Why You Should Beware of Using Your Credit Cards on Vacation

List: Posted: 09/12/11

If you are going on vacation, you might not think anything about taking your cards on your trip and using them whenever you go to make a purchase.  After all, it seems much easier to rely on the international currency of Visa than figuring out exchange rates, trading in your currency or picking up travelers checks, right? 


What you might not know, however, is that some credit card companies charge major fees for foreign transactions.  You should keep an eye on this and do your research in advance, so you don't get a big surprise when you get your next credit card bill.

If you are an American Express card holder, for instance, you will find that the foreign credit card transaction fee is 2.7% of your transaction.  For Chase, Wells Fargo, HSBC, and Citibank as well as Bank of America, that credit card fee is a whopping 3%. 


These numbers may not sound like much, but if you are unaware of these fees, they can put you over your credit limit before you even realize it.  Even Discover Card has a two percent fee.  In fact, of all of the major banks that allow foreign credit card usage, Capital One is the only bank with no additional fees for the service.

In short, it can pay in a big way to take the time to read your credit card agreement before going on a foreign vacation.  These fees may still be easier than factoring exchange rates and converting all of your currency, but understanding how your credit card will be billed so that you can factor costs appropriately is certainly going to prove to be worth your while.

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