As someone who lived overseas for 13 years and who has traveled to over 60 countries so far, owning a rewards credit card with no foreign transaction fee is huge.
The average credit card charges a foreign transaction fee of between 2.5% – 3%. If you're spending thousands of dollars on hotels, food, and entertainment while overseas, this really adds up fast, especially since you may also lose purchasing power on foreign exchange conversions.
If you are a frequent international traveler, let me share with you some of the best international credit cards with zero foreign transaction fees. I own a couple of them myself.
Foreign Transaction Fees Are A Pain
A foreign transaction fee is a surcharge incurred when you use your U.S. credit card outside the country. You can be charged a foreign transaction fee for everything from hotels, taxis, food, drinks, and entertainment to activities and sightseeing.
To avoid foreign transaction fees, choose an international travel credit card from a list I've curated that does not charge a fee. Card issuers such as Capital One don't charge foreign transaction fees at all.
Best Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees
After spending dozens of hours reviewing over a hundred rewards credit cards, here are my top credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. I've written a detailed review of each in the links below. I've also highlighted which ones I own.
As a Chase customer since 2009, I'm a big fan of all Chase credit cards. I've been able to rack up over 1 million miles since I became a customer. As a result, my wife and I have traveled for free to Hawaii and Asia multiple times since. We've also used our Chase Ultimate Rewards to upgrade our laptops every 5 years.
Stick with the two best credit card issuers: Chase and Capital One. You can't go wrong with either.
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (I own this one)
- VentureOne Rewards Credit Card by Capital One
- Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card (I own this one)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
1) Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Venture card is the best travel rewards credit card Capital One has for everyday travelers. As long as you're an active traveler who spends responsibly, you should easily be able to offset the annual fee with the welcome bonus and 2X miles on every purchases.
Welcome Bonus: Earn a 100,000-mile bonus when you spend $20,000 within the first 12 months of membership. Or, earn 50,000 miles (equals $500 travel rewards) if you spend $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months.
Current Rewards Offer: Unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase.
Transfer Benefits: Transfer miles to any of Venture's 10+ travel partners
No foreign transaction fees
No limit on how many miles you can earn
Rewards don’t expire for the life of the account
Additional International Travel Perks: Customers can get credited a $100 reimbursement for a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee.
Travel Protection and Insurance: Trip accident insurance to cover hospital and transportation bills in the event of an emergency. Did someone say cliff diving in Greece?
Annual Fee: $95
3) Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
The baby brother to the Venture card is the VentureOne card. The VentureOne card has no annual fee and is perfect for the occasional domestic and foreign traveler.
Annual Fee: $0
Current Rewards Offer: Unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on purchases
Welcome Bonus: Receive a bonus of 20,000 miles after you spend $500 on purchases within three months of opening an account. The 20,000 miles equals $200 in travel rewards, which is like getting 40% cash back. If you're interested specifically in hotel rewards credit cards, click the link.
Travel when you want where you want. No blackout dates, fly any airline, stay at any hotel, whenever you want.
0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months. This is a great introductory period for those of you who plan to make big purchases and want some extra time to pay them off.
Earn unlimited miles that won't expire as long as you are an active cardholder.
Additional International Travel Perks: VentureOne miles can be redeemed at 10+ travel partners.
Travel Protections and Insurance: 24/7 emergency assistance & trip accident insurance
4) Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Quicksilver card is a great all-around cash back rewards credit card. You get 1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases, along with zero foreign transaction fees. If you are looking for a great utility card for everyday use, this is a great choice, especially since there is no annual fee.
Annual Fee: $0
Welcome Bonus: $200 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases within three months.
Current Rewards Offer: Unlimited 1.5% cash back
No foreign transaction fees
Introductory 0% APR for the first 15 months
Additional International Travel Perks: Complementary concierge service.
Travel Protections and Insurance: Travel accident insurance and 24-hour emergency travel assistance.
5) Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is the Big Kahuna credit card for frequent international travelers. It comes with the best rewards, but also the highest annual fee of $550.
If you travel internationally more than 2X a year and also spend $36,000 or more a year on the card, you are going to get way more benefits than its cost. The sign-up bonus alone is worth $750 in travel rewards when you book in the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal
Current Rewards Offer: 3X points on travel immediately after earning the $300 travel credit. 3X points on eligible dining at restaurants and delivery/takeout. 1X points per every $1 you spend on everything else in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Welcome Bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That equates to $750 in travel rewards when you book in the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal
No foreign transaction fees
Additional International Travel Perks: Transfer your points to any of the 10+ travel partners. Also, enjoy a complimentary $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®, redeemable once every four years.
Travel Protection and Insurance: $10,000 worth of trip cancellation/interruption insurance, plus baggage delay insurance covers and primary car insurance.
Annual Fee: $550
Annual Travel Credit: $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. This is free money that knocks down the fee just for having the card.
Don't Pay Foreign Transaction Fees Ever Again
It makes no sense to pay 2.5% – 3% in foreign transaction fees if there are great rewards credit cards out there with 0% foreign transaction fees.
Not only do the above five cards charge zero foreign transaction fees, they also provide you fantastic travel and cash back rewards. Another important attribute about these five cards is that they all provide great travel protection. Don't underestimate the need for travel assistance.
One time, I got mugged in Beijing, China! My bank really bailed me out then. So do credit card companies. It feels great to have a team of people watching your back.
Be a smart international traveler. If you're going to an unknown place, keep the cash on you to a minimum. Carry one of these travel credit cards and don't go anywhere shady by yourself!
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For further suggestions on saving money and growing wealth, check out my Top Financial Products page.
About the Author: Sam worked in investment banking for 13 years at GS and CS. He received his undergraduate degree in Economics from The College of William & Mary and got his MBA from UC Berkeley. In 2012, Sam was able to retire at the age of 34 largely due to his investments that now generate roughly $250,000 a year in passive income. He spends most of his time playing tennis and taking care of his family.
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