By Oliver Browne

The African continent is an intrepid traveller’s dream, with numerous African destinations topping many adventurers’ bucket lists. Whether relaxing on the beaches of Seychelles, immersing yourself in the history of Egypt, or tracking gorillas in the Budongo Forest, Africa is a continent of immense diversity and deep culture. It would take several lifetimes to experience everything Africa has to offer.

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With so much to do and see, don’t let small things like foreign transaction fees become a thorn in your side on your African travels. This guide discusses what to look for in a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card and gives card recommendations for every kind of traveller.

What to Look for in a No-Foreign-Transaction-Fee Credit Card

When travelling (and spending) outside of the United States, foreign transaction fees can become quite the burden. Most credit cards charge a fee on foreign transactions, usually around 3%. Luckily, this is a fee that can be easily avoided.

There are a number of credit cards on the market that can help you avoid such foreign transaction fees. Many of these cards come with a variety of other advantages to assist the frequent travellers in their pursuits, making them valuable pieces of plastic to have in your pocket. When deciding upon a no foreign transaction fee card, there are a few questions you should ask yourself to make sure you will maximize your value:

  • Does it benefit me in other ways apart from the lack of foreign transaction fee? Having no foreign transaction fee is generally only one of the positive perks on a number of credit cards. Most foreign transaction cards come with a slew of additional rewards and benefits, such as cash back, travel points and varying benefits suites. When shopping for a no-foreign-transaction-fee card, look at other rewards and benefits on potential choices and choose the card that will personally give you the most value.
  • Is the annual fee worth it? Some no-foreign-transaction-fee cards come with lofty annual fees due to their additional benefits and rewards. If a certain card’s rewards and benefits catch your eye, make sure that you will get enough value from that card to offset the annual fee. There is no point in paying a large annual fee for a no-foreign-transaction-fee card if you are not going to use the rest of the rewards and benefits.
  • Solid Customer Support Service A good customer support team can save you a headache if something goes wrong with your card on your travels. As the age-old adage goes, it’s better to have it and not need it than not have it at all.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Below we have chosen three (3) fantastic cards without foreign transaction fees that have some great additional benefits. There is a card suggestion here for every type of traveller, with a no-annual-fee card, a mid-range annual fee card, and a premium-tier card with a high fee. It should be noted that when deciding on a card also check the points redemption methods of each. Points, or miles as they can be called on some cards, can be worth different values depending on how you redeem them. Make sure to study the point redemption methods and learn what card can personally bring you the most value.

No Annual Fee – Capital One VentureOne

With a decent range of rewards and benefits and no annual fee, the Capital One VentureOne is the perfect card for someone who wants to avoid foreign transaction fees and get a decent amount extra on the side. If you use to book hotels, this card can bring you massive additional value, all at no added cost.


  • 10 miles per dollar on purchases from (until the January 1st, 2020)
  • 1.25 miles on all other purchases
  • Signup bonus: 20,000 bonus miles (equating to $200 in value) for spending $1,000 in the first three (3) months

Key Benefits

  • Shopping discounts at selected retailers – This includes retailers such as Target,, and Lenovo.
  • Visa Luxury Hotel Collection: This benefit includes a number of perks in eligible hotel bookings, like $25 food and beverage credit and best available rates guarantees.
  • Fine Wine & Food: This gives cardholders benefits at over 50 wineries in Sonoma Wine County in California, and discounts at selected restaurants.
  • Special offers on sports & entertainment events.

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

Mid-Range Annual Fee – Chase Sapphire Preferred, $95 annual fee that is waived in the first year

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is much more than a no-foreign-transaction-fee card. With more-than-decent rewards and benefits aimed at travellers, this card is an excellent choice for someone willing to pay the reasonable annual fee. It is worth noting that the annual fee is waived for the first year if you want to take this card for a test drive on your African trip.


  • 2 points per dollar on travel and dining expenses
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • 50,000 bonus points for spending $4000 in the first 3 months (depending on your point redemption methods this can equate to $625–$1,000 of value)
  • 5,000 bonus points for adding an authorized user in the first 3 months

Key Benefits

  • Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection: This benefit gives cardholders additional benefits at participating locations, for example, late checkouts, complimentary breakfast, and more.
  • Chase Preferred Experiences: This gives cardholders access to exclusive events at large cities across the globe.
  • Visa Signature Concierge: A cardholder has access to a phone concierge to assist in making reservations, booking tickets, travel advice, and more.
  • Shop Through Chase: This allows for the earning of extra points when purchasing from select retailers through the Shop Through Chase Portal.

Large Annual Fee – American Express Platinum, $550 annual fee

With a profitable rewards scheme and a lavish suite of benefits, the American Express Platinum Card is a top-of-the-range luxury travel card. Luxury does not come cheap, however, with a hefty $550 annual fee. This is a card for someone who is looking for lavish benefits that make travelling a breeze.


  • 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through the American Express Travel portal
  • 5 points per dollar on hotels booked through the American Express Travel portal
  • 2 point per dollar on all other purchases through the Amex Travel portal
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • 60,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months (this can equate to $600–$1200 in value depending on your point redemption methods)

Key Benefits

The benefits of the Amex Platinum are both lavish and wide-ranging. This summary highlights the main benefits.

  • $200 annual airline credit
  • $200 annual Uber credit
  • Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Credit: Amex will reimburse you for one of these expedited airport screening services.
  • Global Lounge Collection: This benefit entails complimentary access to over 1,000 airport lounges across 120 countries.  
  • Fine Hotels and Resorts Collection
  • Special Hotel Membership Status: This entails complimentary Hilton Honors Gold and Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.

Photo by Manuel Moreno on Unsplash

In conclusion, a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card can help you worry less about unnecessary fees and give you more time to plan your African itinerary. While these cards are fantastic tools for every traveller, they are also serious financial tools that need to be treated responsibly. Always pay your bills on time and in full. When used correctly, these cards provide massive benefits to the intrepid traveller.

Best of luck in your travels!  


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