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Credit Cards

Traveling overseas? Here are our top picks for credit cards with no foreign transaction fees

We evaluated 127 popular credit cards offered by major banks, financial companies and credit unions that allow anyone to join and have no foreign transaction fees to find the best of the best.

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Traveling abroad can be expensive, but it's even worse when you have a credit card that charges you foreign transaction fees. It's frustrating to review your credit card statement after returning from a vacation and see all your charges marked up by 3% or more. That fee can add up quickly, especially when you're paying for big ticket items like hotel rooms or rental cars.

Thankfully, there are a number of credit cards geared specifically toward travelers that don't charge foreign transaction fees. And anyone who travels abroad — even if it's just once a year or every other year — should have one of these cards in their wallet. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best cards.)

These days, it's practically standard for travel rewards cards to not charge foreign transaction fees, as you'll find in Select's roundup of the best travel credit cards. In this round up, we dug a little deeper into specific categories to provide you with a few more options.

Here are Select's picks for the best credit cards without foreign transaction fees:

Best for Cash Back

Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card

Information about the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    2.5% cash back on qualifying purchases (up to $250 in cash back rewards per billing cycle)

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $99, waived the first year

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%

  • Regular APR

    12.24% to 22.24% variable

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    N/A

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • 2.5% cash back on all purchases (up to $250 in cash back rewards per billing cycle)
  • Annual fee is waived the first year
  • Simple cash-back program that doesn’t require activation or spending caps
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $99 annual fee after the first year
  • No welcome bonus
  • No special financing offers
  • Estimated cash back earned after 1 year: $553
  • Estimated cash back earned after 5 years: $2,370

Who's this for? The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card ranks as Select's best cash-back card, even with its $99 annual fee (waived the first year). This card earns the average American the most cash back compared to other cards with an estimated $546 after the first year and $2,335 after five years.

Cardholders earn an industry leading 2.5% cash back on all purchases (up to $250 in cash back rewards per billing cycle).

Beyond rewards, this card has a competitive 12.24% to 22.24% variable APR, which is helpful if you wind up carrying a balance (though we always recommend paying on time and in full to avoid interest altogether).

This card also has no foreign transaction fees and comes with travel benefits, such as travel accident coverage, roadside assistance and auto rental collision damage waiver.

You have to become a member of Alliant Credit Union and open an account. The easiest way to become a member is by supporting Alliant's partner charity, Foster Care to Success. You don't need to pay the charity directly — Alliant pays $5 on your behalf when you apply to join the credit union. Membership is also open to family members of current members, employees of partner organizations or those who live or work in qualifying towns and communities near Chicago's O'Hare International airport.

Best for Dining Out and Restaurants

Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card

Information about the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 4% on eligible streaming services, 3% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a one-time $300 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 12 months on purchases; N/A on balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 24.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Unlimited 4% cash back on entertainment purchases
  • 8% cash back on all Vivid Seats ticket purchases through January 2022
  • Ability to redeem rewards at any amount, unlike some other cards with $25 minimums
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Cable, digital streaming and membership services are excluded from the 4% cash-back rate
  • No introductory 0% financing offers for purchases or balance transfers
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $588
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $1,741

Rewards totals incorporate the cash back earned from the welcome bonus

Who's this for? Sports fans, movie buffs and adventure seekers will all find a common reason to like the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card: unlimited 4% cash back on entertainment purchases. Compared to other rewards cards, this is the highest unlimited rewards rate on entertainment spending, whether you're buying movie tickets, taking a family trip to the zoo or spending the evening bowling with friends.

Through January 2022, cardholders who buy tickets through Vivid Seats, a ticket resale site, can take advantage of 8% cash back.

Cardholders can also benefit from exclusive access to entertainment events, such as the iHeartRadio Music Festival and the Capital One JamFest.

Beyond entertainment perks, there's also 4% cash back on dining, 3% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, you can enjoy foodie-centric perks, such as exclusive access to premium reservations with OpenTable.

This card does come with a $95 annual fee, but it can be offset by the cash back you earn.

Best for Luxury Travel

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® 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 plus, 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2022

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $550

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    16.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit for travel purchases
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit up to $100 every four years
  • Priority Pass™ Select lounge access at 1,000+ VIP lounges in over 500 cities worldwide
  • Points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Special benefits at The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
  • Free DashPass subscription for a minimum of a year when you activate by March 31, 2022
  • Complimentary year of Lyft Pink membership

Cons

  • High $550 annual fee, but it can be offset by taking advantage of all the card’s perks
  • No introductory APR
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $1,469
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $3,346

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

Who's this for? If you're a frequent traveler looking to make your flights and hotel stays more luxurious, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® should be on your radar. This card is geared toward frequent travelers, offering points on dining and travel worldwide and no foreign transaction fees.

The value of Chase rewards points varies depending on how you use them. If you redeem points for cash and gift cards, each point is worth $.01, which means that 100 points equals $1 in redemption value. (See more on how the value of points is calculated.)

When you use points through Chase Pay® for a statement credit to cover all or part of a purchase made at participating Chase Pay® merchants (Amazon, for instance), each point is worth $.008, which means that 100 points equals $.80 in redemption value. Redemption values for other reward options may be worth more or less than this.

The value of points increases 50% when you redeem for travel on Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruise reservations when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This is a great way to maximize the value of your rewards and makes this card stand out from the pack.

While this card offers great rewards and benefits, it does come with a hefty $550 annual fee. However, if you take advantage of all the annual credits, you can come out well ahead of the fee. There's an annual $300 travel credit, as well as a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees cardholders can redeem every four years. And the Priority Pass™ Select membership, which gives you access to more than 1,000 lounges in 500 cities worldwide, has a value of about $429.

Learn more: 5 financial steps to take before your next overseas trip

Best for Hotels

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Information about the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    5X miles on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel℠, 2X miles per dollar on every other purchase

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    N/A for purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    17.24% to 24.49% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • 5X miles on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel℠
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit up to $100 every 4 years

Cons

  • No introductory APR
  • There’s a $95 annual fee
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $1,466
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,931

Rewards totals incorporate the miles earned from the welcome bonus

Who's this for? The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers the best rewards rate on select hotel purchases: Earn 5X miles on hotel and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel℠. If you're looking to take a trip before the end of the year, this is a great way to maximize the amount of miles you can earn.

While Venture does come with a $95 annual fee, it's low compared to some other rewards cards, with some annual fees up to $550.

In addition to rewards, every four years cardholders receive a credit for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application, up to $100. If you travel often, this is a great perk that can save you time and money.

This card has no foreign transaction fees and comes with a bunch of additional travel perks, such as travel accident insurance, 24-hour travel assistance services and an auto rental collision damage waiver.

Best credit cards with no foreign transaction fees

Best for... Credit Card Estimated rewards earned after 5 years
Cash-backAlliant Cashback Visa® Signature Credit Card$2,370
Dining Out and RestaurantsCapital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card$1,741
Luxury TravelChase Sapphire Reserve®$2,755
HotelsCapital One Venture Rewards Credit Card$2,931

Our methodology

To determine which cards will put the most money back in your pocket, Select evaluated 127 popular rewards credit cards offered by major banks, financial companies and credit unions that allow anyone to join. We compared each card on a range of features, including travel rewards (points and miles), annual fee, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, one-time perks, annual perks, redemption rates, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available.

Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

We then estimated how much the average consumer would redeem over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

It's important to note the value of a point or mile varies from card to card and based on how you redeem them. When we calculated the estimated returns, we assumed that cardholders are redeeming points/miles for a typical maximum value of 1 cent per point or mile. (Extreme optimizers might be able to achieve more value.)

Our final picks are weighted heavily toward the highest five-year returns, since it's generally wise to hold onto a credit card for years. This method also avoids giving an unfair advantage to cards with large welcome bonuses.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your travel habits.

Don't miss: 8 common credit card fees and how to avoid them

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.