First published on July 27, 2012
Most credit cards charge a 2.5% transaction fee on top of the exchange rate on US-dollar and other foreign currency transactions. There are a few credit cards that currently do not charge this fee; they are all Chase-issued cards:
- Amazon.ca Rewards Visa Card (no annual fee)
- Sears Financial MasterCard (no annual fee) and Sears Financial Voyage MasterCard ($39 annual fee)
- Marriott Rewards Premier Visa ($120 annual fee waived for the first year)
They are worth considering if you do a fair amount of purchases each year outside of Canada. $1000 of purchases would typically cost an extra $25 in transaction fees; $5000 would typically add another $125 in transaction fees. Of course, there are many other factors to consider when choosing a credit card, such as rewards program, annual fee, insurance benefits, customer service, interest rates (if you do not pay your balance in full each month), and much more.
If you have a US-dollar bank account, you could also look into US-dollar credit cards, such as this one from BMO that has a $25 annual fee ($35 starting September 1, 2012) that is waived if you spend at least $1000 US in a year. This saves you the transaction fee for US purchases, saves you the exchange rate buy-sell spread (since you almost never get the mid-rate), and insulates you from exchange rate fluctuations. At the moment there are no Canadian-issued, US-dollar credit cards without an annual fee (except when part of a banking bundle or with a minimum spend).