No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card, Canada: The Complete Guide

February 24, 2020
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The best no foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada" class="img-responsive wp-image-731235 wp-post-image" alt="The best no foreign transaction fee credit cards in Canada" />
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When looking for a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, there are quite a few good choices for Canadians. In our view, the best ones right now are the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite, the Rogers World Elite Mastercard and the three Brim cards. In this article we’ll look at the aforementioned, as well as some other cards with no foreign transaction fees, and we will tell you everything you need to know to make an informed decision.

In this post, we’ll be covering the best no foreign transaction fee credit card Canada has to offer, but, what are foreign transaction fees? Imagine you’re on your computer, leisurely paying the balance on your credit card after a holiday vacation when suddenly you notice something weird: the amount due is actually higher than the payments you made with the card for that month.

How can this be?

Well, if you’re actively using your card for travel or online retail purchases, you may want to check if you are being charged a fee. When you make an electronic payment in a foreign currency, you usually are. These are known as foreign transaction fees, and you don’t necessarily have to shop outside of Canada for this to happen. These foreign transaction fees are usually charged when you:

  • Purchase things while traveling in another country.
  • Buy something online from a foreign company, and the said company processes the transaction in its local currency.
  • Or, when you make a purchase in which the transaction is routed through a non-Canadian bank.

For these kinds of transactions, you are often charged a fixed percentage of 2.5% or even 3% on most cards. If you need to make a return on the purchased item, you could be paying as much as 5% or 6% in fees for just one purchase. This may not sound like a whole lot, but this means you are giving away around $25-$30 for every $1,000 you spend.

Normally, you would probably not notice these additional charges, because it only shows in your statement. To avoid this, it’s recommended to always have a check back on your card transactions after an overseas trip or international purchase. But, if you do a lot of spending abroad maybe you want a card that doesn’t charge you these fees at all.

In the following post, we’ll review the best no foreign transaction fee credit card Canada has to offer, as well as the most important runner-ups.

The No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card: Canada Offers Many Choices

A no foreign transaction fee credit card is exactly what it sounds like. These cards will not charge you those fixed percentages on international purchases, which lets you save every time you spend money online or abroad. Now, if you clicked on this article, you are probably interested in a credit card of this type that suits your needs.

Here are the best ones:

Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite Card

Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite Card. The best all round No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card Canada


This card provides one of the best comprehensive packages for travel, shopping, and insurance coverage. Also, with the benefits you get, the annual fee is reasonable at $139. Those are very good numbers when compared to the competition. It must be noted that the eligibility requirements to apply are also lower than those of similar cards.

Read on for the most important features and benefits of this card:

Welcome Bonus

25,000 Scotia Rewards points (worth around $250) after spending $1,000 in eligible purchased during the first 3 months.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Either have a personal income of $60,000, a minimum household income of $100,000, or a minimum of $250,000 in assets under management.
  • Must have the age of majority required in the province or territory of residence.
  • Not have declared bankruptcy in the last 7 years.

Travel Benefits

Besides being a no foreign transaction fee credit card, this card provides one of the most comprehensive travel reward packages available. For example, its Best Price Guarantee on Airfare lets you get the most value out of each flight purchase; it works like this: When you book a flight through their Rewards Service, if you find a cheaper ticket (at least $10) for the same itinerary, you can get a points credit equal to the price difference, per each passenger.

This card also provides flexibility in options to pay for travel purchases; where you can either pay everything with your Scotia Rewards points, split half between points and card or a designated portion of each. The Scotiabank Passport also comes with an Avis preferred plus membership, whose car rental discount goes from 5% up to 25% off, in Canada and the United States.

Not only does this card include thorough travel coverage for yourself as a cardholder, but it also covers your spouse and/or children that travel along by extension (medical and travel accident insurance coverage of up to $1 million). Another most useful perk: you get 6 free visits per year to Priority Pass lounges worldwide. This is pretty useful when flying long haul, so you can get some needed rest & relaxation in the airport. Also, your first supplementary card is free.

Shopping Rewards

The Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card gives a good amount of rewards, for example:

  • Earn 10,000 bonus points every year you spend at least $40,000 in everyday purchases (worth up to $100 in travel-related purchases)
  • Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 you spend on eligible grocery stores, dining, entertainment purchases, and daily transit purchase (including buses, subways, taxis and more).
  • Earn 1 Scotia Rewards point on every $1 you spend on all other eligible purchases.

If you prefer the SCENE Points offer, you are allowed to convert your Scotia Rewards into SCENE® Points, although these are less valuable.

You should choose this card if you:

  • Want a credit card with good travel insurance.
  • Like a flexible rewards system.
  • Usually travel a lot.
  • You value a strong welcome bonus.

You should choose another card if you:

  • Think the income requirements are too high.
  • Don’t travel much.
  • Don’t like annual fees.

Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card


This card has similar perks to the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card, but with a more focused approach on its shopping rewards. It’s a card designed for people who enjoy collecting reward points, due to it having one of the highest earn rates (5 points per dollar). You also get additional exclusive American Express benefits like Amex Invites and Amex Front of the Line. Its annual fee comes at $120.

Welcome Bonus

Earn 20,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points (worth $200) after spending $1,000 in eligible purchases during your first 3 months. Available until July 1, 2020.

Eligibility Requirements

• A minimum annual income of $12,000.
• Must have the age of majority required in the province or territory of residence.

Travel Benefits

The travel rewards are not as great as the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card, but it does provide the same Scotia Rewards Travel Service where you get the Best Price Guarantee on airfare. The best part would be that, as a Scotiabank Gold American Express® Cardholder, you would be able to access over 1200 VIP lounges around the world and get a preferred discount through the Priority Pass membership.

Shopping Rewards

As said earlier, the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card is better for travel rewards, but the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card takes the lead in shopping rewards. It offers one of the highest earn rates in the country, where depending on the categories you use your money on, you can get up to 5 points for every $1 spent. Here are the specifics:

• Earn 5x Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery stores, restaurants, fast food, and drinking establishments – Includes popular food delivery and food subscriptions.
• Eligible entertainment purchases are also worth 5 points for every $1 spent, this includes movies, theatre, and ticket agencies.
• Earn 3x Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible gas and daily transit (like rideshare, bus, taxi, subway) as well as on select streaming services.
• Earn 1x Scotia Rewards point for every $1 spent on every other purchase.

But that is not all, thanks to it being part of Amex, this card also offers the benefits under the Amex Rewards program., such as:
• Amex Offers® – Discount available for shopping, dining, travel, and more.
• Amex Front Of the Line® – Opportunity to purchase presale tickets to some of the most in-demand concerts, theatre productions, restaurants, and special events before the general public.
• American Express Invites® – You’ll get a personalized variety of special offers and events crafted just for you.

If you are the type of person who likes to maximize rewards, you can earn extra reward points by applying for a supplementary card.

You should choose this card if you:

  • Value shopping rewards above any other benefits in a credit card.
  • Spend a lot of time in airports.
  • Love getting early access to tickets and get invited to personalized events.

You should choose another card if you:

  • Want better travel benefits.
  • Think the annual fee is too high.

HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®

Although this card has high eligibility requirements, it’s a good option for those who can meet them. Additionally, you can waive the fee for the first year and, it does provide travel benefits and rewards as well as insurance coverage. This is overall a very nice card. Its annual fee is $149.

Welcome Bonus

• 20,000 points bonus (worth around $100 in travel rewards)

Eligibility Requirements

• Either have a minimum $80,000 annual income, a $150,000 household income, or a minimum of $400,000 in assets under management.
• Must have the age of majority required in the province or territory of residence.
• Be a Canadian resident.

Travel Benefits

The HSBC World Elite Mastercard has an annual $100 travel enhancement credit. It also comes with travel insurance coverage that lasts up to 31 days and covers up to $1,000,000 in case of a medical emergency. This card’s coverage also includes: Baggage delay/loss, trip cancellation/interruption, and car rental insurance, as well as purchase protection and extended warranty insurance. All of this also covers for spouse and dependent children.

Additional benefits include:

  1. Mastercard Airport Experiences provided by LoungeKey: This allows you to access over 850 airport lounges worldwide and also a 20% discount for food and spa treatments.
  2. Booking savings with Expedia and Agoda: Gives a 10% discount when you book directly through the HSBC Expedia and Agoda websites.
  3. Unlimited Wi-Fi through Boingo: Connect up to 4 devices at over 1 million hotspots around the world.

Shopping Rewards

With the HSBC World Elite Mastercard reward program, you can earn 6 Points per $1 in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases and 3 Points per $1 in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases. These HSBC Rewards points can later be used for travel, gift cards, and other purchases. Points can also be used to pay your HSBC mortgage, credit card or you can save them as an investment in your savings account. The downside is your only allowed to cash in after 25,000 points.

You should choose this card if you:

  • Like having purchase protection and extended warranty.
  • Enjoy having long-lasting travel insurance.
  • Are the type of person who likes to accrue huge amounts of points in rewards.
  • Like having free wi-fi and access to lounges.

You should choose another card if you:

• Prefer having more options to redeem in your rewards system.
• Are looking for more affordable credit cards.

Home Trust Preferred Visa Card


The Home Trust Preferred Visa card, although lacking in travel rewards, definitely offers great benefits to those looking for a card with no foreign transaction fees. Not having to pay an annual fee, along with a 1% cashback on purchases with no annual limit is indeed a very useful combination. It also provides some travel-related insurance and purchase security that can give you the added protection that you need. Additionally, this card also includes free roadside assistance.

Maybe the biggest drawback from the Home Trust Preferred Visa, is that this card is not available for Quebec residents. Aside from that, the fact that cashback cannot be earned anymore through international transactions and only being able to make 10 transactions per day certainly limit the potential of this (still) very useful card.

Eligibility Requirements

• Be a permanent Canadian resident
• Must have the age of majority required in the province or territory of residence.
• Minimum personal income of $15,000.
• Not being currently in bankruptcy.

Travel Benefits

Aside from the main benefit of not charging foreign transaction fees, the Home Trust Visa Card offers car rental collision and damage insurance.

Shopping Rewards

A card that gives you 1% Cash Back on all Canadian purchases, with no limits to your total rewards, is certainly enticing. You do not need to collect your rewards because it is automatically credited into the total Cash Back balance you’ve earned to your Visa account. You can redeem the accumulated cash once per year in December, and get your credit starting in January.

You should choose this card if you:

  • Like not having to pay an annual fee.
  • Would like getting cash back on every Canadian purchase.
  • Are looking for an affordable credit card with no foreign transaction fees.

You should choose another card if you:

• Live in Quebec.
• Are looking for a card with broader travel insurance.
• Think the limit of 10 transactions per day is too low.

Brim Cards (Basic, World and World Elite)

Brim is a relative newcomer to the credit card space that aims to provide user-centric experience and convenience when on the go. Because it is entirely on a mobile application the fee charges are waived, however, this also means that you’ll need to access a different platform to access and redeem your points. Rewards are gamified and unlimited to earn for, and easily redeemable through the app. The basic Brim Card doesn’t have an annual fee and mobile device insurance of up to $500. The World and World Elite versions come with additional insurance coverage benefits, although they are subpar to those of other similar cards.

The main difference between the three cards is the earn rate, the basic card earns you 1 point per dollar spent, the World and World Elite each earn you 1.5 and 2 points respectively per dollar spent, respectively. The basic card also offers free worldwide wi-fi access through Boingo hotspots as well as no annual fee. On the other hand, the World and World Elite offer additional perks like mobile and travel insurance, but they do have annual fees of $99 and $199 respectively. All of the cards boast of having no foreign transaction fees, of course. Lastly, the World and World Elite Brim cards have a $25k cap on its point spend limit.

Eligibility Requirements

• Be a permanent Canadian resident or citizen.
• Must be at least 18 years old.

Travel Benefits

Only the World and World Elite versions of this card offer travel insurance benefits, here are the benefits for each one:

Brim World

• Mobile device insurance (up to $1,000)
• Travel assistance.
• Lounge Key Membership
• Travel medical insurance, for up to 8 days and only available to those under 65 years of age.
• Additional travel insurance coverage: Flight delay, baggage delay, car rental collision/damage, etc.

Brim World Elite

• Mobile device insurance (up to $1,000)
• Travel assistance.
• Lounge Key Membership.
• Travel medical insurance, for up to 15 days and only available to those under 65 years of age.
• Additional travel insurance coverage, includes: Flight delay, baggage delay, car rental collision/damage, Trip cancellation / interruption, etc.

Shopping Rewards

The redemption rate for Brim cards for each point is equivalent to $0,01. However, a big difference from other credit cards is that their reward system works with every purchase made, not just designated brands or stores. Brim also rewards loyalty by giving more points for recurring purchases through the same designated merchants.
Let’s explain that: if there is a particular store that you like to buy from, you can earn 3 points with your first visit, 5 points with your second 10 points on your fifth, etc. Letting you rack up more value with each purchase.
Brim also lets you track and budget your spending through its app, which gives you a lot of options to manage a better organize your spending.

You should choose one of these cards if you:

  • Are looking for a very accessible credit card.
  • Value having a robust and most flexible rewards system.
  • Like having travel insurance (Brim World and World Elite only).
  • Like having access to lounges and free wi-fi (Brim World and World Elite only).

You should choose another card if you:

• Want better travel insurance.
• Like to have more shopping benefits.
• Don’t think their loyalty-based points system suits your lifestyle.

Rogers World Elite Mastercard


This card technically does charge foreign transaction fees, but with its high 4% cash back earn rate on international purchases, the regular 2,5% charge is offset and you get a comfortable 1,5% back on your spending abroad. On the other hand, for purchases made inside Canada the cash back rate is 1,75%. It also does not have annual fees, plus, it has decent insurance coverage and you can redeem cash back after accumulating $20.
This card certainly offers some great benefits, which are only upset by its high-income eligibility requirements.

Welcome Bonus

$25 in cash back rewards when you make a purchase within 3 months of receipt.

Eligibility

• Minimum annual income of $80,000 or $150,000 in household income.
• Must have the age of majority required in the province or territory of residence.
• Be a Canadian resident.
Or
• Currently spending $25,000 on a Rogers Bank Mastercard.

Travel Benefits

• 10-day emergency medical coverage of up to $1,000,000 for people under 65, and 3-day medical coverage for those over 65 years of age.
• Trip cancellation/interruption coverage up to $1000.
• Rental Car damage coverage.

Shopping Benefits

• 4% cash back on international purchases.
• 1,75% cash back on all Canadian purchases.
• 2% cash back on Rogers products and services.
• Purchase protection.
• Extended warranty.

You should choose this card if you:

  • Like earning cashback on every purchase.
  • Want a card with no annual fees.
  • Are looking for a good travel insurance.
  • Want to have purchase protection and extended warranty.

You should choose another card if you:

• Don’t think you can meet the high-income requirements.
• Prefer a good rewards system and shopping benefits over cash-back.

Rogers Platinum Mastercard


This card is basically a downgraded but affordable version of the Rogers World Elite. Having no income requirement is nice, plus, the Rogers Platinum Mastercard also has no annual fee. While it does have fees on international spending, it offers 3% cash back on foreign purchases and 1,25% cash back on all other purchases. Foreign transaction fees tend to come up at 2.5%, which for all intents and purposes means this card cancels those extra fees while getting you an extra 0,5% on cash back. You can redeem your cash back with this card after accumulating $20.

Welcome Bonus

$25 in cash back rewards when you make a purchase within 3 months of receipt.

Eligibility

• Must have the age of majority required in the province or territory of residence.
• Be a Canadian resident.

Travel Benefits

Unlike its more expensive counterpart, the Rogers Platinum Mastercard does not really offer any travel benefits.

Shopping Rewards

• 3% cash back on international purchases.
• 1,25% cash back on all Canadian purchases.
• 2% cash back on Rogers products and services.

You should choose this card if you:

  • Are looking for a more affordable version of the Rogers World Elite.
  • Like earning cashback on every purchase.
  • Want a card with no annual fees.

You should choose another card if you:

• Prefer a good rewards system and shopping benefits over cash-back.
• Like to have travel insurance and other travel-related benefits.

Meridian Visa Infinite


While the Meridian Visa Infinite isn’t really a no-foreign-transaction-fee card, it does offset this by the fact it has 3% cash back on all foreign purchases, and much like the Rogers Platinum, it effectively erases foreign transaction fees while netting you 0,5% on cash back. It also offers a 1,5% cash back on every other purchase. This card has a $99 annual fee which can be waived the first year, great travel insurance coverage and mobile device insurance. This card is certainly focused on the needs of those who like to travel on holidays.

A major drawback of this card, though, is that it is not available for Quebec residents.

Eligibility

• Minimum annual income of $60,000 or $100,000 in household income.
• Must have the age of majority required in the province or territory of residence.
• Be a Canadian resident (but not from Quebec).

Travel Benefits

• Medical coverage of up to $5,000,000, the duration depends on the age group and can last up to 48 days.
• 24/7 travel assistance.
• Mobile device insurance covering up to $1,000.
• Insurance coverage for trip cancellation/interruption, purchase protection, baggage and car rental loss or damage.

Shopping Benefits

• 3% cash back on international purchases.
• 1,5% cash back on all Canadian purchases.
• Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection, which lets you enjoy exclusive benefits when staying abroad in world-class hotels.
• Visa Infinite Concierge which can help you in organizing events, making a restaurant reservation, or even picking a detailed gift.
• Visa Infinite Dining Series.
• Visa Infinite Wine Country Program.

You should choose this card if you:

• Like earning cashback on every purchase.
• Like to have a strong and long-lasting travel insurance.
• Think the Visa Infinite benefits are for you.

You should choose another card if you:

• Live in Quebec.
• Prefer a good rewards system and shopping benefits over cash-back.

American Express Centurion Card

Saying that the American Express Centurion card is expensive is an understatement. Just the initiation fee is $7,500, while the annual fee comes at $2,500. This exclusive card offers many rewards, designed to better luxurious holidays and business travel stays abroad. The main way to get access to this card would be to first apply to the American Express Platinum Card.

Eligibility

This is an invite-only card, so the following criteria are just pointers to increase your chances of being invited:
• Own an American Express credit card (Preferably an Amex Platinum card) for at least one year and spend around $100,000 – $450,000 a year on another Amex card.
• Earn $1 million or more annually.
• Have a huge net worth.
As I just mentioned, one key factor with this card is that you can’t apply for it, you can only get it via an invitation from American Express. If you think you could be eligible and can manage the fee, start today by signing up to the American Express Platinum:

Travel Benefits

• Personal concierge that helps you in a variety of tasks to ease your traveling needs.
• Flight upgrades that let you get free seat selection, better priced first-class upgrades and priority check-in and baggage delivery, among other things.
• Access to over 1,200 lounges around the world, as well as 9 special Centurion lounges.
• Access to exclusive Centurion Card events.

Shopping Rewards

• 1 point per dollar spent on every purchase (worth around 2 cents).
• 1,5 points for purchases over $5,000 up to $1 million per year.

You should choose this card if you:

  • Would like the best travel benefits any credit card offers.
  • Always like to fly first-class.
  • Take full advantage of a personal concierge.
  • Like spending time in lounges while traveling.
  • Like having access to exclusive Amex events.
  • Want bragging rights.

You should choose another card if you:

  • Are not a millionaire or can’t handle the heavy annual fee.
  • Are not a frequent traveler.
  • Want a better reward system.

In conclusion

While every card has its benefits, some are more geared towards shopping and others towards travel rewards or benefits. Finding the right balance between these two factors as well as the fees will determine which is the right card for you, if any.

The Scotiabank Visa Infinite Card, for example, is very well-rounded, with not too high eligibility requirements, it offers good insurance coverage as well as travel and shopping rewards that make it very worthwhile.

The Brim cards, on the other hand, are more focused on shopping rewards, and while offering fewer benefits than other shopping focused cards like the Scotiabank Gold American Express, Brim does give more flexibility on how to accrue points and where to spend them.

And on the high end of the spectrum, the Rogers World Elite offers comprehensive travel and shopping benefits, but its eligibility requirements automatically leave out more than 70% of Canadians. Still, it’s one of the better no foreign transaction fee credit cards out there.

All in all, Canadians have a healthy range of choices when choosing a no foreign transaction credit card to meet their needs.

What has been your experience with the credit cards mentioned in this post? Feel free to write us in the comments

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