Best International Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fee

Choose a card with $0 foreign transaction fees to save on your next trip abroad.

When it comes to international travel, think of foreign transaction fees as the financial equivalent of the fanny pack: not essential to your trip, no longer trendy, and definitely avoidable.

The leading international credit cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees, but they do offer generous rewards programs and travel upgrades. We’ve researched several travel credit cards with $0 foreign transaction fees and selected the top four: Best all-around, Best hotel card, Best first-year rewards matching, and Best no annual fee.

Why pay an extra 1% to 3% every time you use your credit card overseas? Check out our reviews, choose the card that best fits your needs, and apply online in minutes.

The Simple Dollar’s Top International Credit Cards for 2017

Best All-Around International Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply Now on Chase.com's secure website

Card Highlights
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Wherever it goes, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a lot going for it. Not only does it top our rankings of $0 foreign transaction fee cards, it also holds the top spot for all travel credit cards, period. It offers a generous rewards program that includes 2X points on travel and restaurants worldwide and 1X points on all other purchases. Also, you can earn a signup bonus worth $625 toward travel (when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®) by spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after opening your account.

The Chase Ultimate Rewards® program is the key to maximizing your benefits and earning rewards quickly, especially when you pair the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card with the Chase Freedom®. You can:

  • Transfer rewards points between the cards
  • Redeem points for travel directly or transfer to a participating frequent flyer or hotel loyalty program at a 1:1 rate
  • Book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® for a 25% points bonus, plus no blackout dates or travel restrictions

In a field of qualified contenders, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card truly stands out. It offers the best travel rewards and the most flexible points redemption of any $0 foreign transaction fee card on our list.

How To Use It

Best Use

Consider This

Consider This

Our Verdict

Our Verdict

  • Use the card for travel booking and dining at restaurants worldwide to earn 2X points; earn 1X points on all other purchases.
  • Spend $4,000 in your first 3 months to earn the 50,000-point signup bonus.
  • Redeem your 50,000 bonus points through Chase Ultimate Rewards® to earn $625 toward travel or $500 cash.
  • Consider pairing Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card with the Chase Freedom® to transfer points between them and maximize/customize your rewards.
This card has an annual fee of $95, waived for your first year. If you’re a frequent overseas traveler, the travel rewards will more than compensate for the annual fee. If you don’t travel that often, the Discover it® Cashback Match™ has $0 foreign transaction fees, $0 annual fee and a solid cash back rewards program.
On our list of $0 foreign transaction fee cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has the most generous rewards and the most flexibility for redeeming them. Earning 2X points on travel and restaurants worldwide will especially appeal to frequent international travelers. Add in the perks of redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, and you have even more reason to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card before your next overseas trip.

Best Hotel Card With No Foreign Transaction Fee

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Apply Now on AmericanExpress.com's secure website

Card Highlights
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Frequent travelers who prefer Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG®) and Marriott Rewards® hotels get additional benefits for their brand loyalty with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. Each dollar of eligible purchases at participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® properties earns 2 Starpoints®, along with 1 Starpoint® per dollar for all other eligible purchases. If you’re an SPG® member, you can earn 2 or 3 Starpoints® per $1 of eligible purchases at participating Starwood hotels — and that’s before factoring in the 2 Starpoints® you earn as a Card Member.

Also, you can transfer Starpoints® to over 30 airline loyalty programs, including Delta SkyMiles® and American Airlines AAdvantage®. You’ll earn a 5,000-point bonus by transferring 20,000 Starpoints® to a participating frequent flyer program. And when you choose to redeem your points for a hotel stay, you’ll have plenty of options: SPG® has 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries.

Don’t forget that after you’ve arrived, the $0 foreign transaction fee gives you more purchasing power for shopping, entertainment and other purchases. It’s one more way that the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers considerable value when you travel overseas and stay at a participating SPG® property.

How To Use It

Best Use

Consider This

Consider This

Our Verdict

Our Verdict

  • Earn 2X Starpoints® per $1 on eligible purchases when you stay a participating SPG® or Marriott Rewards® property and 1 Starpoint® for all other eligible purchases.
  • Redeem your Starpoints® at any of the 1,300+ participating SPG® and Marriott Rewards® properties, and for SPG® Flights with no blackout dates.
  • Make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months to earn the welcome bonus: 25,000 Starpoints®, enough to redeem for 2 free nights at a Category 4 hotel.
It could take you longer to accumulate points with this card than with others, since the rewards program focuses on SPG® and Marriott Rewards® properties. By contrast, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 2X points on travel and restaurants worldwide. Also, consider the $95 annual fee after the first year and the Starpoints® airline transfer ratio, which may not be 1:1 with every participating carrier.
The loyalty-based rewards of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express make it the top hotel card on our list. For cardholders who also favor certain airlines, the ability to transfer Starpoints® to participating frequent flyer programs is another potential benefit. If you make SPG® and Marriott Rewards® properties your home away from home when you travel, you’ll find a lot to like about the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.

Best International Card With First Year Rewards Matching

Discover it® Cashback Match™

Apply Now Learn more about this card

Card Highlights
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:
  • You could turn $200 into $400 with Cashback Match™. Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

The Discover it® Cashback Match™ shows that a useful international card doesn’t always have to be a card for frequent travelers. Say you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime overseas vacation. With no foreign transaction fee, the Discover it® Cashback Match™ doesn’t force you to pay that extra 1% to 3% every time you charge something on an international trip.

Meanwhile, using the card at home or on vacation earns you a substantial reward: an automatic dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. You’ll earn 5% cash back on purchases in rotating categories up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate, along with unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases year-round.

You don’t have to travel to benefit from the $0 foreign transaction fee, either. If you make international purchases — on Amazon.com, for instance — the Discover it® Cashback Match™ relieves you of that added expense. You can also use your rewards instantly at Amazon.com checkout.

Please note: Acceptance varies from country to country.

How To Use It

Best Use

Consider This

Consider This

Our Verdict

Our Verdict

  • Make purchases in the rotating categories, with activation each quarter, to earn 5% cash back up to the quarterly maximum. Earn 1% unlimited cash back on other purchases.
  • The more you use the card during your first year, the greater your Cashback Match™ at the end of the year.
  • Make international purchases with $0 foreign transaction fee.
If you prefer a card that focuses primarily on travel rewards, check out the Discover it® Miles. Its rewards program uses a simple flat rate — 1.5 Miles per dollar on all purchases — rather than rotating categories, and the year-end match is for Miles instead of cash back. You don’t have to enroll for bonus categories, and you can redeem rewards for a travel statement credit in addition to cash.
Although not strictly a travel rewards card, the $0 foreign transaction fee does make the Discover it® Cashback Match™ useful for shopping overseas or making online international purchases. This card is a good fit for someone who’s planning a special overseas vacation but doesn’t plan on becoming a frequent traveler in need of airline or hotel rewards for future trips. Overall, the signature Cashback Match™ feature, unique to the Discover it® Cashback Match™, makes this card a useful option regardless of your travel profile.

Best No Annual Fee International Credit Card

Discover it® Miles

Apply Now Learn more about this card

Card Highlights
Card Highlights Provided by Discover:
  • Match Mile For Mile: We’ll match all the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.
  • Unlimited 1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases, every day, with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as statement credits towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements, on mobile and online.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Discover Match® details & other information.

Instead of an annual fee or a foreign transaction fee, the Discover it® Miles offers a generous bonus: a match of every Mile you’ve earned at the end of your first year. You end up with 60,000 Miles if you’ve earned 30,000, and so on. You accumulate Miles by earning 1.5X miles on every purchase.

The $0 annual fee and the Mile-for-Mile match are two of the qualities that distinguish the Discover it® Miles from a lot of other travel rewards cards. It also works differently when you redeem rewards. The Miles you earn are redeemable for travel statement credits or cash, so you can reimburse yourself for travel expenses — flights, hotels, cruises, vacation packages, etc. This setup offers a good fit for travelers who don’t belong to loyalty programs associated with specific hotel or airline brands. Plus, you don’t have to worry about blackout dates when you book trips with the travel booking service or company of your choice.

If you have a big year of international travel planned, the $0 foreign transaction fee and the end-of-year Mile match of the Discover it® Miles could make this card a very economical choice.

Please note: Acceptance varies from country to country.

How To Use It

Best Use

Consider This

Consider This

Our Verdict

Our Verdict

  • Earn 1.5X Miles on every purchase.
  • Use the card as often as possible during the first 12 months to maximize the Miles-for-Miles match at the end of the year.
  • Redeem Miles for travel statement credits to reimburse yourself for travel expenses or for cash.
Although flat-rate rewards programs require little effort on your part, a card with rotating bonus categories or higher-rate rewards on certain types of purchases might offer more earning potential. It depends on your spending habits and preferences for rewards. For example, you earn 5% cash back in in bonus categories that rotate every quarter with the Discover it® Cashback Match™. Another option, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, gives you 2X rewards for travel purchases.
If you’re an independent, pay-as-you-go type of traveler who likes flexibility, consider packing the Discover it® Miles for your next trip. You can redeem your rewards for a statement credit or cash back after you get home instead of committing to a particular airline or hotel brand months in advance. At the end of your first year, you can also look forward to Discover matching the rewards you’ve earned Mile for Mile.

Best International Credit Cards: Summed Up

International Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fee Best…
1 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card All-Around International Card
2 Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express Hotel Card With No Foreign Transaction Fee
3 Discover it® Cashback Match™ International Card With First Year Rewards Matching
4 Discover it® Miles International Card With No Annual Fee

Which international card is the best for me?

I want a card that maximizes my travel rewards, whether I’m traveling in the U.S. or overseas.
We suggest the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

I want a hotel card for frequent travelers that also lets me transfer airline points.
We suggest the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

I want a travel card that will match my rewards point for point.
We suggest the Discover it® Cashback Match™ for cash back rewards; Or the Discover it® Miles for travel reimbursement credits

I want a travel card that I can transfer rewards points to.
We suggest the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card paired with Chase Freedom®

I’m not a frequent traveler, but I’m planning a once-in-a-lifetime overseas trip.
We suggest the Discover it® Cashback Match™

I want flexible travel redemption.
We suggest the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

I don’t travel that much, but I do make a lot of international purchases online.
We suggest the Discover it® Cashback Match™

I want an international rewards card with no annual fee.
We suggest the Discover it® Miles

Foreign transaction fees starting to fade

Over the past several years, an industry trend has seen more credit card issuers gradually moving away from foreign transaction fees.

What are foreign transaction fees? Many credit cards charge them for purchases made overseas, usually amounting to 1% to 3% of the total purchase. The fee covers the cost of converting foreign currency to U.S. dollars.

The fee has long been standard, and the majority of credit cards still charge it. In recent years, however, the fee has started to trend downward.

The 2016 Credit Card Fee Survey found that out of 100 widely used credit cards, the number that charge foreign transaction fees had fallen from 77 the previous year to 61. Some of the cards that still charge the fee have opted to reduce it.

As to why more banks and credit card companies have chosen to bear that cost themselves, industry observers have a few theories:

  • Financial institutions have grown less reliant on these types of processing and service fees, thanks to the economic recovery from the Great Recession.
  • Issuers have learned to process foreign transactions more efficiently.
  • It’s a show of goodwill toward customers who are seen as high-value.

Whatever the reason, consumers who no longer have to pay the fee can agree that — unlike a sumptuous meal purchased at a Paris bistro — the memory won’t be a fond one.

Directory of All Card Issuers and their Foreign Transaction Fees

If you’re interested in learning more about cards that don’t charge any type of foreign transaction fee, this directory can help. Listed below are all of the top credit card issuers, the respective foreign transaction fees they charge, and the cards they offer that don’t charge this fee. As you’ll probably notice, Discover and Capital One don’t charge foreign transaction fees on any of their cards.

Card Issuer Standard Foreign Transaction Fee Exceptions
American Express 2.7% Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card, Platinum, Centurion, and Delta cards
Bank of America 3% BankAmericard Travel Rewards card; several American Express cards offered through Bank of America (Accolades American Express, Accelerated Rewards and Cash Rewards American Express cards, Virgin Atlantic American Express, and Asiana Airlines American Express) also charge only a 1% fee
Capital One None None (all Capital One cards have no foreign transaction fee)
Chase 3% Chase Priority Club Select Visa, Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Chase Sapphire Preferred, J.P. Morgan Select, J.P. Morgan Palladium, Marriott Rewards Premier, British Airways Visa Signature, Fairmont Visa Signature, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier, United Mileage Plus Club, United Mileage Plus Explorer, and Hyatt credit cards
Citi 3% Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve, Citi Prestige, Citi ThankYou Premier, and Citi Executive AAdvantage card
Discover None None (all Discover cards have no foreign transaction fee)
Wells Fargo 3% Wells Fargo Propel 365 and Propel World American Express cards

Tips on using a credit card overseas

So you’ve selected the international credit card that best suits your needs — now what? Don’t assume that your wallet’s all set for your next overseas trip.

To get the best use out of your new card, consider these three tips before you take off or embark.

  1. Notify your credit card issuer. Contact the company that issued the card, and let them know your destination and travel dates. Fraud monitoring protections are designed to look for activity that falls outside the norm, which can include out-of-the-blue foreign transactions. Giving your card issuer the heads-up will reduce the chances of an overseas purchase getting “pinged” as a suspicious charge. Otherwise, your card could be declined or even deactivated as a precaution against fraud.
  2. Confirm your credit card PIN. To combat fraud, most of today’s credit cards use chip-and-PIN technology with an embedded chip and a Personal Identification Number. American travelers may well ask, “So why don’t I have to give my PIN when I use my credit card at home?” Although it’s still common for chip card readers at U.S. merchants to accept a signature, you may encounter a different situation overseas, especially at automated payment machines. Make a call to the issuer to confirm your PIN, and make sure it conforms to international standards for length and characters.
  3. Know the right number to call. Find out if your card issuer has a special customer service number for overseas calls. The 800 number on the back of your card may not work outside your home country or region.

Have a plan B (and possibly C and D)

Travel can be unpredictable, and something could go wrong with your international credit card. Plan to have one or more backups ready before you leave. The options include:

Another credit card
As with tips 1 through 3 above, contact this card’s issuer beforehand to avoid false-alarm fraud alerts. You should also check to see whether your backup credit card charges a foreign transaction fee, which could range from 1% to 3% on every international purchase.

Local currency
You can get it from your bank, through an online service or at the airport. Although you’re likely to encounter fees any with any method of exchanging currency, your bank may be the option with the most favorable exchange rate.

ATM card
Contact your bank beforehand to notify them of your trip, check the availability of in-network ATMs at your destination, and ask about fees (which may well be inevitable). If you have to use your ATM card in a pinch, consider withdrawing enough local currency for a day’s worth of purchases rather than using the card for individual transactions. That way, you can minimize the number of times you incur a fee.

Travelers checks
Yes, travelers checks still exist. The problem is, a dwindling number of businesses and hotels accept them these days. You would likely have to cash them in at a bank. As a credit card backup, consider travelers checks a last resort.

Avoid the ‘courtesy’ of dynamic currency conversion

If a merchant offers you the choice of paying in the currency of your home country, you should politely decline.

The service known as dynamic currency conversion is often portrayed as a courtesy or a convenience, but critics call it a sneaky way of charging you a fee for something you don’t really need. Your financial institution handles the currency conversion of overseas transactions as part of the normal billing process. The last thing you want is a nickel-and-dime charge tacked on to your credit card bill, especially if you’ve gone to the trouble of getting a card with no foreign transaction fee.

Pay for purchases in the local currency whenever possible. Should a merchant dangle the offer of dynamic currency conversion in front of you, feel free to say, “No, thank you.”

Ways to say ‘No, thank you’ to dynamic currency conversion

French: non merci
Spanish: no, gracias
German: nein danke
Japanese: kekkou desu
Portuguese: não, obrigado
Greek: óchi efcharistó