If you’re not a frequent international traveler, foreign transaction fees won’t matter much to you compared to other benefits your credit card may provide. But for people who frequently travel outside the U.S., fees can add up fast. A 2% fee charged on all purchases while you’re out of the country is sticker shock enough, but some banks will add an additional fee so you end up paying 3% or 4%.
If you find yourself out of the country regularly, look for a credit card without foreign transaction fees. Here are some to consider.
CapitalOne VentureOne Rewards Card
The VentureOne Card remains a favorite among travelers for plenty of reasons (read our review). You get 20,000 bonus miles if you spend $1,000 in the first three months, 1.25 points for every dollar spent, no annual fee and a competitive interest rate of 11.9% to 19.9%. Add to that a 0% introductory rate until December 2015, and no foreign transaction fee, and you can see why travelers love this card.
CapitalOne Quicksilver Rewards Credit Card
Maybe you don’t want a travel card. If a simple cash back card is more your style but you travel out of the country, check out another card in CapitalOne’s offerings – the Quicksilver card. You earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases and there is no maximum. The more you spend, the more you get back. There's no annual fee and the card charges the standard 12.99% to 22.99% that comes with most cash back cards (0% until September 2015), and a $100 bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months.
Good news if you already have a CapitalOne card – you won’t find a foreign transaction fee on any of their cards.
The BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card
The BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card is definitely attractive on its own but if you’re already a Bank of America customer, it’s even better. Since it’s a travel card, rewards come in the form of points to spend on flights, hotels, car rentals and other travel expenses. For every $1 you spend, Bank of America gives you 1.5 points. There’s no earnings cap, points don’t expire, and there’s no blackout date. The interest rate is a competitive 14.99% to 22.99% and no annual fee. If you’re a Bank of America customer you receive 10% in rewards for every purchase you make.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard
Along with no foreign transaction fee, this card comes with all kinds of attractive perks. The Barclaycard offers an impressive 2 miles for every dollar spent when you redeem the miles as a statement credit. If you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days, you get a 40,000-mile bonus. The “elite” in the card name means you get perks such as concierge service, trip insurance and warranty protection.
Like many cards, it comes with a 0% introductory rate for 12 months, then a 14.99% to 18.99% interest rate once the rate expires. The $89 annual is waived for the first year, but the amount of points you receive should more than make up for the fee in future years. This card is for big spenders with stellar credit. If you’re approved for the card, it’s one of the best among travel cards.
The Bottom Line
Most cards charge a foreign transaction fee but many travel cards do not. If you travel internationally with any frequency, find a card without these fees. For more, see 4 Tips For Using Credit Cards Overseas and The Best Places To Exchange Currency.
Use these and any cards responsibly. If you have to pay interest, the perks that come with your card are mostly wiped out. Only charge what you can pay at the end of the month.