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Best credit cards without foreign transaction fees

These cards help you avoid unnecessary fees while traveling internationally.

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Credit cards are a convenient way to pay for things while traveling overseas. You don't have to worry about currency conversions or carrying lots of cash, which could be stolen. And paying with a credit card can get you a better exchange rate than you'd get at the airport currency exchange desk. But you'll want to look out for credit cards that charge foreign transaction fees -- a charge made to recover the cost of converting purchases abroad into US dollars.

A typical foreign transaction fee is around 3% of your purchase. If you rarely travel abroad, a 3% fee on a few souvenirs may not be a big deal. But frequent travelers who charge lodging, rental cars and more could end up paying hundreds of dollars in foreign transaction fees on every trip. Fortunately, there are credit cards with no transaction fee designed for world travelers. Here are our top picks for the best credit cards with no transaction fee. We'll update this list periodically as new options become available.

Best overall card with no foreign transaction fees

Card Highlights
Intro BonusEarn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
APR15.99%-22.99% Variable
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 3X points on dining.
  • Earn 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
Annual Fee$95
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Balance Transfer APR15.99%-22.99% Variable
Foreign Transaction Fees $0
Penalty APR Up to 29.99%
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 3X points on dining.
  • Earn 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.

Our Take

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is our overall top pick for the best credit card with no foreign transaction fee. It beats all the other cards reviewed for sign-up bonuses (60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months, which is valued at $750 for travel booked through Chase) and travel booking flexibility. It tops the list as an excellent travel rewards credit card thanks to points that can be transferred to partner airline or hotel loyalty sites at a 1:1 ratio. Plus, booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards website gets you the most mileage from your points -- up to 25% more.

Earn 5x points on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining, online groceries, food delivery and select streaming services, 2x on all other travel purchases and 1x on other purchases. It's a great way to rack up points -- without worrying about foreign transaction fees -- if you travel and dine out frequently.

Best cash-back credit card with no foreign transaction fee

See Rates and Fees
Card Highlights
Intro BonusIntro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
APR11.99% - 22.99% Variable
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APR0% for 14 months
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% for 14 months
Balance Transfer Fee 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Balance Transfer APR11.99% - 22.99% Variable
Late Payment Fee None the first time you pay late. After that, up to $40.
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Our Take

The Discover it® Cash Back* is a low-fee credit card that offers a high potential for cash-back earnings. There is no annual or foreign transaction fee to worry about. All purchases earn you at least 1% cash back. However, you could earn higher rewards when you take advantage of the rotating quarterly category bonuses upon activation -- like restaurant and grocery store purchases -- of 5% cash back (on up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1%). Best of all, Discover will match your cash back earnings at the end of the first year through its Cashback Match offer, essentially doubling your first year's worth of rewards.

Best flat-rate travel rewards credit card with no foreign transaction fee

Card Highlights
Intro BonusEnjoy a one-time bonus of 60,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $600 in travel
APR15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
Annual Fee$95
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APRN/A
Balance Transfer Fee $0 at this Transfer APR
Balance Transfer APR15.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day.

Our Take

Capital One loads the Venture Rewards Credit Card* with plenty of travel perks to offset the $95 annual fee. Travel anywhere without any foreign transaction fees and earn 2x unlimited miles on all purchases. In addition, Capital One awards you up to a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck to help you speed through the airport lines. Venture Miles earned can be redeemed on flights and hotels or used to pay for Amazon.com and PayPal purchases. You can also transfer miles to over 15 hotel and airline programs.

Best no-annual-fee credit card with no foreign transaction fee

Card Highlights
Intro Bonus25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
APR13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases
Additional Details
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Balance Transfer APR13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR up to 29.99% APR
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire

Our Take

Bank of America's Travel Rewards card doesn't come with foreign transaction fees or an annual fee. Most low-fee cards are typically no-frills, but the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card* provides cardholders with plenty of value. You'll earn 1.5 points for every dollar you spend, with no limit. When it's time to redeem points, there are no blackout dates or website limitations. Book travel from anywhere and apply the points as a statement credit to cover the charge. In addition, the introductory no-interest offer for purchases made in the first 15 billing cycles (13.99% to 23.99% variable APR thereafter) can provide you with some wiggle room to spread out your card payments without incurring fees.

Best welcome bonus credit card with no foreign transaction fee

Card Highlights
Intro BonusEarn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
APR15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on other purchases
Annual Fee$450
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Balance Transfer Fee 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Balance Transfer APR15.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees 0%
Penalty APR Up to 29.99% (Variable)
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases
  • 1 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on other purchases

Our Take

The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard has the highest annual fee of the cards in this guide, but it's also the best travel rewards card for luxury perks. Frequent travelers will appreciate complimentary Admirals Club membership for lounge access, valued at up to $650 per year. The 10,000 bonus Elite Qualifying Miles (after spending $40,000 in purchases within the year) can help you get to Elite status faster. Priority boarding and a free checked bag on domestic flights are also included.

Best credit card for foodies with no foreign transaction fee

See Rates and Fees Terms Apply
Card Highlights
Intro BonusEarn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
APRSee Pay Over Time APR
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
Annual Fee$250
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR See Rates & Fees
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Our Take

Foodies who enjoy fine dining and gourmet-oriented travel should consider keeping the American Express Gold Card with their passports. There are no foreign transaction fees, and you'll earn four points for every dollar you spend at restaurants, as well as three points per dollar for flights booked directly with airlines or with amextravel.com. You'll also receive a complimentary Uber Eats Pass for up to 12 months to help you satisfy cravings (enroll by Dec. 31, 2021; Uber Eats Pass will autobill starting 12 months from initial enrollment in this offer at then-current monthly rate). Although the annual fee is a bit steep at $250, the annual benefits you'll receive make up for the fee. Some of the exclusive perks include up to $120 in Uber Cash annually ($10 per month) for US rides and eats, up to $120 in annual dining credits and a $100 onsite credit for qualifying activities such as spa treatments or dining at Hotel Collection properties.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Best credit-building credit card with no foreign transaction fee

Card Highlights
Intro BonusN/A
APR26.99% (Variable)
Recommended Credit Average, Fair, Limited
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Annual Fee$39
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APRN/A
Balance Transfer Fee $0 at this Transfer APR
Balance Transfer APR26.99% (Variable)
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day

Our Take

Most cards with low fees and perks are reserved for individuals with stellar credit. The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card* fills an important gap by giving people with limited or fair credit a chance to get started or rebuild with responsible use. Use this card wisely -- you'll automatically get considered for a credit limit increase as soon as six months from approval, potentially boosting your credit score. Spend wisely, enjoy the cash back, make your payments on time and take advantage of unlimited access to your credit report through CreditWise. You'll start to see over time how good financial decisions can impact your credit.

FAQs

What are foreign transaction fees and when are they charged?

Card issuers or banks charge foreign transaction fees to cover the cost of exchanging a purchase from the foreign currency to US dollars. If you make a purchase in foreign currency, it's likely you will be charged for the conversion unless you have a no-transaction-fee credit card. 

One way to avoid having to pay a foreign transaction fee when you're traveling abroad is to choose topay in US dollars. Many store credit card terminals will recognize your foreign card and prompt you to choose whether you'd like to pay in the local currency or US dollars. If you choose local currency, you may have to pay your bank or card issuer the transaction fee to exchange it. However, if you choose to pay in US dollars, there is no conversion to be performed. 

Keep in mind that if you choose to pay in US dollars, you may save on the transaction fee but the foreign merchant bank may still tack on a commission for the exchange. The best way to avoid unnecessary fees is to pay with a credit card with no transaction fees.

Which credit cards work worldwide?

Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Discover are the four major credit card processors. Visa and Mastercard are the two most widely accepted credit cards across the world and your best bet if you intend on traveling overseas and paying for goods with a credit card. 

American Express may be popular in the US, but it's not as widely accepted abroad. Discover is even less accepted than American Express outside of the US. To be safe, it's a good idea to carry a Mastercard or Visa as a backup if your primary card is an American Express or Discover.

Do I need a chip-and-pin credit card when traveling?

Most of Europe has adopted the chip-and-pin credit card system, which eliminates swiping of magnetic strips and signatures. Instead, card readers will prompt you to insert the card (or tap it for touch-free transactions) to read the chip and prompt you for a PIN as a form of verification. Before you travel overseas, ask your card issuer for a chip card. Otherwise, you may have trouble using a mag-stripe credit card for purchases abroad.

Tips for using a credit card when traveling internationally

Before you get on an airplane, there are a few steps you should take:

  • If you have a mag stripe card, request a chip credit card from your card provider in advance of your trip.
  • Set up a travel alert with your card issuer to notify them of what countries you will be visiting or your card may be flagged for fraud.
  • Take two credit cards and keep them in separate places, in case your wallet is lost or stolen.
  • Sign up for email or text alerts about charges to monitor your card purchases.
  • Use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • If your card has no transaction fees and you're prompted to choose the payment currency, choose to pay in local rates instead of dollars -- you'll get your bank's wholesale exchange rate, which would be more favorable than the merchant's.
  • Get familiar with the exchange rate for the country you're visiting so you have an idea of how much you're actually spending.

Cards researched

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Discover it® Cash Back
  • Discover it® Miles
  • Discover it® chrome
  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
  • American Express® Gold Card
  • Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
  • United℠ Explorer Card
  • Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card
  • Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
  • Hilton Honors American Express Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card
  • U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card
  • Mastercard® Titanium Card™

For rates and fees of the American Express Gold Card, click here

*All information about the Discover it Cash Back, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card, and the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.