0% Foreign Fees Credit Cards

Updated 19 April 2022

With our new preference for online shopping, choosing a card with no foreign fees allows you to save on currency conversion costs. This usually happens online with international retailers, or when you're overseas and using your credit card. Also called international transaction fees, foreign fees or foreign currency conversion fees, the costs can range between 2 to 3% of the transaction amount. So, these foreign fees can really stack up, unless you choose a card that waives fees on overseas spending.

For example, if you went on holiday overseas and used your card to spend $5,000 on accommodation, car hire and everyday living, you would pay $150 in foreign fees if your card had a 3% foreign currency conversion fee. That’s $150 in someone else’s pocket, not in yours. Save cash by checking the range of top cards with no foreign fees using our visual comparison tools to compare important features like interest and annual fees. On desktop, you'll see circles under each of these features; on mobile you'll see a bar. The more filled-in these are, the stronger the features are. This can help you to choose a card that not only saves you on foreign fees, but also suits your budget and your spending style.
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Going overseas? Shopping online in other currencies?

Australia's are spending over $1 million a day on foreign transaction fees on credit cards.

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Australians spend $2 billion on foreign transaction fees every year. By choosing a 0% foreign fees credit card, you can avoid adding to that total as you pay less in fees – and keep more in your pocket. A great option for keen travellers and avid online shoppers, this type of card lets you pay no foreign currency fees on transactions made overseas, or online with international retailers.

What is a 0% Foreign Fees Credit Card?

Unlike the majority of other credit cards, a 0% foreign fees credit card does not charge a foreign currency conversion fee for transactions made in a foreign currency.

You will find most credit cards charge a fee between 2-4% of each foreign currency transaction, which can get pretty expensive if you like shopping online with overseas merchants, or you enjoy exploring other countries with your credit card in hand.

Making shopping overseas somewhat more affordable, a 0% foreign fees credit card waives the fee associated with foreign currency conversion, which can make them very appealing indeed.

Ready to compare the options? Check out the great range of 0% foreign fees credit cards on CreditCard.com.au today and start saving on your overseas transactions.

When choosing a credit card, you need to weigh up what is most important to you, to then find the card that matches your needs. In terms of foreign fees, you may find this is an important factor if you regularly travel overseas, or if you shop online at overseas merchants. Why? When you use your card to pay in a foreign currency, you card provider charges you a fee.

Say your foreign transaction fee is 3%. If you spent $5,000 when travelling overseas, you would pay $150 in fees. Similarly, if you shopped online at international retailers, a total spend per year of $4,000 would mean paying $120 in fees.

When applying for a 0% foreign fees credit card, you obviously need to consider the type of card you need, and everything it has to offer. You may choose a 0% foreign fees credit card that is a no annual fee credit card, a low rate credit card, a rewards credit card or a prestige card, like a gold or platinum option.

0% foreign fees credit cards come in all shapes and sizes, charging varying rates of interest and fees. Some will be packed with features, rewards and introductory offers, while others will be basic. Just as you would do when comparing any other credit card, make sure you choose a 0% foreign fees credit card that gives you everything you need at the lowest possible price.

Wondering whether a 0% foreign fees credit card is right for you? Here are a few other options you may want to consider:

Debit Card: Your everyday debit card may be used overseas as long as it is a Mastercard or Visa. Be aware that fees and charges may apply, and your debit card may not offer the range of travel-related extras and support that a 0% foreign fees credit card might.

Pre-Paid Travel Money Card: With a pre-paid travel money card, you can load a number of foreign currencies onto the card, which can then be used overseas. Be aware that some fees and charges may apply, so read the small print before you go.

Foreign Cash: If you choose to take foreign currency overseas, and that money is lost or stolen, you may only be able to claim it back if you have travel insurance. You may also find that certain fees are applied when exchanging currency, and exchanging money can be more expensive in certain places, such as at the airport.

Paying no foreign fees can certainly help you save money. But, chances are, you’re looking for more from your credit card than just that one feature. No matter how you plan to use your card, take time to look for 0% foreign fees cards that offer other features that provide value to you.

Concierge Service: Think of your card concierge as your personal assistant. This personal assistant could help you arrange your flights, book your hotel, or even reserve a table at a restaurant when you arrive. Whether you’re looking for theatre recommendations or a special gift for a loved one, your concierge could have it covered.

Travel Insurance: Saving you time and money, credit card travel insurance can be a very handy extra indeed. Instead of searching for standalone insurance every time you travel, you could enjoy cover when you pay for your trip with your credit card. TIP: Always read the PDS to make sure you understand how to activate your cover, and what limits and exclusions apply.

Lounge Access: Another awesome extra for the frequent traveller, this provides access to all the comforts of an airport lounge to make long and short haul travel so much more enjoyable. Depending on the card, you may benefit from a certain number of single entry passes per year, or unlimited use as you travel.

By comparing the options here on CreditCard.com.au, you can find 0% foreign fees credit cards to suit almost every need – which includes earning rewards. Want to earn rewards while paying nothing in foreign fees? Simply check out the options.

  • Everyday Rewards: With these rewards programs, you can earn points on everyday spending, which can then be redeemed within the program. Rewards could include gift cards or merchandise, travel or money back when shopping at partner retailers.
  • Frequent Flyer Rewards: These rewards programs are focused on travel. You can earn points on both travel and everyday spending, to then redeem those points on flights, accommodation, merchandise and more.
  • Cashback Rewards: Offering a somewhat simpler system, these rewards programs offer cashback as a percentage of your card spending. You are then free to spend that cashback as you like.

One of the most appealing aspects of choosing a rewards card with 0% foreign fees is that you don’t lose out on points earned on overseas spending. Why? Let’s look at an example.

Your card charges 4% on foreign transactions. You earn 1 point per $1 spent overseas and at home. You spend $10,000 overseas and $10,000 at home. To cover the spending you earn overseas, you pay $400 in foreign transaction fees. So, although you earn 10,000 points within each category of spending, your overseas points offer less in value.

When you use an Australian credit card to make a transaction in a foreign currency, the credit card provider has to convert the total amount of that transaction into Australian Dollars (AUD). However, the conversion process varies according to the credit card provider.

Mastercard and American Express convert the foreign currency amount into United States Dollars (USD), to then convert it into AUD. These conversions will both be transferred according to the daily exchange rate.

Visa, on the other hand, converts the foreign currency amount directly to AUD at the daily exchange rate, as long as the initial transaction was made in USD, Canadian Dollars, New Zealand Dollars, Singapore Dollars, Pounds Sterling, Euros or Japanese Yen.

For all transactions made in other foreign currencies, Visa converts the foreign currency amount to USD, to then convert it to AUD.

As you can imagine, if the Australian Dollar is not faring favourably against the United States Dollar, this process of converting foreign currency transactions through USD would end up costing the cardholder more than it should.

If you want to compare daily exchange rates on your current credit card, you can use the Mastercard or Visa foreign currency exchange calculator. American Express, unfortunately doesn’t provide one for its customers to use.

Choosing a 0% foreign fees credit card can certainly save you money on foreign currency conversion. However, there are other fees and charges you should be aware of:

  • Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee: If you withdraw cash at an ATM overseas, you may be charged an overseas ATM withdrawal fee of either $3 or so, or 2-4% of the total transaction. If you plan on using your card to withdraw money overseas frequently, choosing a card that doesn't charge for international ATM withdrawals could be a good idea.
  • Overseas Cash Advance Fee: When withdrawing money from an ATM on a credit card overseas – even one that doesn’t charge overseas ATM fees – you may still be expected to pay an overseas cash advance fee. This transaction will attract interest at the cash advance rate, which is typically higher than the purchase rate.
  • Annual Fee: Just like any other credit card, a 0% foreign fees credit card may charge an annual fee. Weigh up the cost of the annual fee against the features you get in return to work out whether the card offers good value.
  • Purchase Rates: Again, just like any other credit card, a 0% foreign fees credit card charges interest on purchases made when the balance is not cleared month-to-month. If you want to save on interest while travelling, consider applying for a card with a 0% purchase offer.

Taking all that into account, be sure to look at any other travel-related extras your 0% foreign fees credit card has to offer. Complimentary travel insurance, frequent flyer rewards and airport lounge access can make fees and charges you have to pay on the card more worthwhile.

The amount you could potentially save on a 0% foreign fees credit card will depend on the amount you spend on the card, and the fees you would have paid on a standard credit card.

If you spent $3,000 on a credit card that charged a foreign currency conversion fee of 3%, you would pay an extra $90 compared to using a 0% foreign fees credit card.

If you spent $10,000 on a credit card that charged a foreign currency conversion fee of 4%, you would pay an extra $400 compared to using a 0% foreign fees credit card.

And that’s before any other fees such as overseas ATM withdrawal fees or overseas cash advance fees are taken into account.

Still weighing up whether a 0% foreign fees credit card is right for you? Here are some of the pros and cons to take into consideration.

Pros

  • Save money on foreign currency conversion fees.
  • Plenty of cards to choose from.
  • Other travel-related benefits on offer.
  • Can be more secure than other options, such as cash.

Cons

  • There may still be other fees to be aware of.
  • 0% foreign fees credit cards may charge higher annual fees and interest.
Pauline Hatch

Pauline Hatchis a personal finance expert at Creditcard.com.au with 8 years of finance writing under her belt. She loves turning complex money concepts into simple, practical actions so you can win financially. You can ask Pauline any questions by submitting a comment below and get a personal reply.

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21 questions (showing the latest 10 Q&As)

Phil

Phil

12 April 2022
Hi Roland I'm wondering if any of these cards will accept deposits from an external account in a foreign currency?
    Pauline - CreditCard.com.au

    Pauline

    13 April 2022
    Hi Phil, interesting question. If you’re looking to load up a card in Australia with foreign currency, you could consider comparing the HSBC Everyday Global account. It allows you to hold up to 10 foreign currencies in one wallet. Hope this has helped.
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