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Travelling abroad can be expensive, with currency conversion and foreign transaction fees eating away at your budget. To maximize savings, many Canadians turn to a no foreign transaction fee credit card in Canada. This allows you to avoid the typical 2.5% fee and receive wholesale currency conversion rates.

In this article, we explore the top no-foreign transaction fee credit cards available to Canadians. We compare the rewards programs, insurance coverage, and additional perks across the top contenders. Whether you’re a frequent traveller or planning a trip abroad, discover the best cards to save on your international expenses.

Best No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card Canada

CardFeeEarn Rate*Additional info
Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card$1201% to 6% – Mobile device insurance
– Up to 40,000 bonus points
Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite Card$150 (waived first year)1% to 3% – Comprehensive travel insurance
– Complimentary Priority Pass membership
– Up to 35,000 bonus points
Brim Mastercards (Free & World Elite)– $0 
– $199 ( World Elite)
– 1% ( 2% with World Elite)– Decent insurance (Free)
– Paid airport lounge access (World Elite)
– Strong insurance coverage (World Elite)
Home Trust Preferred Visa$01% – No cashback on foreign purchases
Meridian Visa Infinite Travel Rewards$99 (waived first year)1.5% to 3%– Good insurance coverage
– No airport lounge access
EQ Bank Card$00.5%– Prepaid card, good for withdrawals.
*Point systems have been valued as percentage equivalents. This provides a direct comparison.
Scotiabank Gold American Express (1)

Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

The Scotiabank Gold American Express earns the most points from any card without foreign exchange fees. The card boasts a 1% to 6% earn rate, far outpacing other options. Although the card shines with travel points, users may find challenges abroad. The card operates on the Amex network, which, unfortunately, has decreased global merchant acceptance. 

Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card Features

Annual Fee: $120

Purchase Rate: 20.99%

Cash Advance Rate: 22.99%

Card Earn Rate

  • 6x points at participating merchants
  • 5x points on grocery, dining, and entertainment.
  • 3x points on gas and transit.
  • 1x point on other purchases.

Welcome Bonus: Up to 40,000 Scene+ Points ($400 value).

  • 20,000 points on spending $1,000 in three months.
  • 20,000 points on spending $7,500 in the first year.

Travel Benefits: Comprehensive travel insurance, including travel emergency medical, trip cancellation/ interruption, flight delay, baggage coverage, travel accident, rental car, and hotel burglary. Discounted Priority Pass membership. 

Extra Features: Mobile device insurance, purchase security and extended warranty, Amex Offers, Amex Front Of The Line, American Express Invites, optional Scotia credit card protection.

Eligibility: $12,000 yearly personal income. 

Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite Card

Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite Card

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite is a staple for the average jet-setter. Aside from the lack of foreign exchange fees, the card offers market-leading airport lounge access and travel insurance. The primary downside is the lower ongoing earn rate, valued at 1% to 3%.

Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite Card Features Of Card

Annual Fee: $150 (waived first year)

Purchase Rate: 20.99%

Cash Advance Rate: 22.99%

Card Earn Rate:

  • 3x points (3%) at participating merchants.
  • 2x points (2%) on dining, groceries, transit, and entertainment.
  • 1x point (1%) on everything else.

Welcome Bonus: Up to 35,000 bonus Scene+ points ($350 value).

  • 25,000 points on spending $1,000 in three months.
  • 10,000 points on spending $40,000 in the first year.

Travel Benefits: Comprehensive travel insurance, including travel emergency medical, trip cancellation/interruption, flight delay, baggage coverage, rental car, hotel burglary, and travel accident. Complimentary Priority Pass membership with six free airport lounge visits annually.

Extra Features: Purchase security and extended warranty protection, save on car rentals, Visa Infinite Concierge Service, Visa Infinite Hotel Collection, Visa Infinite Dining and Wine Country Program

Eligibility: $60,000 personal income, or $100,000 household income, or $250,000 assets under management. 

Brim Card

Brim Mastercards

Brim is a fin-tech bank offering two Mastercard variants, both without foreign transaction fees. The free card effectively earns 1% cashback on all spending categories. It also includes generous insurance for a no-fee card. For those willing to pay the $199 annual fee, the Brim World Elite has double cashback, paid airport lounge access, and strong travel insurance coverage.

Brim Mastercards Card Features

Annual Fee: $0 (Free), $199 (World Elite)

Purchase Rate: 19.99% – 24.99%

Cash Advance Rate: 21.50%

Card Earn Rate: 1% (Free), 2% (World Elite).

Welcome Bonus: None.

Travel Benefits: Insurance coverage including common carrier, mobile device, event ticket (Free). The World Elite also includes travel emergency medical, flight delay, baggage coverage, hotel burglary, rental car, trip cancellation, and trip interruption. Paid airport lounge visits can be accessed for $32 USD with the World Elite. 

Extra Features: Extended warranty and purchase security, Boingo Wi-Fi, flexible redemptions, installment payments, budgeting tool.

Eligibility: N/A (Free), $80,000 personal, $150,000 household (World Elite).

Home Trust Secured No-Fee Visa

Home Trust Preferred Visa Card

The Home Trust Preferred Visa is a no-frills card without an annual fee. The card has no unique benefits besides offering a flat-rate 1% cashback on Canadian purchases. That means foreign transactions don’t earn rewards. Given the lack of an annual fee and global acceptance of Visa, this card is best used as an emergency secondary option.

Home Trust Preferred Visa Card Features

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase Rate: 21.99%

Cash Advance Rate: 21.99%

Card Earn Rate: 1% cash back on all Canadian purchases.

Welcome Bonus: None.

Travel Benefits: Request a guaranteed hotel reservation anywhere in the world.

Extra Features: None.

Eligibility: $15,000 personal income.

merdian

Meridian Visa Infinite Travel Rewards Card

For a smaller credit union, Meridian offers a powerhouse credit card without foreign exchange fees. While some other cards don’t earn rewards on purchases abroad, Meridian amplifies them. Foreign currency purchases abroad earn six points per dollar, equating to a 3% earn rate. Meanwhile, all other purchases translate to 1.5%.

This makes it an excellent option for those frequently abroad, such as snowbirds or digital nomads. Additionally, the card provides strong insurance coverage but lacks airport lounge access. Unfortunately, Meridian Credit Union primarily services Ontario residents. 

Meridian Visa Infinite Travel Rewards Card Features 

Annual Fee: $99 (waived for the first year)

Purchase Rate: 19.50%

Cash Advance Rate: 21.99%

Card Earn Rate

  • 6x points (3%) on foreign currency purchases. 
  • 3x points (1.5%) on everything else. 

Welcome Bonus: Earn 6 points per $2 spent on foreign currency purchases and 3 points per $2 on other purchases.

Travel Benefits: Extensive travel coverage, including travel emergency medical, trip cancellation, trip interruption, baggage coverage, common carrier, rental car, mobile device, and a travel assistance service.

Extra Features: Purchase protection and extended warranty, Price protection service. 

Eligibility: $60,000 personal income, $100,000 household income.

eq bank card

EQ Bank Card

An honourable mention: the EQ Bank Card is a prepaid credit card. Although it does not impact your credit score, it offers industry-leading benefits that make it essential to include on this list. As a prepaid card, there are no cash-advance penalties for withdrawals. This makes it an optimal card to withdraw foreign currencies abroad. In addition, all purchases earn 0.50% cash back.

EQ Bank Card Features

Annual Fee: $0

Purchase Rate: N/A

Cash Advance Rate: N/A

Card Earn Rate: 0.5% cash back on all purchases.

Welcome Bonus: N/A

Travel Benefits: N/A

Extra Features: Free withdrawals from any ATM in Canada, earn 2.50% interest until you spend.

Eligibility: Canadian Resident

No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card In Canada: Pros And Cons

ProsCons
Zero Liability PolicyCash Advance Fees
Save on Conversion FeesATM Withdrawal Fees
Earn RewardsLimited Merchant Acceptance
Additional BenefitsNo Rewards Abroad
Annual Card Fees

Pros: No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card In Canada

  • Zero Liability Policy: You won’t be held responsible for unauthorized purchases made with your card. This provides peace of mind when travelling.
  • Save on Conversion Fees: Avoid the typical 2.5% foreign transaction fee charged by most credit cards.
  • Earn Rewards: You’ll earn cashback, points (Aeroplan, Scene+, Westjet Dollars) or miles on everyday purchases. This can equate to free or heavily discounted flights.
  • Additional Benefits: Premium cards often include airport lounge access, insurance, and a welcome bonus.

Cons: No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card In Canada

  • Cash Advance Fees: Withdrawing cash on your credit card abroad is costly and accrues immediate interest. It’s best to pay with your card directly.
  • ATM Withdrawal Fees: Even no-fee cards charge for using ATMs abroad, usually around $5- $10 per transaction. Minimize withdrawals.
  • Limited Merchant Acceptance: American Express acceptance is poor outside North America and the United Kingdom. Mastercard and Visa have broader acceptance.
  • No Rewards Abroad: Some cashback cards don’t earn rewards on foreign transactions. Check your card’s policy.
  • Annual Card Fees: Premium cards charge annual fees in exchange for their enhanced earn rates, lounge access, and insurance coverage.

No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card In Canada: How To Compare Them

  • Network Acceptance: Not all card networks are created equal. The network’s acceptance limits your ability to use your card abroad. Visa and Mastercard are commonly accepted globally, while Amex has less acceptance due to higher merchant fees. 
  • Earn Rate: This is the amount you earn on spending, which varies by card and category. Likewise, point systems carry different values and obscure the real earn rate. We’ve valued earn rates as a percentage throughout this article to provide a direct comparison across cards.
  • Welcome Bonus: Many cards offer an initial bonus for hitting a minimum spending requirement. Compare the bonus value, minimum spend required, and any time limitations.
  • Insurance Coverage: Some cards cover you for emergency medical, flight delays, lost luggage and more. Aside from comparing the covered events, review the coverage limits per event. A small coverage limit won’t provide much value with high medical fees.
  • Additional Benefits: Airport lounge access is often a coveted feature. However, other options also include Boingo Wifi, exclusive events, and hospitality collections.
  • Rewards Network: Some points systems constrain you by imposing blackout periods on flight redemptions or a poor selection of choices. Consider researching the overall satisfaction of your prospective card’s rewards network.

Conversion Rates

While your financial institution may charge the foreign exchange fee, the actual conversion rate is determined by the card network. This is a hidden cost that many are unaware of. Overall, the fees don’t vary significantly between networks but are something to be aware of for significant purchases. At the time of writing, the conversion rates were;

CAD to USDCAD to EUR
Mastercard Exchange Rate73188550.6856698
Visa Exchange Rate0.7327070.685657 
Amex Exchange RateN/AN/A
*Exchange rates sampled November 6, 2023

What To Consider When Making Purchases Abroad With A No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card In Canada

When making a purchase while travelling, it’s important to consider the costs involved as well as the security risks. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping abroad:

Banking Security

Reaching your destination to find your card declined everywhere can be exceptionally frustrating. It’s best to avoid this situation by issuing a travel notice to your bank. You can do this through your banking app or by calling the institution directly. As a security feature, your first purchase abroad usually requires a chip transaction with the pin.

Another nuisance is the two-factor authentication (2FA) many financial institutions require when accessing online banking abroad. This usually sends an SMS code to your phone number, which has likely been deactivated to avoid roaming charges. To prevent this scenario, try to switch 2FA settings to an email before travelling. Other times, they may require the use of an authenticator app.

ATM Fees

One must pay attention to the ATM fees when using your credit card abroad. Most banks will charge a fee for using an ATM that does not belong to their network. The cost varies by bank but generally costs $5- $10 per withdrawal. 

In addition to the ATM fee charged by your bank, the bank that owns the ATM might also charge a separate fee. This is often the case when withdrawing money abroad. These fees can add up quickly, especially if you withdraw cash frequently. Therefore, it’s advisable to withdraw more significant amounts less regularly to minimize the number of fees you incur.

Cash Advance Fees

Since you have a credit card, withdrawing cash will subject you to cash advance fees. While the price varies by card, you can expect 1% or $5. Likewise, performing a cash advance charges immediate interest on the transaction. That means there is no grace period, as with purchase transactions. 

In addition, the interest rate charged on cash advances tends to be higher than the purchase interest rate. It’s best to withdraw a cash cushion before your trip and try to protect it with card purchases. If you must cash advance, try to pay off the balance immediately.

Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC)

Frequently, you pay the bill and are prompted to accept the merchant’s exchange rate. What do you do in this situation? Always decline their exchange rate. This can save you from significant currency conversion markups.

Since your card has no foreign exchange fees, you’ll get a significantly better conversion rate. By accepting the merchant’s exchange rate, you subject yourself to the one offered by their payment processor. By declining their rate, you’ll convert at the Mastercard, Visa, or Amex exchange rate, which is usually lower.

The Bottom Line On No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card In Canada

Avoiding foreign transaction fees is crucial to maximize savings for your international travels. The top no-fee cards provide basic rewards programs and additional travel perks. While premium cards have annual fees, the rewards, insurance, and lounge access often outweigh the costs for frequent travellers.

No Foreign Exchange Credit Card FAQs

Can I use my Canadian credit card in Europe?

Yes, you can use your Canadian credit card in Europe. However, it’s important to check if your card has foreign transaction fees or merchant acceptance. Amex Cards generally aren’t accepted in Europe.

Do all Visa cards have foreign transaction fees?

Not all Visa cards have foreign transaction fees. Some Visa cards, like the ones mentioned in this article, do not charge foreign transaction fees. This includes the Scotiabank Passport Visa, Home Trust Preferred Visa, and Meridian Visa Infinite Travel Rewards Card.

How do no foreign exchange credit cards work?

Most Canadian credit cards charge a 2.5% on currency conversions. In contrast, a no-foreign exchange credit card doesn’t charge this fee. All conversions happen at the rate established by your card network.

Should I accept DCC?

No, you should not accept Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). By declining the merchant’s exchange rate and using your credit card, you will receive a significantly better conversion rate provided by your card network (Mastercard, Visa, or Amex).
Daniel Schoester avatar on Loans Canada
Daniel Schoester

Daniel is an expert on travel and finance. He received an Honours BBA (Finance) from Wilfrid Laurier University, then started his career with WOWA. Daniel is now the founder and lead financial writer of Croton Content. Aside from Loans Canada, notable clients include Forbes Advisor, WealthRocket, and Hardbacon. Daniel loves to travel when not working. Although based out of Lisbon, Portugal, some of his most adventurous destinations include Rio, Cairo, and Istanbul.

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