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Hear from our editors: Best no-foreign-transaction-fee credit cards of October 2021
Updated October 13, 2021
This date may not reflect recent changes in individual terms.
Editorial note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.
Written by: Eric Rosenberg
Traveling to a foreign country can be expensive, but it can cost even more if you have to pay foreign transaction fees on your credit card. Thankfully, a number of credit cards have no foreign transaction fees.
The best no-foreign-transaction-fee credit cards can help you cover costs, not just avoid fees. Here’s our take on the best cards in this space to help you find the right one for your situation.
- Best for frequent international travel: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Best for occasional international travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Best for travel lounge access: Platinum Card® from American Express
- Best for international hotel stays: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
- Best for simple redemptions: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Here’s why: The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is packed with valuable benefits, including lounge access and an annual $300 travel credit. While the $550 annual fee can be intimidating, frequent international travelers can find more value by redeeming their points through Chase Ultimate Rewards. International travelers can enjoy an overall more-comfortable travel experience, enjoy the protection of travel insurance, and earn toward free future trips or upgrades with every purchase.
The card offers three points per $1 spent on restaurant purchases, the same three points per $1 on travel purchases after you earn your travel credit, and one point per $1 on all other purchases. With a statement credit, Chase also covers the cost of a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee (worth up to $100 every four years). The card also includes a membership to Priority Pass Select, which gives you access to more than 1,000 airport lounges around the world after enrollment.
New cardholders can earn a 60,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. You can redeem points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal at a value of 1.5 cents per point for travel, or transfer to partner airlines or hotels for even better value in some cases.
Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to learn more about what this card offers.
Here’s why: With an annual fee of $95, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card balances its cost and benefits in a way that caters to those who like to take a trip abroad every year or so.
You’ll earn two points per $1 spent on travel and restaurant purchases and one point per $1 on all other purchases, all with the ability to redeem for a wide range of options and travel partners. You can also redeem points at a value of 1.25 cents per point for travel — for flights, hotel stays and other travel — through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Or you can transfer points to a long list of partners at a 1:1 ratio.
Whether you’re looking for a first travel rewards card or just don’t want to spend hundreds per year on annual fees, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card occupies a good middle ground with valuable rewards at a more reasonable cost.
Plus, it starts you with a 100,000-point bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after your account opens. That’s a serious value just for getting started.
Check out our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for a more detailed look.
Here’s why: If you want to use a travel rewards card to get into some of the best airport lounges around the world, the Platinum Card® from American Express could be your pick. This card unlocks a world of luxury travel, but it comes with a steep $695 annual fee.
Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Platinum Card® from American Express includes a membership to Priority Pass Select, which requires enrollment. But it will also get you into the Delta Sky Club and Amex’s own Centurion Lounge, among others. You’ll also receive a complimentary upgrade to Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status and heaps of additional benefits.
This card also gives you up to $200 in airline fee credits per calendar year, but it doesn’t work on just any purchase. You have to choose one qualifying airline, and the statement credit only offsets incidental costs like baggage check charges and in-flight purchases.
Otherwise, it offers rewards of five Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on purchases made directly with airlines or through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 spent per calendar year, then one point per $1) and five points per $1 on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. Plus you get one point per $1 on all other purchases. You’ll also get 100,000 points as a welcome bonus after spending $6,000 on purchases in the first 6 months after your account opens.
Read our review of the Platinum Card® from American Express.
Here’s why: This card can help you enjoy an annual free night every year after your account anniversary at a qualifying Marriott international hotel, give you automatic Silver Elite Status at the chain and provide other benefits wherever your travels take you.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card gives you six points per $1 spent on purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy® family of hotels. You’ll also get two points per $1 on purchases everywhere else. Points can then be redeemed for free and discounted stays.
For a limited time, new cardholders can earn 125,000 bonus points — plus one Free Night Award (redemption value up to 50,000 points) — after spending $5,000 in their first 3 months from account opening. The card charges a $95 annual fee.
Check out our full review of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card to decide if this card is a good fit for you.
Here’s why: If you’re looking for straightforward earning and redemptions, plus a few perks, this card is worth a look.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers two miles for every $1 spent on all purchases, which means you don’t have to track spending categories. Plus, you can redeem your points to get a statement credit for travel purchases, so you won’t be limited to booking through certain partners or dedicated portals.
The card also carries a welcome bonus of 60,000 miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months after account opening.
Frequent travelers can also take advantage of the $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, which is available every four years.
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card comes with an annual fee of $95.
Check out our review of the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card for more information.
How we picked these cards
We picked the rewards credit cards on this list because they can help travelers not just avoid paying foreign transaction fees, but also get the best value and experience from card rewards and benefits. We looked at specific travel considerations like lounge access, airline and hotel status, the value of rewards miles or points, and how easy it is to redeem your points for travel rewards.
The cost of maintaining these cards was also a key focus area. We looked at annual fees and compared them with the potential value you can get in return.
We understand that our picks might not meet the unique needs of every traveler. But these cards feature enough benefits to offer something valuable to many who travel and make purchases in foreign countries.
How to make the most of no-foreign-transaction-fee credit cards
If you’re interested in a rewards credit card with no foreign transaction fees, you might just be interested in avoiding extra fees when you’re making a purchase from or in a foreign country. But if you’re looking to make the most of one of these cards, it’s a good idea to consider what other benefits you’ll get when you travel internationally, not just what you’ll save from not paying fees.
Before digging into each card’s specifics, you should make sure that your choice matches up with your spending and travel habits. Some rewards cards feature high annual fees and benefits that only make sense for frequent travelers, like those who regularly leave town on business. If you’re someone who only heads abroad for the occasional vacation, these options probably aren’t for you.
At the same time, you might not want to change up your preferences just because you got a new travel card. Do you have a favorite airline or hotel? If you do, make sure your new credit card supports those preferences before signing up.
Your card also might provide travel insurance that could help protect you when you’re on a trip. Travel insurance can help you navigate problems or hassles you might encounter during your time away, such as lost luggage.
Last, don’t miss out on your card’s welcome bonus if the spending requirement already makes sense for you — but skip it if you’d have to purchase more than you normally would to try to get the welcome bonus. These offers can sometimes be worth enough to redeem for several plane tickets or multiple hotel nights. You may even be able to use the value of the rewards to cover years of annual fees. Given the potential benefit, it would be a shame to let those bonus points go to waste.