Best Credit Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees

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by parag
Last Updated: May 13th, 2016
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KEYWORDS:#credit cards #tips #rewards #cash back
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There are a lot of good reasons to use a credit card rather than cash when travelling, especially when travelling abroad. Cash can be stolen, it can be a hassle to exchange it back into dollars if you didn’t spend all of it while away, and it’s easier to see how much damage you did when you get home since it’s all tracked on your credit card statement. 

But if you choose the wrong card, it can add to the cost of your trip. Many cards come with a foreign transaction fee. Each time you pay with the card, it adds as much as 3% to each transaction. For example, if your dinner cost $100 (the credit card company converts the purchase to American dollars), you will be charged $103.  That might not sound like a lot but consider how quickly it would add up during a long vacation, particularly if you charged your hotel stay to the card. 

To add insult to injury, those extra dollars you just spent on those transaction fees don’t count towards your rewards! There is nothing good about foreign transaction fees so here is a list of the best credit cards without them!

 

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

Sign Up Bonus: You will get 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. 

Rewards: This is a cash back card, and it’s a good one. You get 2 miles for every $1 you spend. No categories to keep track of! Each time you redeem miles, you receive a 5% bonus toward your next redemption. The miles can be redeemed for statement credits toward many travel expenses like air fare, hotel stays, and ground transportation. 

The reason that this card is at the top of the list is because it is one of the few available to Americans that uses the chip and pin system. America is way behind Europe on credit card fraud protection. Europe has been using chip and pin for years while we’re just starting to get chipped cards and they still require a signature rather than a pin number.

Chip and pin offers better protection against credit card fraud. If you were a victim of any of the big credit card number hacks then you know how important good protection is. While you can use a chip and signature card for most transactions in Europe, there are some things that only accept chip and pin. Things like automated kiosks to buy metro tickets or to rent bikes from a city share program only accept chip and pin cards. The card also comes with a free FICO credit score on your statement. 

Fees: There is an annual fee for this card of $89, which is waived for the first year. There is a 0% APR on balance transfers, but not for purchases, for the first 12 months. The APR is 16.24-20.24%.

Credit Score: You will need a “Good” score for this card, a score above 700.

 

Citi Prestige Card

Sign Up Bonus: You will get 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This is one of the best sign up bonuses we have ever seen. You can redeem those points for an $800 flight on American Airlines, a $665 flight on any other airline, or a $500 gift card! 

Rewards: This card comes with some great rewards too. You get 3 points per $1 for air and hotel purchases, 2 points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment, and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. 

Additionally, you get a $250 credit for airline purchases each and every year and your fourth night in the hotel of your choice is free when booked through a personal travel advisor. You also have access to American Airlines Admiral Club airport lounges. No more hanging around the gate or paying exorbitant prices for food and drinks! 

Fees: The great perks of this card come with a hefty annual fee of $450. If you travel a lot though, the price is well worth it. If you factor in the $250 in airline purchases and the fourth night free offer, you can come out ahead with this card. 

The APR is 15.49%

Credit Score: You will need a score of “Excellent” for this card, a score above 760.

 

British Airways Visa Signature Card

Sign Up Bonus: You will get 50,000 Avios (the card’s name for their points) after spending just $2,000 in the first three months. If you spend $15,000 within the first year, you get an additional 25,000 Avios for a possible total of 75,000 Avios.

Rewards: You get 3 Avios for every $1 spent with British Airways and 1 Avios per $1 on all other purchases. For every calendar year that you spend $30,000 on the card, you will get a free Travel Together Ticket for a travel partner that is good for up to two years. 

Fees: There is an annual fee for this card of $95. The APR is 16.24-23.24.

Credit Score: You will need a score of “Good” for this card, a score above 700.

 

United Mileage Plus Explorer Card

Sign Up Bonus: You will get 30,000 miles after spending just $1,000 in the first three months. 

Rewards: You get 2 miles per $1 spent on airline tickets purchased directly from United (not from a third party like Hot Wire or Travelocity) and $1 on all other purchases. Your first bag is checked free, you get Priority Boarding, and each year you will receive two one use passes for the United Club, the private airport lounge. 

Fees: There is an annual fee of $95 for this card but that is waived for the first year. The APR is 16.24-23.24%. 

Credit Score: You will need a score of “Excellent” for this card, a score above 760.

 

Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard

Sign Up Bonus: If you love to travel in the US but are tired of the hassles of air travel, this is the card for you. You will get 20,000 miles after spending just $1,000 in the first 90 days. You also get a free Companion Coupon for a travel partner, single day access to the private lounge and a One Class Upgrade when you open the account. 

Rewards: You get 3 points per $1 spent with Amtrak, 2 points per $1 spent on eligible travel expenses, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. You also get a free Companion Coupon and One Class Upgrade every year. 

Fees: There is an annual fee of $79. The APR is 23.24-23.24%. 

Credit Score: You will need a score of “Good or Excellent” for this card, a score above 700.

 

Discover it Miles

Sign Up Bonus: At the end of your first year, Discover will match every mile you earn. If you earned 20,000 miles, you will have 40,000 miles. 

Rewards: This is a cash back card, but the points can be redeemed as statement credits to pay for travel purchases. You get 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all purchases, no categories to keep track of! You get a free FICO credit score with your statements and the card will reimburse you up to $30 per year spent on in-flight Wi-Fi.

Fees: There is no annual fee for this card. There is an introductory APR of 0% for the first 12 months. After that, the APR is 11.24-23.24%.

Credit: You will need a score of “Excellent” for this card, a score above 760.

 

What’s the Verdict?

If you hate to pay unnecessary fees, any of these cards is an improvement over cards that charge foreign transaction fees but there are a few standouts. If you’ve been the victim of a credit card hack, having access to the chip and pin technology with the Barclaycard can help you rest easier every time you use the card.

If you travel frequently, the Citi Prestige card really can’t be beat. The sign up bonus is extremely generous; you receive hundreds of dollars in free airfare as soon as you meet the $3,000 minimum spend. Add to that the yearly $250 in airfare expense credit and the fourth hotel night free deal and this card is a gem. 

If you are tired of airport hassles and particularly if you live in the Eastern Corridor that is heavily served by rail, the Amtrak Guest Rewards card is a nice alternative to cards that generally give travel rewards for air travel and hotel stays. 

Whichever card you choose, your trips just got a little bit cheaper. Happy travels!

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