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Best card for foreign exchange?

Best card for foreign exchange?

Old Feb 18, 05, 3:56 pm
  #1  
925
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Best card for foreign exchange?

I am charging a lot of stuff in non-US countries, and the foreign exchange fees are starting to become material, so my boss has asked me to reduce my credit card foreign exchange fees. My cards will likely exceed $100K in foreign charges (reimbursed business expenses) in the next 12-18 months.

I currently carry AmexSPGPlat and CitiAAdvantageMC. I always try the Amex, and fall back to Citi if they don't take Amex. I also have Chase CashBuilder, Chase PerfectCard, BritishAirwaysVisa(BankOne), and MBNA PlatinumPlus.

I am trying to get to AA Lifetime Plat, so I prefer AA miles (and LOVE the Amex/SPG flexibility to 20 airlines and the transfer bonuses). I also like cash. I am generally discouraged by all other programs either because they are too finicky (any private airline ticket program, for example), or on airlines I am not currently looking for award travel on, though BA/NW/UA/DL miles are tolerable.

Question: What card has the LOWEST foreign exchange fees (and hopefully either earns AA miles or cash rebates).


Added 7/13/06:

FlyerTalk Wiki on this subject: http://www.flyertalk.com/wiki/index....reign_Exchange

Which Bank Card is Best? (http://www.smartertravel.com/travel-...html?id=255059)

Foreign Exchange 101 (http://www.smartertravel.com/travel-....html?id=14332)

[Please see last post in this thread for updated links. Your MB Mod.]

Last edited by philemer; May 11, 12 at 12:40 pm Reason: note added for new links on last page
925 is offline  
Old Feb 18, 05, 4:08 pm
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You could call customer service for the cards you currently have and ask what the foreign service fee is for each card. I did this and wrote the answers on the back of the cards near my signature so I don't forget.

This doesn't answer your original question, but will help you cut back on fees until you enroll and receive a new credit card.
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Old Feb 18, 05, 6:04 pm
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I mostly use my SPG AMEX when travelling abroad. From the 3 credit cards I use the most (SPG AMEX, Bankone UAL, & MBNA), I still find that AMEX has the lowest exchange rates, even after the 2% conversion surchange. MBNA has a 1% conversion surcharge (charged by Master Card, not MBNA), but to my knowledge, they have one of the worst exchange rates.

Most foreign charges on AMEX use Interbank rates as reported by Reuters information system. http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic...mericanexpress - Use it as a guide. Normally there will be couple dollars off from what it was reported from oanda.

Contact Citibank with their foreign exchange policy and asked for a site that can be used as a guide to retrieve up-to-date exchange rates.
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Old Feb 18, 05, 6:14 pm
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Question

Originally Posted by donuteric
...MBNA has a 1% conversion surcharge (charged by Master Card, not MBNA), but to my knowledge, they have one of the worst exchange rates.....
I've read in numerous threads that MBNA and Capital One Mastercards/Visas are one of the best cards to use overseas because they do not charge extra conversion surcharge? Has this changed?

Also - I heard credit unions issued Visa/Mastercard do not charge extras as well - can anyone confirm? The people I talked to at my credit union doesn't seem to know.

Thx!
Jamester
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Old Feb 18, 05, 6:33 pm
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Originally Posted by Jamester
I've read in numerous threads that MBNA and Capital One Mastercards/Visas are one of the best cards to use overseas because they do not charge extra conversion surcharge? Has this changed?

Thx!
Jamester
Some of my friends actually suggesting me to use MBNA for foreign purchases. However, I often buy several items during the day with different cards to compare them. MBNA tends to be the most expensive one. My brother suggests the best card to use for overseas expenses is MBNA Cash Back, which covers up the 1% convertion charge by MC. But I don't have the card and not planning to obtain one. So I don't have any first hand experience.

MBNA does not charge convertion surcharge; however, MC charges 1%. Those charges normally don't appear as a seperate charge, it is calculated into the total amount for the transaction.
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Old Feb 18, 05, 6:49 pm
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2% foreign exchange fee

I have often compared foreign charges on my CitiAA card with those on my MBNA card. Visa seems to charge the same for both of them (about 1% over interbank) but Citi (and most other Visa cards) then adds on an extra 2%. MBNA doesn't. Of course, you get miles with CitiAA and not MBNA but they're not worth the 2%. Never could find a card that gives AA miles and doesn't charge the extra 2%. Has anybody?
I can't imagine Amex charging less than the interbank rate before adding their 2% or so. Otherwise, how could Amex be the best choice?
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Old Feb 18, 05, 7:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Jamester
I've read in numerous threads that MBNA and Capital One Mastercards/Visas are one of the best cards to use overseas because they do not charge extra conversion surcharge? Has this changed?

Also - I heard credit unions issued Visa/Mastercard do not charge extras as well - can anyone confirm? The people I talked to at my credit union doesn't seem to know.

Thx!
Jamester

I recently received a T & C update from my credit union stating that they are instituting a 1% charge on all foreign transactions.
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Old Feb 18, 05, 7:57 pm
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Originally Posted by Jamester
:
Also - I heard credit unions issued Visa/Mastercard do not charge extras as well - can anyone confirm? The people I talked to at my credit union doesn't seem to know.

Thx!
Jamester
My credit union issues a VISA CC that doesn't tack on extra fees.

Before taking an overseas trip, I specifically asked them regarding "currency conversion", they said 0%. I asked that they check for sure, and got the same answer. So when I charged up $3000 and saw a $30 difference between Interbank exchange rate and what I was charged, I disputed the transaction. After some investigation on their part, they found that they don't "add" any extra, but that VISA itself charges 1% for the conversion service.

I lobbied to get my $30 reversed on the premise that they failed to disclose the hidden fees. They agreed. As a result, they list the conversion charge in their public fee schedule now as 1%.
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Old Feb 18, 05, 8:50 pm
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Bankrate.com lists info about cc conversion rates; all cards are subject to the 1% visa/mc charges for the initial conversion of funds, but their site states that no additional charges are made by Capital One, MBNA America, Fleetboston.
If I decide to forego the miles for Citibank, I use my USAA visa, which adds no further charges either.
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Old Feb 19, 05, 1:02 am
  #10  
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Question

The only information I can find at BankRate.com is from May 13, 2002. Does anyone have more recent information?

Thanks,
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Old Feb 19, 05, 3:56 am
  #11  
 
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Thumbs up Visit PGary's Updated Website Yet?

Originally Posted by 925
Question: What card has the LOWEST foreign exchange fees (and hopefully either earns AA miles or cash rebates).
Your question might belong to Credit Card Programs. Am I wrong?

Here's Gary's updated thread:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=399456

This issue has been discussed numerous times in different forum, given more credit card companies are imposing the extra 1% and/or 2% conversion rate to non-US charges. I think Gary does a wonderful job hunting for those mile-earning creditcard offers. I believe in the credit card section, he also covers cards he recommends for non-US charges.

I also read discussion that covers charges imposed by different credit card companies in the credit card programs forum. Browsing those threads might give you some pointers. Unfortunately I can't provide you with more threads while the search function is down.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=362399

MBNA seems to be the winner?!
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Old Feb 19, 05, 5:33 am
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Certain of the issuing banks of my mileage cards have recently notified me that they are increasing their fee to 3% this March, which will make the overall charge 4%. This will become an even bigger profit center for them for no added work, or maybe no work at all. I also recently got a notice of a settlement and proof of claim in a class action concerning the foreign exchange fees that were charged by AMEX but allegedly were not properly disclosed. I have both MBNA and Capital ONe cards that I've confirmed in the past did not add on theri own fee, so the only charge was the 1% added by VISA/MC. I will be reconfirming this soon for an upcoming trip in March.
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Old Feb 19, 05, 8:22 am
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Also, be careful if you use an ATM overseas. Wells Fargo, for example, currently charges $3 PER TRANSACTION and this is going up to $5 March 1. So if you do use an ATM, check on what your bank fees will be.
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Old Feb 19, 05, 8:33 am
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RE:conversion charges

I keep one MBNA card just for foreign charges. It is significantly lower than other cards most of the time. I just got a notice from Citibank, too, that they are getting ready to institute a 3% conversion charge. I avoid foreign ATM's;it seems easier just to convert a few American $100 bills at a time(I do have a favorite money-changer in Paris, who is fairly close by and gives competitive rates). For travellers who spend a lot of time in Paris, a euro account with a Carte Bleu might make more sense. It has gotten easier for Americans to open these accounts(particularly if you tell the bank officer that it's for business). Carte Bleu is really an ATM(not a credit card as Americans know them), but there is no charge from any ATM I've ever used.
(I take that back;Belgium is different).
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Old Feb 19, 05, 9:30 am
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Originally Posted by RobertH
Also, be careful if you use an ATM overseas. Wells Fargo, for example, currently charges $3 PER TRANSACTION and this is going up to $5 March 1. So if you do use an ATM, check on what your bank fees will be.
Thanks for the warning. Unlike my multiple credit cards, I only carry one debit card (and I wouldn't even think about taking a cash advance with a credit card!).

ATMs have historically been the cheapest way to get cash internationally, but that $5 fee may change the equation.
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