July 10, 2006
Foreign Puchase Fees by Credit Card Issuers
Posted by Gordon Smith

On a recent Citi MasterCard statement, I found the following entry:


Maybe I am the last international traveler on earth to discover this sort of charge, which relates to purchases that I made in Germany. Now that I am aware of it, I am seeing information about it all over the place (e.g., here). Like many credit card issuers, Citi adds a 1% surcharge for all purchases that require currency conversion. That's in addition to the 1% charge levied by MasterCard (or Visa, as the case may be), which actually handles the currency conversion.

Being one of the many people who never reads the fine print on my credit card agreements, I probably would have remained blissfully unaware of this charge, but Citi's customer service representative told me that a new regulation now requires separate disclosure of such fees. Knowledge is power. Digging a bit further, I discovered that Capital One not only does not charge a fee, but it also absorbs the fee charged by Visa and MasterCard. Bankrate.com has a nice comparison chart.

Maybe I should check with credit card guru Ronald Mann first (are you reading today, Ronald?), but Capital One looks like a great credit card for a whole bunch of reasons. In any event, I am ready to bid Citi adieu.

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