First time international travelers will quickly realize they have paid more than expected when they return home from abroad. Foreign transaction fees are normally something that most Americans will not check for when opening a new credit card account, however it is imperative to check for if you plan to use the credit card outside the USA. These fees, normally 2.9%, will add an additional strain on your balance; especially after flying overseas. Most credit card companies will offer some type of travel card with no foreign transaction fees; however your current card might not. Using a credit card abroad without any foreign transaction fees will get you the best conversion rates on every transaction. Below I will list a few steps to get you ready for your next international trip.
- Inquire About Foreign Transactions Fees; From Your Credit Card Company and Debit/ATM Card Bank. Call your credit card companies that handle the cards you plan to travel with and see if there are any foreign transaction fees. If so, ask them if they are able to change your card to a no fee card with the same credit line and without a credit check or annual fee. The best card brand to travel with is Visa and then MasterCard. I personally only travel with Visa cards. Next, check with your bank that handles your debit card and inquire about the fees for using foreign ATMs and receiving foreign currency from them. There are banks, CapitalOne 360, which will charge $0 for using any ATM in the world, for any currency, however you will need to cover the ATM fees, normally a couple dollars. It is much cheaper to bring an ATM card with no fees than order foreign currency at your local bank.
- Make Sure Your Credit Card is an EMV (Chip) Card. Check your cards and make sure they have a chip on them. Europay, MasterCard, Visa (EMV) is new in the USA however it has been around for decades abroad. If your card doesn’t have one, call your company and get one that does.
- Get A New Card! There are hundreds of credit cards available today. Any person should not have an issue finding a card featuring; EMV technology, no foreign transactions fees and no annual fee. The card will most likely have some sort of reward program as icing on the cake.
- Forget About Prepaid Cards. If you are traveling abroad you most likely are not using a prepaid card but if you were thinking about it, it is best to avoid them. There are too many fees associated with prepaid cards and anyone with the finances to travel abroad will be able to easily obtain a real credit card.
Lastly, don’t forget to tell your credit card companies about your travel plans before you leave. Having your credit cards frozen overseas due to security concerns isn’t fun and will lead to long phone calls to your credit card company trying to resolve the problems. Safe travels.