2012 survey: 36 credit cards without foreign transaction fees
If you're a frequent international flier, then you may already know the perks of owning a credit card that doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee. But for those who are just planning the itinerary, it's a good idea to pack one of these cards in your wallet-belt thingy.
What is a foreign transaction fee?
A foreign transaction fee, or FTF, is usually a 3 percent charge for each purchase made outside of the United States. It is a charge made up of 1 percent from the credit card issuer, such as Visa or Mastercard, and an additional 2 percent from the issuer's bank. Many may be inclined to dismiss this seemingly insignificant amount, but add on 3 percent to a large chunk of your trip budget and that could be a significant amount. With train tickets, restaurants, your hotel bill and that expensive souvenir that you know you'll buy, that 3 percent will add up quickly. Fortunately, many credit card companies are removing the fee completely. And when you factor in the perks that some of these cards carry, you could be enjoying your vacation a whole lot more.
What about the card I already have?
The best news is that one of these cards may already be in your wallet. All credit cards from both Capital One and Discover are FTF free. Many of these cards also do not charge an annual fee and have excellent rewards programs. Of the 36 credit cards on the list, 15 do not charge an annual fee. If you're considering a trip abroad but aren't a frequent flier, you'll likely find that these well-rounded cards will still be of use once you're back home.
Another feature that savvy travelers are sure to enjoy is the EMV technology built into four of the cards on the list. The Citi Prestige Card, the Chase J.P. Morgan Select, British Airways Visa Signature from Chase, and Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card all have this embedded chip. This security technology has been embraced in Europe and is now spreading into the American market. Don't think it will make a difference? Some globetrotters have reported difficulty using the traditional magnetic strip credit card as some merchants and ticket kiosks no longer accept them.
Put that money to good use
Credit cards that have steep annual fees -- American Express Platinum and Business Platinum and Citi Executive/AAdvantage WorldElite MasterCard coming in at $450 -- often put cardholders into another tier of rewards and perks. Perhaps you could consider that money you'll save in FTF fees an investment in a premium card. Eleven of the cards on the list offer a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year then in year two the annual fee will be charged. So if you're in the market for a card that not only earns you points but includes luxuries such as concierge service, VIP access to events, trip insurance and airport lounge access and gives you a taste of the posh life take a look at our list.
2012 survey results
This list from CardRatings.com of 36 credit cards is compiled from common issuers to showcase features and benefits in addition to eliminating the FTF.
This article was updated on February 7, 2013 to add new cards and make updates.
|Card name||Annual fee||Other benefits|
|The Platinum Card from American Express||$450||up to $200 annual airline fee credit, airport club access|
|The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN||$450||up to $200 annual airline fee credit, airline club access, concierge service, 2 points with AmEx Travel, 1 point for all other purchases|
|Bank of America BankAmericard Travel Rewards||$0||1.5 points per dollar, airline fee credit|
|Bank of America Privileges with Travel Rewards||$75 after first year||2 points per dollar, airline fee credit|
|Bank of America WorldPoints Travel Rewards for Business Visa||$0||1.5 points per dollar, expense tracking features|
|Capital One Cash Rewards||$39||50% cash bonus on all cash earned annually|
|Capital One Cash Rewards for Newcomers||$0||2% cash back on travel, 1% cash back on other purchases; for average credit|
|Capital One Spark Miles Select Rewards||$0||50% bonus on all miles earned annually|
|Capital One Venture Rewards||$59 after first year||2 miles per dollar, excellent credit|
|Capital One VentureOne Rewards||$0||1.25 miles per dollar, excellent credit|
|British Airways Visa Signature from Chase||$95||EMV-compatible|
|Fairmont Visa Signature from Chase||$95 after first year||5/2/1 point model (5 points for every dollar spent for Fairmont stays; 2 points for every dollar spent on travel; 1 point for every dollar on all other purchases)|
|Ink Plus Business Card||$95 after first year||5/2/1 point model (up to 5 points per dollar on the first $50,000 spent annually on eligible business purchases; 2 points per dollar on the first $50,000 spent annually at gas stations and on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel; 1 point for every dollar on other purchases)|
|Ink Bold Business Card from Chase||$95 after first year||5/2/1 point model (up to 5 points for every dollar spent on eligible business purchases; 2 points for every dollar spent on hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel; 1 point for every dollar on all other purchases)|
|J.P. Morgan Select Card from Chase||$95 after first year||EMV-compatible; double points on travel purchases|
|Marriott Rewards Premier from Chase||$85 after first year||5/2/1 point model for Marriott stays|
|Priority Club Select Visa from Chase||$49 after first year||5/2/1 point model for Priority Club stays|
|Ritz-Carlton Rewards card from Chase||$395||5/2/1 point model for Ritz-Carlton stays, Lounge Club access, $200 annual credit for airline fees|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95||7% dividend on all new points earned|
|United Mileage Plus Club Card from Chase||$395||1.5 miles per dollar, 2 miles per dollar for United purchases, Premier Access priority airport services|
|Citi Executive/AAdvantage WorldElite MasterCard||$450||Admirals Club membership, priority check-in, airport screening, boarding, first bag free|
|Citi ThankYou Premier||$125 after first year||1 point for every dollar; annual complimentary domestic companion ticket|
|Citi Prestige Card||$400||EMV-chip, up to $200 in statement credits for airline fees, earn points on eligible purchases|
|Discover it||$0||5% cash-back bonus on varying categories, limited international acceptance|
|Discover it for Students||$0||5% cash-back bonus on varying categories, limited international acceptance|
|SKYPASS Visa Signature Credit Card from US Bank||$80||15,000 SKYPASS Bonus Miles with your first purchase|
|Harvard Alumni Card from Harvard University Credit Union||$0||World MasterCard Benefits, concierge services, travel accident and luggage insurance|
|Orbitz Visa Platinum Credit Card||$0||3 points per dollar on all eligible Orbitz.com bookings|
|Capital One Secured MasterCard Credit Card||$29||automatic reporting to the three major credit bureaus|
|Journey Student Rewards Credit Card||$0||1% cash-back on all purchases|
|FNBO Graphite American Express||$99 after first year||3% cash back on airlines, 2% cash back on gas and groceries, 1% cash back on all other qualifying purchases|
|PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards||$0||5% cash back on gas purchases paid at the pump, 0.25% on other purchases|
|PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa||$0||5 points on gas purchases paid at the pump, 3 points on grocery purchases at supermarkets, 1 point all other purchases|
|PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express||$0||Airport club access when you spend $15,000 annually|
|PenFed Promise||$0||No fees of any kind|
|PenFed Visa Gold||$0||NA|
Published 08/13/12 (Modified 03/19/13)