Looking for a no foreign transaction fee credit card in Canada? We can help!
We use our credit cards for almost everything when we travel. Carrying cash puts us at risk for theft, and traveler’s checks are pretty much a thing of the past. So what does a non cash carrying traveler to do? Well, that leaves us using a Canadian credit card while we travel.
Now that’s all fine and good, but here’s a harsh travel fact that a shocking number of Canadians don’t know:
Most Canadian credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee of around 2.5% to 3% every time you pay in a foreign currency (including in USD)!
No foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada 2018
We’ve done the leg work and sorted through a long list of Canadian credit cards, and found a few great choices that don’t charge a foreign transaction fee.
What is a foreign transaction fee?
A foreign transaction fee is an additional fee of 2.5% that you’re charged when making a purchase in a foreign currency.
This foreign transaction fee is 2.5% to 3% on top of any exchange rate! So, if you buy something for $1,000 USD out of Canada, a fee of 2.5% (or $25) is added to your purchase on top of the daily VISA or Mastercard exchange rate. The tricky thing is that this foreign transaction fee isn’t listed separately on your credit card statement – it’s just hidden in the purchase amount on your credit card statement.
Most Canadian travelers likely don’t even know that they’re being charged a foreign transaction fee. Sure, your credit card’s fine print may mention the fee, but honestly, who reads that?
Canadian No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards Comparison Table
|Card||Annual Fee||Rewards/Perks/Notes||Interest Rate||Apply Now|
|Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite||139.00||Scotia Rewards points |
signup bonus of 25,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points
six free airport lounge visits
|19.99% purchases, 22.99% cash advances|
|CIBC Air Canada® AC conversion™ Visa Prepaid Card||n/a||n/a Prepaid card.||n/a|
|Scotiabank® U.S. Dollar VISA Card||35||must be paid off in USD only||19.99% purchases, 22.99% cash advances|
|Home Trust Preferred Visa||0||Reports that Home Trust's email and phone service could use improvement||19.99% purchases, 19.99%cash advances|
|HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard||$149||31-day insurance coverage, $100 annual travel enhancement credit, 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases, 1.5 % in travel rewards on other eligible purchases||17.9%|
Who can save by getting a credit card with no foreign transaction fee?
Canadian travelers like us can definitely save on foreign transaction fees, but Canadians who shop in US dollars at sites like Amazon.com, snowbirds who spend a good part of the year down south in the USA or Mexico, and even businesses that buy from U.S. vendors can also be hit hard by these fees. In these cases, a credit card with no foreign transaction fee could save them a bundle.
If you travel anywhere outside of Canada and pay using your credit card in a foreign currency, you’re likely paying the 2.5% foreign transaction fee for the privilege of using your credit card.
This can really add up, when you figure in food, accommodation, ticket prices and transportation.
Tip! Thinking of just using your debit card at an ATM out of country to escape the foreign transaction fees charged by credit cards? Unfortunately, that’s not a lot better. Debit transaction and out-of-country debit card ATM cash withdrawals often charge an extra foreign currency exchange of around 2.5% as well, plus an often stiff fee per ATM withdrawal. (Of course, using a debit card is still better than using a credit card to get cash at an ATM overseas, which will get you dinged steep cash advance interest fees, plus an ATM transaction fee of $3 or more).
Whether you cross the border into the USA to shop, or you buy online from the comfort of your home in USD (or another foreign currency), you’re still charged the extra 2.5 % if you pay with your Canadian credit card.
Here’s the thing: You don’t need to be outside of Canada to be charged the extra 2.5%. The foreign transaction fee is also charged when you pay in USD or other foreign currency using your credit card from within Canada.
Here’s what’s worse. If you make a purchase in a foreign currency, and then return it, you’ll be charged the 2.5% foreign currency fee on both the return and purchase. That means the item you just returned cost you 5% on top of the exchange rate differences. Ouch.
Business that buy from U.S. vendors
If you’re a business that buys from vendors in the USA in USD on your credit card, you’re probably paying that pesky foreign transaction fee, and costing your business $$$ in the process.
Snowbirds who winter in the south
Because snowbirds often spend months out of Canada in the winter, it’s easy to spend upwards of $20,000 in credit card charges, especially if you’re paying for all accommodation, food, travel and activities on your card.
With a 2.5% foreign transaction fee, you’re unnecessarily paying $500 in foreign exchange fees (on $20,000 in purchases) to the credit card company. I don’t know about you, but I can easily think of plenty of other ways to spend that $500.00.
No foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada 2018
When our trusty no foreign transaction fee Chase Amazon Visa card was discontinued last year, we were in the market for a new card.
After searching for hours, we could only find five current Canadian credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.
Wanting to save some money? Here are the only Canadian credit cards that we could find that don’t charge a foreign transaction fee at this time.
Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite
There’s no FX markup on the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite Card, whether you make foreign currency purchases online or outside of Canada.
The annual fee is $139.00, but you also get some interesting perks.
If you travel a lot, there’s also comprehensive travel protection included, which includes emergency travel medical insurance for multiple trips (25 days coverage if you’re under 65, and up to 10 days if you’re over 65). There’s also trip cancellation and interruption insurance, flight delay insurance, coverage for delayed and lost baggage, and travel accident insurance. Perks also includes rental car collision loss/damage insurance.
It also comes with a free Priority Pass™ airport lounge membership, plus six free visits per year from your date of enrollment.
This card comes with complimentary Avis® Preferred Plus membership, plus Visa Infinite Benefits, which include Visa Infinite Concierge and the Luxury Hotel Collection.
You can earn Scotia Rewards points with purchases. Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points on every $1 you spend on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and daily transit purchases (including buses, subways, taxis and more). Earn 1 Scotia Rewards point on every $1 you spend on all other eligible purchases.
Right now, there’s a signup bonus of 25,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points with the first $1,000 in everyday purchases in the first 3 months. 100 Scotia Rewards points = $1 in redeemable travel, so that’s $250 equivalent in redeemable travel.
There’s 19.99% interest on purchases, and 22.99% interest on cash advances.
CIBC Air Canada® AC conversion™ Visa Prepaid Card
We’re going to start with the CIBC Air Canada® AC Conversion™ Card.
The first thing to know is that this is a prepaid card, so you add funds up front.
What’s interesting is that this is a multi-currency card. That means you can hold several currencies at once on this prepaid foreign currency card, so you can pay in the local currency, and you don’t pay the 2.5% to 3% foreign currency conversion fee.
You manage the card, including adding funds, and checking your balance, with an app that’s available on Google Play and iTunes.
There’s no 2.5% to 3% foreign transaction fee on the 10 supported currencies below (if a currency isn’t on this list of 10 currencies, you pay a 2.5% foreign transaction fee).
- Canadian Dollars – CAD
- United States Dollars – USD
- Euros – EUR
- Great British Pounds (UK) – GBP
- Mexican Peso – MXN
- Hong Kong Dollars – HKD
- Australian Dollars – AUD
- Japanese Yen – JPY
- Turkish Lira – TRY
- Swiss Franc (Switzerland) – CHF
How it works:
- Order the card online.
- When you get the card, convert your Canadian dollars to one (or more) of the 10 supported currencies. You can see the exchange rate before you do the conversion.
- The card is shipped to you, and you activate it.
- Use the card like a regular prepaid credit card when you travel. There’s no fee to use the card the first time, or to activate the card.
You can add more money to the card anytime via the app as you travel, in Canadian dollars, as long as you have an internet connection for the app. Reloading is free.
The minimum amount you can load is $100 CAD equivalent at a time. The maximum balance is $20,000 CAD equivalent.
Funds on this multi-currency credit card never expire.
Can I withdraw from an ATM?
Yes. There’s one free international withdrawal monthly
For foreign withdrawals, there’s no fee for the first ATM withdrawal outside Canada, but there is a fee for subsequent withdrawals after that.
ATM withdrawals within Canada at CIBC ATMs are free.
Where can I use the card? Is it like a regular Visa?
You can use the card anywhere you would use a non-prepaid Visa, including 36 million Visa retailers worldwide, or at any ATM where Visa is accepted.
- No credit score check
- No worries about overspending
- No 2.5% foreign transaction fee on the 10 supported currencies
- You can lock in a good exchange rate when you load the card. This is great if you think rates are going to change.
- There’s no annual fee, and it’s free to get.
- Since this is a prepaid card, you can’t charge a balance like on a regular card.
Home Trust Preferred Visa
The Home Trust Preferred Visa has a 0% foreign currency conversion fee, meaning that there’s no foreign currency fee on either purchases or cash advances.
The annual interest rate for both purchases and cash advances for the Home Trust Preferred Visa is 19.99%.
There’s no annual fee.
There is a 1% ATM charge of 1.50% (with a minimum fee of $4.50 and a maximum fee of $45.00) if the ATM is located in the United States, and a 1.50% ATM charge (with a minimum fee of $5.50 and maximum fee of $15.00) if the ATM is located outside Canada and the United States. If you’re in Canada, the ATM charge is 1.00% of amount withdrawn (with a minimum fee of $2.50 and a maximum fee of $10.00).
This card does have a $10 inactive account fee if the credit balance hasn’t changed in 360 consecutive days.
Unfortunately, we’ve read reports that Home Trust’s email and phone service could use some improvement, and that there are significant delays with applications.
Scotiabank ® U.S. Dollar VISA* Card
If you’re paid in USD, and you make only USD credit card purchases, the Scotiabank ® U.S. Dollar VISA* card may work for you.
There’s no U.S dollar foreign currency conversion fee on this card. However, transactions in any currency other than USD are charged a 2.5% foreign currency transaction fee.
However, and this is probably a deal breaker for most people, you need to make payments in U.S. dollars. That means that if you don’t already have US dollars to pay with, you’ll need to convert your Canadian dollars to U.S. dollars at the bank – where they’ll charge you their foreign exchange surcharge, usually between 1 and 3%. So you won’t get charged a foreign transaction fee when using the card for USD, but you’ll get charged an equivalent fee when converting Canadian dollars to US dollars.
The only way to avoid this is to get paid in US dollars and use that USD to pay off your credit card.
The annual fee is $35.00.
Interest is charged at 19.99% on purchases, and 22.99% on cash advances.
HSBC Premier World Elite® Mastercard®
The HSBC Premier World Elite® Mastercard® has no foreign transaction fees.
There’s an annual fee of $149, and the interest rate is 17.9%.
In the past, they’ve waived the annual fee for the first year, and also offered a 30,000 points bonus.
There are a few perks included with this card, including 31-day insurance coverage, a $100 annual travel enhancement credit, 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases, and 1.5 % in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases.
Brim Financial Credit Cards
You may see the new Brim Financial Credit cards on a few lists of Canadian credit cards that don’t have foreign transaction fees.
Discontinued cards or cards that now charge a foreign transaction fee
In our research for this article, we came across at least four cards that had no foreign transaction fee in the past, but that are now charging a fee, or that are now discontinued.
Unfortunately, a lot of other, less up-to-date, lists still mention a couple of these cards as having a 0% fee, but that’s changed. Two of these cards have been discontinued (the Chase Visas), and the other two now charge a foreign exchange fee (the Rogers Mastercards).
Chase Amazon Visa and Chase Marriott Visa
We really loved our Chase Amazon Visa, but sadly they discontinued the Chase Amazon.ca Visa and Chase Marriott Visa in early 2018.
There’s no word if these cards will be replaced.
Rogers Platinum Mastercard
Instead, the card offers 3% cash back rewards on all purchases made in a foreign currency.
You can redeem the awards using the Mastercard® Pay with Rewards™ app on your smartphone. However, the cashback rewards can only be redeemed towards “anything Rogers”, including your Rogers or Fido bill, Toronto Blue Jays tickets, Chatr mobile, or shopping online on Rogers owned Today’s Shopping Choice website.
There’s no annual fee (from March 13, 2018 onward, however there used to be an annual fee of $29, but this was dropped).
Interest on purchases is 19.99%, and interest on cash advances is 21.50%.
There’s no account maintenance fee.
Rogers World Elite Mastercard
The Rogers World Elite Mastercard used to have a 0% foreign transaction fee. Now the fee’s 2.5%.
That said, you’ll get 4% cash back rewards on all eligible purchases made in a foreign currency, 2% unlimited cash back rewards on Rogers™ products and services charged to your card, and 1.75% cash back rewards on all other eligible purchases.
You can redeem the awards using the Mastercard® Pay with Rewards™ app on your smartphone. However, the cashback rewards can only be redeemed towards “anything Rogers”, including your Rogers or Fido bill, Toronto Blue Jays tickets, Chatr mobile, or shopping online on Rogers-owned Today’s Shopping Choice website.
Interest on purchases is 19.99%, and interest on cash advances is 21.50%.
There’s no annual fee.
Canadian American Express Card with no foreign transaction fees
We haven’t been able to find an American Express credit card in Canada that waives foreign exchange fees.
From what we can tell, you’ll be paying the approx. additional 2.5% fee if you use a Canadian Amex cards for foreign currencies.
While you’re here, check out our thoughts on the best travel insurance for Canadians, and tips on how to get travel insurance if you’re already abroad.
Have you found a different Canadian credit card with no foreign transaction fees?
Have you tried one of these no foreign transaction fee credit cards for Canadians?
Let us know below in the comments, and we’ll add it to our list!
Looking for something else? Check out the credit card widget below from RateHub – it may help you find the card you’re looking for.