amount of reward you’d receive on your foreign purchases. Rewards-savvy travelers should leave at home any credit card that charges a foreign transaction fee.
Know before you go.
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This cash back card has a focus on dining and entertainment where you can earn unlimited 4% cash back in those spending categories. You can also earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
- Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus after you spend $3000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
- Earn unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through May 2020.
- Receive a monthly statement credit for a Postmates Unlimited monthly membership through Dec. 2019 with the Capital One Savor Card
- No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
- No foreign transaction fees
- Capital One cardholders get access to premium experiences in dining, entertainment and more
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year, $95 after that