Credit Cards With No Foreign Exchange Fees

by Barry Choi February 7, 2018 / 7 Comments

Most people don’t realize it, but just about every credit card out there charges foreign exchange fees. Whenever we charge something in a foreign currency, we end up paying an additional 2.5% on top of the spread. What that means is you pay an extra 2.5% on top of the exchange rate when you make your purchases.

If we travel often or if we make regular purchases online in foreign currencies, these fees can add up to a small fortune over time. I don’t know about you, but I much prefer to spend that money on myself.

Fortunately in Canada, there are a few credit cards that have no foreign exchange fees. Each card has its pros and cons so here are the features to help you decide which card to pick up.

Home Trust Preferred Visa

Now that Chase has pulled all their credit cards from the Canadian market, the Home Trust Preferred Visa becomes the only no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee credit card on the market. The additional benefits of 1% cash-back on all spending with no limits and a free Roadside Assist membership are nice bonuses,  but that’s not why people are signing up for this card. Saving on foreign transaction fees with no annual fee is reason enough to apply for the card. The downside is that this card not available to residents of Quebec.

Rogers Platinum Mastercard 

You’re technically still paying the 2.5% foreign exchange fee with the Rogers Platinum Mastercard, but the 4% cash-back on all purchases made in a foreign currency essentially puts you up 1.5%. If you’re a regular Rogers customer, this is a pretty good card since you’ll earn 1.75% in cash-back on all purchases which can be applied to your monthly bill. The annual fee of $29 is waived and so is every annual fee as long as you have your monthly services bill is set up as a pre-authorized payment. As an incentive to sign up, you get $25 in cash-back rewards when you charge your first purchase within 3 months of receiving your card.

Rogers Platinum Mastercard

  • Annual fee: $29

  • 4% cash back on all purchases made in foreign currency
  • 10,000 Rogers Platinum Rewards welcome points ($25 value)

Fido Mastercard

Similar to the Rogers Platinum Mastercard, the Fido Mastercard charges the 2.5% foreign exchange fee, but comes with 4% cash-back on all purchases made in foreign currency. You only get 1.5% in regular cash-back rewards earned, but there is never an annual fee. $25 in cash-back rewards will be applied to your account when you charge your first purchase within 3 months of receiving your card and another $25 is offered if you set up your Fido bill for pre-authorized payments within 3 months of getting your card.

(Partially) offset the foreign exchange fee

Paying that foreign transaction fee hurts, but there are a few credit cards that can offset (or partially offset) those fees based on the type of purchase you’re making.

Many credit cards offer a set cash back or rewards amount which is based on merchant categories such as groceries, gas, and restaurants. Each network (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc.) has different category codes, as well as rules and exceptions by region. But, the idea is that you can still earn your multipliers even when you’re overseas. Here are some of the best travel credit cards that will help you reduce your foreign transaction fees while travelling:

Scotiabank Gold American Express

Scotiabank Gold American Express

  • Annual fee: $99
  • Earn 4 Scotia Rewards points per dollar on gas, groceries, entertainment, and restaurants; earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Therefore, you’d earn 1.5 points per dollar on all foreign currency transactions in each of these 4 point categories
  • Access to Priority Pass airport lounges worldwide
  • Complimentary concierge services

The Scotiabank Gold American Express gives you a 4% return on gas, groceries, entertainment, and restaurants so you end up ahead by 1.5% when you factor in the 2.5% conversion fee. You earn 1% on all other purchases which will help offset that conversion fee.

Final word

If you travel often, then applying for one of these cards is a must. The Home Trust Preferred Visa is great for those who want a card with no foreign transaction fees and no annual fee. If you’re a Rogers or Fido customer, getting one of their branded cards can be quite valuable as they offer a pretty good cash-back return with the potential of no annual fee.

If you’re looking for a card that suits your day-to-day needs but still offsets the fee, the Scotiabank Gold American Express card is a great choice. For more credit cards, check out the credit card comparison tool to find out which card is best for you.

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Flickr: hjjanisch

  • Luc Chene

    Home Trust Preferred Visa does not seem to accept application from the province of Quebec.

    • Kerri-Lynn McAllister

      Yes, that is correct. We’ve added a note to clarify Home Trust’s limitation. Thank you.

    • Ratehub

      Hi Luc,

      Correct, unfortunately the Home Trust Preferred is not available for residents of Quebec.

  • Tom Foolery

    It seems like the new TD Aeroplan card has no foreign transaction fee: – though this may only be available to US residents. Unclear.

    Also, HSBC has a new card, the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard (if you have an HSBC account) that has no foreign transaction fee as well: – I can confirm that this is available to Canadian residents.

    • Unfortunately, the TD Aeroplan Credit Card is a US based credit card.

  • Margaret Connor Foster

    I can’t seem to find how the Rogers Rewards work. Do I get cash back or only credits towards a Rogers bill? I don’t have Rogers and don’t plan on getting it as a cell phone provider

    • You can request a credit to your credit card account on an annual basis if you are not a Rogers or Fido client. It’s in the fine print.