Use your debit card instead.
AMEX charges 2.7% for every transaction and Citbank charges 3%. Is there any way to avoid these charges? What if I carry a credit on the card (by paying more on the monthly statement beyond what I owe them)?
Use Discover when possible.
From their site
And I know ChrisMD hates discover, but it is my preferred card after 25 years of usage I have never had a problem with them and they have been on top of some fraudulent transactions faster than any other card I have used. Only problem is they aren't as widely accepted. I think capital one also has a MC/Visa with no fees. I need to double check since I head to Italy next month.Will I be charged a transaction fee when I make a purchase in a foreign currency using my Discover card?
No, Discover does not charge a foreign currency fee.
How will foreign transactions appear on my statement?
When you make a purchase in a foreign currency, there will be a two-line description of the card transaction on your statement:
Line 1 includes:
-Name and location of the merchant
-Amount of transaction in U.S. dollars
Line 2 includes:
-The amount of the transaction in the foreign currency
-The rate of exchange used to convert the card sale into U.S. Dollars
* The exchange rate is the published rate on the processing date, which is the date the transaction was received by Discover card.
Unless you have certain cards that have no international fees (captial one, amex platinum) I think your best bet is to change money before leaving. Go to your bank and order some of the foreign currency you need.
Debit card will hit you for a high fee as well, I believe my BoA one hit me for 3% and that was the last time I used it overseas. ATM fees are usually extortionist unless you are with a 'partner' bank but usually get a foreign currency fee of ~1%. BoA has a partnership with Barclays in the UK which allows you to use their ATMs but you'll pay a small fee each time- far lower than the rates you were describing.
Call your bank, ask them how to minimize your fees while traveling.
Last edited by torxim; 03-30-2012 at 03:01 AM.
Capital One is a no-brainer. There are banks and credit unions out there that don't whack you for overseas ATM fees. I guarantee you that Bank of America is not one of those banks. I usually do international travel with a couple one hundred dollar bills as emergency money, use a Capital One credit card everywhere that will take it, and use my ATM card at a real brick & mortar bank ATM machine to get cash.
Depends on where you are going too. Another option would be to use your debit card at a large national/multinational bank ATM while in country. Check with your bank to see what fees you might be charged on their end.
In reality, the 2.7% foreign transaction fee isn't that bad. Now, if you are going to be gone for several weeks and this is coming from your pocket, I would be looking at ways to minimize the risk as well.
Look at it this way, changing money in country carries about the same fee (give or take). But like a previous poster said, carrying large sums of money is never a good idea...particularly in countries where customs can be a little "hands-on."
OP, where are you going?
minimize credit card fees by minimizing credit card use
and use the cards above that don't charge fees
I usually take a bit of cash and use the credit cards mainly for hotels ( some chance of recourse if frauded) and air tickets but don't use if for the small stuff (higher chances of fraud from small stores, etc.)
I used to bring travelers checks also but have since stopped doing that...........
my deal is don't put all your eggs on a credit card while traveling it's worked for me,
but may not work for others
-There are credit cards geared towards travelers with no (or minimal) foreign transaction fees. Talk to your bank and credit card company and see if they offer any other products that might better suit a traveler. SIDENOTE: If you intend on using your credit card, call your CC company ahead of time to let them know you're traveling. If you don't, they may think your card is stolen and deny your charges.
-Another option is to purchase travelers checks upfront, and cash them when you arrive at your destination. Depending on where you cash them, you may still pay a "hidden" fee in the form of poorer exchange rates. In my experience, airport currency exchanges tend to have worse rates. I've had good luck at multi-national banks and hotels.
-Final option is to call your debit card company, and see if you can withdraw cash as you need it from foreign ATMs. I've done this when traveling to Mexico. Exchange rate was good, and my debit card didn't charge foreign transaction fees. When I travelled to Japan, however, I couldn't get my debit card to work. Same as a credit card tho, you need to call your card issuer before you travel to let them know.
Last edited by BUJonathan; 04-10-2012 at 08:52 PM.
If you absolutely want or need to go the local currency route, then I've heard AAA has a currency exchange system.
I generally try to use my credit or debit card when traveling. But I will usually carry a few traveler's checks as back-up just in case my cards don't work. If I wind up not needing them, I just return them to my bank when I get home.
In my experience traveling through Europe, Africa, and Asia most places don't operate on plastic nearly as much as the us. With the exception of large ticket items such as hotel charges, and shopping in large department stores most places are still very much a cash based economy. On my first trip to Europe I purchased many travelers checks, but in practice I found few places that it was convenient to spend or cash them.
When I travel now I usually just hit ATMs periodically and withdraw $3-500 at a time. I have many tactics to keep my money close to me such as money belts, and never keeping a wallet in a accessible pocket. My bank charges a $4 fee plus whatever fee the ATM charges, however I find that the exchange rate is either comparable or a bit better then what a currency exchange place charges. In the end it balances out.
I'm not sure what the current international fees are for using credit but 2-3% seems nominal. My one strong advise is never to use a debit card when making a international purchase. Having a card directly linked to your bank account is a really bad idea. I have had two friends who have become the victim of fraud from doing this, and while they both were ultimately refunded it was an ordeal, and in one case it meant my friends account was frozen leaving him broke until he could have money wired.
Credit card companies will react much faster when it is their money being stolen.
Just my $.02.
Why is the limit low on the cap one? And how much do you need? Most of mycards have 5-10k limit. I never come anywhere close to using any of that. I had a cap one with a 30 k limit, but never used it and it got closed for inactivity. Wis I had been paying attention, not that it really matters, Id never use that kind of limit now anyway, but when 0% no transfer fee offers were available it was nice to have.
Chase Hyatt card also has no foreign trans fee. Headed to Rome tomorrow!!
Last edited by twilk; 04-16-2012 at 04:49 AM.
so it doesnt make sense with respect to my credit history and credit worthiness. ive tried requesting limit increase online -- no dice. its only ever gone from 1500 to 2500 to 4000.
4k is less than 1 roundtrip ticket in business class, keep in mind. or buy an employee dinner, or a gadget on vacation with a few nights stays, you skirt dangerously close to the limit. so why bother? also nothing, while its not true today, it was when i had actively used it: the damn website used to shutdown every sunday for maintenance!!!!!! in the 21st century!!! they shut it down once a week!! what a joke
Ended up putting some USD on a Travelex Cash card. Still have some left over but I'd rather leave it there (card good for 4 years) - no reason to cash out with the exchange rate being so bad now.
Will look into Cap One and/or Discover cards for future travel.
Speaking of avoiding exchange fees, have you guys seen this?