Chase Freedom foreign transaction fee — the easy guide


Chase offers several great credit and debit cards which each have their own features and benefits. The Chase Freedom card is popular with customers with a good credit rating who are looking for a flat-rate cash back card which comes with a few different redemption options.¹ However, as with any financial product, you’ll want to check out the full detail of costs and limits, including those applied to overseas spending, before you choose to get yourself a Chase Freedom card.

This simple guide covers all you need to know, including:

  • Chase Freedom credit card fees and charges
  • Making foreign purchases using your Chase Freedom card — including the foreign transaction fees and exchange rates you need to know about
  • DCC — a tricky hidden fee you’ll want to avoid when shopping and spending overseas

Chase Freedom credit card foreign transaction fees — the basics

If you use your Chase Freedom credit card when you’re travelling, or when shopping online with retailers based outside of the US, you’ll be charged a 3% foreign transaction fee.² That means the cost of your transaction is converted into dollars, and then the 3% surcharge is added, often as a separate line on your credit card bill.

This charge doesn’t seem that high at first, but it can mount up if you’re using your Chase Freedom card for a long vacation, or if you often shop online from overseas stores.

Looking for more information about the features and fees of the Chase Freedom Unlimited card? Click here for the full lowdown.

When is this fee charged?

A foreign transaction fee is charged every time you use your card outside of the US, to pay for goods and services or make a cash withdrawal. You might also find that it’s added to online purchases which are made from a store based overseas, or which routes its payments through a non-US bank.

It can be difficult to be sure if you’ll need to pay a foreign transaction fee for an online purchase. Even if the cost you see on a website it shown in dollars, it’s possible that the supplier or store — and its bank — is based outside of the US. Check the website ‘about’ page, to see if it tells you where the store is based, before you confirm your purchase.³

What other fees do I need to know about

Here are some of the other costs you’ll need to consider if you’re getting yourself Chase Freedom card.

Membership fee None
Balance transfer The greater of $5 or 3% of the total amount You may not be eligible for a balance transfer, depending on your circumstances
Cash advance The greater of $10 or 5% Interest is charged immediately on cash advance payments
Late payment Up to $38
Return payment Up to $38
Fee for exceeding credit limit None

The interest rates applied for this card depend on both your credit worthiness and the base rate in effect at the given moment. At the time of writing the rates offered range from 17.24% to 25.99% for purchases and balance transfers, with a higher rate of 27.24% for cash advances. You may be eligible for a 0% introductory APR for up to 12 months.

What about the exchange rates?

As well as the foreign transaction fee, you’ll need to know about the exchange rate used to calculate the cost of your overseas purchases. The Chase Freedom card is issued by Visa, so in most cases, you’ll get the Visa exchange rate on your ATM withdrawals and purchases. The only exception to this is if you’re caught out by dynamic currency conversion — DCC — which we will cover later. In this case, you’ll get the rate set by the merchant — which might include a markup and fees.

You can check the Visa exchange rate online using the Visa exchange rate calculator. This will tell you the rate for today, or you can use it to check the exchange rates on the day of your purchase when you’re reviewing your bill.

It helps to know that the exchange rate used by your bank might not be the same as the one you’ll find if you google your currency pairing, or use an online currency converter. Google will give you the mid-market exchange rate, which is the one used by banks trading on the global money market. However, this isn’t always the rate which is passed on to retail customers. Instead, you might find that a markup has been added to the mid-market rate, which can make your overseas purchases more expensive than you expected.

Not all providers add a markup to the mid-market rate. Currency experts Wise, for example, always use the mid-market exchange rate, and charge a low fee for currency conversion. This makes it easy to see the total cost of your transaction — and can work out cheaper, too.

You can get a Wise borderless account which lets you hold, manage, send and spend your money in 40+ different currencies all in the one account. You’ll receive local bank details for the US, eurozone, UK, Australia and New Zealand and can sign up to receive a linked MasterCard debit card for even easier access to your travel money.

Watch out for Dynamic Currency Conversion

Dynamic currency conversion — more often known as DCC — is a headache for many travelers who realise too late that they’ve paid more than they need to when using their card overseas.

DCC is where you’re asked by a merchant or when using and ATM, if you’d rather pay in your home currency instead of using the local currency wherever you are. This sounds like it might be a good idea, because you can see instantly the costs in dollars of whatever you’re buying. But there’s a catch. If you pay in dollars, you may be given a poor exchange rate.

When you agree to DCC the rate used to calculate the costs of your transaction is decided by the merchant or ATM operator. Unlike your own bank or card issuer, they don’t care too much about keeping customers loyal — and so can add a markup and fees to their rates. They make a higher profit — and you pay more in the end for your foreign currency transaction.

Instead, dodge DCC by always opting to pay in the local currency. That way your exchange rate is selected by your card issuer or bank, and is more likely to represent a good deal.

The Chase Freedom card has a few great features, and as a flat rate reward card, it’s an attractive option. However, if you’re planning on traveling or do a lot of shopping online with merchants based overseas, their foreign transaction fee can increase the prices you pay for goods and services. A better bet for many customers is to find a service which is aimed at people living an international lifestyle, like the borderless account and card from Wise.

This flexible account lets you hold and use multiple currencies. Simply add money to your account in dollars and switch to the currency you need using the mid-market exchange rate, and for a low transparent charge, from 0.35%-2%. Then you can send and spend however you like — without any foreign transaction fee to worry about.



All sources last checked on 26 February 2019

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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