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Banks are in business to make money and there’s nothing wrong with paying a reasonable fee 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 cards charge a foreign transaction fee of around 3% and customers don’t get anything in return for it. In this guide, we’ll consider the best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees for international travel.

The Best Credit Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select 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.

There’s more to these cards than just their lack of a foreign transaction fee. Each offers a unique combination of perks and benefits for travelers. Let’s walk through the details for each of our top picks:

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Annual Fee: $95

Welcome Bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months (worth $1,200 according to TPG Valuations)

Bonus Rewards: Earn 2x points on travel and dining

Things to Consider: Chase’s Sapphire Preferred card has always been one of the top choices for international travelers, both beginner and seasoned. Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points are one of the most valuable points currencies available. For premium rewards redemptions, you’ll find points are typically most valuable when transferred to one of Chase’s excellent airline and hotel partners. Alternatively, points can be worth 1.25 cents each toward travel and activities booked through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Travel Center, which can be great for saving money on budget travel and economy flights.

Essential Reading: 

APPLY HERE: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Annual Fee: $450

Welcome Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months (worth $1,000 according to TPG Valuations)

Bonus Rewards: Earn 3x on travel (after using the $300 travel credit) and dining purchases

Things to Consider: This premium travel-rewards card became hugely popular when it was first released in 2016 and it has remained a top travel card for many TPG readers. In fact, it currently holds the title for Best Premium Card  from the inaugural TPG awards in 2018.  As with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll find the most value by redeeming points through Chase’s transfer partners or through Chase’s travel portal. The Reserve allows cardholders to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal at 1.5 cents per point. 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.

Essential Reading: 

APPLY HERE: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

Annual Fee: $149

Welcome Bonus: Up to 60,000 points: 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 20,000 points after you spend $12,000 on purchases in the first 12 months. (worth $900 according to TPG Valuations)

Bonus Rewards: Earn 2x points on Southwest purchases

Things to Consider: Southwest is a great airline choice for anyone who frequently travels within the United States, offering free checked bags and no change fees for every customer. This is the newest (and most premium) of the three personal Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards, but it’s one of just two that waive foreign transaction fees. While the Priority card has a $149 annual fee, it also includes perks like a $75 annual Southwest credit, four upgraded boardings per year and 7,500 points every year after your cardmember anniversary.

Essential Reading: 

APPLY HERE: Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card

United Explorer Card

Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year

Welcome Bonus: 40,000 miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months (worth $520 according to TPG Valuations)

Bonus Rewards: Earn 2x miles at restaurants, hotels and on United purchases

Things to Consider: 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. Plus, 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. United is part of the Star Alliance and is one of the few airlines that doesn’t pass along astronomical fuel surcharges for international award flight redemptions, which makes United miles valuable to keep around — despite the upcoming demise of its published award chart. 

Essential Reading: 

APPLY HERE: United Explorer Card

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

Annual Fee: $99, waived the first year

Welcome Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $2,500 on purchases in the first three months (worth $700 according to TPG Valuations)

Bonus Rewards: Earn 2x miles at gas stations, restaurants and on eligible American Airlines purchases

Things to Consider: 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. Just keep in mind that Citi is pulling many of its travel protections in September, which may have an impact on how often you want to use the card to book travel.

Essential Reading: 

Citi Prestige Card

Annual Fee: $495

Welcome Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months (worth $850 according to TPG Valuations)

Bonus Rewards: Earn 5x points on airfare and dining, 3x on hotels and cruises

Things to Consider: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. Since TPG’s latest valuations peg the value of Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents each, this means you’ll get an 8.5% return on airfare and dining. However, with Citi pulling purchase and travel protections from this card in September, fewer cardholders are using this card to book travel.

Essential Reading: 

APPLY HERE: Citi Prestige Card

The Platinum Card from American Express

Annual Fee: $550 (see rates and fees)

Welcome Bonus: 60,000 points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months (worth $1,200 according to TPG Valuations)

Bonus Rewards: Earn 5x on flights booked directly with airlines and flights and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com

Things to Consider: Not only does this card have no foreign transaction fees, but it also offers an extensive portfolio of luxury travel benefits, including a $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 CenturionPriority Pass Select, Escape and Airspace lounges. You also get Gold status with Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy.

Essential Reading: 

APPLY HERE: The Platinum Card from American Express

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year

Welcome Bonus: 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months (worth $500 in travel statement credits)

Bonus Rewards: Earn 2x miles on every purchase, plus 10x miles on hotels when booked and paid at hotels.com/venture

Things to Consider: This card’s simple rewards structure and valuable Hotels.com partnership have made it a crowd favorite for beginner travelers looking to earn rewards on everyday expenses. The Venture Rewards Card offers fixed-value miles that you can redeem for 1 cent apiece to offset travel purchases, plus the ability to transfer miles to its airline transfer partners. You’ll get a TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee credit every four years (up to $100), which is a rare benefit for mid-tier cards.

Essential Reading: 

APPLY NOW: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

 

Annual Fee: $450 (see rates and fees)

Welcome Bonus: 150,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months (worth $900 according to TPG Valuations)

Bonus Rewards: Earn 14x points at Hilton and 7x points on flights booked directly through the airline or on amextravel.com

Things to Consider: Although the Hilton Aspire card has a high annual fee, some travelers will be able to recoup this fee and more through the card’s benefits. These benefits include a free-weekend-night award each year, top-tier Hilton Diamond status, up to $250 in annual airline fee credits, up to $250 in annual Hilton resort statement credits and a Priority Pass Select membership. Hilton is one of the largest hotel brands in the world, with properties that appeal to both budget and luxury travelers. If you frequently stay at Hilton properties throughout the year, you can get a lot of value by adding this card to your wallet.

Essential Reading:

APPLY HERE: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

Annual Fee: $95

Welcome Bonus: 75,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months (worth $600 according to TPG Valuations)

Bonus Rewards: 6x points at Marriott and 2x points on all other purchases

Things to Consider: Marriott has encountered several issues since its merger with SPG — most recently with the announcement of its less-than-ideal peak and off-peak award pricing policies. However, this card is still worth considering if you’ve remained loyal to the hotel brand and stay at Marriott properties at least a few times each year. 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.

Essential Reading: 

APPLY HERE: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Annual Fee: $89

Welcome Bonus: 125,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months (worth $625 according to TPG Valuations)

Bonus Rewards: 25x points at IHG and 4x points on all other purchases in your first year; after the first year 10x points at IHG and 2x at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants and 1x point on all purchases

Things to Consider: 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. 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 credit for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee every four years (up to $100). While IHG points aren’t considered very valuable, this card’s earning structure — in addition to the Club Member and Elite Status benefits — make it very easy to rack up points.

Essential Reading: 

APPLY HERE: IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card

Annual Fee: $95

Welcome Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days (worth $500)

Bonus Rewards: Earn 2x points on travel and dining, plus 1.5x points on all other purchases.

Things to Consider: This card from Bank of America offers you plenty of perks, for a reasonable annual fee — especially if you’re an existing Bank of America customer. Bank of America points can be redeemed for gift cards, cash back as a statement credit or travel reservations. Bank of America Preferred Rewards members 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.

Essential Reading: 

APPLY HERE: Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card

Discover it Miles

Annual Fee: $0

Welcome Bonus: None

Bonus Rewards: Earn 1.5x miles on all spending

Things to Consider: 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.

Essential Reading: 

APPLY HERE: Discover it Miles

Cash-Back Credit Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees

It’s becoming more and more common to see top cash-back cards also waive foreign transaction fees, which can be great for maximizing rewards on non-travel-related purchases while abroad. This list certainly isn’t as robust as the list of travel cards, but there are a few good options available.

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual Fee: $95, waived the first year

Welcome Bonus: $300 after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months

Bonus Rewards: Earn 4% cash back on dining and entertainment and 2% cash back at grocery stores

Things to Consider: Capital One defines dining and entertainment very broadly, meaning you can earn 4% cash back on a lot of different purchases. These two categories are among the most common expenses while you’re abroad, so the ability to earn such a high return without forking over a foreign transaction fee is great.

Essential Reading: 

APPLY HERE: Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

Uber Visa

(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

Annual Fee: $0

Welcome Bonus: $100 after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 90 days

Bonus Rewards: Earn 4% cash back on dining (including UberEats), 3% cash back on airfare, hotels and vacation home rentals and 2% cash back on online purchases (including Uber, online shopping and streaming services)

Things to Consider: You can get a surprising return on a wide range of bonus categories with the Uber Visa. Ironically, there are other cards that will earn better rewards on Uber purchases, but 4% back on dining and 3% back on travel is great, considering you don’t have to worry about an annual fee. This card 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.

Essential Reading: 

APPLY HERE: Uber Visa

Wells Fargo Propel American Express card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Annual Fee: $0

Welcome Bonus: 30,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months (worth $300)

Bonus Rewards: Earn 3x points dining, travel and select streaming services

Things to Consider: 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. 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.)

Essential Reading: 

APPLY HERE: Wells Fargo Propel American Express card

Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card

Annual Fee: $0

Welcome Bonus: Receive a $70 Amazon.com gift card instantly upon approval

Bonus Rewards: Earn 5% back at Whole Foods Market and Amazon and 2% back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores

Things to Consider: This card offers its best rewards on purchases you may not be likely to make while traveling overseas. You won’t earn 5% back on purchases made at international Amazon retail sites (including but not limited to Amazon.caAmazon.co.ukAmazon.deAmazon.fr, or Amazon.co.jp), or any other website operated by Amazon or on purchases made at international Whole Foods Market sites.

The information for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Essential Reading: 

The information for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Annual Fee: $0

Welcome Bonus: $150 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months

Bonus Rewards: Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase

Things to Consider: Its flat-rate rewards return means you don’t have to think about bonus categories, but other cards may offer better rewards on categories travelers may use most, like dining and transportation. It will act as a solid supplemental card for purchases that don’t fall under any other bonus category.

Essential Reading: 

APPLY HERE: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi

Annual Fee: $0

Welcome Bonus: None

Bonus Rewards: Earn 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases worldwide for the first $7,000 per year (1% thereafter), 3% cash back worldwide on restaurants and eligible travel purchases and 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com

Things to Consider: First off, you have to be a Costco member to be eligible for this card. Although 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. If you’re not looking to use your rewards to save at Costco, you’re better off with another card to use on gas, dining and travel.

Essential Reading: 

APPLY HERE: Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi

Discover it® Cash Back

Annual Fee: $0

Welcome Bonus: None

Bonus Rewards: 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.)

Things to Consider: Discover will match cash back on all purchases during your first year of card membership, which can add quite a bit to the first-year value of the card. However, 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. Plus, whether you want to use this card while you’re traveling abroad greatly depends on the rotating categories.

Essential Reading: 

Bottom Line

If you’re a frequent international traveler, a card without foreign transaction fees is a must. The last thing you want is for rewards you earn on your trip to be wiped out by a 2% or 3% fee.

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. Banks have no additional costs associated with processing a transaction from Toronto versus 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, most top travel cards don’t charge a foreign transaction fee, and many cash-back cards have started eliminating foreign transaction fees as well.

If you’re new to The Points Guy, check out our Beginner’s Guide to learn more.

Additional reporting by Katie Genter, Madison Blancaflor and Mike Cetera 

Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire card, please click here.


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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2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • 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.
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.