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Banks are in business to make money, and there’s nothing wrong with paying a reasonable fee in return for a valuable service. Of all the charges that can be imposed by a credit card, though, foreign transaction fees are the most egregious. Many credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee of around 3% and customers don’t get anything in return for it.
The Case Against Foreign Transaction Fees
These types of fees are added to any charge that’s merely processed outside of the United States. They aren’t foreign exchange fees, so you’ll get hit with these charges even when you make foreign purchases in US dollars (which you don’t want to do). In fact, you don’t even have to leave the US to get hit with this fee; if you make an online purchase from a foreign company — such as an airline ticket from an airline without a US website — you could find an additional foreign transaction fee added to your transaction.
What do you get in return for the foreign transaction fee? Nothing. There are no additional costs associated with processing a transaction from Toronto than there are with one from Tennessee. There are no special data centers being maintained on Christmas Island or any other remote places you might travel to. I’ve been studying this issue for years, and the only conclusion that I’ve been able to reach is that banks simply charge these fees because they can get away with it.
Thankfully, an increasing number of credit card users are aware of this useless fee, and banks have responded by dropping the charge on many of their cards. If you don’t want to deal with these fees on your next international purchase, make sure to use a card without foreign transaction fees.
TPG has guides for the best business cards with no foreign transaction fees and the best cash-back cards with no foreign transaction fees. In this guide, we’ll consider the best overall cards with no foreign transaction fees. Let’s dive in!
Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
- United Explorer Card
- Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
- Citi Prestige Card
- The Platinum Card® from American Express (See Rates & Fees)
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (See Rates & Fees)
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
- IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
- Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card
- Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
- Uber Visa
- Discover it® Miles
Major Credit Card Issuer Foreign Transaction Fees
Some issuers, including Capital One and Discover, don’t have foreign transaction fees on any cards. But most issuers charge foreign transactions fees on at least some of their cards. Before we discuss our favorite cards that don’t have any foreign transaction fees, here are the common foreign transaction fees charged by large credit card issuers.
|Bank of America||3%|
|US Bank||3% (2% for US Dollar Transactions)|
This premium travel rewards card became hugely popular when it was released in 2016, and there’s no way that its customers would have tolerated paying a foreign transaction fee. With this card, you earn 3x points on all travel spending (excluding $300 travel credit), including airfare, hotels, car rentals and many other expenses. You also get 3x points on all dining purchases, and one point per dollar spent everywhere else.
Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points are most valuable when transferred to nine airline and three hotel programs and used for international travel. Alternatively, points can be worth 1.5 cents each toward travel and activities booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Travel Center, which is often a better value than you might realize.
Other benefits include an annual $300 travel statement credit, a $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit every four years and a Priority Pass Select membership that includes guests. There’s a $450 annual fee for this card. See the full card review for more details.
Chase’s Sapphire Preferred card has always been one of the top options for international travelers, as it’s never had a foreign transaction fee. This card is currently offering 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. That’s $750 in travel when you redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, but you can also transfer your points to airline and hotel programs. It features 2x points on all travel and dining purchases and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card. See the full card review for more details.
This is the newest (and most premium) of the three personal Southwest Rapid Rewards cards, but it’s one of just two that waive foreign transaction fees. (The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card also waives these fees and has a lower $99 fee.) The Priority card has a $149 annual fee, and includes perks like a $75 annual Southwest credit, four upgraded boardings per year and 7,500 points every year after your card member anniversary. The card is offering a 40,000 point sign-up offer when you spend $1,000 in the first three months. See the full card review for more information.
The United Explorer Card earns 2 United miles per dollar spent at restaurants, hotels and on United purchases. You and a companion will each get your first checked bag free when traveling on the same reservation on United-operated flights when you pay for your flights with your Explorer Card. You’ll get two United club one-time passes each year, priority boarding, 25% back on United inflight purchases and a statement credit for up to $100 every four years as reimbursement for a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee. The card has a $95 annual fee, but this fee is waived for the first year. See the full card review for more details.
The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select provides benefits when flying on American-operated flights including the first checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to four companions traveling with you on the same reservation, access to reduced mileage awards and preferred boarding. You’ll also earn 2 AAdvantage miles per dollar spent at gas stations, restaurants and on eligible American Airlines purchases. The card, which has an annual fee of $99 that’s waived the first year, also offers various travel and shopping protections. See the full card review for more details.
The Citi Prestige recently relaunched with new and mostly improved earning categories. Now, you’ll earn 5 Citi ThankYou points per dollar spent on airfare and at restaurants, and 3 points per dollar spent on hotels and cruise lines. Since TPG’s latest valuations peg the value of Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, this means you’ll get a 8.5% return on airfare and dining. This means the Citi Prestige is the best card for restaurants, and arguably the best card for airfare since it offers much better travel protections than the Platinum Card.
The Citi Prestige has a $495 annual fee, but the card has many notable benefits including a 4th Night Free on hotel stays booked through ThankYou.com (although this benefit will be capped to twice each year beginning this September). You’ll also get a Priority Pass Select membership and a $250 annual travel credit. See the full card review for more details.
The Citi Premier Card is a mid-range travel rewards card that earns you 3x points on travel, including most gas stations. You’ll also earn 2x points at restaurants and on entertainment and 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere. You can transfer Citi ThankYou points to 15 different programs or redeem them for 1.25 cents each toward airfare booked through Citi’s ThankYou Rewards Travel Center. This card is currently offering 60,000 ThankYou points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card. See the full card review for more information.
Not only does this card have no foreign transaction fees, but it provides 5x Membership Rewards points for all tickets purchased directly from airlines or American Express Travel, equal to a 10% return based on TPG’s valuations. You’ll also earn 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com. Benefits include an up to $200 annual airline fee credit, monthly Uber credits, reimbursement for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four years and access to Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta), Amex Centurion and Priority Pass Select lounges. You also get Gold status with Hilton Honors and Marriott Rewards. There’s a $550 annual fee for this card. (See Rates & Fees) See the full card review for more details.
Capital One doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees on any of its cards. The Venture Rewards Card currently offers new applicants 50,000 bonus miles — worth $700 based on TPG’s latest valuations — after they spend $3,000 within three months of account opening. You’ll also earn 2x miles on all purchases, although there’s one exception to the 2x earning: You’ll earn 10x miles when you use the Venture Rewards to book and pay for hotels at Hotels.com using a special link (Hotels.com/venture). The Venture Rewards Card has historically offered fixed-value miles that you can redeem for 1 cent apiece to offset travel purchases, but an exciting update recently added airline transfer partners to the picture. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card that’s waived the first year. See the full card review for more details.
Although the Hilton Aspire card has a $450 annual fee (See Rates & Fees), some travelers will be able to recoup this fee and more due to the card’s benefits. These benefits include a free weekend night award each year, top-tier Hilton Diamond status, a up to $250 annual airline fee credit, a up to $250 annual Hilton resort statement credit and a Priority Pass Select membership. Plus, you’ll earn 14 Hilton points per dollar spent at Hilton properties, and 7 Hilton points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with an airline or with American Express Travel, on car rentals booked directly with select rental companies and at US restaurants. See the full card review for more information.
The Marriott Boundless Card is a solid mid-tier card for travelers who stay at Marriott properties at least a few times each year. You’ll earn 6 Marriott points per dollar spent at Marriott properties and 2 Marriott points per dollar spent on everything else. You’ll get a free night worth up to 35,000 points each year as well as 15 elite night credits each year, which could help you qualify for higher status levels. The card has a $95 annual fee, but you should be able to get more than $95 of value from just the annual free night. See the full card review for more details.
The IHG Premier Card is another hotel card where you should be able to get enough value from your annual free night certificate to offset the annual fee. In the case of the IHG Premier, the card has an annual fee of $89 and each anniversary you’ll get a free night certificate that is valid at any property that charges 40,000 points or less per night. In addition to the free night, you’ll also get Platinum Elite IHG status, a fourth night free on award stays of four or more nights and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit every four years. You’ll also earn 10 IHG points per dollar spent at IHG properties. See the full card review for more details.
This card from Bank of America offers you plenty of perks, for a reasonable annual fee. You start off with 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within 90 days of account opening, worth $500. You also earn 2x points on travel and dining, and a strong 1.5x points on all other purchases. Bank of America points can be redeemed for gift cards, cash back as a statement credit or travel reservations. Also, Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients receive a 25% – 75% rewards bonus on every purchase. This card offers a $100 annual airline incidental statement credit and up to a $100 credit toward the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee every four years. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card. See the full card review for more details.
The Ink Business Preferred features 3x points on all travel purchases, as well as on shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines — but keep in mind that the 3x earning rate is limited to the first $150,000 spent per account year in combined purchases across these categories. You’ll earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. New applicants earn an 80,000-point bonus after spending $5,000 on their card within three months of account opening. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card. See the full card review for more information.
This card offers you 4% back on restaurants, takeout and bars, including UberEats, and 3% back on airfare, hotel and vacation home rentals. You can also earn 2% back on online purchases including Uber, online shopping, video and music streaming services (certain online purchases are excluded, including third-party payment services) and 1% back on all other purchases. Plus, this is one of the few no annual fee cards that also has no foreign transaction fees.
There’s a $100 sign-up bonus after you spend $500 on new purchases within 90 days of account opening. And each year you use your card to spend more than $5,000 in purchases, you’ll get a $50 statement credit automatically applied to online subscription services like Netflix and Hulu.
This card has no annual fee as well as no foreign transaction fees, and it earns you 1.5x miles on every purchase you make. Discover will match the miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, meaning if you earned 35,000 miles, you’d end up with a total of 70,000 at the end of your first year. You can redeem miles at a rate of 1 cent apiece for travel such as airlines and hotels, with redemptions applied as a statement credit. However, you may find that some merchants — especially overseas — won’t accept Discover cards.
The Best Credit Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees of 2019
|Card||Best for||Annual Fee||Current Bonus||Bonus Requirement|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Travel and Dining||$450||50,000 points||Spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred Card||Travel and Dining||$95||60,000 points||Spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card||Southwest Flyers||$149||40,000 points||Spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months|
|United Explorer Card||United Flyers||$95 (waived first year)||40,000 miles||Earn 40,000 after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months|
|Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard||American Flyers||$99 (waived first year)||60,000 miles||Spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months|
|Citi Prestige Card||Flights and Dining||$495||50,000 points||Spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months|
|Citi Premier Card
|Travel, Gas and Entertainment||$95||60,000 points||Spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months|
|Platinum Card from American Express||Membership Benefits, Airfare and Prepaid Hotels||$550||60,000 points||Spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||Hotels.com Bookings||$95 (waived first year)||50,000 miles||Spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months|
|Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card||Hilton Stays||$450||150,000 points||Spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months|
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card||Marriott Stays||$95||75,000 points||Spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months|
|IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card||IHG Stays||$89||80,000 points||Earn 80,000 after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months|
|Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card||Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients||$95||50,000 points||Spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days|
|Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card||Travel and Select Business Expenses||$95||80,000 points||Spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months|
|Uber Visa||Restaurants and Bars||None||$100||Spend $500 on purchases in the first 90 days|
|Discover it Miles||Flat 1.5% return on all spending||None||N/A||N/A|
Additional reporting by Katie Genter.
Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page with the best currently available credit cards with no foreign transaction fees, so you can bookmark it and check back regularly for updates. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to older offers below.
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NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel