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Here’s a wakeup call…
Every time you make a purchase that isn’t in Canadian dollars on your credit card, you’re charged a big fee to convert back to Canadian money.
You can be travelling in the USA or overseas or even just making an online purchase in another currency – doesn’t matter – that fee is going to kick in.
How much is a typical Canadian credit card foreign transaction fee?
It’s almost universally 2.5%, plus a small spread that the bank itself has to pay and passes on to you the consumer. The total cost should come in under 3%.
With most cash back credit cards paying only 1% in rewards, that 3% is eating up all of your rewards and then some!
Worse, if you buy something in a foreign currency, change your mind, and return it – you’re dinged on both sides of the transaction. That means you’ll lose 5-6% of your money to the bank and have nothing to show for it.
Summary of the top credit cards with no foreign exchange fees
|Credit Card||Welcome Bonus||Earn Rates||Annual Fee, Income Requirements||Apply Now|
|Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite||30,000 points (terms)||* 2 points per $1 on groceries, dining, entertainment, and daily transit
* 1 point per $1 all other purchases
|$139, either 60K personal, 100K household income requirement||Apply Now|
|Scotiabank Gold American Express||20,000 points (terms)||* 5 points per $1 on groceries, restaurants, and entertainment
* 3 points per $1 on gas, transit, and select streaming services
* 1 point per $1 all other purchases
|$120, $12K personal income requirements||Apply Now|
|Brim Mastercard||Up to $200 on first-time purchases at participating retailers (terms)||* 1 point per $1 spent on all purchases||$0, 15K personal income requirements||Apply Now|
|Brim World Mastercard||Up to $300 on first-time purchases at participating retailers (terms)||* 1.5 points per $1 spent on the first 25K in annual purchases, 1 point per $1 afterwards||$99, either 60K personal or 100K household income requirement||Apply Now|
|Brim World Elite Mastercard||Up to $500 on first-time purchases at participating retailers (terms)||* 2 points per $1 spent on the first 25K in annual purchases, 1 point per $1 afterwards||$199, either 80K personal or 150K household income requirement||Apply Now|
|HSBC World Elite Mastercard||Up to 60,000 points (terms)||* 6 points per $1 spent on eligible travel
* 3 points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
|$149, either 80K personal or 150K household income requirement||Apply Now|
|Home Trust Preferred Visa||None||* 1% cash back on eligible purchases||$0, no income requirements||Apply Now|
0% Foreign Transaction Fees Credit Cards in Canada
Given that 99% of Canadian credit cards charge this fee, it may surprise you that a few cards used to exist that charged absolutely nothing in foreign exchange fees other than the small spread the bank itself pays.
Unfortunately, those cards have done a disappearing act. Cards like the Sears Mastercard and a few Scotia cards that were grandfathered axed the foreign currency discount.
And sadly, it looks like Chase may be winding down their business here in Canada altogether, having sold off many of the cards in their portfolio. Plus, after announcing that they would be closing all Chase Amazon.ca Visa and Chase Marriott Visa accounts on March 15th, 2018, in the world of No Foreign Exchange Fee cards, there are only slim pickings left.
Top Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards
Just when we were all starting to lose hope, Scotiabank has stepped in to offer Canadians a premium travel rewards card with flexible rewards, a solid insurance package, and some really fun travel benefits ‒ with the
Cardholders will earn 2 points per dollar spent on qualifying grocery store, restaurant, entertainment, and daily transit (i.e. buses, subways, and taxis) purchases, and 1 point per dollar spend on all other purchases.
Aside from the fact that is this one of the rare cards that waives the usual 2.5% foreign currency exchange fee, it also stands out because of the insurance it includes:
- 12 out of
types of purchase and travel insurance,
- and even better is that if you are over the age of 65, you are still covered by 10 days of emergency medical insurance, which is rarer still.
Throw in a Priority Pass Membership, 6 complimentary lounge passes, a free secondary card, and the ability to earn 10,000 bonus points every year ‒ and the only real downside is the $139 annual fee.
A new member to the no fx fee club is the
It now has a welcome bonus of 20,000 points and charges no foreign exchange fees, in addition to earning you points on all of your purchases.
And you’ll earn plenty of points at these earn rates:
- 5 points per $1 on restaurants, groceries and entertainment purchases,
- 3 points per $1 on gas, transit and select streaming services, and
- 1 point per $1 on everything else.
For lots of points and no foreign exchange fees, this card has you covered.
Brim offers a credit card line up with 3 different cards.
One of the many things they have in common? They all have no foreign exchange fees. So no matter which card you pick, you’ll be saving every time you spend in a currency other than CAD.
You can choose the
For an annual fee of $99, you can go with the
Or, you could choose Brim’s most premium offering, the
More perks and benefits
Beyond no foreign exchange fees, these cards also have a few more things in common.
For shopping online, Brim has over 150 partners you can earn bonus rewards with, ranging from 3% all the way up to 30%, depending on the partner. Just note that you forgo your card’s base earn rate when you shop with Brim’s partners.
Then there’s these money-saving perks and benefits:
- Brim installment plans,
- unique event ticket insurance,
- mobile device insurance,
- free budgeting tools with their app, and
- complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi provided on all of Brim’s credit cards.
* This offer is not available to residents of Quebec. For residents of Quebec, please click here.
Offering flexible travel rewards and some unique perks on the side, the
You’ll earn HSBC Reward points on all of your purchases:
- 6 points per $1 spent on eligible travel, and
- 3 points per $1 spent on everything else.
An HSBC Rewards point is worth 0.5 cents each when redeemed for travel, giving a return of between 1.5% to 3% on your purchases.
And it has some unique perks you can also use. The biggest one is the annual $100 travel enhancement rebates. Every year, you can save up to $100 on the following charges:
- airline seat upgrades,
- baggage fees, and
- airport lounge passes.
You can also save 10% on select hotels when you book through HSBC’s Expedia and Agoda portals, and get a free membership to Mastercard Airport Experience lounges (each visit will cost $32 USD).
For an annual fee of $149, that’s also rebated for the first year, this card has a lot to offer.
This little hidden gem is currently one of the only cards available in Canada that gives you a foreign currency conversion fee of 0% ‒ at $0 annual fee.
And while the thought of a card with no foreign transaction fee alone is music to our ears, the
This card gives you 1% cash back on all eligible purchases, just keep in mind you won’t earn 1% cash back on purchases made in foreign currency.
You also get purchase and travel insurance included at no extra cost. So, when you are travelling and enjoying your no foreign exchange fee transactions, you can know that you are covered.
To top it all off, this card comes with a free Roadside Assist Membership. For a credit card with no annual fee, this is basically unheard of.
And yes, you did read that correctly. This card has no annual fee, no foreign exchange fee and no limits on the amount of rewards you can earn!
A fantastic card for building or rebuilding your credit, the
There are no frills with this card, but it does have no annual fee unless you choose to reduce your interest rate to 14.90% by paying an extra $59 per year – but that’s completely optional.
You aren’t going to save a ton on foreign purchases with this card, but if you’re rebuilding your credit anyway, it’s a nice extra.
Beat The Bank’s Exchange Rates
There’s no cheaper way to exchange money than using a 0% foreign transaction fee credit card.
Banks typically charge 3%, or more, to convert your money in person and the rate for doing it online is usually about the same unless you are converting large sums of cash. If you want to convert any leftover cash after your trip is over, now you’re paying that 3%+ a second time.
You’ll even do better than you would at those discount foreign currency exchange places and you don’t have to make an extra trip.
Just swipe your no FX card, and smile knowing you didn’t waste any time or pay a dime more than you needed to.
Keeping one of these cards in your wallet just for foreign transactions is completely worth it.
Still not sure?
Still not really convinced that you want to commit to a new credit card just for making foreign currency purchases?
There is another option that isn’t a credit card but is way better than cash when travelling. Two prepaid cards in Canada also charge no foreign exchange fees as well. There’s no credit score check required and no worries about overspending.
It’s like a way better, more secure, easy-to-use version of a traveller’s cheque with lower than normal currency conversion fees.
The first is the
If you’re curious to know more, you can find out all the details here.
- 2% cash back on groceries, gas, restaurants, and transit purchases, and
- 0.5% cash back on everything else.
Bonus: Use our code CGGBONUS and get an extra 1% cash back on everything for the first 90 days.
For more details on KOHO, you can see them here.