Amazon.ca Rewards Visa and Marriott Rewards Premier Visa cardholders recently received a letter from their card issuer, Chase Canada, advising that these cards will be deactivated as of March 15th, 2018.
It’s a disappointing, but not surprising exit for Chase, which sold its Sears MasterCard portfolio and related credit card operations; including a call centre, to Scotiabank in 2015, and then closed the popular Amazon.ca Rewards Visa to new applicants in April 2017, and finally closed the Marriott Rewards Premier Visa to new applicants last fall.
Although Chase only managed to carve out a small credit card portfolio in Canada, its cards were popular for one reason – they didn’t charge an extra fee when converting foreign currency transactions back into Canadian dollars. Virtually every other card issuer in Canada charges a 2.5 percent fee to convert your foreign purchases back into Canadian dollars. Talk about price fixing!
It’s an insidious fee, often hidden within your credit card statement and blended in with the exchange rate so you don’t even notice you’re paying an extra 2.5% on your purchases.
Credit Cards With No Foreign Currency Conversion Fees
So, now that Chase has tucked tail and run back south, what credit card options do Canadians have to avoid foreign currency conversion fees? I’m talking about trips to the U.S. and abroad, or online shopping in U.S. dollars. What’s a savvy Canadian to do?
Several readers reached out to ask the same question:
“I wonder if you can help me. Recently I received a notice from Amazon / Chase Bank, that they would be ending their Visa Card on March 15. I like this card because it has no annual fee and does not charge foreign exchange fees when I travel outside of Canada. I have yet to find another card without FX fees. Do you know of any that I may want to look at?”
Great question and I’m happy to answer it. The truth is I’m in the same boat myself. I was also an avid user of the Amazon.ca Rewards Visa, and the closure of this card has me looking for another ‘no foreign exchange fee’ solution.
I scoured the Canadian credit card market and came up with two options for credit cards with no foreign currency conversion fees.
Home Trust Preferred Visa Card
Home Trust is a subsidiary of Home Capital Group (yes, that one). It offers a similar card to the Amazon.ca Rewards Visa that I think you’ll like. It’s called the Home Trust Preferred Visa Card.
This credit card has no annual fee and pays 1 percent cash back on every purchase, with no limit to your total rewards and no restrictions on where you earn our rewards. You also get a Roadside Assist membership at no extra charge, and of course, what we’ve been looking for, no foreign currency conversion surcharges.
Your foreign purchases are converted at the spot rate set by Visa without any additional charges.
Learn more about the Home Trust Preferred Visa Card and apply online here.
Rogers Fido MasterCard
There’s another credit card that can deliver what we’re looking for when it comes to foreign purchases and that’s the Rogers Fido MasterCard. This card tackles foreign transactions a bit differently – by boosting the rewards you earn on foreign purchases to 4 percent.
Indeed, the Fido MasterCard still charges an extra 2.5 percent to convert your purchases back into Canadian dollars, however it’s the only card on the market that pays 4 percent cash back rewards on all purchases in a foreign currency – from international websites to anywhere you travel outside of Canada.
What’s more, there’s no annual fee and you earn 1.5 percent cash back on all Canadian dollar purchases.
Redeem your rewards for Rogers or Fido services such as a new phone, monthly billing, or online purchases at fido.ca. Or, you can instantly apply a minimum of $20 in rewards towards eligible purchases you’ve made in the last 30 days with the MasterCard ‘Pay with Rewards’ app. Finally, you can request a statement credit once per year from Rogers in December to be applied in January.
Learn more about the Rogers Fido MasterCard and apply online here.
For me, the Amazon.ca Rewards Visa filled a small but important role as my go-to card for any foreign purchases such as travel into the U.S. or abroad, or online purchases in U.S. or other foreign currency. Like many of you, I’m sad to see it go – it truly was a hidden gem in the Canadian credit card market.
But after surveying the market, I’m confident either the Home Trust Preferred Visa or the Rogers Fido MasterCard can fill the void left behind by Chase as the top credit cards with no foreign currency conversion fees.
Leave a comment below and let me know which one you prefer.