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Does american express have a foreign transaction fee

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36 Top Credit Cards Without Foreign Transaction Fees

Using a credit card when you travel is easy and secure, and you can see everything you spent in one place when you get your monthly statement. But when that statement arrives, you may be shocked to see an extra 3 percent added to each purchase you made in a foreign currency.

This is the foreign transaction fee, or FTF. The FTF is usually made up of 1 percent charged by the transaction network -- such as MasterCard or Visa -- and 2 percent charged by the issuing bank, for a total of 3 percent.

A few years ago, only Capital One credit cards and a few premium cards, such as the American Express Centurion, waived the foreign transaction fee. Now, as card issuers seek to attract and retain low-risk cardholders who swipe their cards for everything from a daily coffee to a first-class ticket to Hong Kong, many issuers have dropped the FTF on their travel cards. In addition, they're offering multiple ways for cardholders to earn points or cash back by using these cards. recently compiled a list of 36 cards from common issuers to show you which ones take care of the FTF for you, which charge an annual fee, and some highlights of their rewards programs. Many credit unions also waive the FTF on their cards, however, those cards are not generally available to the wide public.

Capital One cards are still attractive, as none of them have the foreign transaction fee and many do not carry an annual fee. All of Discover's cards come without the FTF and only one (Escape by Discover) has an annual fee, but Discover's acceptance internationally has traditionally been limited.

Four cards on our list -- the Citi ThankYou Prestige, the Chase J.P. Morgan Select, British Airways Visa Signature from Chase, and Hyatt Credit Card -- are EMV-compatible. EMV credit cards, which use a security technology of embedded chips, are prominent in European cards and are slowly becoming more prevalent in the United States. These cards can be used in shops, at kiosks, and anywhere else you would normally use a credit card internationally.

Sixteen of the cards on the list have no annual fee, and 10 waive the annual fee for the first year. The annual fees range from $39 (Capital One Cash Rewards) to $450 (American Express Platinum and Business Platinum and Citi Executive/AAdvantage WorldElite MasterCard). The $450 annual fee is high, but for that you get free baggage, airport lounge access, priority screening and boarding and many other perks. If you're an international jet-setter, these benefits will be worth a lot more than $450 when your flight has been canceled and you're looking at spending the night in an airport. Or you could look at it another way: Annual single membership to the Delta Sky Club costs $450 by itself.

Banking in Italy: Credit Cards, ATMs, Fees, Exchange Rates

  • Contact the customer service department of any and all U.S. credit cards you may use while living in Italy. Inform them you will be living in Italy. You will also need to contact them when you plan to take trips outside of Italy.
  • Find out their policies and fees regarding foreign transactions.
  • Ask if smart chip and PIN cards are available, since they are widely used in Europe.
  • Once you get to Italy, it is a good idea to set up an account with a local Italian bank to pay for utilities (if you live on the economy) and auto passes for the toll roads in Europe. The exchange rate is a lot better than working with an American bank.

  • Credit cards are the cheapest way to pay for things in Italy and in any foreign country. The exchange rates average 9% better than cash withdrawals from an ATM.
  • While paying with credit cards does get you a better exchange rate than with cash, know that Visa and MasterCard charge a 1% foreign transaction (conversion) fee, plus most card-issuing banks tack on an additional 1-3% commissions of their own.

What Credit Cards are Accepted Overseas?

  • Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in Italy
  • Discover card is not widely accepted in Italy. However, you should be able to use it is on base. Any business displaying a Diners Club logo will accept Discover
  • American Express acceptance is very rare, but is accepted on base.
  • Look for credit card logos at store front windows to see what cards are accepted

  • Credit cards with computer chips that can be scanned and require a PIN are very common in Europe.
  • Some merchants and services in Europe will only accept the CHIP-and-PIN smart cards such as gas stations (especially after-hours), bike rental kiosks, toll booths, ticketing machines for trains and public transport.
  • The smart chip cards make it less likely that someone can steal your credit card information, which can happen a lot in Italy.
  • Call your U.S. bank to see if they offer smart chip cards. USAA offers a smart chip credit card (World MasterCard), but not a debit card.
  • It is also recommended to get a smart chip card through your local bank in Italy because some foreign cards are not accepted.
  • Some banks may only issue a chip-and-signature card, rather than a chip-and-PIN. For purchases of less than $50, this is usually not a problem, as no PIN is required on those transactions. For larger purchases on card readers manned by an actual person this should not be a problem either, as it will cause the machine to print a receipt for you to sign. Problems arise for charges greater than $50 at an automated machine where you will most likely need a PIN.
  • Note: Some banks issue a PIN with a chip-and signature card, but this is only to access the cash advance feature.

  • Whenever you get a cash advance (ex. ATM withdrawal) on a credit card, the bank starts charging you interest at the highest rate possible immediately, not at the end of a monthly cycle in which you do not fully pay off the card as with most purchases.
  • Interest will keep accruing until you pay off your entire credit card bill.
  • You may be able to avoid interest by overpaying your credit card bill (by however much you expect to withdraw in cash advances, plus purchases), because they can only charge you interest if you are carrying a balance.
  • Some credit cards will also charge a foreign transaction fee of 2% – 4% for cash advances.
  • Use cash advances only in emergencies. Otherwise you should use your debit or ATM card.

  • Withdrawing cash from an ATM is the second cheapest way to pay for things in Italy.
  • ATMs in Italy are known as Bancomats and dispense money in euros. Your bank will convert the amount of your withdrawal into dollars using the most beneficial exchange rate possible. Note: Italian ATM machines will give the best exchange rates
  • To avoid fees and interest, it is best to use your debit card or your local bank ATM card, rather than a credit card when withdrawing cash. Credit cards may charge fees of 2- 4% for cash advances from the ATM, plus an accruing interest that begin the date you withdraw money.
  • For daily withdrawal limits you should account for the currency conversion when withdrawing euro in Italy. A $500 USD limit in euros would be around 380 euro.
  • Always cover the PIN pad when entering your PIN. Your debit card can be cloned at an ATM by a skimmer that skims the card while a mini camera records your PIN being entered. Some people choose to only use Bancomats on base for added security.
  • Don’t forget to clear out of the ATM/Bancomat before you walk away. Many have walked away from the screen when it still asks if you would like to make another transaction and someone else can walk right up and withdraw cash from your account. Make sure the ATM goes back to the welcome screen.

  • Typically a flat fee of $2-$10 is charged by your bank for each use of your ATM, debit, or credit card at an international (out of network) ATM to withdraw foreign currency.
    • There may also be an ATM access fee charged by the foreign financial institution that owns the ATM you use.
  • Some waive this fee if you go to their “Correspondent Bank”. Ex. Bank of America’s correspondent bank in Italy is Banca Nazionale del Lavoro or BNL.
  • Make sure your card is compatible with the ATM by locating either the Cirrus, Plus, VPay, or BankMate symbol on the Bancomat and on your card.
  • On base: BNL seems to charge the lowest ATM fee and give the best exchange rate. The community bank charges about $4 more, and the ATM by the PX charges about $12 more. Global Credit Union also has high ATM fees.
  • Off base: the Bancomat (Banca Popolare di Vicenza) right off post is also good. It has no ATM fees and the exchange rate listed online is what they charge. Some prefer to pay the fees on post rather than use an off post ATM for added security.

  • Typically a 2-4% fee for using your debit or credit card in a foreign currency. The fee is calculated as a percentage of the converted transaction amount. This typically applies to everyday purchases and ATM withdrawals.
  • Visa and MasterCard charge a foreign transaction fee of 1%, plus most card-issuing banks add their own fees of 1-3% on top of that.
  • To avoid the foreign transaction fee issued by the credit card company, most will try to use their debit card for purchases so that they only pay their bank’s FTF or sometimes they pay none at all if their bank does not have a FTF on debit cards. *To bypass places that don’t take American debit cards you can choose to run you debit card as credit. Remember that debit cards do not have the same kind of security as a credit card. While you may be avoiding fees, you could also be at risk of having your debit card cloned.
  • Be cautious of 0% FTF cards. They often make up for it by getting you on the exchange rate.

Fees by Card (updated Aug. 2014)

  • American Express:
    • Purchases = 2.7% FTF
  • Bank of America:
    • ATM = $5 ATM + 3% (Visa/MC) or 1% (Amex) FTF
    • Purchase = 3% FTF
    • *On PCS orders overseas, they may waive foreign transaction fees. Most places on the economy don’t take Bank of America cards
  • Barclays
    • Purchase = 3% FTF
  • Capital One:
    • ATM = $0 ATM + 0% FTF
    • Purchase = 0% FTF
  • Chase:
    • ATM = $5 ATM + 3% FTF
    • Purchase = 3% FTF
  • Discover:
    • Purchase = 0% FTF.
    • *The exchange rate is not very good and the card is not widely accepted in Europe.
  • Navy Federal Credit Union
    • ATM = $1 + 1% FTF
    • Purchase = 1% FTF
  • USAA
    • ATM = $0.00* ATM + 1% FTF
    • Purchase = 1%
    • * Refunds up to $15 in other banks’ ATM usage fees each month and USAA does not charge a fee for the first 10 ATM withdrawals. Subsequent transactions will be charged $2.00 each.
    • A 1% foreign transaction fee (MasterCard, Visa and American Express) applies to withdrawals outside the United States. The 1% fee can be waived for first year by sending USAA a copy of your orders. This benefit applies to all USAA-issued Visa’s, MasterCards, and Debit MasterCards. American Express cards issued by USAA are currently excluded from this benefit. *Some have had luck with reapplying after the first year to have the fees waived again for another year.

  • When you use your U.S. credit card overseas, the credit card company or your bank will convert euros or other currency into dollars.
  • Credit Card Exchange Rates:
    • Visa: allows each bank to determine its own exchange rate for each country. So with Visa Cards, you will see a wide variation of currency exchange rates from each bank that issues Visa Branded Cards, i.e.. Capital One, Chase, and Bank of America all issue Visa Branded Cards. On the same date, each will have a different exchange rate on foreign currency and then add on their own foreign transaction fee.
    • MasterCard determines their foreign exchange rate for a given currency on a transaction date and then the issuing banks add on their foreign transaction fee. Mastercard’s exchange rate seems to be much closer to mid-market than Visa.
  • DO NOT let a merchant bill you in U.S. dollars! Sometimes a foreign merchant (hotels especially) will try to charge you in U.S. dollars rather than in local currency. The merchant may use a lousy exchange rate when it converts your bill into US dollars, so you might wind up paying both a merchant’s private currency markup in addition to your credit card’s surcharge. Tell the merchant to run your credit card transaction in their local currency or pay with cash.
    • Bank of America, Barclaycard/Juniper, Citibank/Diners, and USAA add the same conversion fee (FTF) regardless of the currency.
    • American Express, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo do not surcharge U.S. dollar billings.
  • Do not purchase foreign currency at the airport! They have horrible exchange rates and costly fees.
  • If you need to buy foreign currency while overseas, your best option is to use your major bank debit card at a cooperating bank’s ATM. Italian ATM machines will give the best exchange rates
    • Ex. Bank of America has an arrangement in Italy with Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL) to not charge any foreign transaction or ATM fees.

  • In Italy, as in most of Western Europe, the official currency is the Euro (€). The Euro is divided into 100 cents with two decimals after the comma.
  • Euro paper money comes into different colors and sizes depending on the face value. 500 Euro bills are violet, 200 Euro ones are yellow, 100 Euro bills are green, 50 are orange, 20 are blue, 10 are red(dish) and 5 are grey(ish).
  • There are also coins: 2 and 1 Euro (both are made with two different metals – golden and silver – and the value is printed big on one side), 50, 20, 10 cents (golden material) and 5, 2 and 1 cents (bronze material). The bigger coin has bigger value. The 1 cent coin is very small.
  • In some European countries (like Greece) it is more common that merchants will only take cash.
  • Taxis can often only be paid with cash (euro). Some taxis accept plastic, but since the driver must pay a 3% commission to the bank, they prefer cash payments.
  • You can often get a discount by choosing to pay in cash at hotels and restaurants.

  • There are three banks on post: BNL (Italian), Community (Bank of America), and Global Credit Union
    • BNL is known for having the best exchange rates, which is great for ATM withdraws. You will recieve a free debit card. They do impose a 2-4 euro monthly fee for having an account with them though. You will nee a codice fiscale (Italian social security card) to open up a bank account with them, which is obtained from housing. They can help with setting up automatic bill payments for housing. You can also add minutes to your Wind cell phone through their website. You can also use the highway/autostrada telepass system if you have an Italian bank account.
    • Community Bank: is able to exchange foreign currency such as euros, franks, and pounds. For a fee of $1 they can also give you a Euro check (like a money order) for VAT tax payments. You do not even have to be a Community Bank member for the service.
    • Global Credit Union: is known for giving the best car loan rate.

  • Check all receipts you sign, because in Italy it may show whole debit/credit card number on most receipts. If it does, mark out everything except the last four digits of your card number.
  • Always cover the PIN pad when entering your PIN, especially at the ATM/Bancomat
  • Always clear out of the ATM/Bancomat before walking way.
  • Remember that debit cards do not have the same kind of security as a credit card. While you may be avoiding fees, you could also be at risk of having your debit card cloned.
  • Invest in a money belt for walking around in Italy or traveling abroad

  • If you plan to open any stateside investment accounts, you must open them before you PCS. It is a violation of the SOFA agreement to open them after.
  • While you can buy stocks through USAA while in Italy, you cannot buy mutual funds.

  • The Italian Value Added Tax (IVA) in Italy is 20% and it is already factored into the price of the item.
  • As a non-European citizen you are not obligated to pay the VAT. However, it is up to the store owner as to whether or not they will give you a VAT form.
  • In order to get a refund you have to pay at least 155 euro or $212 in a single store.
  • VAT tax and refund requirements vary in each European country.
  • There is VAT Refund Process at the airport for those actually visiting Europe and one for military (see below).
  • VAT Form Process for Military
    1. Go the the store and ask to buy something using the VAT form. (Note: they are not obligated to give you the VAT form, it is up to the merchant.)

  • The store fills out an invoice and gives you the amount on the receipt without the taxes.
  • Buy a cashier’s check for that amount (in Euros) from the bank.
  • Take everything to the Tax Relief office and complete some more paperwork. Pay the VAT fee.
  • Go back to the store and give them the VAT paperwork and purchase your stuff.

  • Master List of No Annual Fee, No Foreign Transaction Fee Cards

    In the comments of my Chase Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card review, reader jwl mentioned that one of the hidden benefits of the new card is that there is no longer a foreign transaction fee, which is rare among no-annual-fee cards from big issuers. This is an attempt to compile a comprehensive list of such cards, broken down by credit card network.

    Where appropriate, I have split out specific banks to provide some necessary commentary. Elsewise, the cards are listed in alphabetical order within their card network. Noted in parentheses after the card is whether it is a student, business, or secured card, along with the type of card it is, such as World MasterCard or World Elite MasterCard. You can view Visa benefits by card type here and MasterCard benefits by card type here. Relevant rewards information is listed after that.

    The intent of this post is to cover major issuers, so only the biggest federal credit unions are included. This excludes Andrews FCU & State Department FCU, for example, which both have no-AF, no-FTF cards. Other examples can be found in the comments: 1 (First Tech FCU), 2 (NASA FCU), 3 (Star One).

    As always, remember that we do not use credit card affiliate links, so the inclusion or order of cards on this list is not biased by monetary incentives.

    • Bank of America Travel Rewards (World MasterCard). 1.5x miles on all purchases & an additional 1.5x miles on Bank of America Travel Center purchases; more for Preferred Rewards clients.
    • Barclaycard Arrival (World MasterCard). 2x miles travel and dining & 1x miles on all purchases.
    • Barclaycard JetBlue. 3x TrueBlue points on JetBlue, 2x TrueBlue points on restaurants and groceries, 1x TrueBlue points on all other purchases.
    • Barclaycard Ring. No rewards.
    • Chase Military cards (Army MWR, Air Force Club, Marine Corps MCCS, Navy MWR). 2% cashback at the Commissary, the Exchange, and MWR locations & 1% cashback on all other purchases.
    • First National Bank of Omaha Mlife Rewards. 3x Mlife points at Mlife, 2x Mlife points on gas and groceries, 1x Mlife points on all other purchases.
    • Sam’s Club. 5% cashback on gas, 3% cashback on dining and travel, 1% cashback on all other purchases.
    • Target REDcard. 5% cashback at Target &
    • US Bank AAA Dollars Plus (World MasterCard). 3% cashback on AAA and travel; 2% cashback on gas, groceries, and drugstores; and 1% cashback on all other purchases. (Availability & issuing bank depends on location—thanks, reader jf!).

    CapitalOne does not charge a foreign transaction fee on any of their cards, including their secured card. There are two versions of the Quicksilver & Venture cards. The Quicksilver has no annual fee while the QuicksilverOne has a $39 annual fee. The VentureOne has no annual fee while the Venture has a $59 annual fee. No, it doesn’t make any sense to me either!

    • Quicksilver (World Elite MasterCard). 1.5% cashback on all purchases.
    • VentureOne (World Elite MasterCard). 1.25x miles on all purchases.
    • Premier Dining Rewards (World Elite MasterCard). 3% cashback on dining, 2% cashback on groceries, 1% cashback on all other purchases.
    • Platinum (Platinum MasterCard). No rewards.
    • Secured (Secured, Platinum MasterCard). No rewards.
    • BuyPower. 5% on first $5,000 of purchases and 2% thereafter.
    • GM Extended Family. 1% on all purchases.

    The HSBC Advance card has no annual fee if you are an HSBC Advance or Premier client, and has a $45 annual fee otherwise. The HSBC Premier has no annual fee if you are an HSBC Premier client, and has a $95 annual fee otherwise. In both cases, no annual fee will be assessed within the first year of card membership. I understand it is cheating a little bit to include the two cards, but I think they’re important for procuring a full list.

    • HSBC Advance. 2X Rewards Program Points on dining and select entertainment & 1x Rewards Program Point on all other purchases.
    • HSBC Platinum. No rewards.
    • HSBC Platinum with Rewards. 1x Rewards Program Points on all purchases.
    • HSBC Premier (World MasterCard). 1x Rewards Program Points on all purchases.

    Navy Federal does not charge a foreign transaction fee on any of their cards, including their secured card. Two of their cards can be obtained in a MasterCard version.

    • Platinum. No rewards.
    • nRewards Secured (Secured). 1x points on all purchases.

    • Bank of America AAA Member Rewards (Visa Signature). 3x points on AAA and travel; 2x points on gas, grocery, and drugstore; and 1x points on all other purchases. (Availability depends on location).
    • Bank of America Merrill+ (Visa Signature). 1x Merrill points on all purchases.
    • Bank of America Travel Rewards (Visa Signature). 1.5x miles on all purchases & an additional 1.5x miles on Bank of America Travel Center purchases; more for Preferred Rewards clients.
    • Barclaycard Priceline (Visa Signature). 5x points on & 1x points on all other purchases.
    • Barclaycard Princess Cruises Rewards (Visa Signature). 2x point on Princess Cruises purchases & 1x points on all other purchases.
    • Barclaycard Wyndham Rewards (Visa Signature). 3x points on Wyndham and participating hotel stays & 2x points on gas, utilities, and groceries
    • Chase Amazon Prime Rewards (Visa Signature). 5% cashback at Amazon; 2% cashback at restaurants, gas stations, and drug stores; and 1% cashback on all other purchases.
    • Citi Best Buy. 2.5x point at Best Buy, 1x points on dining and grocery, 0.5x points on all other purchases (points worth 2¢ at Best Buy).
    • Comenity Orbitz Rewards (Visa Signature). extra 3-5% cashback in Orbucks for hotels through Orbitz (5% for mobile app bookings; you earn 5% automatically), 7% cashback in Orbucks at qualifying restaurants, 6% cashback in Orbucks on airfare, 2% cashback in Orbucks on all other purchases.
    • ICBC Preferred. 1% cashback on all purchases.
    • TD Cash (Visa Signature). 2% cashback on dining & 1% cashback on all other purchases.

    CapitalOne does not charge a foreign transaction fee on any of their cards, including their student & business cards. There are two version of the Spark Cash & Spark Miles cards. The Spark Cash Select & Spark Miles Select have no annual fee while the Spark Cash & Spark Miles have a $59 annual fee. The CapitalOne cards available as a MasterCard may also be issued as a Visa.

    • Journey (Student, Visa Platinum). 1% cashback on all purchases, boosted to 1.25% if you pay on time.
    • Spark Cash Select (Business, Visa Signature). 1.5% cashback on all purchases.
    • Spark Miles Select (Business, Visa Signature). 1.25x miles on all purchases.
    • Spark Classic (Business, Visa Business). 1% cashback on all purchases.

    Navy Federal does not charge a foreign transaction fee on any of their cards, including their secured card. All of their cards are available as Visa.

    • cashRewards (Visa Signature). 1.5% cashback on all purchases.
    • GO REWARDS (Visa Signature). 3x points on restaurants, 2x points on gas, 1x points on all other purchases.
    • Platinum. No rewards.
    • nRewards Secured (Secured). 1x points on all purchases.

    PenFed does not charge a foreign transaction fee on any of their cards. The Platinum Cash Rewards card has a $25 annual fee and earns 3% cashback on gas, but the annual fee is waived and the card earns 5% cashback on gas if you qualify for the Plus version by having a qualifying product with PenFed.

    • Defender (Visa Signature). 1.5% cashback on all purchases.
    • Gold (Visa Gold). No rewards.
    • Platinum Rewards (Visa Signature). 5x points on gas, 3x points on groceries, 1x points on all other purchases.
    • Platinum Cash Rewards Plus (Visa Platinum). 5% cashback on gas.
    • Promise. No rewards.

    USAA does not charge a foreign transaction fee on any of their cards, including their secured card. A complete list of USAA cards was written up by Will at this link.

    • Defender. 1.5% cashback on all purchases.
    • Premium Travel Rewards. 5x points on airfare & 1x points on all other purchases.

    USAA does not charge a foreign transaction fee on any of their cards, including their secured card. A complete list of USAA cards was written up by Will at this link.

    Discover does not charge a foreign transaction fee on any of their cards, including their student & secured cards. In addition, Discover has an agreement with Diners Club International, UnionPay, and JCB in certain regions—so you can use your Discover card at any merchant that accepts those networks, broken down by region as follows:

    Diners Club International: Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, and Oceania.

    Because this list covers cards issued in the US, these cards will not work with Alipay or WeChat. They also present difficulties when used in mainland China due to the lack of proper EMV support by many point-of-sale (POS) machines. Swiping would work, except that very few merchants have swipe-only POS machines. You can read more in this comment thread.

    These debit cards do not charge a foreign transaction fee for debit card purchases, with the exception of the Fidelity debit card.

    Travel Tip: Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees On Your Canadian Credit Card

    Does american express have a foreign transaction feeMany Canadians are in for a nasty surprise after a trip outside the country. Little did they know that most Canadian credit card companies add a 2.5%-3% foreign transaction fee to each purchase they make out of the country. The good news is, not every credit card issuer charges the fee. The bad news is, only two credit card issuers in Canada subsidize the fee, Chase Canada & Rogers Mastercard .

    Unlike the United States, where credit card issuers are increasingly abandoning foreign transaction fees altogether, FX fees represent too large a part of a Canadian credit card company’s income stream to walk away from. The fact is, Canadians travel out of country a lot more often than Americans travel out of the United States, so it’s easier for an American issuer to give up on FX fees than for a Canadian issuer.

    For a quick proxy, 30% of Americans have a passport, compared to 70% of Canadians, a good indication of foreign travel. Moreover, Canadian banks make a healthy profit from foreign exchange services from their retail customers, where they charge a 1% to 3% fx surcharge when exchanging Canadian dollars. It’s doubtful the banks will want to offer Canadians a free alternative that will cannibalize their retail fx business.

    So what’s the big deal about a credit card that subsidizes foreign transaction fees? For some, especially snowbirds who winter in the south, people who shop across the border regularly or shop online, or those who use their credit card to make business purchases from U.S. vendors, the savings can be huge. Think about it. If you use your credit card while wintering in the United States, you could easily rack-up $10,000 – $20,000 in credit card charges. That’s $250 to $500 in foreign exchange fees going to the credit card companies, that doesn’t have to. Not to mention it also wipes away the 1-2% in rewards you thought you were earning.

    The Rogers Platinum Mastercard now gives you 4% cash back on ALL foreign purchases and 1.75% cash back on all other purchases – the richest cash back rate for a no fee card in Canada. On $10,000 of foreign spend that’s $400 in rewards earnings. Other cards like the Marriott Rewards or Amazon Visa card (the Amazon credit card is no longer offered to NEW applicants in Canada as of April 3rd, 2017) waive the 2.5% foreign transaction fee, but only offer 1% in rewards or less.

    The Rogers Mastercard foreign transaction subsidy is different than the Amazon or Marriott Rewards cards, but still offers significantly more value than either of those cards. Rogers offers 4% cash back on foreign purchases, but charges 2.5% in foreign transaction fees – the net cash back rate is thus 4% cash back – 2.5% fx fee = 1.5% in net cash back. The Amazon card used to offer 1% cash back with no foreign transaction fees, 1% cash back – 0% fx fee = 1% in net cash back. As a result, Rogers offers 50% more cash back than the Amazon Visa card.

    Not only that, using a credit card that subsidizes your foreign transaction fee is actually cheaper than exchanging currencies at the bank, or at a boutique foreign exchange bureau – which routinely cost anywhere from 1%-3% to exchange your money. Debit and out of country ATM cash withdrawals are no better, each typically charging a 2.5% or more foreign exchange fee.

    Comparison of Canadian Credit Card Foreign Transactions Fees

    Foreign Transaction Fee Offer

    4% cash back on all foreign purchases

    $120 Waived 1 st Year

    Hopefully more Canadian credit card issuers , that don’t have a large share of their spend in foreign purchases, or an established foreign exchange business, will step up to the plate and waive their foreign transaction fees. Perhaps some of the more niche issuers like President’s Choice, WalMart, or Canadian Tire can shake things up a little bit the way Rogers and Chase have.

    As of right now though, Rogers and Chase are the only game in town, and they’re offering Canadians a SUPERLATIVE opportunity, just not enough of us know about it. Here’s your chance…who know’s how long it will last (looks like Chase is leaving the country).

    By the way, for those who think you’re avoiding foreign transaction fees by having a U.S. Dollar credit card, unless you earn American dollars, you’re not avoiding anything. Ultimately, you’ll have to pay your U.S. Dollar credit card bill in U.S. dollars, and you’ll have to convert your Canadian dollars to U.S. dollars at the bank to do so. At that point the bank will charge you it’s 1%-3% foreign exchange surcharge.

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    I JUST READ ROGERS MASTERCARD AGREEMENT AND IT SAYS: All transactions made in a foreign currency are converted to Canadian dollars at the rate established by Mastercard International in effect on the date that we post the transaction to your Account (which may not be the same date as the date of the transaction) plus an amount equal to 2.5% of the transaction amount after it has been converted to Canadian dollars.


    Thanks for you question on how the foreign currency transaction fee works. The Rogers Mastercard has a unique method for making foreign purchases cheaper, and it operates exactly as you’ve already guessed. The card does charge you 2.5% for each purchase made in a foreign currency, but then adds 4% back on top (as cash). This effectively nulls the charge, plus 1.5% – giving cardholders an incentive to buy from abroad. It’s better than exempting customers from the 2.5%! Many Canadians love it for buying in the US and in Europe, and we hope you will too.

    We hope that helps,

    Can you confirm / comment on this?

    Home Trust preferred Visa

    No foreign transaction fees

    1% cash back with no limits

    Hi Fred, thanks for coming to us for confirmation.

    Unfortunately, the Home Trust Preferred VISA does not include an exemption from foreign transaction fees. It does, however, have the other perks and benefits you’ve described.

    If you’re looking for a card without the foreign transaction fees or an annual fee, check out the Rogers Mastercard . In most ways, it vastly improves upon the Home Trust card but may be more difficult to get approval for. If you need further guidance, please return with more comments here. We’ll be waiting!

    When I looked at Home Trust Preferred Visa’s Cost of Borrowing disclosure it states a foreign currency conversion cost of 0%. “Purchases or Cash Advances in a foreign currency will be converted into Canadian dollars at the exchange rate set by Visa International in effect on the day the transaction is posted to the Account, plus a 0% currency conversion charge.”

    Is this incorrect then?

    Thank you for any further clarification.

    Hi Christine. Good eyes – the fine print does indeed say that it costs 0% to make purchases or cash advances in a foreign currency (though Visa will use the spot rate for exchange). You were definitely right on this one! Here are the exact words:

    Purchases or Cash Advances in a foreign currency will be converted into Canadian dollars at the exchange rate set by Visa International in effect on the day the transaction is posted to the Account, plus a 0% currency conversion charge.

    We hope that helps,

    Hi, if you also kindly share what Christine and Ivan had found about Home Trust disclosure statement on “0% Foreign Currency Conversion”, then aside from your “past” review picking Home Trust Secured Visa No Annual Fee for those with “Bad Credit”, would any of you (still) find a caveat(s) in their disclosure, hold reservation or still have any reason(s) to pass on this Home Trust Preferred, Equityline or any of their credit cards for that matter (e.g., due to considering this year’s news of this embattled company’s solvency issue caused by bank run from recent controversial disclosure filing allegation by the OSC and short sellers, though that OSC dispute reportedly resolved and might “currently” be “propped up” by Berkshire Hathaway’s legendary Warren Buffet investments). In other words, will you be updating your helpful consumer awareness articles at some point in the future (when you are less busy to focus on it) or perhaps it is still accurate to accept “The bad news is, only two credit card issuers in Canada subsidize the fee, Chase Canada & Rogers Mastercard” pending your further review of HT itself and its practices. Thanks.

    Thanks for your thorough dissection of the issue at hand. We always appreciate smart cardholders who can tell us something new!

    This matter is another story, however, as we’re aware of the discrepancies and are updating to the Home Trust Preferred card. This will soon reflect on the site. In the meantime, we remain available to those who need quick assistance with their credit card inquiries, and are always working to keep ahead of this quickly-changing industry. Thanks again!

    According to Home Trust preferred visa disclosure statement there are no foreign conversion fee. The benefit isn’t advertised but is listed. What am I missing?

    Hey Jayson, thanks for stopping by GreedyRates.

    Though it may not be advertised in all places, Home Trust cardholders will pay 0% in transaction fees when making purchases in a foreign currency. The spot exchange rate still applies, but the fine print doesn’t lie: no extra fees here. You’re not missing anything, but you may have been confused by our lack of coverage. We will integrate it into our articles to avoid misunderstandings in the future. Enjoy your 0% transaction fees!

    Actually, it has 0% foreign exchange fee. Oddly enough, this awesome feature IS NOT stated on their website!

    However, you can find it in cardholder agreement.

    I just did a application for the home trust preferred visa and it states 0% for foreign currency fees in the terms of the credit card which you can view before making a application. Card looks great to me.

    Hi Fred, have confirmed from analysis with the visa exchange rate calculator that the transactions are indeed free of foreign transaction fees as per their “0% Foreign Currency Conversion written” on Home Trust Preferred Visa application Disclosure Statement, which include currency exchange fee-free on cash advances and returns that Rogers always charges their 2.5% fee. In fact, Home Trust has had the zero foreign transaction fee on their Home Trust Equityline Visa for their mortgage customers way before this Preferred one (just ask their VP Miki Asano) so as an fyi summary – this Home Trust Preferred Visa may be suitable for those who “qualify” for a straight 1% without limit cash back credit card without annual fee plus as per their brochures with free basic roadside assistance (up to 4 calls), primary car rental CDW insurance and purchase security insurance among other benefits that are completely missing from both Amazon and Rogers (though the latter two have 2% for purchases and up to 1.75% cash back respectively). Also, unlike Amazon credit card online tool that is in flux, transactions show up being processed virtually instantaneously as among other features of the Home Trust’s ezcardinfo online tool. This alternative lender, however, has to work on getting some phone app/pay wave feature and currently, if you are looking for that, need more cash back payout options other than annually and/or want huge cash back >1% then do look elsewhere. Hope that helps.

    Why is TD claiming that their TD U.S. Dollar Visa* Card saves you the foreign currency exchange fee on their website? Isn’t that deception? I’m so frustrated. I have almost no income and Im trying to build credit. Almost all my purchases online are from the US and Europe because Canadian retailers more often then not refuse to stock quality plus size clothing. I have a learning disability, one of the deficits math related which makes anything but very basic computation confusing. Looks like you need a lot of financial literacy to work around the financial institution credit gouging. I think because of my income the best I can do is stick with the only card my bank offers that has no annual fee. UGH

    Thanks for your questions, and don’t worry! We will help you to understand why TD says this and what it means for your purchases abroad. The TD U.S. Dollar VISA card is great for Canadians like yourself who buy online from American retailers. When buying an item that is sold in the United States, no retailer wants to handle Canadian dollars, and so the issuing bank charges their customer (you) a 2.50% fee for converting to the retailer’s currency.

    TD is correct when they say that a U.S. store will not charge you this transaction fee when purchasing from Canada, because the account and card are loaded with USD, not CAD. Therefore, your go-to store will see that you’re paying with USD and not assign any extra fees.

    However, this means that if you’re buying from Europe that you will be charged this fee, because over there they use Euros, Pounds, and other foreign currencies. It’s also important to note that the TD U.S. Dollar card has an annual fee of $39, so you must be ordering in USD frequently to make it worth your while. Hope that helps! Feel free to get back to us for further clarification if necessary.

    Hi, I’ve been checking these recommendations in July 2017.

    At present, the Marriott offer appears to be the same, though I only read far enough to confirm it’s $120/yr after the first year.

    The Rogers offer has changed however: That card is only “no-fee” if you pre-authorize payments for a Rogers,k Chatr, or Fido account on the credit card, otherwise there is an annual fee of $29.

    Most of the details described for the Rogers Platinum Mastercard now apply to Rogers Bank’s other offering, the Fido Mastercard. The Fido card has no fee, but has a lower cash-back rate for domestic purchases: 1.5% vs 1.75%. There are several downsides coming from a Scotiabank card, but if you want to avoid the 2.5% foreign exchange fee (if only by putting it against your cashback) then it seems there’s no other no-fee option.

    What Scotiabank card are you talking about?

    I have the chase marriott and the fee after first year is offset by a free nite at a marriott hotel up to cat 5 which is usually at least $100.00. You have up to 6 months to use hotel credit. I have had it for 3 years and since we do a lot of travelling find it great

    I use my chase visa for shopping online (mostly at amazon) and it also has 0% foreign transaction fees. The Chase website is pretty ugly, though!

    “The new applications for the credit card are no longer accepted as of April 3rd, 2017. Existing customers will still be serviced and will be able to receive new cards.”

    But this card is not available anymore :O(

    Me too I use the Chase Amazon card for online shopping. I was lucky that I got it when I did.

    Hello! I think you should consider adding the Desjardins Visa U.S. card. The purchases are billed in USD so there is no conversion fees on U.S. dollar transactions. Annual fees 30 USD.

    Thanks for your advice and for being a loyal reader of GreedyRates!

    We always appreciate when people give us suggestions for our site, and in this case we are happy to agree with you. The Desjardins Visa U.S. card is indeed an impressive contender for the travel category, and accordingly it has a place among the finalists on our Best Travel Credit Cards page. We are still looking into its placement on other pages, and are considering some new additions as well.

    As always, our review team is working hard to determine a final list. Thanks again for reading and sharing your comments with us! Have a great day.

    I have used a CIBC US dollar Visa card for many years. I pay $US 35 annually. The reason I am still ahead by paying the bill in US cash is that I buy the cash when the exchange rate is good, at my bank where I have a preferred rate. (Every longterm customer should insist on this). I buy $1000 or more each time, which also helps the rate. If I didn’t have US cash on hand when my US bill arrived, I’d be subject to current exchange rate, and in that case it wouldn’t be much of an advantage.

    I also use the card often for shopping, for instance on line at, either to save 50% on the same products on or for products not available in Canada. If sellers will not send to Canada, I have used a US address depot to receive my purchases just over the border in New York State.

    My main card is the TD Infinite Visa affiliated with Aeroplan. Will you be publishing an analysis of what Aeroplan devotees should be doing, ramping up to 2020?

    We’re so sorry that we took a long time to respond to you, and we’re very grateful that you took the time to write to us. It sounds like you have it all figured out! While bank exchange rates vary, it is smart to withdraw cash in bulk for the month when the rate is at its lowest. This is a unique workaround, and we may even incorporate this advice into our newer articles (great job!). The CIBC card is also great for shopping, as you mentioned.

    Concerning what to do with your TD Infinite Aeroplan Visa, we think that for the time being, you’re safe to continue using it, but you may want to research similar cards (on GreedyRates of course!) for when the official breakup of Aeroplan and Air Canada happens in 2020. For more information on this, check out our article here:

    Thanks again for reading,

    Is this the only U.S. card that have no conversion fees on U.S. dollar transactions? What about RBC U.S. card or CIBC?

    As Veronica mentioned, the Desjardins card is another relatively good card if you want to be exempt from foreign transactions (for US dollar purchases only). However, if you like, we also recommend exploring the Rogers Mastercard mentioned above, and the Marriott Rewards card in the chart at the bottom of the article. The latter card, while not mentioned much on this page, provides excellent hotel and flight rewards alongside an exemption from foreign transaction fees.

    As for RBC and CIBC’s US cards, these are an alternative, but we warned that they require you to open a US dollar account, meaning that if you’d like to use it within Canada, you’ll pay a foreign transaction fee for buying in your local area. Be sure to read the fine print, and ensure that no fees are taken from transactions made in all countries (even your own).

    We hope that helps,

    Please update this article. I got a Rogers Bank Platinum Card based partly on this recommendation and discovered after using the card extensively during travel that the “4% Cash Back” is NOT CASH BACK. It is a store credit at the Rogers store! I called their customer service and they told me they considered the credit to be “cash” so they do not consider it to be false advertising.

    We are very sorry for this late reply, and even more so for the misunderstanding caused by the representative to whom you have spoken to. We got official confirmation from the Rogers bank that “The customer can apply their cash back against any Rogers [card] purchase either instore or online or more importantly, they can redeem against their Rogers bill. Or, they can contact us once per year to receive a statement credit for the value of the points.”

    We hope this helps clearing things out.

    I’m a snowbird and I’ve been using the Scotia Momentum card (transferred over from Sears/Chase), which will start charging the currency conversion charge as of June 1st, so am looking for a replacement. From reading your article, it appears my only choices are Rogers/Fido and Marriott.

    Unfortunately, unless I have missed something in reading their web pages, none of these are a true cash back card, like Scotia was, but rather a rewards card (like the old Sears/Chase card that had no conversion charge) and the points are only good for use at Rogers/Fido or Marriott. Is this right?

    Amazon would have been good, as it was just a straight credit on the charge account, but as you pointed out, they aren’t taking new applications.

    Hey Brenda, thanks for asking us for clarification.

    We understand that you want a true cash back card that does not charge foreign transaction fees on your travels, and are concerned that Scotia will soon be returning to the model of charging these fees. Technically, the Rogers Mastercard is a cash back card, but the method they use to counteract foreign fees is simply by rewarding 4% cash back on these purchases. This means that after the 2.5% fee, you’d earn 1.5% on things you buy abroad (or in foreign currencies).

    Regarding Marriott, alongside straightforward exemption from foreign transaction fees, it accrues points only for the Marriott (and Ritz Cartlton, and Starwood Preferred Guest) rewards system. It doesn’t sound like you’re into the hotel rewards, so we recommend checking out the Roger’s Platinum Mastercard instead. Good luck!

    Rogers isn’t a viable option because on top of the 2.5% foreign transaction surcharge, the 4% ‘cashback’ isn’t actually cashback as it can only be used as a credit on rogers products. The 2.5% foreign transaction surcharge on top of the rates set by visa and mc (which are already at 1-1.5% above the mid-market rate, so banks make money even with 0% foreign transaction surcharge). So foreign transaction surcharge is really close to 4% here

    Getting a USD card at a Canadian institution isn’t a viable option either because a) annual fee b)no, or almost no rewards c) you still got to exchange from CAD to USD. If the banks exchange it for you, they’ll also charge you 3-4%, so you’re even worse off. You can use an fx broker to get it down close to 1%, but by the time you do that, and given the lack of rewards, this option isn’t viable.

    Last option is getting a USD card at a US financial institution. The vast majority of US issuers will NOT grant you credit without a SSN and/or US address. I tried Chase, citi & capital one and a few others. But I know of at least 1 – RBC Bank (US). BMO Harris bank wasn’t sure if they could grant me credit or not, and I never heard back from them – they have a 3% fx fee on non-USD transactions anyways though. TD Bank seems like an even better option, but i’m waiting to hear back if they will accept me yet without a US address. The employee wasn’t sure. TD bank USA has the added benefit that a few of there credit cards have no foreign transaction fees on non-USD transactions, plus decent rewards to. I have gone with RBC Bank with the time being, but they do charge a 1.5% fee on non-USD transactions if I were to do any. So pretty good, but not quite as good as TD’s credit card. Getting a US credit card rather than a no fx fee CAD credit card has the added benefit that there’s no 1.5% charge on top of the mid market rate, although with a no fx fee CAD card, that charge still occurs. Plus you still get rewards with US credit cards from US institutions

    Now for the fun part. Getting your US credit card paid. You can’t do it from a Canadian financial institution. You need to set up a US bank account with a US institution. The bank account does NOT need to be with the same institution that you have your US credit card with, although it does make it a little bit easier. Between TD/RBC/BMO Harris USA banks, TD actually seems the worst of the 3 because of monthly. BMO seems the best because of no fees, and RBC follows closely in 2nd IMO because they have some no-fee savings account options with limited transactions, and a low fee US chequing account for which the balance can be waived, with unlimited transactions.

    Although you don’t need to have your US bank account with your US issuer, you should have a US dollar bank account with a Canadian financial institution. This is because you need to be able to make cross border payments and cibc/td/rbc are the only ones I know that will allow you to do this easily & for free. So make sure to take a look at the US dollar account options at canadian financial institutions as well.

    Why are these banks not charging a boatload of money for transfers between the USA & Canada? Well they are actually. If you don’t have a US dollar savings account on both ends the banks take 3-4% on currency conversion – again a rip off. In order to avoid this you need to find a good fx broker. You can get the currency conversion down to as low as 0.5% from the mid-market rate – a far better deal than any bank will give you. You’ll likely need to send your fx broker an EFT in CAD funds, and they will then deposit to your US savings account @ a US financial institution via Direct Deposit. Then you can transfer it over. Most FX brokers will offer to wire funds directly to a destination account in another country, so you bypass the need for a US account at a Canadian bank although. The problem is wires are expensive, so they almost always charge extra for this (usually about $15, which is still a lot better than the banks which charge $40-100). If they don’t charge the $15, they are embedding that cost somewhere in the currency exchange.

    So the last step is now to find an FX broker. I’m not going to give out recommendations here, because I don’t want to be advertising for any of them & I’m not affiliated with them. But if you want some suggestions, shoot me a reply or email.

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