The major credit card foreign transaction fees range from 0% to 3% of each purchase processed internationally. The average credit card’s foreign fee is roughly 1.5%. Some credit card companies do not charge foreign transaction fees on any of their cards, including Capital One, Discover and USAA. Other credit card companies charge foreign transaction fees on some, or even most, of their cards. But each of the 10 largest credit card issuers has at least one credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
Here are the foreign transaction fees by credit card company:
Credit Card Company
Standard Foreign Transaction Fee
Offers Card(s) with No Foreign Transaction Fee ?
Bank of America
Issuers charge foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S., whether in-person or online. The fee is always a percentage of the total purchase amount. The reason credit card companies charge foreign transaction fees is to help pay for the costs of currency conversion in international purchases. It’s essential to take a no foreign transaction fee credit card when going abroad, because those charges can quickly build up.
No foreign transaction fee means that a credit card or debit card does not include a surcharge for international purchases. In other words, a consumer won’t be charged extra for using the card outside of the U.S. Foreign transaction fees are usually charged as a percentage of every transaction made abroad. Most issuers charge around 0%-3%, but many offer at least one card that does not come with a foreign transaction fee. Some issuers, such as … read full answerCapital One and Discover, do not include the fee on any of their cards. Refer to the card’s terms and conditions to know for sure if it comes with a fee for foreign transactions.
It’s important to note that you don’t have to physically use a card outside of the U.S. to get hit with a foreign transaction fee. The fee can also apply when you buy something online from a company based in another country. So, getting a no foreign transaction fee card can be very helpful if you buy a lot of things from abroad. It also offers consumers the best value for currency exchanges. On average, a no foreign transaction fee credit card saves international travelers 7.14% over the average bank or credit union. When compared to foreign exchange company Travelex, the savings jump to 9.31%.
However, not all credit cards with no foreign transaction fee are equal when it comes to worldwide acceptance. The card’s network dictates where you can use it outside the U.S. Cards on the Mastercard networks are accepted by merchants in more than 210 countries and territories, while Visa credit cards are accepted in more than 200. Discover cards work in about 185 countries and territories, and merchants in 160+ countries and territories take American Express cards.
The best way to avoid foreign transaction fees is to use a debit or credit card that waives such fees while traveling abroad. About 25% of the available credit card offers on the market don’t charge foreign transaction fees. Plus, those cards are available to people of all credit levels, so there’s really no reason to pay the extra charge when you travel abroad.… read full answer
1. Get a credit card with no foreign transaction fee.
Foreign transaction fees are charged by credit card companies and the surcharge could add as much as 4% to purchases made outside the U.S. These fees also apply to online purchases processed through international merchants. If a card charges a foreign transaction fee, it will be listed in the card’s terms and conditions.
The 10 largest credit card companies all offer at least some cards without foreign transaction fees. Plus, some issuers don’t charge these fees on any of their credit cards. Using credit cards with no foreign fees rather than cash is also a convenient, inexpensive way to avoid having to convert physical currency while traveling abroad.
2. Understand that foreign fees can be an issue even when you’re not traveling.
You don’t have to be in another country to get hit with a foreign transaction fee. If you do business online or by phone through a merchant based outside of the U.S., make sure you pay for your purchase with a no foreign fee credit card to sidestep the surcharge. If you use a card with a foreign fee, you’ll be charged this fee on top of your transaction, the same as you would if you had made the purchase at a physical location abroad.
3. Have a no foreign fee debit card handy.
You may not be able to use credit cards for all your purchases abroad, so having a debit card will allow you to get cash in the local currency when you need it. Many debit cards also charge foreign transaction fees, though. So, make sure to bring a Visa or Mastercard debit card with no foreign fee when you head out of the country.
4. Avoid converting currency at airport kiosks.
Converting your cash at an airport kiosk outside of the U.S. may be convenient, but that convenience will cost you. Currency conversions at airport-based exchange stations come with extraordinarily high fees and less-than-favorable exchange rates.
Instead, use a no foreign transaction fee credit card for most of your purchases, and a no foreign fee debit card to withdraw physical currency. These options are very convenient, and each allows you to take advantage of low Visa and Mastercard currency conversion rates automatically.
5. Do not accept offers for dynamic currency conversion.
Dynamic currency conversion (DCC) is a practice in which foreign merchants may offer to charge your purchase in U.S. dollars instead of the local currency. You should never accept these offers because if the merchant converts your payment for you, they may set their own high exchange rate to increase their profits.
With that, you know the basics of how to avoid unnecessary costs when spending money internationally. If you already have a credit card that charges foreign transaction fees, there’s not much you can do to avoid them, except for not using the card abroad. Consider applying for a travel credit card with good ongoing rewards and no foreign transaction fees, instead. There are plenty of options to choose from.
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