Every major U. S. credit card company with the exception of one charges a two to three percent foreign transaction fee when you use your credit card abroad. Until recently, many credit card companies did not clearly disclose these fees in their terms and conditions. Consequently, many people received a notice of a class action lawsuit settlement in regards to these fees earlier this year. Now that the lawsuit has been settled, credit card companies are required to clearly state foreign and international transaction charges on credit card applications. Here, we will look at ways to minimize and avoid these fees.
First, if you do not know how much your current credit card company charges for international transactions, contact customer service to find out. The vast majority will inform you that this fee is three percent. With the US dollar sagging, paying an extra three percent on every purchase can really hurt the wallet. Fortunately, there are a few ways to avoid these charges.
If you have cash available, using a debit card eliminates this fee. Most banks do not tack on a transaction fee for ATM withdrawals. Plus, the foreign currency rate you'll get from your bank is often significantly better than what you would get at a foreign currency exchange booth. Again, exchange rates and potential fees vary from bank to bank, so it is important to call ahead.
While ATM withdrawals are generally free of foreign transaction charges, using your debit card as a credit card comes with some risks. First, a credit card provides much better fraud protection than a debit card. If, for example, an unscrupulous merchant overcharged or fraudulently used your credit card, you can easily contest the charges and get a refund. If, on the other hand, you debit card was fraudulently used, you will not only be faced with a depleted bank account, but it often takes a great deal longer to get your money returned. For this reason, using a debit card to make purchases abroad can prove risky.
Ultimately, the only way to pay no international transaction fees is to use a credit card doesn't charge these fees. By using a no fee credit card, you get the security a credit card provides without the annoying added expenses.
To save money while traveling abroad, compare and apply online for a no international transaction fee credit card . At Smart Credit Choices, we featured detailed information on travel rewards credit cards that offer 0% interest rates and low or no fees.
About the author: The author has been writing extensively on the subject of credit cards for nearly four years. Among other accomplishments, the author has been cited by MSN money writers, most notably as a source in an advisory article entitled, “Credit Card Companies’ Evil Tricks. " To learn more about credit cards and apply online, visit Smart Credit Choices.