6 Chip + PIN credit cards with no foreign fees

by on Thu May 15, 2014 • 2 Comments

emv-smart-cardThere are two big frustrations with using credit cards when traveling abroad: nasty foreign transaction fees and not having your card accepted because it doesn’t have an EMV ‘chip’ built-in.

If you travel to Europe frequently you’re probably used to the hassle, thanks to Europe’s wide use of the ‘Chip + PIN’ method of accepting credit card transactions.

Many European merchants and vending machines won’t accept a signature or personal ID as verification of a credit card transaction. So in order to use a credit card with these merchants you need a credit card that has an EMV chip built-in *and* a PIN associated with it.

There are a good number of U.S. credit cards that have an EMV chip, but nearly all still rely on you signing a receipt to verify, because they don’t have the additional PIN based verification system.

That’s not good enough because  you could still be stuck unable to use your cards at some vendors, especially automated kiosks that only accept a transaction with a PIN. That’s because kiosks don’t have a human to verify your signature. And some shops and restaurants may refuse a signature-only transaction.

To make matters worse, among the cards that do offer the PIN option, most charge foreign transaction fees of 1-3% on all foreign purchases, which shouldn’t be a price to pay for convenience.

Instead, ignore the noise and focus on these cards that have a PIN option so you can use them at kiosks and not worry about foreign transaction fees.

Chip cards with PIN and no foreign transaction fees

State Department Federal Credit Union EMV Visa Platinum 
No annual fee. Join the American Consumer Council – free –  link here to be eligible for the credit union.

Andrews Federal Credit Union GlobeTrek Visa 
No annual fee. Join American Consumer Council – free - link here - to be eligible for the credit union.

PenFed Platinum Rewards, Promise, & Gold Visa 
No annual fee. Donate $15 to Voices for America’s Troops – link here to be eligible for the credit union.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard 
$89 annual fee, waived the first year.

Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard 
$89 annual fee.

Wells Fargo Propel World American Express Card
$175 annual fee, waived the first year.

Chase is planning to introduce PIN capability on its cards with EMV chips later this year. One caveat to each of the above cards is that they default to signature verification first. So if you’re at a restaurant that has a person to verify a signature it will use that method instead of asking for a PIN. That’s fine for most situations, but some establishments may refuse to process your charge because they only want PIN based verification. Unfortunately there is no way to override the terminal to force a PIN transaction at manned locations. But of all the issues with Chip / PIN this is probably the least frequent.

USAA’s MasterCards are among the few that offer cards that are purely Chip + PIN with no signature priority, but they all levy 1% foreign transaction fees, which aren’t worth it in our opinion.

There are also many Chip and Signature cards available to you with no foreign transaction fees. They won’t help you at kiosks, but they can be helpful at places that won’t read the old style magnetic stripe.

Non-PIN Chip cards with no foreign transactions fees

There are many other Chip and Signature cards that charge foreign transaction fees. We think those should be avoided with so many options available that waive the foreign fees.

A constantly updated discussion of Chip based credit cards is on FlyerTalk.com.


The following two tabs change content below.
Follow @MileCards on Twitter for the latest updates and new offers

Still confused? Have a question?

Leave a comment below -- we'll reply shortly -- no need to use your real name. Or, use the email form at the top of the page for private advice.

"These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered."

2 thoughts on 6 Chip + PIN credit cards with no foreign fees

  1. mel ettenson

    still confused as to best chip and PIN cards…is it only Barclay Arrival Plus and PenFed VISA? Not terriblyvconcerned about foreign conversion fees.

    1. MileCards.com

      @Mel – The PenFed Visa is probably the best overall with no annual fee. Otherwise the Arrival Plus is generally best right now if you are willing to pay an annual fee.

  2. john jermusyk

    Capital One Venture card (VISA) no fee and no Europe transaction fees.
    I used it , it was great just no chip.


    1. MileCards.com

      @john- Glad it worked well for you. Yes, all Capital One cards have no foreign fees.Unfortunately they’ve been quite slow about considering adding the chips to their cards.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *