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Which Credit Cards Have No Foreign Transaction Fees?

Most Canadian credit cards come with a 2.5% foreign transaction fee; however, there are some that don’t, which can save you money while abroad.

Written by Erin Partridge

On 2024-07-03

Read time 17 mins

When using a travel credit card abroad as a Canadian, you would think that you’d be well equipped for all your travel purchases.

However, the strange reality is that almost all travel-focused credit cards (and, in fact, almost all Canadian credit cards in general) come with an additional foreign exchange fee on top of the imposed exchange rate.

With the cost of everything from airfare to hotels to restaurants going up, this additional fee feels extra burdensome and can really add up over the course of a trip.

The good news is that there are some great credit cards out there that offer no foreign transaction fees as part of their perks and benefits package.

In this article, we’ll share our favourite credit card with no foreign transaction fees, and highlight a few other notable cards that we think you might like.

Canada’s Best Credit Card with No Foreign Transaction Fees

Foreign transaction fees are an additional fee charged by your credit card that’s added to purchases made while you’re abroad or any time you pay in an international currency (e.g., paying US dollars on a website purchase).

In Canada, foreign transaction fees are typically 2.5%. This is equivalent to $2.50 (all figures in CAD) for every $100 you spend.

This means that when you make a purchase overseas or in a foreign currency, the charge on your monthly statement will include not only the foreign exchange based on your bank/credit card’s rate, but it will also include the 2.5% fee.

Most Canadian credit cards levy a 2.5% foreign transaction fee, which can add up

If you travel often or find yourself making a lot of purchases in a foreign currency, it may benefit you to have a credit card in your wallet that doesn’t levy foreign transaction fees so that you can save the 2.5% each time.

Below, we’ll explore the details of our favourite credit card with no foreign transaction fees, and we’ll take a quick look at a few other notable cards that offer no foreign transaction fees as well.

Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card

Our pick for the best Canadian credit card with no foreign transaction fees is the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card.

As a Visa card, the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card is widely accepted, making this card suitable for all types of purchases.

Not only does this card offer no foreign transaction fees, but it also allows you to earn Scene+ points – one of the best fixed-value points programs in Canada – on all your purchases, and it typically comes with a healthy welcome bonus to boot.

The Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card earns Scene+ points at the following rates:

  • 3 Scene+ points per dollar spent at Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, FreshCo, and other Empire-affiliated grocery stores
  • 2 Scene+ points per dollar spent on transit, groceries, dining, and entertainment
  • 1 Scene+ point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Fortunately, the category earning rates apply in both Canada and abroad.

We’ve also chosen the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite as our top pick since it comes with six complimentary DragonPass lounge passes each year, and it boasts strong travel insurance offerings, including emergency medical insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, flight delay insurance, rental car collision or damage insurance and more.

Enjoy six complimentary lounge visits each year with the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card

The card comes with an annual fee of $150, which is sometimes waived for the first year, depending on the offer.

Plus, if you make $6,000 in foreign transactions each year, you’ll have effectively saved the annual fee, since you’d otherwise be charged 2.5% with a card that levies foreign transaction fees.

The card has a fairly standard minimum income requirement for Visa Infinite products of $60,000 (personal), $100,000 (household), which may make it out of reach for some people.

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite is a great card for frequent travellers who can take advantage of the six complimentary lounge passes and who want a Visa with no foreign transaction fees in their wallet.

While the earning rates aren’t the best in the market (see the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card below), the card does enjoy the wide acceptance of a Visa.

If you’re interested in signing up for this card or just learning more about its perks and benefits, check out our full guide, which includes an Apply Now link for when you’re ready to add this great card to your travel arsenal.

Alternative Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees

While we think the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card stands out among no foreign transaction fee cards thanks to its wide acceptability, complimentary lounge passes, and strong travel insurance coverage, there are a few other credit cards that may also speak to some travellers.

Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

If you’re looking for an American Express product with no foreign transaction fees, we recommend checking out the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card.

Not only does this card offer no foreign transaction fees, but it also allows you to earn Scene+ points on all your purchases with excellent earning rates in Canada.

Scene+ points can be redeemed for good value against travel purchases at a rate of 1 cent per point, as well as for everyday purchases like groceries and gas.

Redeem Scene+ points for travel, groceries, gas, and more

This card also typically comes with a nice welcome bonus to bulk up your Scene+ account.

What sets apart the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card as a good entry-level card is that it has a low minimum income requirement of only $12,000, and its annual fee is a fairly standard $120. Depending on the offer, it may also be waived or rebated for the first year.

Additionally, the earning rates on this card are quite good (better than the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite above), and they break down as follows:

  • 6 Scene+ points per dollar spent on Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, FreshCo, and other Empire-affiliated grocery stores
  • 5 Scene+ points per dollar spent on groceries, dining, and entertainment
  • 3 Scene+ points per dollar spent on gas, transit, and streaming services
  • 1 Scene+ point per dollar spent on all other purchases

Unlike the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card, foreign transaction purchases will only earn 1 point per Canadian dollar spent regardless of what spending category they fall within.

Despite its lower minimum income requirement, the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card comes with insurance coverage that’s worthy of a premium card. This includes emergency medical insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, flight delay insurance, car rental insurance, and more.

This card is great for someone who is looking to enjoy the generous earning rates (in Canada), while also having a great travel card on hand.

If you’re someone who enjoys flexibility of Scene+ points, and is looking for a no card with no foreign transaction fees and strong travel insurance, check out more details in our full guide and apply for the card by clicking Apply Now.

Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Business Card

If you’re a business owner who travels a lot and/or is often making purchases in foreign currencies, we recommend taking a look at the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite Business* Card.

This card is nearly identical to the personal card, in that it has no foreign transaction fees, earns Scene+ points, comes with six lounge passes, and has strong travel insurance coverage.

The Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite Business* Card has strong travel insurance

Where it differs is that the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite Business* Card comes with a flat earning rate of 1.5 Scene+ point per dollar spent.

While this is a lower earn rate than the personal version of the card in many categories, the 1.5x rate is higher than the baseline 1x rate offered by the other Scene+ cards, and a 1.5% rate of return is considered fairly good for a business credit card.

The Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite Business* Card is a good card to consider for business owners who have considerable expenses in the US and further abroad, and for those who can make use of the travel insurance and lounge passes.

To sign up for this card or to learn more its offerings, check out our full guide. You’ll also find an Apply Now button on the page if you’re ready to sign up now.

Additionally, check out our guide on applying for business credit cards even if you don’t currently have a business.

Home Trust Preferred Visa Card

If you’re just looking for a basic card with no foreign transaction fees to have on hand, consider the Home Trust Preferred Visa Card. With no annual fee, this card is easy to hold onto for whenever you might need it.

As a no-fee card, it doesn’t come with a bevy of perks and benefits; however, it does offer 1% cash back on purchases made in Canadian dollars for when you use the card at home.

This straightforward card is good choice for someone who is just looking to save cash on foreign currency purchases and who doesn’t need to earn travel points or enjoy travel benefits (or is willing to forego these for the sake of saving on fees.

To learn more about the Home Trust Preferred Visa Card, check our full credit card guide, which also includes an “Apply Now” link for when you’re ready to sign up.

Conclusion

When travelling, expenses can quickly add up and it’s always nice to save some cash where you can.

By using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, you save you 2.5% on all your overseas and foreign currency purchases, and this can quickly add up to a decent sum.

Whether you choose a card like Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card for its wide acceptability, free lounge passes, and great travel insurance coverage, or a simple card like the no-annual-fee Home Trust Preferred Visa Card, having a no foreign transaction fee credit card in your wallet will certainly reap benefits.

If you want to learn even more about the best no foreign transaction fee travel cards, check out our YouTube video, and make sure you stay up to date on all the important Miles & Points deals and news, sign up for our newsletter!

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