Credit Cards

List of credit cards for foreign currency transactions

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  • Jan 28th, 2023 6:18 pm
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[OP]
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List of credit cards for foreign currency transactions

Here is a list of credit cards that will, at the least, not ding you on purchases made in a foreign currency.

Cards with no conversion markup (0% over payment network's rate):

  • Brim Financial Mastercard Basic/World Elite: 1%/2% (cash back statement credit redeemed any time). $0/$199 annual fee. Unavailable to Yukon, NWT, and Nunavut residents.
  • Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Consumer version: 1-2% depending on merchant category, $139 annual fee, and Business version: 1.5% on all spend, $199 annual fee. Earned in Scene+ points.
  • Scotiabank American Express Gold and Platinum : 1%/2% in Scene+ points (redeem for statement credit against travel expense). $120/$399 annual fee.
  • HSBC World Elite, Premier World Elite and Jade World Elite Mastercard: 3% on travel and 1.5% on other purchases (Tiers changing on Feb 1 2023: 3% on travel, 2% on grocery, gas, and drugstore, and 1% on other). Earned in travel points. $149/$149/$299 annual fee. Premier and Jade require very large deposits/investments with HSBC.
  • Home Trust Preferred Visa: 0%. $0 annual fee. 10 transaction limit per day. Unavailable to Quebec residents.
  • Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Canada) UnionPay Dual Currency Card Classic/Gold version, 1%/2% paid in cash back. $19/$49 annual fee. China UnionPay payment network only.

Cards with 2.5% conversion markup (that you earn back in points/cashback):

  • Meridian Credit Union Visa Infinite Business Cash Back Plus Card: Net rewards: 0.5% (3% on foreign currency transactions minus 2.5% conversion fee, redeem for statement credit anytime ($50 minimum) $110 annual fee. Unavailable to Quebec residents. As of August 2 2022, all Meridian cards are grandfathered and no longer available.
  • Meridian Credit Union Travel Rewards Visa Infinite: Net rewards: ~0.0%-0.5% (Earned in travel points, 3 points—not exactly worth 1¢ each—minus 2.5% conversion fee.) $99 annual fee. Unavailable to Quebec residents. As of August 2 2022, all Meridian cards are grandfathered and no longer available.
  • MBNA Amazon Prime Mastercard: Net rewards: 0% (earned in Amazon.ca store credit). 2.5% minus 2.5% conversion fee. No annual fee but Amazon Prime membership required ($99/year)

Cards suitable for buying things only at certain places:

Your credit cards that charge 2.5% currency conversion fee but pay accelerated rewards in certain merchant categories can beat your 0% conversion fee card when spending at those kinds of merchants. Examples:
  • Net 2.6% on grocery stores, restaurants, bars: American Express Cobalt, MBNA Rewards World Elite
  • Net 1.5% on grocery stores: Meridian Cash Back Visa Infinite, CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite, Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite
  • Net 1.5% on gas: Meridian Cash Back Visa Infinite, CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite

Prepaid (not credit) cards:


USD-spending-only credit and prepaid store cards

  • Rogers Platinum (grandfathered) and World Elite Mastercard: 0.5% (3% on USD spend minus 2.5% conversion fee. Cash back redeemed for statement credit. $0 annual fee. No net benefit for spending in other foreign currencies.
  • RFD list of gift cards that work in both USA and Canada (unclear what the FX markup is on most of those cards, but for many it is close to mid-market)
  • Costco Shop Card for US Costco spending. Buy in Canada, spend at Costco in the USA. You get the mid-market exchange rate. The digital version bought at Costco.ca cannot be spent at gas pumps or in the food court, but the physical version bought in-warehouse can be.

___

MASTERCARD and AMEX ADVANTAGE

RFDer @mech9t5 sampled Visa's and Mastercard's daily foreign exchange rates for 364 days and averaged them. He found that Mastercard's average markup over XE.com's reported mid-market rate was 0.188%, while Visa's was 0.392%. No statistics were available for American Express. The ~0.2% advantage that Mastercard has over Visa has NOT been included in the net rewards listed above. RFDers have also reported FX rates used by American Express to be very close or even better than Mastercard, even when converting from currencies other than USD.
Last edited by Kiraly on Jan 13th, 2023 9:24 am, edited 172 times in total.
Thread Summary
Important!! since 2016, Canadian CC issuers do not reimburse the 2.5% FTF on refunds. This can be particularly annoying on hotel deposits. This is also a nuisance on category accelerators on refunds, since the accelerators get clawed back, but the FTF does not get reimbursed on returns.

Note all of those said cases and future risks of your money lost to uncompensated 2.5% FTF mentioned repeatedly in this thread and other threads may be avoided entirely by you '(knowingly) choosing to use' a "true no-FTF" card given in OP that has the robust benefit of "0% forex fee" charges anywhere.
This means that regardless of when and how small or big the *applicable* card rewards redeemed, lost or ineligible over Visa/MC/Brim/Amex interchange posted charges, that rare "0% forex fee" feature has already eliminated all that FTF money that would have cost you 'for any forex situations unexpected or not' without worry, effort or your redemption actions, e.g., unlike FTF charging cards' rebates program, the no-FTF instant benefits stays useful even 'in refunds/cancellations/corrections of posted transactions, or purchase returns and also any cash-like transactions like pre-paid/loaded atm cash advance needs all in foreign currencies' done on the "0% forex fee" card chosen from OP.
735 replies
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Jun 8, 2013
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Chase amazon visa?
$50 30GB 5G unlimited data plan TELUS winback.
HK$268(CAD$44.15) 365 days pass 35GB data.
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Kiraly wrote: Added to no longer available section.

If anyone with knowledge of how Home Trust and Amazon Visa cash back is redeemed, let me know and I will add it to the list.
Amazon Visa
- 2% on amazon.ca
- 1% on other
- Once it reaches a multiple of $20 (min $20), statement credit will be posted on your account on statement date.
Amex Cobalt - MBNA RWE - Brim WE
Amex Platinum - Bonvoy Brilliant Amex - CIBC Aeroplan VIP
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CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite/Platinum (Gas stations and grocery stores ONLY): Net rewards: 1.5% (cash back paid annually as statement credit, 4% - 2.5% forex fee) $99 annual fee.

Why are the other two 1.6%?
Amex Cobalt - MBNA RWE - Brim WE
Amex Platinum - Bonvoy Brilliant Amex - CIBC Aeroplan VIP
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Nov 24, 2013
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Kiraly wrote: Added to no longer available section.

If anyone with knowledge of how Home Trust and Amazon Visa cash back is redeemed, let me know and I will add it to the list.
Home Trust is statement credit every January statement.

They also have some bonus cash back offers if you log into your account; may be FX-relevant as offers I've seen include Hulu (say you use a US IP Address service and subscribe).
EdisonL299 wrote: CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite/Platinum (Gas stations and grocery stores ONLY): Net rewards: 1.5% (cash back paid annually as statement credit, 4% - 2.5% forex fee) $99 annual fee.

Why are the other two 1.6%?
Guessing it's due to 4% times the higher purchase price (grossed up by the 2.5% fee), which appropriately nets out to 1.6%. It's the Rogers cards where I've heard (here, not first-hand) they actually work out to net 1.5%. Difference may be due to Rogers' bonus being on 'foreign currency transactions' and they treat it in such a way to net out that way. Others with 4% on Gas/Grocery/Entertainment just give the category bonus based on merchant code and apply FX rate like they would on any other purchase.
[OP]
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Yes, Scotiabank pays out 4% on whatever amount appears on your statement, which would include the 2.5% forex fee. Buy CDN $100 worth of gas in the USA, $102.50 appears on your statement. You earn 4% on $102.50, which is $4.10. You end up paying $98.40, which is a net return of 1.6%.
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Don't forget CIBC Dividend Visa Platinum...
Amex Cobalt - MBNA RWE - Brim WE
Amex Platinum - Bonvoy Brilliant Amex - CIBC Aeroplan VIP
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Marriott card is not exactly 1%. Its 1 Marriott pt per $ for regular purchases (worth about $0.008/0.8%), 2pt/$ (1.6%) for restaurants, airlines, car rentals; 5pt/$ (4%) at SPG and Marriott. Also includes an annual night at a cat 5 Marriott ($100-300 value) and 15 nights for Silver Elite.
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Kiraly wrote: I qualified that; "1% (or more if you buy travel stuff)".

but it's not 1%, because the points are worth LESS than that
[OP]
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foreigncontent wrote: but it's not 1%, because the points are worth LESS than that
Ratehub showed how the Marriott points could be worth as little as 0.61¢ and as much as 1.62¢, depending on the type of hotel you redeem them for. Lower end hotels, surprisingly, get you a better return. https://www.ratehub.ca/blog/how-the-mar ... ram-works/

I'm going to keep it at 1% for now, and add a "~" in front.
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Oct 26, 2016
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foreigncontent wrote: but it's not 1%, because the points are worth LESS than that
You could also approach though on the assumption that whoever is using it will ultimately convert them to SPG. If you assume an SPG point valued at 3%, and 3:1 conversion from Marriott to SPG, that means you land right on 1% for the Marriott points, which is how a number of people choose to look at it.
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Apr 28, 2012
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Kiraly wrote: Ratehub showed how the Marriott points could be worth as little as 0.61¢ and as much as 1.62¢, depending on the type of hotel you redeem them for. Lower end hotels, surprisingly, get you a better return. https://www.ratehub.ca/blog/how-the-mar ... ram-works/

I'm going to keep it at 1% for now, and add a "~" in front.
I agree with the opinion to keep it at 1%, for sake of simplicity!
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Jun 15, 2012
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Fido MC looks alright
I currently have RBC cash back MC
But 2% on groceries which might be groceries but not recognized as such but MC
And 0.5% on rest
Here every purchase is 1.5% cash back
---
Should apply
---
How redeem hardly earn cash back?
And can I pay it with my RBC online banking?


Thanks folks.
No need to type thank you; upvote=thanks.
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[OP]
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I just got reminded in a different thread how Amex Canada will convert your purchases in currencies other than USD and CAD into USD first, before converting again into CAD for billing. If anyone has details on how this will affect the net rewards return rate I listed above, please let me know and I'll add it to the original post.
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Mar 1, 2016
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Kiraly wrote: I just got reminded in a different thread how Amex Canada will convert your purchases in currencies other than USD and CAD into USD first, before converting again into CAD for billing. If anyone has details on how this will affect the net rewards return rate I listed above, please let me know and I'll add it to the original post.
i don't think this is true? I know i've had problem with AirBnB because my Amex card is listed as US$, so then AirBnB converted the currency to US$ (adding their 3%), and Amex charged again.

i have a flight charged in Euro (with Insurance value, and 2x points Amex is my best value)

Nov. 17 exchange rate 1.54368 , which seems about 2.5% above the rate for that day of 1.505 posted by the europeen central bank

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