Most credit cards incur a fee when you make purchases overseas or online with an international retailer. However, you can avoid this cost with no-foreign-transaction-fee cards, which are typically travel products.
Depending on the card, you might also enjoy perks such as airport lounge access, travel credits and travel insurance.
Use this guide to compare travel credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. We’ll also cover key features to consider and mistakes to avoid so you can find a product that works for you.
These credit cards let you avoid extra charges when you make purchases in a country outside of the US. They also typically offer points or miles, as well as bonus rewards in select categories.
In comparison, most travel credit cards charge foreign transaction fees of around 3% of each purchase made overseas or online at an international store. While you’ll still earn rewards, foreign transaction fees can eat into their value.
Example: How much can I save using a travel credit card with no foreign transaction fees?
Say you’ve spent $5,000 on your credit card for an overseas trip. With a card charging a 3% foreign transaction fee, you’d be stuck with a $150 fee for your spending. With a card that offers no foreign transaction fees, you wouldn’t have to worry about this cost.
Here’s what to look out for if you’re interested in this type of card:
Foreign transaction fee details.
Confirm with your card’s rate table you won’t be charged foreign transaction fees. Usually, providers prominently mention no foreign transaction fees on their card pages.
Travel credit cards typically offer introductory bonus points or miles when you meet spending requirements. A signup bonus could add short-term value to the card you choose.
Consider the points or miles you might earn when you use a card. Many cards offer bonus rewards for certain categories, especially travel and dining. Some cards offer the same rewards rate on all purchases.
Weigh the card’s annual fee against the value of features such as rewards, travel credits and airport lounge access.
If you don’t pay off your purchases in full by the due date on each statement, they’ll accrue interest at the card’s purchase APR. Consider this cost when you’re comparing cards so you can apply for one that’s affordable.
Other travel perks and features.
Complimentary extras such as travel insurance, airport lounge access, travel credits and concierge services can add value to the card you choose, as long as you use them. If you’re interested in particular travel perks, check which cards offer them before you apply.
Watch out for these pitfalls so you make the most of your credit card:
Even if a card offers no foreign transaction fees, you’ll still pay cash advance fees when you withdraw money. Each transaction will accrue interest at the cash advance APR, which is typically higher than the purchase APR.
Forgetting to factor in currency conversion.
Typically, transactions you make in a foreign currency are converted to US dollars at the applicable currency exchange rate. This could mean you won’t know exactly how much a transaction costs in US dollars before it shows up on your account. Make sure you consider this to avoid exceeding your credit limit.
Not paying off your balance in full.
If you carry a balance on your credit card beyond your grace period, you’ll accrue interest on your purchases.
A travel credit card with no foreign transaction fees can be an excellent choice if you’ll be vacationing abroad or making purchases on international websites.
If you’d like to save more, consider a credit card with no annual fees or foreign transaction fees. And if you need more options, consider the wealth of travel cards out there.
Back to top