No foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada

by Barry Choi October 12, 2018 / 34 Comments

Most people don’t realize it, but just about every credit card out there charges foreign transaction 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 transaction fees available in 2018. Each card has its pros and cons so here are the features to help you decide which card to pick up.

Ratehub.ca’s best no foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada

  • Best card for occasional travellers: Home Trust Preferred Visa (No annual fee, 1% cash back on all purchases)
  • Best card for frequent travellers: Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite ($139 annual fee, Priority Pass membership + six free visits per year, earn 2 Scotia Rewards points per dollar on groceries, restaurants, entertainment, and travel, earn 1 point per dollar on everything else)
  • Honorary mention: Rogers Platinum MasterCard ($0 annual fee, cash back on foreign transaction fees)


Best card for occasional travellers

Home Trust Preferred Visa


  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee charged on purchases abroad
  • Earn 1% cash back on all purchases, with no limit on the amount you can earn
  • Not available to residents of Quebec

Aside from being a no-fee, no foreign transaction fee credit card, the Home Trust Preferred Visa card comes with the additional benefits of 1% cash back on all spending (including on foreign purchases) with no limits, a free Roadside Assistance membership, car rental insurance and Visa Zero Liability to help ensure card holders are protected against potential fraudulent activities – all notable perks for a no fee card. The downside is that this card is not available to residents of Quebec. It’s is also worth noting that card is limited to 10 authorized transactions per day – which is something I point out to in my full review of the Home Trust Preferred Visa.


Best card for frequent travellers

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite


  • Annual fee: $139
  • Until October 31, 2018: Earn 25,000 bonus points (value: $250) when you make $1,000 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months
  • No foreign transaction fee charged on purchases abroad
  • Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points per dollar on groceries, restaurants, entertainment, and travel
  • Earn 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases
  • Enjoy complimentary Priority Pass membership, plus 6 free visits per year from the date of enrolment.

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite is the first credit card from a major financial institution without a foreign transaction fee. Combined with a spending bonus of 25,000 bonus points ($250 value) until October 31, and six free visits per year to Priority Pass 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 travel (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. Not to mention, you’re eligible to receive 25% off car rentals at participating Avis locations – a perk that is offered to Scotiabank credit card holders.


Honorary Mention

Rogers Platinum MasterCard

While the Rogers Platinum MasterCard does not technically waive its foreign transaction fee, this card does offer 3% cash back on eligible purchases made in a non-Canadian currency. Since credit card foreign transaction fees typically hover around 2.5%, your net rewards on foreign purchases on this card would come out to 0.5% cash back. In terms of Canadian currency purchases, this card offers 2% cash back on Rogers-related purchases and 1.25% on everything else.

When it comes to redeeming cash back rewards, this card does have some considerable limitations however. For one, cash back redemptions can only be applied to Rogers-related purchases (such as your monthly Rogers or Fido bills or purchases from the Rogers Centre) unless you independently inquire with Rogers customer service every year. The card also has a minimum cash back redemption rate of $20 on Rogers purchases.


Alternative travel card

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
  • Special offer: Receive a $100 gift card to Amazon, Cineplex or Indigo when you apply through Ratehub
  • Until October 31, 2018: Earn 15,000 bonus points (value: $150) when you make $1,000 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months
  • Access to Priority Pass airport lounges worldwide

The Scotiabank Gold American Express gives you 4 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on gas, groceries, entertainment, and restaurants — this includes purchases made overseas in foreign currencies. When you factor in the 2.5% conversion fee, you still end up ahead. The card also gives 1 point per dollar 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 travel often, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite is a good choice as it comes with no foreign transaction fees as well as the 6 free visits to PriorityPass lounges.

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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  • 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: http://docs.tdcardservices.com/pdfs/Aeroplan-personal-terms.pdf – 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: http://www.hsbc.ca/1/2/personal/banking/credit-cards – I can confirm that this is available to Canadian residents.

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

      • Tom Foolery

        @guilmroy:disqus – Yup, you are correct about the TD card. That HSBC card is indeed available to Cdn residents however. The ‘catch’ is that you need to have an HSBC account open. That being said you can have a free savings accounting and then be eligible for the card (assuming you pass the requirements/credit check/etc)

        • According to my research on the HSBC website, they require applicants to be Premier clients which is either very expensive in monthly fees or requires a very high total relationship balance after the grace period lasting a few months. Premier clients who lose the status may be able to keep the credit card but they will not get the 50.00 CAD annual discount and HSBC states that they may close the account.

          • Tom Foolery

            You may be correct. Probably worth a phone call if a no f/x card is important….

          • Ratehub.ca

            We’d love to hear about your experience with the HSBC card. Did you apply?

  • 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.

  • Stephan Telka

    Note that the Home Trust card only allows you to have 10 transactions pending each day. So don’t plan on using this card for every single transaction while traveling. Just learned the hard way!

    • It’s highly unusual for a credit card issuer to restrict spending within the credit limit. You may wish to consider the Fido Mastercard for non-CAD purchases. Points are easy to redeem as a credit card statement credit and the net reward rate is slightly higher. However, the spread is unrecoverable in case of refunds.

    • MV

      Is this true? Is it disclosed in the Information package? I recently applied and I am waiting for the card/package….

      • Stephan Telka

        I just got the card a couple days ago in time for a visit in the US. Purchases at end of day we’re getting declined, so I called next morning and this is what they told me. So annoying as you’re bound to have more than 10 purchases a day. Never heard of this kind of policy before. Card is free so that likely explains it.

        • MV

          That is stupid…what is the point of having a card to use if you are limited in its use?? Do you remember reading that at all in their disclosure documents sent with the card?
          I will probably cancel the card as soon as it arrives.. I will be travelling overseas this summer and I am certain I will make more than 10 transactions for most of my travel days.. I appreciate the info Stephen, any other cards you would suggest?

          • MV

            My apologies for mis spelling your name , Stephan…

          • Ratehub.ca

            Hi MV,
            The Scotia Passport Visa Infinite is a relatively recent launch that might interest you.

    • Ratehub

      We can confirm that this is the case – the card is limited to 10 authorized transactions per day. We’ve updated the post to reflect this.

      Thanks!

  • Francois

    I just applied for Brim World Elite MasterCard with no Fx fee. It’s seems to be an awesome card with a lot of perks. I think, in my case, is probably better card than Marriott card.

    https://brimfinancial.com/?code=52100

    • This is a great find! Thank you. Unfortunately, there isn’t much detail about certain features (e.g.: mobile device insurance, value of points, increasing reward earn rate) apart from the legal documents consisting of hundreds of pages. The 25 CAD fee for each supplementary card and the 25 000 CAD annual limit for the World Elite card can be dealbreakers for some prospective applicants who intend to share an account with others. The Boingo wi-fi access is a nice perk available for all 3 cards. This perk alone may convince some travellers to apply for the free card.

      • Francois

        I get 2 points for every dollar up to $25000. After $25K, i only get 1 point for every dollar spent.

        I also like this feature: Brand loyalist? This card’s for you. Increase your reward earn rate the more times you shop at the same places, in-store or online.

        1 point for every dollar spent on first visit
        2 points for every dollar spent on third visit
        3 points for every dollar spent on 5th visit

        • Ratehub.ca

          Hi Francois,
          Have you received your Brim card yet? How has your experience been so far?

          • dfakjfe fea

            ratehub, I think they are not even ready to ship out those cards yet. The company is quite new.

          • Ratehub

            We’re always curious if anyone has received an early copy or if they might be part of an early release group. From Francois’ comment it wasn’t entirely clear if he already had the card.

          • dfakjfe fea

            spoke with the Brim representative, it looks like they are not even ready to start the business. I don’t think there’s any hope waiting for this company to offer such a good card. Brim has a second business name.

          • Ratehub

            Thank you for sharing your experiences on this.

    • Jim Webster

      Francois, did you actually receive your Brim Card? i applied but nothing but silence for almost a month..

  • Andrew Yang

    Rogers just changed the rewards rates effective May 23rd. Both the rogers and fido mastercard will now be 3% on foreign ELIGIBLE purchases and lower to 1.25% on everything else

    • It’s very deceiving to consumers for Rogers Bank to unexpectedly overhaul the reward structure of their credit cards. The free card from Brim Financial is more competitive and no need to worry about losing the exchange rate spread on returns with their cards. Goodbye Rogers Bank!

      • Ratehub.ca

        The Scotia Passport Visa Infinite also is an option to consider. It launched recently as well.

  • Alex

    Brim MasterCard 1% cashback

    Great for travelling! Brand new MasterCard with no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no additional card member fee and use it with Apple Pay!! Use my code 60357 and get 10$! They also give you 100$ for every 5 people you refer. This card has loads of other perks and features!

    https://brimfinancial.com/?code=60357

  • Derrick Gunter

    Be aware that the Scotia passport visa has fine print about the lounge access benefit. It applies only to the primary card holder. The supplementary holder is out of luck if they happen to be travelling without you. Petty and annoying. Just FYI.

    • Ratehub

      Thanks for sharing Derrick!