PenFed Credit Cards With No Foreign Transaction Fees

It is a topic often discussed amongst people who live overseas, or travel abroad frequently:  credit cards and foreign transaction fees.  I’m pretty conservative when it comes to the banks with whom I am willing to have a credit card, because I have seen so many people get screwed by bad credit card companies.  For years, I have had two credit cards, one with USAA and one with Navy Federal.  The I was seduced by the Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) Platinum Cash Rewards card with 5% cash back on gas purchases.  It was great when we were living in the DC area and spending a fortune on gas.  The card has fallen into disuse since we moved overseas because we purchase our gas rations through the Navy Exchange and it doesn’t trigger the cash back feature.

And then, I learned something new and exciting.  A promotional email from PenFed for their Platinum Rewards credit card advertised 5 points per dollar for gas purchases, 3 points per dollar for grocery purchases (including the commissary) and 1 point per dollar for all other purchases.  It doesn’t offer a cash rebate but a Visa gift card is fine with me.  Best of all, it advertised no overseas transaction fees.  This got me looking, and lo, it looks like none of the PenFed credit cards have foreign transaction fees!  Hey-o, time to dust off the PenFed credit card and start using that instead of my USAA or Navy Federal cards, each of which charge a small 1% foreign transaction fee.

In addition to having no foreign transaction fees, that 3% cash back in grocery purchases will really add up.  My family’s food budget exceeds $1000 per month, so that would mean at least $30 a month in rewards on groceries alone.  The $360 in gift cards that I can earn in a year is nearly my entire Christmas budget.

If you are looking for a good credit card with no foreign transaction fees, and you are eligible for PenFed membership, you will definitely want to look at their credit card offerings.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Tom

    As a long-time PenFed user, I was not interested when they wanted me to switch from direct cash-back to this new “points” system. Just give me the cash; simple, up-front, honest.

    Now they’ve cut the cash back to .25% and eliminated the 2% on groceries. So far the 5% on gas is still there, but who knows for how long.

    I’m very disappointed. Any other long-time members should be too.

    Fortunately, there’s a link on their “about us” page that you can use to e-mail the Chairman of the Board.

    If you like cash back directly into your account rather than dealing with points, let him know. I spoke with a customer service manager who assured me I wasn’t the only one who has called about this issue, and that the Chairman DOES read his e-mail.

    Maybe we can make a difference.