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 2.5–3% on top of the spread.
If we travel often or if we make regular purchases online from outside of Canada, 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 two 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.
The Amazon.ca Rewards Visa Card from Chase is the only foreign exchange free credit card without a yearly fee and, for this reason alone, it’s my personal recommendation. Just apply for the card and keep it handy whenever you’re making purchases in a foreign currency. There’s no need to worry about any additional fees.
Note: the Amazon.ca Rewards Visa Card from Chase is no longer accepting applications as of April 3, 2017.
The Marriott Rewards Premier Visa clearly has the most benefits of the three no-foreign-exchange-fee credit cards, but it’s only suitable for certain people. If you travel a lot and prefer Marriott hotels, this is a great card even with the limitations of the free night stay e-certificates.
This card is also a churning candidate since you get an immediate free night and the 30,000 points can be used for four free nights at a category 1 hotel. That’s potentially a total of five free nights just for signing up. The $120 annual fee is a bit of a turnoff, but the free anniversary stay essentially washes that fee as long as you book a room in the allotted time.
No, your eyes don’t deceive you. Less than a year after Rogers announced the Rogers First Rewards MasterCard, they’ve now replaced it with the Rogers Platinum MasterCard. This is a blow to consumers, since the old card was a respectable retail rewards card if you used a lot of Rogers services. Existing Rogers First Rewards MasterCard cardholders will automatically be transferred to the new card.
If you’re a Rogers customer, the 1.75% cash back is pretty good since it can be applied directly to your monthly bill. Note that the annual fee after the first year will be waived if you have preauthorized payments set up for any Rogers monthly bill.
[Update: Starting Aug. 17, 2016, you’ll earn 4% cash back rewards on all purchases in a foreign currency (from international websites to anywhere you travel abroad) but there will now be a foreign exchange fee.]
With the exception of Marriott Rewards Premier Visa, I wouldn’t consider any of the cards ideal for everyday spending—there are just better cards out there. Instead, treat your no foreign exchange fee credit card as a complementary card to only be used when making purchases in a foreign currency.
If you’re looking for a card that suits your day-to-day needs, check out the credit card comparison tool now to find out which card is best for you.
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