Most people don’t realize it, but just about every credit card out there charges foreign transaction fees. Whenever you buy something in a non-Canadian currency, you 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 you travel often or if you make regular purchases online in foreign currencies using your card, 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, there are a few credit cards that let you save on foreign transaction fees. Each has its pros and cons, so we listed out the features of every no foreign transaction fee credit card available in Canada to help you decide which card to pick up.
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Best no foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada for 2019
- Home Trust Preferred Visa – $0 annual fee
- Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite – $139 annual fee
- Scotiabank Gold American Express – $120 annual fee (starting August 1)
- Brim Financial Mastercards – $0 to $199 annual fee(s)
- HSBC World Elite MasterCard – $149 annual fee
- HSBC Premium World Elite MasterCard – $149 annual fee
- Meridian Visa Infinite Travel Rewards Card – $99 annual fee (waived for 1st year)
- Rogers Platinum MasterCard / Fido Mastercard – $0 annual fee
- Rogers World Elite MasterCard – $0 annual fee
- Overview: All of Canada’s no foreign transaction fee cards
Home Trust Preferred Visa
Aside from being a no foreign transaction fee credit card, the Home Trust Preferred Visa also has no annual fee and comes with the additional benefit of 1% cash back on all your spending (including on foreign purchases) with no limits or caps. That works out to a total savings of 3.5% on all purchases made outside of Canada’s borders – when adding together the foreign transaction fee waiver and the cash back rewards. That’s one of the highest returns for international spending of any credit card in the market, much less one with no annual fee.
A true no foreign transaction fee card, Home Trust uses the exchange rate set by Visa without any additional surcharges.
Home Trust Preferred Visa cardholders can also take advantage of a number of other perks including a free Roadside Assistance membership, car rental insurance, and Visa Zero Liability coverage to help ensure cardholders are protected against potential fraudulent activities. The downside is that this card is not available to residents of Quebec. It’s also worth noting that the card is limited to 10 authorized transactions per day – which is something we point out in our full review of the Home Trust Preferred Visa.
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite
The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite is the first credit card from one of Canada’s big banks with no foreign transaction fees. Combined with its welcome offer of 30,000 bonus points ($300 value) and six free visits per year to Priority Pass airport lounges worldwide, this card is a great choice for an all-in-one travel card.
Plus, with robust travel insurance benefits and a competitive rewards structure of 2 Scotia points per dollar on groceries, restaurants, entertainment, and daily transit (including taxis), and 1 point per dollar on everything else, this card could earn you some serious rewards while saving you a lot of money.
Scotia Rewards are flexible and can be redeemed for flight purchases on any airline with no blackout dates. For context, 1 Scotia point = $0.01, or 1% in travel rewards. Not to mention, you’re eligible to receive 25% off car rentals at participating Avis locations – a perk that is offered to all Scotiabank credit card holders.
Scotiabank Gold American Express
Scotiabank will soon be adding a second no foreign transaction fee card to its roster of travel credit cards, as come August 1st, the Scotiabank Gold American Express will no longer charge a 2.5% fee for purchases made in non-Canadian currencies.
Since the Scotiabank Gold AMEX will soon give you 5 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on groceries, restaurants, and entertainment – you could stand to save upwards of 7.5% on select overseas purchases (when factoring in the foreign transaction fee waiver). That’s unparalleled value for international spending on a credit card.
Additionally, this card comes with top-notch travel insurance benefits and a high rewards earn rate for everyday purchases, which means it would also make a great choice for an all-in-one travel card to use in Canada as well as abroad. The card also comes with a welcome bonus of 15,000 points ($150 value).
If you apply for the card today, you’ll be able to take advantage of the card’s no foreign transaction fees as starting August 1st onwards (we’ve broken down all the changes coming to the Scotiabank Gold AMEX here). The one drawback of this card is that since it’s issued by American Express, it may not be as widely accepted in some countries.
Brim Financial Cards
A new player in the market, Brim Financial has three Mastercard credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees: the basic Brim Card ($0 annual fee), Brim World ($99 annual fee), and the Brim World Elite ($199 annual fee). Depending on which of the three cards you choose, you can earn anywhere from 1 to 2 rewards points for every dollar you spend.
While Brim’s launch did face a few hiccups and delays, their card’s are now in people’s hands, and as promised, they don’t charge foreign transaction fees. Interestingly, however, Brim’s website says they use their own exchange rate when converting currencies as opposed to the rate set by Mastercard. The cards also include a free Boingo Wi-Fi membership and mobile device insurance.
HSBC World Elite and Premier World Elite Mastercards
HSBC has two no foreign transaction fee credit cards: the HSBC World Elite MasterCard and the HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard. Both are premium cards – each with a $149 annual fee, individual annual income requirements of $80,000, and welcome bonuses valued at over $100 for new cardholders. In terms of rewards, you can pocket up to 3% in points for every dollar you spend on eligible travel purchases. The cards also include great travel insurance benefits. A drawback of the cards, however, is their redemption structure as you’ll need to rack up 25,000 points before you can start redeeming for travel rewards.
Meridian Visa Infinite Travel Rewards Card
The Meridian Visa infinite Travel Rewards Card isn’t a no foreign transaction fee credit card per say, but it does offer 3% in rewards points on foreign purchases. After accounting for foreign transaction fees, that works out to about a 0.5% return on purchases made in a non-Canadian currency – so you’ll still come out ahead. The card also offers a flat 1.5% on all other purchases along with great travel insurance coverage (including $5,0000,000 in emergency health coverage), mobile device insurance, and a welcome offer that waives the $99 annual fee for the first year.
Rogers Platinum and Fido Mastercards
While the Rogers Platinum Mastercard and Fido Mastercard don’t technically waive their foreign transaction fees, both offer 3% cash back on eligible purchases made in non-Canadian currencies. Since credit card foreign transaction fees typically hover around 2.5%, your net rewards on foreign purchases on either of these cards would come out to 0.5% cash back. In terms of everyday purchases made in Canada, this card offers 2% cash back on Rogers and Fido related purchases, and 1.25% on everything else. Both cards also don’t have annual fees.
Rogers World Elite Mastercard
In the same vein as the aforementioned Rogers Platinum and Fido Mastercards, the more premium Rogers World Elite Mastercard offers a higher cash back on non-Canadian currency purchases that serves to offset its 2.5% foreign transaction fee. It offers 4% on international purchases, which means you’ll come out ahead by 1.5% on foreign spending.
The Rogers World Elite also offers an impressive 1.75% cash back on all purchases made in Canada and charges no annual fee. However, the card’s income requirements are steep as you’ll need to earn $80,000 annually in order to be approved.
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 travel often, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite is a good choice as it comes with no foreign transaction fees as well as the six free visits to PriorityPass lounges.
If you’re looking for a card that suits your day-to-day needs and offers the most savings on foreign purchases, the Scotiabank Gold American Express is a great choice. For more credit cards, check out the credit card comparison tool to find out which card is best for you.
Overview: best no foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada
* “Total Savings on Foreign Purchases*” is an estimate of how much you’d save on purchases not in Canadian dollars. This can include fee waivers combined with any cash back or travel points. For example, the Home Trust Preferred Visa waives its 2.5% foreign transaction fee and also gives 1% cash back to offer a total savings of 3.5% on foreign purchases.
|Credit Card||Annual Fee||Total Savings on Foreign Purchases *|
|Home Trust Preferred Visa (VIEW DETAILS)||$0||
|Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite (VIEW DETAILS)||$139||
|Scotiabank Gold AMEX (VIEW DETAILS)||$120||
|Brim Card (VIEW DETAILS)||$0||
|Brim World (VIEW DETAILS)||$99||
|Brim World Elite (VIEW DETAILS)||$199||
|HSBC World Elite (VIEW DETAILS)||$149||
|HSBC Premium World Elite (VIEW DETAILS)||$149||
|Meridian Visa Infinite Travel Rewards Card (VIEW DETAILS)||$99 (waived 1st year)||
|Rogers Platinum MasterCard (VIEW DETAILS)||$0||
|Fido MasterCard (VIEW DETAILS)||$0||
|Rogers World Elite MasterCard (VIEW DETAILS)||$0||
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