Best no foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada

Fact Checked: Scott Birke

🗓️

Updated: May 01, 2024

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Most Canadian credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee up to 2.5% on top of the exchange rate for purchases made in another currency, leading to higher costs than necessary.

Choosing a no foreign transaction fee credit card, or a credit card with no overseas fees, is a smart move if you shop global websites or travel allowing you to avoid these extra charges. These types of cards not only eliminate foreign transaction fees but often offer additional rewards such as cash back and travel points.

To ensure you're not overpaying on international purchases, explore the best no foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada. 

The best no foreign transaction fee credit card

Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite*

Apply now

up to 40K pts

Good

Earn up to $1,300* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived

Expires

Jul 2, 2024

Scene+ points on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland and participating Co-ops and more

3x

Scene+ points for every $1 you spend on other eligible grocery stores, dining, eligible entertainment purchases and eligible daily transit options (including ride shares, buses, subways, taxis and more)

2x

Scene+ point for every $1 spent on all other eligible everyday purchases

1x

Purchase APR

20.99%

Balance Transfer Rate

22.99%

Cash Advance APR

22.99%

Annual Fee

$150

Foreign Transaction Fee

0.00%

Recommended Credit Score

Good

Required Annual Personal Income

$60,000

Required Annual Household Income

$100,000

Pros

  • No FX fees means the card saves you significant expenses on foreign transaction fees

  • Earn up to 3x Scene+ points per $1 spent on eligible purchases

  • Flexible and straightforward redemption program

  • Visa acceptance globally compared to American Express, especially outside major cities.

  • Enjoy six annual visits to airport lounges

  • Robust insurance offerings, including extended travel emergency medical coverage

  • Access to Visa Infinite Program benefits, with added advantages like a free supplementary card

Cons

  • High annual fee

  • Limited rewards categories for earning reward max rate on purchases

  • Primarily best for travel within Canada

Why we picked the Scotiabank passport as the best no foreign transaction fee credit card in Canada

Though accompanied by an annual fee of $150, the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card not only waives foreign transaction fees, but also offers great rewards rates for spending in foreign currency, as well as superior travel benefits.

Earn rate

When it comes to Scotiabank exchange rate, you’ll pay no fees for purchasing online or abroad in a foreign currency and will earn 3X Scene+™ points points on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, IGA, Foodland and Participating Co-ops, and more eligible grocersÂą; 2 points for each $1 spent on other eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases and daily transit purchases, no matter what currency the purchase was made in. One Scene+ point per $1 spent is earned on all other eligible purchases.

Travel perks

Additionally, travellers who frequently face layovers will appreciate the card’s 6 free airport lounge passes that renew each year.

It's also a great travel insurance credit card with travel medical, trip interruption and cancellation, and rental car insurance.

Welcome bonus

Furthermore, there’s currently an offer for new cardholders. Earn up to $1,100* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 35,000 bonus Scene+ points and first year annual fee waived on your first supplementary card.¹

Earn 25,000 bonus Scene+ points by making at least $1,000 in everyday eligible purchases in your first 3 months. Plus, as a Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite cardholder, you are eligible to earn an annual 10,000 Scene+ point bonus when you spend at least $40,000 in everyday net eligible purchases annually. Offer ends January 3, 2024.

Scotiabank exchange rate

As of the date of this writing, it would cost you $1.415900 CAD to buy $1 USD. 

You can see all Scotiabank's currency exchange rate updates here.

Eligibility criteria for the Scotiabank Passport

Minimum credit score: Excellent

Minimum income: Minimum annual income of $60,000 or a minimum household income of $100,000 or a minimum assets under management of $250,000

Age: Age of majority in your province or territory

Residency: Canadian citizen or permanent resident

Other: No bankruptcies in the past seven years

Âą Conditions Apply. Visit here for the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card to learn more.

Apply for the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

The 5 best no foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada

Credit card Foreign transaction fee (FX)/Annual fee/Features Apply now
Home Trust Preferred Visa No Foreign Transaction Fee credit card FX fee: 0%
Annual fee: $0
Features: 1% cash back1 on eligible purchases
Apply now
Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite FX fee: 0% fee
Annual fee: $150
Features: Complimentary Visa Airport Companion Program membership, plus 6 complimentary lounge visits per year
Apply now
Scotiabank gold american express card FX fee: 0%
Annual fee: $120
Features: 5X the Scene+™ points for every $1 CAD spent on other food and drink
Apply now
KOHO credit card FX fee: 0%
Annual fee: $84 (charged at $9 per month)
Features: 1.5% cash back on groceries, transportation, food, and drink. 5% interest on your entire balance (this is a prepaid credit card)
Get started
EQ Bank card FX fee: 0%
Annual fee: $0
Features: 0.5% cash back on all your spending + 2.5% on any balance in your bank account or on the card (this is a prepaid credit card)
Get started

Why you want a credit card with no fee for foreign transactions

Foreign transaction fees altogether (FX fees) usually represent too large a part of Canadian credit card companies’ income streams for them to walk away from. The fact is, Canadians travel out of Canada a lot more often than Americans travel out of the United States, so it’s easier for an American issuer to give up on FX fees than for a Canadian issuer. For a quick comparison: 30% of Americans have a passport, compared to 70% of Canadians.

So what’s the big deal about a credit card that subsidizes foreign transaction fees? Well, the savings can be huge for some Canadian customers, especially:

  • Snowbirds who winter in the south
  • People who shop across the border regularly or shop online
  • Those who use their credit card to make business purchases from U.S. vendors.

Think about it. If you use your credit card while wintering in the United States, you could easily rack up $10,000-$20,000 in credit card charges. That’s $250 to $500 in foreign exchange fees going to the credit card companies. Not to mention it also wipes away the 1-2% in rewards you thought you were earning.

Aside from that, using a credit card with no fee for foreign transaction, which subsidizes or waives your foreign transaction fee, is actually cheaper than at a boutique foreign exchange bureau – which routinely cost anywhere from 1%-3% to exchange your money. Debit and out-of-country ATM cash withdrawals are no better, each typically charging a foreign exchange fee of 2.5% or more.

Best no fee credit card with no fee for foreign transaction

Home Trust Preferred Visa

Apply now

Good

No annual fee and no foreign exchange fees

Earn 1% cash back on all purchases with no cap.

1%

Purchase APR

21.99%

Balance Transfer Rate

21.99%

Cash Advance APR

21.99%

Annual Fee

$0

Foreign Transaction Fee

0.00%

Recommended Credit Score

Good

Required Annual Personal Income

$15,000

Pros

  • No annual fee

  • 1% cash back on all purchases with no cap

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Purchase protection included

  • Ideal for frequent travelers and online shoppers

Cons

  • No cash back on transactions in foreign currency

  • Not available to Quebec residents

  • Overview of the Home Trust Preferred Visa

    +

    One card that offers relief from foreign transaction fees is the Home Trust Preferred Visa. Aside from waiving the 0% foreign transaction fee option, this credit card also gives Canadians 1% cash back1 on all eligible purchases, without any limits on how much cash back you can earn. And there’s no annual fee.

    Minimum credit score: N/A

    Minimum income: $80,000 individual or $150,000 household

    Age: Age of majority in your province or territory

    Residency: Canadian

    Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete Home Trust Preferred Visa review.

    1 Cash advances, balance transfers, interest, fees and foreign transactions (including online purchases in foreign currencies) are not eligible for CashBack Rewards.

Best Scene+ credit card with no fee for foreign transaction

Scotiabank Gold American Express®

Apply now

up to 40K pts

Very Good

Earn up to $650* in value in the first 12 months, including up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points.

Expires

Jul 2, 2024

Scene+ points on every $1 you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, Freshco, Foodland and more

6x

Scene+ points for every $1 you spend on dining, food delivery and other eligible grocery stores. Includes popular food delivery and food subscriptions.

5x

Scene+ points for every $1 you spend in Canada eligible entertainment purposes. Includes movies, theatre and ticket agency stores.

5x

Scene+ points for every $1 CAD you spend in Canada on eligible gas and daily transit options. Includes ride shares, buses, subway, taxis and more.

3x

Scene+ points for every $1 CAD you spend in Canada on eligible select streaming services.

3x

Scene+ point for every $1 spent on all other eligible everyday purchases.

1x

Purchase APR

20.99%

Balance Transfer Rate

22.99%

Cash Advance APR

22.99%

Annual Fee

$120

Foreign Transaction Fee

0.00%

Recommended Credit Score

Very Good

Pros

  • Lots of daily spend options to earn multiplied point bonuses

  • Swanky Amex perks like Front of the Line presale concert tickets

  • Save on foreign transaction fees when abroad

  • Fantastic insurance coverage, especially for travel

Cons

  • Relatively low-value welcome bonus

  • $120 annual fee that chews into your point value substantially

  • Scene points redeem poorly for travel

  • Overview of the Scotiabank Gold Amex

    +

    Like the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card, when you use the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card for any overseas purchases, you’ll only have to pay the exchange rate, with no foreign transaction fees added on top. But unlike the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card, you won’t earn extra points for purchases in special categories if the purchase is made in foreign currency.

    Plus regular earn rates of 6X Scene+™ points on every $1 CAD you spend in Canada at Sobeys, Safeway, FreshCo, Foodland, and more eligible grocers¹; 5X Scene+™ points per $1 CAD spent on other eligible grocery, dining, and entertainment purchases; 3X Scene+™ points per $1 CAD spent on eligible gas, daily transit, and select streaming services; and a standard 1X Scene+™ point per $1 spent on all other purchases (last applicable to all currencies).

    Minimum credit score: Excellent

    Age: Age of majority in your province or territory

    Residency: Canadian citizen or permanent resident

    Other: No bankruptcies in the past seven years

    Click here to apply or learn more by reading our complete Scotiabank Gold American Express® card review.

    ¹ Conditions Apply. Visit here for the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card to learn more.

Best cash back credit card with no fx fees (prepaid card)

KOHO Extra

Apply now

Fair

about new welcome offers by email

cash back on groceries, transportation, food, and drink

1.5%

cash back on all other purchases

0.25%

interest on your entire balance

5%

cash back extra at partnered merchants

5%

off Credit Building

30%

for credit building, instead of $10 (save 30%)

$7

Purchase APR

0.00%

Annual Fee

$84

Foreign Transaction Fee

0.00%

Recommended Credit Score

Fair

Required Annual Personal Income

$0

Required Annual Household Income

$0

Pros

  • 1.5% cash back on on groceries, restaurants, food delivery, bars, coffee shops, and transportation

  • 0.25% cash back on all other purchases

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • No everyday banking fees

  • Credit Building by KOHO optional paid add-on

  • Earn interest

Cons

  • $84 annual fee

  • Deposits capped at $40,000

  • Why we picked the KOHO Extra Prepaid Mastercard

    +

    Sometimes the best thing you can do while travelling is budget and a prepaid no foreign transaction fee credit card helps you do just that.

    Load up your saved up funds on your KOHO Extra card and enjoy travelling on your pre-set amount of money.

    KOHO isn't a bank, but you can set up direct deposits into it. It's an incredible app that allows you to have multiple savings accounts to save for your goals. And vacations abroad may be one of them.

    Any money in your account or on your card earns a high 5% interest, basically unheard of anywhere else (though EQ bank comes close with 4%).

    You'll also earn 1.5% cash back on grocery, transportation, food, and drink purchases you make with the card.

    Minimum credit score: Fair/Poor

    Minimum income: N/A

    Age: Age of majority in province of residence

    Age: Age of majority in province of residence

    Residency: Canadian

    Other: No bankruptcies in the past seven years

Best credit card with no overseas transaction fees

EQ Bank Card

Apply now

3

Fair

about new welcome offers by email

cash back on purchases

0.5%

interest on your balance

2.5%

Purchase APR

0.00%

Annual Fee

$0

Foreign Transaction Fee

0.00%

Recommended Credit Score

Fair

Required Annual Personal Income

$0

Required Annual Household Income

$0

  • Why we picked the EQ Bank card as the credit card with no overseas fees

    +

    EQ Bank's a newcomer to the credit card scene, but a welcomed addition.

    While you need an EQ Bank account to transfer funds onto its prepaid Mastercard, the account itself is great where you can earn 2.5% on money held in the account AND on the card. If you setup direct deposit, they'll give you 4%. Plus, you'll earn 0.5% cash back on any and all purchases you make on the card.

    EQ Bank's biggest differentiator is its no fee promise—no annual fee for the credit card, no foreign transaction fees, and going one step further, they'll reimburse you for any fees from an ATM withdrawal. So, if you're travelling, while you'll pay the currency conversion fees, any time you hit up an ATM, you won't be paying anything extra.

Can’t I just use a USD credit card instead of a credit card with no foreign transaction fees?

Those who do most of their foreign spending in the US might be wondering if they can successfully avoid foreign transaction fees with a U.S. Dollar credit card. But remember that unless you actually keep USD in your bank account , it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to truly avoid the fees. Ultimately you’ll have to pay your U.S. Dollar credit card bill in U.S. dollars, and if you don’t have the USD handy to do so, you’ll need to convert your Canadian dollars to U.S. dollars at the bank. At that point the bank will charge you its 1%-3% foreign exchange surcharge (which is likely less than Visa, Mastercard, or Amex currency exchange fees)

If you frequent the U.S. on travel, get paid in American Dollars, or buy American products, it makes sense to have a U.S. Dollar credit card. 

Here's more info on our top two U.S. Dollar credit cards

What about prepaid cards with no foreign transaction fees?

Check out the EQ Bank card with no annual fee and 0.5% cash back on all your purchases, it's a sweet deal. 

Unfortunately, the no-annual fee CIBC Air Canada® AC Conversion™ Visa* Prepaid Card is being discontinued. Previously it allowed cardholders to upload cash across up to 10 foreign currencies at a locked-in exchange rate. It's an easy solution for spending local currency in your next travel destination.

Which credit card has no foreign transaction fees in Canada?

Scotiabank has the longest list of credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. CIBC is discontinuing their AC Conversion Visa, but still offer a USD card where you can avoid foreign transaction fees, much like RBC, TD, and BMO (see above).

Rogers World Elite Mastercard used to not charge foreign exchange fees, and with its 3% back on cross-border shopping, it was a great card. Unfortunately, they now charge foreign exchange fees. 

If you don't like what the big banks have to offer, check out EQ, Home Trust, and KOHO because they'll be your best, if not only, options. 

What is the Mastercard exchange rate or Visa exchange rate?

The Mastercard and Visa exchange rates are the rates these companies use to convert transactions made in a foreign currency to your card's billing currency. Both companies base their rates on the wholesale exchange rates from the global currency markets and may add their margins. These rates are subject to daily fluctuations due to changes in the international currency markets.

For Mastercard and Visa, the applicable exchange rate for your transaction is effective on the date the transaction is processed, which may not be the same as the transaction date. The rate applied to a specific transaction is determined on the processing day, potentially leading to a difference in the rate between the time of purchase and processing.

These conversion rates are separate from any foreign transaction fee charges from your card issuer, which are additional costs added to the conversion rate.

You can visit their official websites to get the most current exchange rates for either Mastercard or Visa. Both companies offer a currency conversion calculator

Frequently asked questions about no foreign transaction fee credit cards

  • Why should I get a credit card with no foreign transaction fees?

    +

    To save money on purchases abroad or online in foreign currencies by avoiding up to 2.5%-3% in additional fees.

  • Can I use a no foreign transaction fees credit card anywhere in the world?

    +

    Yes, these cards are accepted globally wherever their network (Visa, Mastercard, etc.) is accepted.

  • If I’m offered the choice to pay in the local currency or to pay a converted CAD/USD amount with my no foreign transaction fee credit card, what should I choose?

    +

    Always choose to pay in the local currency to avoid inflated exchange rates and fees from the merchant.

  • How do I avoid international transaction fees on credit card?

    +

    Use a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees for purchases in foreign currencies.

  • Is it better to use credit cards or cash abroad?

    +

    Credit cards are safer and may offer better exchange rates and rewards, but always have some local currency.

Sarah Pritzker Freelance Contributor

Sarah Pritzker has been writing for Money.ca since 2017, and loves learning about the latest trends in Canadian personal finance.

Tyler Wade Content strategist & writer

Tyler Wade has worked in personal finance for over 5 years writing for brands like Ratehub, Forbes, KOHO, and now Money.ca.

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