Category Archives: Foreign Transaction Fees

Orbitz Rewards Visa Card: Who Should (and Should Not) Apply

Orbitz has launched a new card which gets you a $50 statement credit after you spend $200 in the 1st 90 days.  So this is NOT a card you get just for the sign-up bonus!

Orbitz Credit Card

5% Back on Orbitz Bookings, 2% Back Everywhere Else, No Annual Fee, and No Foreign Transaction Fee but You Can Only Redeem Your Orbucks Points for Hotels on Orbitz

You get an additional 5% back in Orbitz Orbucks when you use the Orbitz Reward Visa card for your travel purchases on Orbitz.  And you get 2% back in Orbitz Orbucks EVERYWHERE ELSE.  Orbitz Orbucks can only be redeemed for hotel purchases made through Orbitz.

I like that there’s no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, it’s issued by a bank I don’t already use (Comenity Capital Bank, issuers of the Virgin America credit cards), and that it grants you automatic “Star” status for free internet and breakfast at certain hotels…but this card is definitely NOT for everyone.

Or even for me!

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The Trick to Avoiding ATM Fees Overseas: Charles Schwab Investor Checking Account

Have you ever returned from an overseas trip and been unpleasantly surprised when you opened your bank statement?

Most US banks add currency conversion fees of 1% to 3% for using ATMs abroad.  And sometimes, there’s an ATM fee of ~$3 to $5 in addition to the foreign exchange fee.  These can add up quickly and put a nasty dent in your plans for Big Travel with Small Money!

You can avoid these fees by signing-up for a Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking account.  It does NOT charge currency conversion fees, and you’ll get a rebate for all your US and overseas ATM charges.

Charles Schwab Debit Card

No Overseas ATM Fees? Sounds Good to Me!

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Good News for Overseas Travelers: Chase Introducing Chip-and-PIN Cards

Via The Hustle Blog, Chase is changing some of their cards from Chip-And-Signature to the more secure and more widely used Chip-and-PIN technology.

My Sapphire Preferred Will Soon Have a Chi

My Sapphire Preferred Card Will Soon Have a Chip-and-PIN Technology!

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Which Credit Cards Do NOT Charge a Foreign Transaction Fee?

No Foreign Transaction Fee Cards

Readers often ask which credit cards do not charge the 1% to 3% foreign transaction fee for using the card for transactions in foreign currency.  Most credit cards will charge you a fee for purchases in a foreign currency.

So I’ve made a new page on the Travel Credit Cards tab for No Foreign Transaction Fee cards!


No Foreign Transaction Fee Tab!

The cards listed on that page do NOT charge a foreign transaction fee if you use them for transactions in foreign currencies.

My favorite no-foreign transaction fee card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred which offers double points for travel (airfare, hotel, car rental, parking etc.) and dining.  And you almost certainly are spending most of your money on travel and dining when you’re on vacation! Continue reading

Don’t Pay 27% More to Convert Dollars to Euros at the Airport!

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I’ve always known that changing money at airports is a terrible deal.  But I was curious to see just how much I would be ripped off, so I converted $100.50 into 60 euros at the Travelex Currency Services in Newark airport.

This was a terrible deal, because I would have received 16 more euros, for a total of 76 euros, if I had converted $100.50 at the official inter-bank rate.

I paid ~27% more (16 extra euros/60 euros) because of the fees involved at the Travelex store!

Don’t expect Travelex to tell you just how much extra you’re paying.  In my experience, the representatives are either themselves clueless about the fees or intentionally understate the fees to make a sale.  My receipt labels the representative as a “Sales Consultant” so I suspect a significant portion of the representatives’ salary is based on the volume of foreign currency sales.

This means that there is a significant incentive for the representative to generate sales and divert attention from the high fees charged by Travelex.  I specifically asked about fees, and was told that no fees were charged.  Which is technically correct because the receipt labels them as “Service Charges.”

Currency Conversion Airport-1

A $9.95 Service Charge is a Fee to Me!

The colorful marketing chart at the Travelex booth has the audacity to state “Discounted Exchange Rate on Today’s Transaction” when the foreign currency fee is 14% MORE, for converting US dollars to euros, than the inter-bank rate!

No Value For You!

And the “savings” mentioned are fictitious savings likely generated by comparing to inflated base rates.

Foreign Currency Conversion Fees

You pay two fees when you change currency at an airport.  This is in spite of the sales consultant (& the Travelex receipt) telling you that there are no fees.  That’s because there is a “Service Charge” so Travelex can honestly say that you weren’t charged a “fee” when in-fact the service charge has the same effect as a fee! Continue reading