Earn points and save on costs when you shop overseas using a frequent flyer card without foreign transaction fees.
Most frequent flyer credit cards incur a fee when you make purchases overseas or online with an international retailer. However, a small selection offers both points and 0% foreign transaction fees. Depending on the card, you can also enjoy other perks such as airport lounge access, travel credit and complimentary travel insurance.
Use this guide to compare frequent flyer credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. We also go through the key features to consider and mistakes to avoid so you can find a credit card that works for you.
Frequent flyer credit cards with no foreign transaction fees
How do frequent flyer credit cards with no foreign transaction fees work?
These credit cards provide a way to avoid extra charges when you make purchases overseas. They also offer points per $1 spent on eligible purchases both in Australia and overseas.
In comparison, most frequent flyer credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee worth around 3% of each purchase you make overseas or online with an international store. While you’ll still earn points, the foreign transaction fees can really add up.
Example: How much can I save with a frequent flyer credit card that has no foreign transaction fees?
Say you’ve spent $5,000 on your credit card for a trip overseas. On a frequent flyer card with a 3% foreign transaction fee, you’d be charged around $150 for your spending. With a card that offers 0% foreign transaction fees, you wouldn’t have to worry about this cost.
The only exception is if you used your card to withdraw cash from an ATM or make any other cash advance transactions. These charges will attract a cash advance fee and be charged interest from the time of the transaction. You may also have to pay ATM fees.
What other reward and frequent flyer cards offer no foreign transaction fees?
Here’s a rundown of some other cards you can consider that offer points and 0% foreign transaction fees:
|Credit card||Foreign transaction fee||Points per $1 spent||Annual fee||Other travel features|
|Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard||0% of transaction value||0.5 Qantas Points per $1 on eligible purchases (capped at 200,000 points per year)||$160 p.a.|
|Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard||0% of transaction value||2 points per $1 spent (capped at 400,000 points per year)||$160 p.a.|
|Bankwest More World Mastercard||0% of transaction value||2.5 points per $1 spent on eligible purchases (uncapped)||$270 p.a.|
|Coles Rewards Mastercard||0% on purchases (2.5% fee for cash withdrawals)||2 flybuys points per dollar spent (uncapped)||$99 p.a.|
|CommBank Platinum Awards|
(Points are capped at 150,000 per year)
|CommBank Diamond Awards|
(Points are capped at 1 million points per year)
How to compare frequent flyer credit cards with no foreign transaction fees
Here’s what to look out for if you’re interested in this type of card:
- Foreign transaction fee details. Make sure you check the details of the 0% foreign transaction fees so you know exactly what’s required. In some cases, it may only apply to one particular card, such as the CommBank Diamond Awards American Express card.
- Cash advance costs. If you use your credit card to withdraw cash or for any other cash advance transaction while you’re overseas or in Australia, you’ll pay a cash advance fee and be charged interest at the cash advance rate from the time of the transaction.
- ATM fees. If you use your credit card to withdraw cash overseas, your provider and the ATM operator could charge you ATM fees. This would be on top of the cash advance charges.
- Bonus point offers. Reward and frequent flyer credit cards may offer introductory bonus points when you meet particular spending requirements. If you’re comparing cards that earn points and have 0% foreign fees, a bonus points offer could help add short-term value to the card you choose.
- Points per $1 spent. Consider how many points you’ll earn when you use the card, keeping in mind that some transactions may offer higher earn rates either in Australia or overseas. Keep in mind that you usually won’t earn points on transactions such as cash advances, balance transfers and BPAY payments.
- Annual fee. Weigh the cost of the card’s annual fee against the value of other features, such as points, complimentary extras or even the potential savings you could make from 0% foreign transaction fees, so you can find an option that’s worthwhile.
- Purchase rate. If you don’t pay off your purchases in full by the due date on each statement, they’ll attract interest at the standard purchase rate for that card. Make sure you consider this cost when you’re comparing different cards so you can apply for one that’s affordable.
- Other travel perks and features. Complimentary extras such as overseas travel insurance, lounge access, travel credit and concierge services can add value to the card you choose, as long as you are going to use them. If you’re interested in particular travel perks, check which cards offer them before you apply.
Common mistakes with frequent flyer credit cards that have no foreign fees
Watch out for these pitfalls so you make the most of your credit card:
- Withdrawing cash. Even if a card offers 0% foreign transaction fees, you’ll still pay cash advance charges when you withdraw money. It’s also likely you’ll pay ATM fees.
- Forgetting to factor in currency conversion. Any transactions made in a foreign currency will still be converted to Australian dollars at the applicable currency exchange rate. This could mean you don’t know exactly how much a transaction costs in Australian dollars before it shows up on your account, so make sure you factor this in to avoid going over your balance.
- Not paying off your balance. If you carry a balance on your credit card, you’ll be charged interest for your purchases. As interest rates are much higher than foreign transaction fees, this cost will add up a lot faster.
As well as these factors, one of the biggest potential issues is assuming that this type of card is right for you. As there are very few frequent flyer credit cards that don’t attract a foreign transaction fee, you will have limited options when it comes to other features and costs. In some cases, you may find a frequent flyer credit card that charges a foreign transaction fee but offers more perks, will provide more value. But if saving money is a priority, a card that offers no foreign transaction fees without rewards could be a better bet in the long run.
Alternatively, you could consider a prepaid travel card that lets you load and spend money in multiple currencies and also earns points, such as the Qantas Cash or Velocity Global Wallet. With all these options available, the most important thing is for you to think about what features you do and don’t want so you can find a card that best suits your goals.
Images: ShutterstockBack to top