Foreign exchange rate and credit cards

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I am not entirely sure if this forum is the most appropiate to ask this but, I was wondering what's best to do when travelling to a foreign country.

Bring your notes and exchange them in a local bank/forex agency or use your credit card?

I know that most U.S. credit cards have a 3% forex fee (I know there are some that don't but I have none of those, yet).

On the other hand, even with that fee, I've heard that the rate used for CC transactions is better than whatever I will get in a local bank or forex agency. Is this right? If this is true, how can I check the current forex rate for CC transactions so I can compare them against the current forex in the countries I will visiting.

Thanks.

anevilpetingzoo2010-03-23 08:30

I don't know where you're traveling, but when away from home, cash is king.

Always bring enough cash to do everything you're going to need to do (or travelers checks)

There are a few no foreign transaction fee cards out there.  Cap1, Discover and a few CU cards have no fees.

If you go to China for example, their biggest card network, Union Pay, is linked with Discover.  So in China this year, I was able to use my Discover for almost everything like I do here in the US.

Europe accepts Amex a lot, and a Visa is aways a good idea for general worldwide acceptance.

score_building2010-03-23 09:47

FTR - Discover Foreign Currency Transaction Fee is  2% of the U.S. dollar amount of each purchase made in a foreign currency.



anevilpetingzoo wrote:

I don't know where you're traveling, but when away from home, cash is king.

Always bring enough cash to do everything you're going to need to do (or travelers checks)

There are a few no foreign transaction fee cards out there.  Cap1, Discover and a few CU cards have no fees.

If you go to China for example, their biggest card network, Union Pay, is linked with Discover.  So in China this year, I was able to use my Discover for almost everything like I do here in the US.

Europe accepts Amex a lot, and a Visa is aways a good idea for general worldwide acceptance.


anevilpetingzoo2010-03-23 10:10

I know Discover changed their policy last year to charge 2% (thanks for that)

But I don't see any fees charged on my statement, and the exchange rate was better than travelex.  Do they add the 2% automatically to the transaction?  I'll have to check on that.

Maybe they don't charge a fee for Union Pay terminals in China, because I'm looking hard at my statement and I don't see any transaction fees for my trip in China.

anevilpetingzoo2010-03-23 11:20

Ok, the most crazy thing I've heard from a CCC.

Just called Discover and asked about the fee.  They said, yes, there is always a 2% fee.  I asked them why I wasn't charged.  They put me on hold for a half hour and when they came back on, they said that it was a programming error in their system, and I was not charged any fees for my 25+ transactions in China.

However, i was assured that in the future, there would be charges.  I REALLY should have kept my big mouth shut!!

tapsh2010-03-23 12:35

Slightly off topic, but I've heard that Charles Schwab's checking account is good for getting cash from foreign ATMs. Correct me if I'm remembering wrong, but they don't charge a foreign transaction fee or foreign ATM fee, and they will rebate the foreign ATM's fee as well. I think that means you can get foreign currency at near-spot rates from ATMs, which is really cool.

Locksley1232010-03-28 13:29

There is no such thing as 0% foreign transaction fee. The cards that advertise them just use slightly higher/lower exchange rate Foreign exchange rate and credit cards

However, using your ATM card will generally give you better rate than local FX kiosks.

emartin822010-03-28 13:45

Not true. I've used my Capital One in Mexico and the European Union. My purchases were always charged in USD with the highest daily exchange rate in my favor.

No fees, no crappy exchange rates. Always the prime exchange rate. Better than the exchange rates offered by banks/vendors in the country at the time.