Amazon prime credit card foreign transaction fee

Amazon Prime User? You Should Have this Credit Card

Amazon prime credit card foreign transaction fee

If you’re an Amazon Prime user and are responsible enough to pay off your credit card bills, you should get the new Amazon Prime Visa.

The two main benefits are enough to make this a no-brainer: As an Amazon Prime member you get 5 percent back as a statement credit on all Amazon purchases. Additionally, you get an instant $70 Amazon gift card applied to your gift balance when you’re accepted.

Beyond these two benefits, cardholders get 2 percent back on restaurant, drugstore, and gas station purchases, and 1 percent on everything else. Additionally, the card has no foreign transaction fees, making this a solid card for travelers as well. 

The card, a Visa Signature issued by Chase, is only available to Prime members, so technically there is a $99 annual fee. But honestly, given everything you get for a Prime membership (from streaming television to free shipping), most Amazon users should look at this as a cost-savings offer.

For the last few years Amazon has been pushing its way into the credit card market, and offered some excellent perks, but this card combines all the best previous perks into one competitive offering.

There are caveats. For one, the statement credit is awarded at milestones, so you get $20 every time you hit 2,000 points, or every $400 spent on Amazon purchases. Second, you need to buy a fair amount of stuff from Amazon for this offer to best other cash-back cards. 

Prime members with the existing Visa that gives 3 percent cash back will be upgraded automatically, according to Business Insider. Anyone else can sign up and receive their $70 gift card, as long as they’re already on Prime. 

You can sign up for the card at amazon.com/visa.

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Amazon will give you $70 and rewards when you sign up for a credit card

The card has no annual fee (aside from the fact that you have to be a Prime member, which costs $99 per year) and no foreign transaction fees, which means you can use it worry-free if you travel abroad this summer.

The card also comes with:

  • Travel and emergency assistance
  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Baggage delay insurance
  • Travel accident insurance
  • Roadside dispatch
  • Car rental collision damage waiver
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection

The card also gets you room upgrades and “VIP guest status” while traveling at certain hotels, according to Amazon.

“The upgraded Amazon Prime card took the best of both worlds and is really a fantastic product for regular Amazon shoppers,” according to NerdWallet credit card expert Sean McQuay.

McQuay pointed out that though you can only use the rewards on Amazon, you can buy practically everything on the site (and get free shipping), so it’s more like cash in your pocket. Plus, there’s no cap on the amount of rewards you can earn with this card.

“Think of the card as a 5% discount on every Amazon purchase, no coupons needed,” McQuay said.


Review of the Amazon.com Store Card, Amazon Rewards Visa Signature, and Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature

Jul 10, 2017 | Updated Aug 16, 2017

Although Credit Card Insider does receive compensation from some card issuers as advertisers, this does not in any way influence our overall judgement of a card, or how one card is compared to another. Amazon, Visa and Chase have not endorsed this content in any way.

If you’re one of the millions of frequent Amazon shoppers you’ll probably find a way to save money with one of their credit cards: the Amazon.com Store Card, the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, or the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature.

Read on to see what each of these cards offer, how they differ, and if one of them might be right for you.

Here’s a quick breakdown of each card and for whom it might be a good fit:

  • Amazon.com Store Card: People who want to make a big purchase on Amazon.com and pay it off in full over a fixed amount of time, but don’t care about getting a card that can be used outside of Amazon.
  • Amazon Rewards Visa Signature: People who are not Amazon Prime subscribers and want to earn Amazon credit on purchases anywhere Visa cards are accepted. It’s especially good for people who spend a lot on Amazon, at restaurants, at gas stations, and at drugstores.
  • Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature: People who are Amazon Prime subscribers and want to earn Amazon credit on purchases anywhere Visa cards are accepted. It’s especially good for people who spend a lot on Amazon, at restaurants, at gas stations, and at drugstores.

The Amazon.com Store Card can only be used on Amazon, while the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card and Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card anywhere that Visa is accepted (which is pretty much everywhere that accepts credit cards).

For People with

  • 5% cash back for Amazon Prime members
  • Special 0% APR financing deals from 6 months to 24 months
  • $10 Amazon gift card when approved
  • No annual fee

For People with

  • Earn 3% back at Amazon.com
  • Earn 2% back at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores
  • Earn 1% back on all other purchases

The information for Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by Credit Card Insider. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

For People with

  • Requires active Prime membership
  • Cash back can be redeemed at Amazon.com checkout
  • Earn 5% back at Amazon.com
  • Earn 2% back at gas stations, restaurants, and drugstores
  • Earn 1% back on all other purchases
  • Get a $70 Amazon.com Gift Card instantly upon credit card approval

The information for Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by Credit Card Insider. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

For non-Prime subscribers, this card doesn’t earn any rewards, and the main appeal is the special financing offers.

For Prime subscribers, this card earns 5% back on purchases, in addition to providing some special financing offers. This 5% back is issued as Amazon credit.

The special financing offers on this card work as follows:

  • No interest for 6 months on purchases of at least $149 if paid in full by the end of the 6 months.
  • No interest for 12 months on purchases of at least $599 if paid in full by the end of the 12 months.
  • No interest for 24 months on select Amazon.com items if paid in full by the end of the 24 months.

Minimum monthly payments are required for all of the finance plans.

Caution: It’s important to note these are deferred interest offers. They do not work the same way many 0% introductory APR offers work. If you fail to pay back your entire purchase within the time frame or make a late payment, you’ll be charged interest going all the way back to the purchase date.

There is also something called equal monthly payment financing offered on some items, which allows you to split up a purchase into 12 equal payments with a 0% intro APR.

When you’re approved for this card, you’ll also get $10 Amazon Gift Card applied to your account.

If you get 5% back as an Amazon Prime subscriber, you will not be able to get rewards on purchases with special financing offers. When checking out, Prime users will be given a choice to either earn the 5% back or choose an eligible financing plan.

The Amazon Rewards Visa Signature doesn’t offer special financing plans like the Amazon.com Store Card, but it earns you Amazon credit on purchases.

This card will earn you:

  • 3% back on purchases from Amazon
  • 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores
  • 1% back on every other purchase
  • A $50 Amazon Gift Card when you’re approved for the card

All rewards earned are available as Amazon credit on your Amazon account.

The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature is almost the same as the non-Prime version, but it’s only for Prime subscribers, earns 5% back instead of 3% back on Amazon purchases, and comes with a bigger bonus when you’re approved.

This card will earn you:

  • 5% back on purchases from Amazon
  • 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores
  • 1% back on every other purchase
  • A $70 Amazon Gift Card when you’re approved for the card

All rewards earned are available as Amazon credit on your Amazon account.

The store card is quite different from the two Visa Signatures.

If you want to make a big purchase on Amazon and pay it off over time, the Amazon.com Store Card may be a good one to consider, although you might be able to get better terms with a non-store-specific card that has a 0% introductory APR offer, since the Amazon.com Store Card has the potential to charge you deferred interest.

Otherwise, if you’re looking to earn rewards you can use at Amazon, especially for purchases on Amazon, the Visa Signature cards are clearly a better option. If you’re a Prime subscriber you’ll have more rewards-earning potential with the Prime Rewards Visa Signature than just the 5% back you would earn with the Amazon.com Store Card, and if you’re not a Prime subscriber the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature is the obvious choice for earning rewards.

None of these cards has an annual fee, which is great for cards that have such high rewards potential.

Take note of the relatively high APR on the Store Card, as well as the interest rate range of the Rewards Visa. You’ll want to pay your balance in full to avoid any heavy interest payments, which will quickly eat up any rewards you earn. And, if you do any special financing, you’ll want to make sure you pay off the promotional balance before the period ends to avoid deferred interest at such a high APR.

You’ll only be able to use the Store Card for purchases at Amazon – no balance transfers or cash advances. The two Visa Signature cards allow balance transfers and cash advances, although they don’t provide competitive balance transfer offers.

We gave the Amazon.com Store Card 2 out of 5 Stars. It’s a pretty basic card, and unless you’re a Prime subscriber you won’t get any rewards beyond the $10 Amazon gift card when you’re approved. If you’re a Prime subscriber, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature a better choice for rewards. The real value some people may get out of this card is the special financing deals, but you might be able to get a 0% APR offer on a card that isn’t store specific and doesn’t have deferred interest like this one. We see the possibility of deferred interest as a negative for this card, since there are many 0% APR offers available on other cards without deferred interest.

The Amazon Rewards Visa Signature and Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature each get 5 out of 5 Stars. There’s no annual fee, but if you shop on Amazon a lot you’ll earn some great rewards, with even higher rewards if you’re a Prime subscriber. And these cards earn decent rewards on other common purchase categories, too.

Frequent Amazon shoppers are likely missing on lots of Amazon credit by not using one of the Visa Signature cards, especially Amazon Prime customers.

If you’re already an Amazon Prime member, it seems like an easy decision to apply for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature, use it for all Amazon purchases, and pay off the balance in full every month to avoid interest. Depending on what other cards you have, either one of these Amazon Rewards Visa Signature cards be you most rewarding card for spending on restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores.

If you don’t want to pay the yearly fee for Amazon Prime, but still want to earn rewards on Amazon, the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature is a surprisingly rewarding card with no annual fee. You’ll get that 3% back when you shop at Amazon, and you can use the card elsewhere when you don’t have another card that will earn you more in rewards.


Best International Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fee

This page includes analysis of our favorite cards from The Simple Dollar’s advertisers and the marketplace. Visit our advertiser disclosure to learn more.

There’s so much planning that goes into setting a budget for travel. Chances are you aren’t setting money aside for foreign transaction fees, and you shouldn’t have to. Foreign transaction fees are extra charges that apply to purchases you make outside the U.S. — usually 1-3% per transaction. Good news: the top travel rewards programs offer benefits and upgrades instead of transaction fees, making them a no-brainer for anyone with wanderlust. International cards aren’t one-size fits all, so we’ve studied the current marketplace and selected the top card in four categories: Best all-around, best hotel card, best first-year rewards matching, and best no-annual fee. Check out our reviews, choose the card that best fits your needs, and apply online in minutes.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best all-around international credit card
  • Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express: Best hotel card with no foreign transaction fee
  • Discover it® - Cashback Match™: Best international card with first year rewards matching
  • Discover it® Miles: Best no annual fee international credit card

The Simple Dollar’s top international credit cards for 2017

  • 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
  • Issuer: Chase
  • Rewards Details: 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
  • Sign Up Bonus: 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®
  • Annual Fee: Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 16.99% - 23.99% Variable
  • Penalty APR: None

Anyone who considers themselves a world traveller should check out the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Combining $0 foreign transaction fees with Visa’s worldwide merchant network, it’s globally accepted and one of the most secure spending options for those abroad. At home and overseas, cardmembers benefit from 2X points on travel and restaurants worldwide with 1x on all other purchases. Whether you’re looking to earn points as quickly as possible, or you want the widest variety of travel redemption offers, this card should be first on your list.

  • Cardmembers earn 1x points per $1 spent on most purchases, so use it as often as you can.
  • Use it while you’re eating out for 2X points on dining at restaurants worldwide.
  • Even use it while you’re travelling for 2X points on travel by air, taxi, or train.
  • Use it ASAP: Cardmembers earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first three months.
  • Travel often. You’ll get 25% more per point when redeeming points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, including transport and hotel costs.

Chase waives the annual fee for the first year. After that, membership costs $95 a year. If you’re not a frequent patron of restaurants, then you’re likely to miss out on one of the card’s biggest benefits. And if you’re not the travelling type, then you might want to consider a card with more flexible benefits. If that’s you, we recommend the Discover it® Cashback Match™ for unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase.

On our list of $0 foreign transaction fee cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 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 with a 25% points bonus on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, and you have even more reason to consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card before your next overseas trip.

  • 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
  • Issuer: American Express
  • Sign Up Bonus: Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Annual Fee: See Details
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Cash Advance APR: 26.24%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None
  • Introductory APR: N/A
  • Introductory APR Period: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: N/A
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: N/A
  • Ongoing APR: 16.24% - 20.24% Variable See Rates & Fees
  • Penalty APR: 29.99%

It’s in the name: If you’re a preferred guest of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, or you’d like to be, then the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is a fantastic card to have. You might patronize Starwood Hotels more often than you think — Marriott International recently acquired Starwood, forming one of the largest global hotel companies. So if you travel often for business or pleasure, this is a pretty handy card to have.

  • Use this card often. Members earn 1 Starpoint® for everyday purchases, redeemable at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts, located in 100 countries (a number that’s likely to grow).
  • You’ll earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of purchases made at participating Starwood® and Marriott Rewards® hotels, so use it whenever you travel.
  • Earn points while you fly: Members can redeem points for frequent-flyer miles on over 150 airlines.
  • Don’t just sign up for the card. If you become a Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), you’ll gain access to a ton of additional benefits! Use Uber? As an SPG member, you can earn 1 Starpoint® per ever $2 spent with Uber at home, and per every $1 spent while travelling.

Benefits aren’t necessarily flexible. Starpoints® are only redeemable at SPG hotels, and only transfer at a 1:1 ratio for certain airlines. If you’re looking for a wider variety of airline redemption options, consider the Discover it® Miles card.

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

  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 1% cash back on all other purchases. 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.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.99% Variable
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 14 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 0%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 14 months
  • Ongoing APR: 11.99% – 23.99% Variable

Do you like cash? If so, this is the card for you. Discover it® Cashback Match™ card puts money right back in your pocket. It’s the perfect choice for anyone looking to save up for a big vacation with every purchase. And Discover’s rotating categories are perfect for everyday consumers. Cardmembers earn 1% cashback on regular purchases, and 5% cashback on purchases made in rotating categories that change each quarter. With no foreign transaction fees, members will be able to save at home and spend abroad.

  • Use this card for everything. From groceries, to movies, to travel, you’ll receive 1% cashback on all purchases.
  • Pay close attention to special categories, like Amazon.com, gas Stations, restaurants, and wholesale clubs. Categories rotate every quarter, but you’ll earn 5% cashback for every purchase you make on those types of purchases.
  • Maximize your rewards during your first year.. Discover’s Cashback Match™ program gives members a dollar-for-dollar match of all the rewards they’ve earned after one year of membership.
  • Take your time. Rewards never expire.

There’s nothing more flexible than cash, but members only earn 1% back on the majority of their purchases. So if you spend $100, you’ll earn $1 back. In order to fully maximize benefits, cardholders need to pay close attention to the current 5% category, which can sometimes create unnecessary spending. Be careful not to overspend in order to earn more rewards.

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 international purchases online. 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 select Discover cards, makes this card a useful option regardless of your travel frequency.

  • Issuer: Discover
  • Rewards Details: 1.5 Miles per dollar on all purchases.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.99% Variable
  • Introductory APR: 0%
  • Introductory APR Period: 14 months
  • Introductory Balance Transfer APR: 10.99%
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Period: 14 months
  • Ongoing APR: 11.99% – 23.99% Variable

If you’re looking to bank travel rewards with no annual fee, then the Discover it® Miles card should be your top pick. Members earn 1.5x Miles per dollar on every purchase, with no annual fee to reduce the rewards they earn. You’ll be able to earn miles simply by buying coffee in the morning. Or shopping. Or traveling. And Discover will double all the miles earned at the end of your first year of membership!

  • Each purchase earns 1.5X miles per dollar spent, and there’s no limit. So if you’re trying to save money on expensive airfare, use the card for everyday expenses. They’ll add up.
  • Everybody’s got a dream vacation, and with the Discover it® Miles card, you can actually make it happen. Discover will automatically match all miles earned at the end of your first year, seriously reducing transportation costs.
  • Don’t worry about when or where you want to travel. Rewards come without blackout dates. You’ll be able to fly any airline, to any location. That’s because rewards are redeemable for a travel statement credit, so you can book however you’d like.

While the Discover it® Miles is one of the most user-friendly miles-based cards on the market today, there’s not a whole lot of wiggle room when it comes to redemption. Members can redeem miles as statement credits towards travel-related purchases: Lodging, train tickets, etc. But miles can’t be transferred towards frequent flyer programs. If transferring miles to airlines is important to you, we recommend the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express.

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 towards travel purchases 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.

Directory of All Card Issuers and their Foreign Transaction Fees

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.

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. Keep on-hand cash somewhere discreet, and put the rest in a secure spot, even if you intend to use an international card as your primary source of spending. And plan ahead! The way to get the best exchange rate is to examine your options beforehand, so don’t wait until you’re at the airport.

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.

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.

Foreign transaction fees and dynamic currency conversion fees: What’s the difference?

ATMs abroad: what to watch out for once you’re FX free

More questions to ask before taking your card overseas

Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our rankings and recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view a list of partners, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser's page for terms & conditions.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


How to Find Credit Cards Without Foreign Transaction Fees

The CARD Act of 2009 eliminated almost all of the traditional tricks and traps that banks used to employ to separate you from your money. However, one of the last remaining fees that banks are still allowed to charge is the foreign transaction fee.

The foreign transaction fee is not a currency exchange commission. In fact, purchases in U.S. dollars made outside the country are usually subject to this fee, meaning you don’t even have to leave home to be ripped off. You’ll also pay the foreign transaction fee on some purchases that are merely processed in other countries.

In these two cases, complaining to your bank about specific charges will often result in them being waived.

Finding a Credit Card without Foreign Transaction Fees

When it comes to choosing a credit card, you should know how foreign transaction fees are calculated.

First, the Visa and MasterCard payment networks impose a 1% fee on the banks that issue the card. The banks then pass on this charge (plus an additional percentage) to the consumer by adding a foreign transaction fee between 1% and 3% of your purchase. American Express usually has a 2.7% fee, though there are exceptions.

Essentially, these fees can offset any rewards or cash back provided by your credit cards. Fortunately, more customers are learning about this legalized scam and choosing credit cards that do not charge this fee. As a result, banks are beginning to drop them, especially on cards marketed to travelers, even if it means they have to absorb the 1% fee from their processor. When applying for a credit card, look at the mandatory fee disclosures to determine what the foreign transaction fee will be.

Here is a comprehensive list of major credit cards that do not have a foreign transaction fee:

  • Any Card from Capital One. Capital One has been the leader in this field for as long as I can remember. From their Venture Rewards travel card to their MTV card, none of their products have a foreign transaction fee. I have had a Capital One card for many years as I believe in rewarding good behavior.
  • Any Card from PenFed. The Pentagon Federal Credit Union, or PenFed, was originally established to provide financial services for members of the armed forces and their families. As a substantial percentage of service members are based overseas, it only makes sense that PenFed would offer cards with no annual fee. Today, it is relatively easy for anyone to join and take advantage of one of their excellent cards like the PenFed Promise Card.
  • Select Chase Cards. Chase doesn’t have a blanket policy of no foreign transaction fees like Capital One and PenFed. Instead, they are taking a piecemeal approach by slowly exempting certain cards that are aimed at travelers. So far, they have extended this policy to the following products: Hyatt Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, British Airways Visa, Continental Airlines Presidential Plus Card, Chase Priority Club Select Visa Card, United Mileage Plus Club Visa Card, Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card, and the J.P. Morgan Palladium card. Of these cards, I am a big fan of the British Airways credit card for the great sign up bonuses and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with Chase’s innovative Blueprint payment program.
  • American Express Platinum and Centurion. Just as consumers were starting to catch on to the foreign transaction fee scam, American Express actually had the gall to increase their fees from 2% to 2.7% on all of their cards in 2008. But in 2011, they eliminated these fees on their two most high-end products: the American Express Platinum card and the American Express Centurion cards (a Money Crashers partner). The Platinum Card has an annual fee of $450 and the Centurion card is only offered by invitation to people who spend well over six figures a year with American Express.
  • Citi ThankYou Premier Card and ThankYou Prestige Cards. Citi has recently dropped their foreign transaction fees in a move to win over travelers in the know.
  • Some Credit Unions. Like PenFed, there are other credit unions that do not charge this fee. Every state, most universities, and many large companies have credit unions. At the very least, your credit union will probably only charge the 1% fee the Visa and MasterCard networks impose on them.
  • Some Smaller Banks. Like credit unions, small banks are always trying to differentiate themselves from the national behemoths by providing more value to their customers. Check to see if your neighborhood banks offer a credit card without a foreign transaction fee. You may be pleasantly surprised.

  1. Use your bank’s international partners. When using a debit or ATM card while traveling, use your bank’s international partners to benefit from zero or low fees. Ask your bank for a list of partners before you depart.
  2. Look for the lowest fees and best exchange rates abroad. If you will be exchanging U.S. currency abroad, look out for local bank fees and unfair conversion rates. Once you arrive at your destination, examine your options for the lowest fees and best exchange rates.
  3. Request a refund of the fees. If you do incur credit card foreign transaction fees, a great trick is to simply call your credit card’s bank when you return and request that the foreign transaction fees be refunded. As banks have been the subject of ongoing litigation for failing to properly disclose these fees, they are eager to placate dissatisfied cardholders.
  4. Beware of dynamic currency conversion. Watch out for a scam called dynamic currency conversion which takes place when a merchant chooses the option for you to pay your bill in your home currency. By doing so, the merchant receives a kickback from its credit card processor while also providing you with a horrible exchange rate – often 10% worse than the current rates. The rate is not disclosed and the scam plays on people’s desire to see the bill in their home currency. These services claim to benefit consumers by taking out the uncertainty of what the item will cost, but instead ultimately costs more in the end. To add insult to injury, your credit card company will still charge you its foreign transaction fee. Merchants are supposed to give you the option for dynamic currency conversion. Still, there are cases where they give customers very little choice, especially when there is a language barrier. If you are ever given the option to pay in U.S. dollars instead of the local currency, always say no!

Traditionally, people took traveler’s checks with them so they would have access to cash during their trip. Today, ATM machines have made these products largely obsolete. With an ATM withdrawal, you receive your bank’s exchange rate, which is normally very good. With a traveler’s check, you are subject to the rate offered by the merchant. While traveler’s checks can be replaced if lost or stolen, so can your ATM card. Finally, a traveler’s check or an ATM card is no substitute for the many purchase and fraud protections offered by credit cards, especially the chargeback.

Banks are experts at developing new ways to charge their customers fees without them ever noticing. In this respect, the foreign transaction fee has been one of their most successful innovations. It must be terrible for them to realize that customers are learning about these fees and demanding credit cards without them. By limiting your overseas payments to cards that do not charge this fee, you’ll save money and send a powerful message to banks that they can’t pull a fast one on you any longer. If you don’t already have one, get a card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee and don’t leave the country without it!

Do you have any additional tips or experiences related to foreign transaction fees?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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