Credit Cards Without Foreign Exchange Fees

When you swipe your plastic overseas those currency conversion charges, usually 1-3%, can really add up. So here’s some cards that have no foreign exchange fees at all.

Chase is going to waive foreign transaction fees on three of its cards very soon, the British Airways Signature Card, Hyatt Card and the Priority Club Select Visa Card. For a while now Capital One has waived these charges, and so does the PenFed Promise Card. Smaller banks and credit unions may also have similar waivers, so check ‘em out.

3 Credit Cards Without Foreign Exchange Fees [NYT Bucks Blog]

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  1. Alvis says:

    Beginning and end of any story about cards with great free stuff: Schwab High Yield Investor Checking

  2. Tongsy says:

    So there’s no fee for a foreign currency transaction, but they just modify the exchange rate to be 1-3% higher instead.

    Technicalities

    • Brink006 says:

      The rate is set by Visa and then the branded company on the CC can choose to add a fee. Chase can’t just interpret the rates set by Visa to be 1-3% higher.

  3. The cake is a lie! says:

    Or just stay at hotels that run your cards through US banks and circumvent the fee. ;) The hotel I’m at in Manila right now lets me draw from my card which they charge later through a US based institution and I never see exchange rate fees on my AMEX statement.

    • Jerry Vandesic says:

      That won’t necessarily work. The fee is typically for the use of the card in a foreign country, not for the currency conversion. I remember buying some items in Europe and the merchant ran the charge in US Dollars. When I recieved the credit card bill the fee was there, and the card company refused to remove it.

      • dilbert69 says:

        And you probably got a really crappy exchange rate to boot. When buying anything outside the US (online or in person), make sure they charge your card in the local currency.

      • dilbert69 says:

        And you probably got a really crappy exchange rate to boot. When buying anything outside the US (online or in person), make sure they charge your card in the local currency.

  4. jessjj347 says:

    Actually, some debit cards will do this as well. Also, some banks will waive foreign ATM fees, e.g. TD Bank.

  5. Portlandia says:

    This is the only reason I keep my Capital One Card, which has a higher (much much higher) interest rate than my other cards.

    I travel to Europe once or twice a year and it always saves me money. I just got back and it saved me about $75-100 bucks in transaction fees.

    Also, before you ask the fee wasn’t just tacked onto the exchange rate. The exchange rate for each transaction was clearly listed in each transaction. It was right in line with what the actual rate was durring my trip.

  6. infinitevalence says:

    I travel a good bit internationally and I decided that the higher membership fees on something like an Amex did not justify the savings in transaction fees. As 1 person traveling I would say I spend around $3000 on a trip to Europe every year or other year and the transaction fees end up only being about $100. Not only that but check in with vendors, in Ireland 1/2 the places I went I could pay in dollars on my credit card and avoid the transaction fee totally.

    • The cake is a lie! says:

      If the only reason you had an AMEX with a fee was because of the transaction fee benefits, then you have one for the wrong reason. Getting access to the crown room for free and the slough of other benefits is why I have mine. Paying the $450 per year for the Platinum card can save you thousands per year in other charges if you were to actually use the benefits. Sadly most people have no idea what their cards can actually offer them, so they lose out on the perks.

  7. juniper says:

    Beware, anyone looking to open up a Capital One card before a big overseas trip. I did this in October of 2007 in anticipation of an overseas trip in February 2008, and I got the card… with a $500 limit, which they refused to raise under any circumstances. They said they had their own formula in raising limits and they’d raise mine when they deemed it appropriate. I almost canceled the card right then, but opted to keep it because in an emergency, more payment modes are better than less.

    They raised my limit last month to an astronomical amount. Weirdos.

  8. juniper says:

    Beware, anyone looking to open up a Capital One card before a big overseas trip. I did this in October of 2007 in anticipation of an overseas trip in February 2008, and I got the card… with a $500 limit, which they refused to raise under any circumstances. They said they had their own formula in raising limits and they’d raise mine when they deemed it appropriate. I almost canceled the card right then, but opted to keep it because in an emergency, more payment modes are better than less.

    They raised my limit last month to an astronomical amount. Weirdos.

    • Dryfus Ranon says:

      I did this with Capitaol One too but they gave me a 30,000 credit limit. Never went over $100. aND THEY REJECTED THE FIRST FORIEGN TRANSACTION IN cANADA SINCE i HADNT CALED TO INFORM THEIM i WAS TRAVELING THERE. Sorry bout the caps, accedindallry hit caps lock when hit lettera and too lazy to correct.

  9. Lightweight says:

    Citibank’s Citigold service includes no foreign transaction fees on your debit card (which are normally absurdly high). You need a fairly high checking balance to have the Citigold service without paying a fee (I think it’s $50k), but what we did was to pay the fee for the service for 1 month only and then cancel. $25 for a month of the service was a lot less than 3% of everything we spent in Europe.

  10. CrankyOwl says:

    Speaking of credit cards & foreign exchange fees…I wonder what’s up with the lawsuit that was filed years ago against credit card companies that charge them. I sent in a claim form over 3 years ago and never heard back.

  11. Amelie says:

    I pay nothing on credit card charges and just a few cents on cash advances. :)
    Go to ATM in foreign country. Insert my _____ credit union Visa. Take out 200 Euros as a cash advance. Check my card’s website in a day or two and make a payment to cover my cash withdrawal. I also note the rate of exchange is exactly what it says in the news, oanda, reuters, etc. Repeat procedure anytime I need money. Total charge for being able to get Euro’s at an ATM during my two week vacation – less than one dollar. Interest does accumulate on cash advances, but at 12% a year, it doesn’t amount to much if you pay it back in a few days.

  12. qualityleashdog says:

    A few years ago my German roommate in college would watch the exchange rates and head down to the ATM for a cash advance whenever he felt they had hit a point where they would be most favorable to him. He said he would lose money by NOT taking the advances. I’m sure they charged some fees, but they were outweighed by his profit. Probably not very useful to an American, but good for a German in a weak American economy.

  13. dush says:

    Article says $75 annual fee though.

  14. Sean says:

    The article is incomplete in its analysis. When using a domestic card in another country’s ATM’s, there are two fees charged 1) foreign access fee (sometimes as high as $5 per transaction!) and 2) foreign exchange fee (either explicit commission, or implicit in the buy/sell spread). You cannot avoid type 2 fees (i.e. the cost of exchanging one currency for another); however, you can avoid type 1 with a US card in two cases of which I know:

    1. Schwab’s Visa card has a “no foreign fee” feature; if you do find you have been charged a fee for using a foreign ATM, a call to Schwab should lead to a reversal of charge.

    2. HSBC ATM card. HSBC has a very extensive worldwide presence with ATM’s in most major cities. If you use an HSBC ATM in a foreign country, there will be no “foreign access fee”.

    A word of advice is to inform your card issuer of your travel plans to avoid an automatic “fraud surveillance” bot from rejecting withdrawals outside of the US.

  15. Sean says:

    The article is incomplete in its analysis. When using a domestic card in another country’s ATM’s, there are two fees charged 1) foreign access fee (sometimes as high as $5 per transaction!) and 2) foreign exchange fee (either explicit commission, or implicit in the buy/sell spread). You cannot avoid type 2 fees (i.e. the cost of exchanging one currency for another); however, you can avoid type 1 with a US card in two cases of which I know:

    1. Schwab’s Visa card has a “no foreign fee” feature; if you do find you have been charged a fee for using a foreign ATM, a call to Schwab should lead to a reversal of charge.

    2. HSBC ATM card. HSBC has a very extensive worldwide presence with ATM’s in most major cities. If you use an HSBC ATM in a foreign country, there will be no “foreign access fee”.

    A word of advice is to inform your card issuer of your travel plans to avoid an automatic “fraud surveillance” bot from rejecting withdrawals outside of the US.

  16. samandiriel says:

    On a related note, the Global ATM Alliance allows various banks to use each others’ ATMs around the world with no charge: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_ATM_Alliance. I travel between the US, Canada and Mexico and find this service to be invaluable. I just stop at an ATM once a day and withdraw what I think I’ll need (once a day helps me avoid having too much cash on hand).