This series of articles about credit cards, points and miles, and budgeting for travel is brought to you in partnership with The Points Guy.

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Travel far and wide, but don't go too far without the right credit card in your wallet. As you plan to splurge on your next international trip, there’s one cost you can easily avoid with the right credit card: No international fees.

Some credit cards impose up to a 3% foreign transaction fee on purchases originating abroad. While this may sound insignificant, it can put a dent in your travel budget as expenses for meals, activities and hotels abroad add up. Why pay an extra $30 in fees for every $1,000 in travel spending if you can instead put that money towards an upgraded room or a nice meal? 

Whether you're a frequent globetrotter, an international business traveler or simply someone who enjoys shopping online from foreign retailers, finding the right credit card can unlock savings and convenience. While many credit cards waive foreign transaction fees, there are various criteria to consider when choosing a card, including high rewards for international spending, a reasonable annual fee and other benefits that can save you money abroad. Read on for our top picks for the best credit cards with no international fees. 

How to get started with travel points and airline miles

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Best overall for 2024

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is often hailed as one of the best credit cards for international travel, and for good reason. It offers a compelling combination of travel benefits and rewards, making it a top choice for globetrotters. First, the card waives international transaction fees, ensuring cardholders can make purchases abroad without incurring extra charges.

The Sapphire Preferred offers one of the best rewards programs for getting started with points and miles. Cardholders earn valuable points on travel and dining expenses, which can be transferred to 14 airline and hotel loyalty programs, providing significant flexibility and value when booking international flights and accommodations. 

The card also offers valuable travel protection benefits, including trip cancellation/interruption insurance and primary rental car coverage for domestic and international car rentals. 

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Rewards: Earn 5X points on travel through Chase Travel℠ (excluding hotel bookings that qualify for the $50 Annual Chase Travel℠ hotel credit); 3X points on dining at restaurants, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out; 3X points on online grocery purchases; 3X points on select streaming services; 2X points on all other travel; 1X on other purchases.

Travel benefits: Annual $50 Chase Travel℠ hotel credit and complimentary 4th night at Ennismore Hotel properties. Trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, primary rental car collision damage waiver and travel and emergency assistance services. 

Credit score required: Good to Excellent. 

Annual fee: $95.

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases originating abroad. 
  • Generous travel protections and benefits that apply to international travel.
  • Reasonable annual fee.
  • A top-tier rewards program that offers flexible ways to earn and redeem points.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee. 
  • Approval is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule; Chase won't approve a credit card application for an individual who has opened five or more new credit cards from any issuer in the past 24 months.
     

The best travel credit cards

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card © John Gribben / The Points Guy

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Best for high rewards

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is the ultimate card for travelers seeking substantial travel perks without international fees. The card waives foreign transaction fees and provides a $300 annual travel credit to offset the $395 annual fee. The credit can be applied towards travel bookings made on the Capital One Travel portal. 

What truly sets the Venture X card apart is its exceptional rewards program. Cardholders can earn up to 10X m miles on travel purchases, making it easy to accrue rewards quickly for your next international trip. These miles can be redeemed at 1 cent each for travel-related expenses such as flights, hotel stays and rental cars. You can also transfer points to 18 airline and hotel partners.

Additionally, the card offers a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit, airport lounge access and valuable travel protections. You can even save on museum fees with a 6-month complimentary Cultivist membership, which includes free access to renowned museums like the Royal Academy of Arts, the Picasso Museum in Paris and the Natural History Museum in Venice.

Welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.

Rewards: Earn 10 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars through Capital One Travel; 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel; 2X miles on all other purchases.

Travel benefits: Annual $300 credit for Capital One Travel bookings; 10,000 bonus miles every card anniversary; Capital One Lounges and Priority Pass Select membership; Hertz President’s Circle status; $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years; complimentary PRIOR subscription, 6-month Cultivist membership; $300 towards Gravity Haus social club membership; discounts and perks through Premier Collection hotels; trip cancellation and interruption insurance; trip delay reimbursement; travel accident insurance; lost luggage reimbursement; travel and emergency assistance services. Primary rental car collision damage waiver covers the vehicle up to the full cash value.

Credit score: Excellent.

Annual fee: $395.

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • High rewards potential, especially in the travel category.
  • Valuable travel benefits.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be steep for some, but this card's benefits provide much more value than that. 
  • Capital One pulls your credit from all three credit bureaus. 
  • No domestic airline transfer partners.
     

How to make a travel budget using points and miles 

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card © The Points Guy

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for cash back rewards

If you want a cash-back card that’s easy on all fees, the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is an excellent option. The SaverOne Cash Rewards card not only waives foreign transaction fees but also has no annual fee. Cardholders also earn a generous 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, providing further incentive to use this card for international travel needs. 

Welcome bonus: Earn $200 cash back once you spend $500 within the first three months from account opening.

Rewards: Earn 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores, plus 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

Travel benefits: No foreign transaction fees; travel accident insurance; complimentary Uber One membership; 10% cash back on Uber and Uber Eats purchases; exclusive reservations through Capital One Dining.

Credit score: Good to Excellent.

Annual fee: $0.

Pros

  • No annual or foreign transaction fees.
  • Cash-back rewards are easier to redeem than points and miles.
  • Generous rewards on international travel booked through Capital One.

Cons

  • Limited travel benefits beyond travel accident insurance. 
  • Low welcome bonus. 
  • Low rewards rate on non-Capital One Travel spending.
     

The best credit cards for airport lounge access

Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Best for travel protections

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is widely regarded as the premier choice for travelers seeking comprehensive travel protections. This card's standout feature is its exceptional travel protection benefits, which include trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, lost luggage reimbursement and primary rental car coverage both in the U.S. and abroad. The absence of foreign transaction fees provides convenience and savings on any trip abroad.

This card earns the same rewards as the Chase Sapphire Preferred does, with one significant advantage: Points redeemed directly through Chase Travel℠ are worth 1.5 cents each rather than 1.25 cents. 

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Rewards: Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Travel benefits: Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits; Priority Pass Select membership; application fee credit towards Global Entry, TSA Precheck or NEXUS every four years; travel protections including cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, primary rental car insurance (up to $75,000 in the U.S. and abroad) and lost luggage reimbursement. 

Credit score required: Excellent.

Annual fee: $550.

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Excellent rewards program with elevated redemption rates through Chase Travel℠.
  • Premium travel benefits.

Cons

  • High annual fee.
  • High spending requirement for earning the welcome bonus.
  • Approval is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule; Chase won't approve a credit card application for an individual who has opened five or more new credit cards from any issuer in the past 24 months.
     

How to use points and miles to save money on travel

Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card © The Points Guy

Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for business

The Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card is great for business travelers who want to avoid international fees. Beyond its fee-free international spending, this card offers comprehensive travel benefits tailored to the needs of business travelers. These include primary rental car insurance and trip cancellation/interruption coverage.

Cardholders can earn generous rewards on business-related expenses, including travel. These points are worth 25% more when you redeem them for travel through Chase TravelSM

Welcome bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $8,000 in the first three months of account opening.

Rewards: Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines, internet, cable and phone services; 5x points on Lyft rides through March 2025; unlimited 1 point per dollar spent on all other spending. 

Travel benefits: Trip cancellation/interruption insurance; roadside assistance; primary auto rental collision damage waiver when renting for business purposes; points are worth 25% more when redeemed through the Chase Travel℠ portal; cell phone protection.

Credit score required: Good to Excellent.

Annual fee: $95.

Pros

  • Generous welcome bonus.
  • Reasonable annual fee. 
  • High rewards on business expenses.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee.
  • Primary rental car coverage only applies to car rentals for business purposes.
     

Best travel credit cards for foodies

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card
Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card © The Points Guy

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card: Best for no annual fee

The Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card has no annual or international fees, making it an excellent travel credit card. The Autograph Card’s other stand-out features include primary rental car insurance abroad and high rewards on travel spending. These combined benefits are rare for no-annual-fee cards, making the Wells Fargo Autograph an excellent choice.

Limited time offer: Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,500 in purchases in the first three months from account opening – that's a $300 cash redemption value.

Rewards: Earn 3 points per dollar on travel, gas, restaurant, transit and popular streaming purchases; 1X points on all other purchases. 

Travel benefits: No foreign transaction fees; travel and emergency services assistance; primary auto rental collision damage waiver abroad, secondary coverage in the U.S.; up to $600 per year in cell phone protection.

Credit score required: Good to Excellent.

Annual fee: $0.

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fees, which is rare for a no-annual-fee card.
  • Generous rewards on travel and everyday spending categories.
  • Primary rental car insurance abroad. 

Cons

  • Low welcome bonus.
  • Rental car insurance coverage is secondary in the U.S.
  • Points are akin to cash-back rewards and not transferrable to airlines or hotel loyalty programs.

Best credit cards for road trips

Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for students

The Capital One Quicksilver Student Cash Rewards Credit Card is a standout choice for students traveling abroad because it incurs no international fees. For young adults exploring the world or studying in international destinations, these fees can quickly accumulate and strain their budgets. With this card, students can enjoy their international adventures without worrying about extra charges when making purchases in foreign currencies.

Welcome bonus: Earn a one-time $50 cash bonus once you spend $100 on purchases within three months from account opening.

Rewards: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel.

Travel benefits: Complimentary Uber One membership and 10% cash back on Uber and Uber Eats purchases through Nov. 14, 2024; Travel accident insurance.

Credit score required: N/A.

Annual fee: $0

Pros

  • No annual or foreign transaction fee.
  • Earns straightforward cash-back rewards.
  • Credit-building opportunity for students with limited history.

Cons

  • Limited rewards potential compared to points-earning credit cards.
  • Potentially lower credit limit.
     

How to get major perks at global events and concerts with your credit card

The Rose Gold American Express Card
The Rose Gold American Express Card © Eric Helgas / The Points Guy

American Express® Gold Card: Best for dining abroad 

The American Express® Gold Card is an exceptional choice for dining abroad due to its generous 4X points earn rate on restaurants worldwide and no foreign transaction fees. See rates and fees. Cardholders earn lucrative Membership Rewards points on common travel and everyday spending categories. 

These points can be redeemed for various rewards, including travel statement credits or converted to more valuable travel rewards. With no foreign transaction fees and dining-related rewards, the American Express Gold Card is undoubtedly the best choice for those who want to save on international fees while also maximizing their point earnings. 

Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first six months of card membership.

Rewards: Earn 4X points at restaurants worldwide; 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases); 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel; 1X points on all other purchases. 

Travel benefits: Secondary rental car coverage; baggage insurance plan; Global Assist hotline; access to experience credits and travel perks through The Hotel Collection; $10 in monthly Uber Cash (valid for rides or Uber Eats orders); $10 in monthly dining credit at Grubhub, Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations.*

Credit score: Good to Excellent.

Annual fee: $250. See rates and fees.

Pros

  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • High rewards on flights, dining and grocery spending.
  • Valuable Membership Rewards program

Cons

How to travel to Greece using points and miles

Trying the traditional foods of São Paulo, Brazil
Sampling the traditional foods of São Paulo, Brazil © Getty

Who should get a credit card with no international fees?

A  credit card with no international fees can be a great choice for those who frequently travel abroad or make purchases with businesses based abroad. International fees, including foreign transaction fees, can add up substantially when you’re paying for airfare, hotels, meals and activities. Travelers can save by acquiring a credit card that waives these fees. Moreover, these cards often come with added perks such as travel insurance, access to airport lounges and rewards programs that can enhance the overall travel experience. 

However, it's important to note that not everyone will benefit from a credit card with no international fees. Those who rarely travel outside their home country may find little value in these cards. These types of credit cards often carry annual fees, making them unideal for travelers on a budget who don’t get use out of their cards beyond the occasional trip abroad.

Additionally, those who struggle with managing credit responsibly or are prone to overspending should exercise caution when considering any credit card, as the convenience of plastic can sometimes lead to financial pitfalls. Before obtaining a credit card for any reason, consumers should assess their financial habits and overall credit management skills. Ultimately, those who can leverage the benefits of fee-free international spending and manage their credit responsibly stand to gain from these credit cards.

American Express Membership Rewards vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards

How to choose the best credit card with no international fees

The best credit card with no international fees depends primarily on your travel habits. Look for credit cards that not only eliminate foreign transaction fees but also offer additional benefits, such as rewards on travel spending and travel insurance. Analyze the card's annual fee, if any, and evaluate whether the benefits outweigh this cost based on your expected spending and travel patterns.

Furthermore, pay close attention to the card's rewards structure. Some cards offer cash back, while others provide travel points or miles that can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays or other travel-related expenses. Choose a card that aligns with your spending habits and preferences. Additionally, check if the card offers perks like travel insurance or lounge access, which can enhance your travel experience and security. 

By thoroughly researching and comparing these factors, you can make an informed decision and select the best credit card with no international fees that suits your unique financial and travel needs.

The best credit cards for airline miles

Dining out in Chile
The best international cards can help avoid unnecessary fees. Dining out in Chile © 500px / Getty

FAQ

Which cards charge international fees?

Popular credit cards that charge international fees include the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express. The Freedom Unlimited charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, while the Blue Business charges 2.7%.

American Express Membership Rewards vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards

How much are foreign transaction fees? 

Foreign transaction fees vary depending on the credit card. They typically average 3%. 

American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners

Winter sports in Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland
Winter sports in Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland © Elena Klippert / Shutterstock

How do I avoid international credit card fees?

You can avoid international credit card fees by using a credit card that waives them. Some travelers bring cash with them, though this isn’t the most secure form of payment. 

How to travel to Bali with points and miles

Which card is best for international transactions: Visa or MasterCard?

Both Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted worldwide. For the best card for international transactions, choose one that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. The Chase Sapphire Preferred, Capital One Venture X and Wells Fargo Autograph Card are just a few examples.

Traveling to Europe using points and miles

Which credit cards work worldwide?

All credit cards issued by American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa work worldwide. However, some of these cards charge fees when you use them abroad. 

The best credit cards for rental cars

* Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

This article was first published Oct 24, 2023 and updated Dec 29, 2023.

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