Earlier this fall, I went on a work-related trip to Canada. It wasn’t until I was in the taxicab from the airport to my hotel that I realized that I wasn’t sure of the fees associated with using my credit card outside the United States.
I actually carry a Chase Visa, Citibank MasterCard, and an American Express card, so I had my choice. Not knowing which was the best, and not wanting to pay AT&T’s exorbitant roaming fees to find out from the back of the taxi, I just went with my Amex, which offers the best rewards.
Sure, I could’ve paid cash – especially since the exchange rate was almost exactly 1:1 – but I don’t carry a huge amount of cash on me when I travel, and I didn’t want to blow a ton on cab fare.
As soon as I had a stable internet connection, I hopped online to investigate. What I learned was that I had made the right choice (barely) based on what was in my wallet, but that there were much better choices out there for people who regularly travel overseas.
In my case, Amex charges a 2.7% fee for all “overseas” transactions, whereas Chase and Citi both charge 3%. What follows is a list of foreign transaction fees for the major credit card issuers.
- Capital One – no foreign transaction fee
- American Express – 2.7% (may vary based on member status)
- Bank of America – 3%
- Chase – 3% (may vary by specific card)
- Citibank – 3%
- HSBC – 3%
- Wells Fargo – 3%
- Discover Card – no foreign transaction fee (but more limited global acceptance)
In other words, Capital One looks like the best bet if you’re going to be spending much overseas. In my case, the fees only amounted to a few dollars, and I don’t leave the country with any regularity, so it’s not a big deal. But if you do, this is something to keep in mind.