3 Reasons to Apply for Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fee

By Erin El Issa

There are a lot of possible fees your credit card company can charge you, but there's one in particular that can sneak up on you (and add up on your bill), especially if you don't know to look for it. Avoid that unwelcome surprise come statement time by applying for a credit card with no foreign transaction fee.

What's a foreign transaction fee?

A foreign transaction fee is a fee that applies to credit card purchases made internationally. Charge some souvenirs in a foreign country? You may pay more than the listed price for them depending on the credit card you used. In general, foreign transaction fees amount to 1 to 3% of the charges you make. Even though this may sound minimal, those pesky fees can stack up over time. Fortunately, not every credit card charges its cardholders these transaction costs. If you're considering opting for a foreign transaction fee-free card, here are three reasons you may want to choose one.

Reasons to find a card without a foreign transaction fee

1. You travel abroad regularly

Those who visit other countries regularly could benefit from the lack of such fees. If your work takes you on frequent international trips, for example, you may notice a hit to your pocketbook after all of the foreign transaction fees are tabulated. Shopping with a card without these fees can set your mind (and credit card bill) at ease.

2. Seeing the world is on your bucket list

If you plan on jet setting around the globe, you'll be visiting a lot of foreign countries. Even if you'll be staying in places that accept the same currency as the United States, you'll potentially be facing lots of fees (foreign transaction fees don't apply only to transactions made in a foreign currency). Save yourself money by opting for a card without these fees.

3. You don't travel

Yes, you read that correctly. You don't have to be an international sightseer to benefit from a credit card with no foreign transaction fee. Oddly enough, these fees don't apply only to transactions made outside of the United States. The fees can be incurred if a transaction is made within the country but processed by a foreign company. Avoid this situation by buying with a credit card that doesn't charge these fees.

If you've decided to shop for such a card but are not sure where to start, let NerdWallet help. Check out our best no foreign transaction fee credit cards to find one that's right for you.

Erin El Issa is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: erin@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @Erin_Lindsay17