International Travel Credit Card and Currency Nightmare

A nightmare is what I'm trying to avoid.  Look on the internet and you see a great deal of people with credit cards charging 'unknown' fees and exchange rates.  I'd like to not have to pay money to spend money.  I've heard of spending money to make money, but this just seems backwards!


Visa charges a 1% fee on every transaction to exchange the currency.  This is not a bad deal comparatively.  This will serve to all but wash out the 1.25% cash back I am receiving.  This all assumes, however that Visa does in fact give the appropriate exchange rates and does not utilize, as others have reported some companies doing, their computer systems finding their most profitable conversion rate out of the few days surrounding the transaction date.

Converting cash seems to have much much higher fees - up to 10% based on my findings.  Then you have to convert back what you don't spend.  I found a nifty summary of some ATM and Credit card considerations at FlyerGuide.  I will be utilizing my E-Trade ATM card for acquiring cash while overseas.

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2 Comments

How did your e-trade ATM card work out? We are considering opening their account for travel money exchange in Europe (Greece, Turkey, France) this summer but I read a few reviews on Flyertalk where folks said they couldn't use their etrade atm cards in Asia and elsewhere.
Thanks!
DL

DL,

It worked just fine. The first thing we did when we landed at Charles DeGaulle was to go to the ATM and get a few hundred Euros. My ATM card was connected to the Max Rate Checking product at E-Trade. There wasn't the 1-3 percentage fee, nor was there an absurd conversion rate compared to the going rate for the day. It worked quite well.

Give E-Trade a call - they're usually pretty easy to work with when I call them about something.

I had mixed info on Flyertalk as well - which prompted me to call E-Trade.

Have a good Trip this summer!

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