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This may not be the appropriate board for this question, but we just got a notice from our credit card company (AA Citi Cards Mastercard) that they will charge us $3 for each foreign purchace! And we will be taking a trip to Greece and Turkey in October. Anyone know of a credit card with a better rate on foreign purchases?

brucedoe
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There is a board titled Credit Cards and Consumer Debt so I have cross posted this question there also with some elaboration.

brucedoe
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Unfortunately I've noticed that over the past year or two, all my credit cards (and to make matters worse, my bankcards) have been charging various fees for charges (or cash withdrawals) when outside of the USA. It sucks.
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>> Unfortunately I've noticed that over the past year or two, all my credit cards (and to make matters worse, my bankcards) have been charging various fees for charges (or cash withdrawals) when outside of the USA. It sucks. <<

I guess they have to find ways to get more money out of people who pay their cards off in full every month.

#29
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I just checked Pen Fed and they list 1% foreign transaction fee.

Gee, I thought I'd given up traveler's checks forever, but I can get those free.

1% on a $3000 trip is only $30, which may actually be less than being charged for exchange. $3 a transaction could be a lot more if you do things like eat out a couple times a day and pay by card.
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Gee, I thought I'd given up traveler's checks forever, but I can get those free.
_________________________________
Yes, you can get them free, but they're a pain to use anymore, especially overseas, from what we heard, two years ago, when we went to England and Ireland. And that was confirmed by AAA, who sells travelers checks - for free.

They suggested a prepaid VISA card as an alternative, with the same protection against theft or loss. But those have stiff fees at an ATM, which they disclosed.

We checked all our credit cards. What we found was that our best deals available were a 1% foreign exchange fee, from
*-VISA from MNBA - now Bank of America - AAA affinity deal
*-VISA from Target National Bank

And our VISA debit card from our bank was supposed to work just fine, and they assured us it would work at overseas ATMs, which they told my wife over the phone and in person when she bought some pounds and Euros for pocket money. But when we tried it it didn't work - said "insufficient balance". But the other cards worked for cash advances, so we survived. When we got back we were told that they were routinely blocking foreign debit transactions. My wife was furious. "You didn't tell us that! And I distinctly remember talking about it WHEN I WAS BUYING MY FOREIGN MONEY FOR THE TRIP!"

Bill
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I travel overseas maybe 8 or so times a year. What I do is pull a pile of local currency from the ATM when I land using my boring old ATM card, not a debit Visa or anything like that. My credit union does not charge a foreign fee for this. Then I use cash for almost everything. When I'm ready to check out of the hotel, I use up the rest of my cash on the bill and then put the balance on the credit card. That way I limit the number of transactions on my credit card and keep the costs down. My credit card also charges 1% on foreign purchases.

Tredos
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Hey brucedoe (and others willing to read),

My wife and I just signed up for Fidelity MySmart Cash Account back in October. Since then, we have cancelled our "local" bank account. They offer, free checking (with interest), free online bill pay, free checks, ability to cover overdrafts via your brokerage account, free money transfers in and out of any accounts, refunded ATM fees, the linked VISA has 1.5% cash back, etc.

We are very pleased with the service, and maybe this would be good for others.

As far as foreign exchange fees, I used the ATM abd VISA credit cards for that account in the UK and was charged a foreign exchange fee of 1%.

Here's a link to this account literature:
http://personal.fidelity.com/accounts/pdf/msc-cus-agreement....

Cheers!
'38Packard
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>> Unfortunately I've noticed that over the past year or two, all my credit cards (and to make matters worse, my bankcards) have been charging various fees for charges (or cash withdrawals) when outside of the USA. It sucks. <<

I guess they have to find ways to get more money out of people who pay their cards off in full every month.


They charge this foreign charge (withdrawal) fee to people who pay off their balance each month and to people who keep a monthly balance.

They (the banks and other card issuers) are doing it to get more money from everyone who travels outside of the USA.
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I just checked Pen Fed and they list 1% foreign transaction fee.

Gee, I thought I'd given up traveler's checks forever, but I can get those free.

1% on a $3000 trip is only $30, which may actually be less than being charged for exchange. $3 a transaction could be a lot more if you do things like eat out a couple times a day and pay by card.


I just looked online at old banking records and last year on a trip in Europe I withdrew $97.25 (in euros) and the fee was $2.92. On another occasion, I withdrew $94.28 (in euros, of course) and the fee was $2.83. This is with Citibank and it works out to a 3% fee. What a ripoff!

But I hate travelers checks, they are very difficult to use and there are often fees, or different exchange rates, over in Europe. I haven't used travelers checks in over 25 years.
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But I hate travelers checks, they are very difficult to use and there are often fees, or different exchange rates, over in Europe. I haven't used travelers checks in over 25 years.

Other than Canada, I haven't been out of the US for 15 years, and I can't remember the last time I used traveler's checks. For Canada, we've always used cash plus credit cards.

If I'm getting 1% cash back, which is true for Pen Fed (I think: I still haven't used my Pen Fed card, which I got as a spare card so I could cancel BOA, yeah!) then I guess it's break even.
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<<But I hate travelers checks, they are very difficult to use and there are often fees, or different exchange rates, over in Europe. I haven't used travelers checks in over 25 years.>>

Other than Canada, I haven't been out of the US for 15 years, and I can't remember the last time I used traveler's checks. For Canada, we've always used cash plus credit cards.


I was in Canada a few weeks ago and managed without changing any money at all. I used credit cards and gave the taxi drivers US dollars at a 1:1 rate.
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The usual "foreign transaction fee" is 3%. If that's in addition to the $3, you definitely need a different card.

Capital One has no "foreign transaction fee."


Vickifool
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There was a successful class-action suit against credit-card companies for charging a fee on foreign transactions between 1996 and 2006. I am surprised to hear that they are still charging these fees. See

http://ccfsettlement.com/
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If I'm getting 1% cash back, which is true for Pen Fed (I think: I still haven't used my Pen Fed card, which I got as a spare card so I could cancel BOA, yeah!) then I guess it's break even.

PenFed pays 1.25% cash back. Even after the 1% fee for foreign transactions, you are better off with their card than you are with traveler's checks.

Acme
(Has used his PenFed Visa in at least 6 countries.)
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There was a successful class-action suit against credit-card companies for charging a fee on foreign transactions between 1996 and 2006. I am surprised to hear that they are still charging these fees. See

The class-action suit was not because of the existence of the fees; there's nothing illegal about them. The suit was because the card-issuers did not include the fees in their terms, so there was no way for people to know about the fees ahead of time.

As long as the card-issuers state the fees in their terms of service, they can charge whatever they want for foreign (or domestic for that matter) transactions. These are fees that are not likely to go away any time soon.

Acme
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PenFed pays 1.25% cash back. Even after the 1% fee for foreign transactions, you are better off with their card than you are with traveler's checks.

Do you have it set up to be paid off in full each month from another institution? When I originally inquired about this by phone, they said they would send paperwork with the card, but they didn't, and I couldn't figure out how to do it on-line (but haven't tried very hard). I get 1% back on my local CU's credit card, which is what we use for everything, so I'm not feeling any urgency, but I don't want to use my Pen Fed card until I can get auto payment set up from my main account at my home CU.
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Do you have it set up to be paid off in full each month from another institution?

I do not. I push the transaction each month when the statement arrives.

Acme
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