Foreign transaction fees silently kill your credit card rewards.
Depending on the card, foreign transaction fees add a 1-3% fee on top of every foreign transaction.
For me, international trips can be one of the biggest expenses that I have all year. Flights, hotels, tours, restaurants, it adds up.
Adding a 3% fee on top of all that gets hefty.
Let’s say you spend $10,000 on an international trip and every dollar gets hit with a nasty 3% transaction fee. You’ll end up paying an extra $300 just for using that card. That’s a lot of money! And for what? The convenience of using a credit card? No thank you, that’s a terrible deal.
Even as you rack up points, perks, and cash back, you could negate all of those rewards by using the wrong card during one international trip.
Here’s the worst part.
Foreign transaction fees can ding you even if you never leave the country.
These fees trigger any time there’s a transaction through a foreign bank. So when you purchase something online that happens to be located internationally or uses an international bank, the fees can still trigger.
I can’t stand hidden fees like this.
Since I love to travel internationally, I have a mandate of only using credit cards without any foreign transaction fees. Even the one debit card I carry for emergencies doesn’t have them.
That way I never have to think about it.
Some types of cards are more prone to having foreign transaction fees than others:
- Many travel rewards cards don’t have them.
- Most business cards don’t have them.
- Most cash back cards DO have them.
Regardless, I always double check every card that I’m considering.
If you never travel internationally, you can get away with choosing a card that has foreign transaction fees. Just be aware that you can still get hit with them occasionally.
Top 3 Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards
- Chase Sapphire Preferred (Travel Rewards)
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card (Business)
- Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Building Credit and Cash Back)
How to Pick a No Foreign Transaction Fee Card
I have a deep guide on how to pick the right card in our best credit cards post. It walks you through everything you need to pick the right card from scratch.
As a quick summary:
- Start with your credit score. The best cards require higher credit scores so if you need to build credit first, get a card for building credit and then get a better card later.
- Decide if you want simplicity or rewards maximization. Travel rewards cards get you more value back but require a bit more work. Cash back cards are super simple and don’t require any effort at all.
- Once you’ve decided to get a travel or cash back card, pick one primary spending card that’s the best fit for you. Try to align the rewards as best as you can with your spending.
- As an optional last step, consider getting additional cards to maximize rewards on other spending categories or to get extra perks. This is entirely optional, simplicity goes a long way and having a single card does make things much easier.
Go through the same process when looking for a no foreign transaction fee card. The only difference is that you’ll only consider cards without these fees as you go through the process.
Depending on the type of card that you want, your selection process will be a bit different.
Most travel rewards credit cards won’t have foreign transaction fees. Folks with travel cards tend to…well… travel so it’s a common perk to have no foreigh transaction fees. Once you’ve picked the card you want, check their fees to be safe but you shouldn’t have any issues getting the card you want. The point is you don’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees until the end. Focus on finding the right card, then double check that there aren’t any fees.
Business credit cards are even easier. Almost all of them don’t have foreign transaction fees. So pick the best card, double check just to be safe, and you’ll be all set.
Cash back credit cards are almost the exact opposite. Most cash back cards have foreign transaction fees. It’s the most common downside of having a cash back card. Instead of picking the ideal cash back card and hoping it doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, it’s usually best to work in reverse. Start with the few cash back cards without fees and then pick the one that’s the best fit from that pool. Unfortunately, you’ll have much fewer options with cash back cards since it’s not a common perk.
I personally restrict myself to cards that have no foreign transaction fees. So this is the exact process that I use when looking for a new card..
Or you could go straight to our favorite no foreign transaction fee cards.
Reviews Of Our Favorite No Foreign Transaction Fee Cards
What if you want to jump straight to the best cards with no foreign transaction fees for 2020? Which should you choose?
We’ve combed through all the cards to find our top three favorites, one for each of the main card types: travel rewards, business, and cash back.
Chase Sapphire Preferred (Travel Rewards)
I love love love the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
It’s probably the most popular card on the market right now and has been for a long time.
It earns 2X points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants.
For me, those tend to be my biggest spending categories. Earning double points on them gets me a ton of points over the year.
Does it have the best rewards or perks? Not quite. Other cards do earn more points or have more perks.
But it’s an incredible deal at a very reasonable annual fee of $95. The value that you get from this annual fee is unbeatable. That’s why it’s so popular.
The Chase Ultimate Rewards points are solid too, it’s one of the best points networks out there. You’ll be able to transfer your points at 1:1 to plenty of airline and hotel partners, giving you tons of flexibility on finding great redemptions.
For your first rewards card, I strongly recommend getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
It was my first rewards card and I racked up a ton of points with it that I used for many international trips.
And of course, you get all this with no foreign transaction fees. I used mine worldwide and never had a single issue.
Ink Business Preferred (Business)
I love the Ink Business Preferred card for businesses, it’s a point-earning machine.
You can earn 3X points per dollar spent on travel and select business categories on the first $150,000 you spend.
There is a cap of $150,000 for these bonus points. So once you’ve earned 3X points on $150,000 worth of spending, you’ll start earning 1 point per dollar after that. You also earn 1 point per dollar on all spending that doesn’t fall into the categories above.
If you max out the point bonus, you’ll earn 450,000 points per year.
I particularly love using this for online ad budgets. It’s easy to spend thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars every month on adds. When done correctly, that spending goes directly to growth for your business. Now add an incredible point bonus on top of it. That’s amazing.
If you average $12,500 across any of these spending categories or are even in the ballpark, get this card. You’ll rack up almost half a million points per year.
This is how business owners generate millions of points for first-class flights and nights at the best luxury hotels without having to pay for any of it. Other than a few minor fees, you’ll easily have enough points to travel in top-tier luxury for free.
These are also Chase Ultimate Points. You’ll have tons of flexibility in how you redeem your points for great airline tickets and hotel stays.
It does have an annual fee of $95 which is super low considering how many points you can earn with it.
Employee cards are also free, making it even easier for you to earn points off their purchases.
And of course, there’s no foreign transaction fees so you can use it worldwide. If you do any business internationally, get this card to avoid any foreign transaction fees. An extra 1-3% charge for businesses can add up to serious amounts of money.
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Building Credit and Cash Back)
Hands down, the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card is the best cash back card without foreign transaction fees.
Be aware that there are two versions of this card:
- QuicksilverOne Rewards for average credit
- Quicksilver Rewards for excellent credit
They’re almost identical.
They both get you 1.5% cash back on every purchase. You won’t have to worry about rotating categories, cash back limits or anything else. Simply spend money and get a flat 1.5% cash back.
Of course, neither of them have foreign transaction fees.
Now let’s get into the differences.
Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
The QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards will accept folks with average credit but does come with an annual fee of $39. That’s a really low annual fee. As long as you spend $2,600 per year, you’ll come out ahead with your cash back rewards.
The APR is also higher but I never worry about that. And neither should you. You want to get in the habit of paying off your cards in full every month.
And it doesn’t have a signup bonus. I don’t worry about that either. Signup bonuses come and go quickly. In the long-run, they have very little impact on your total rewards.
This is a fantastic option if you’re building credit in order to get access to the better cards.
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Quicksilver Cash Rewards is only available if you have an excellent credit score. In exchange for having great credit, there won’t be an annual fee.
The APR is also lower and there’s a signup bonus. Again, neither of these should matter much.
Regardless of which one you get, I love the simplicity of these cards.
1.5% cash back without foreign transaction or annual fees. That’s an amazing deal.
No annual fee, no worrying about getting hit with a foreign transaction fee, no points to manage. Use the card anywhere and everywhere without ever having to think about it.
Are there cash back cards with better returns? Yes. You can find cards with higher cash back rewards. But they have foreign transaction fees and possibly annual fees too. That really dings the rewards that you get to keep.
This is the only cash back card I’d ever consider getting since I refuse to have any card with foreign transaction fees. I highly recommend it.
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