Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
dh
Posts: 290
Joined: Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:01 pm

Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by dh » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:03 pm

I am exploring best options for using cash, credit cards, and/or debit cards overseas. All the credit cards I have include a 3% fee on international transactions. I am leaning toward using my Citi card that offers a 2% cash back on purchases, essentially reducing my cost to 1% on international transactions. Ordering international money from my bank is more expensive, using my debit card is more expensive, and exchanging at kiosks at the airport are even more expensive.

Am I missing other options? I do not have time to get a new credit card with no international fees before my trip.

boglemania
Posts: 48
Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:13 am

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by boglemania » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:07 pm

Credit cards for the vast majority of purchases. Some Euros (or if non EU, some local currency) for small private enterprises, tips (occasionally appropriate) etc.
USAA has no intl fee-you can get one in less than a week. There are others. I have been given a number in the past without a physical card which is also an option.

student
Posts: 2575
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2015 6:58 am

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by student » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:29 pm

If you have accounts with Fidelity or Schwab, get a debit card from them. No foreign transaction fee and they pay for fee charge by the ATM.

cantabtim
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:05 pm
Location: Cambridge, MA

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by cantabtim » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:49 pm

I bank with a medium sized regular bank based here in Massachusetts. I don't think they're particularly special but their debit/ATM card has zero fees when used overseas and can of course also be used fee-free for getting cash at foreign ATMs. We've traveled dozens of times to W.Europe and Australia/NZ and never had an issue relying on that for most things. Also a fee-free and no foreign transaction fee credit card from Capital One which is useful for hotel reservations. I can't remember the last time I changed money at a Bureau de Change - does anyone still do that?

cantabtim
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 6:05 pm
Location: Cambridge, MA

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by cantabtim » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:56 pm

Also I just noticed a previous post that referenced "ATM fees". In my experience you can generally avoid them just by trying a few different banks. We were in Spain a couple of weeks ago (for about the 30th time in 10 years) and I found that many of the institutions named "Caja" something or other (savings bank I believe) charged 2 or 3 Euros, but most of the bigger chains (BBVA, Deutche Bank, Santander) did not. In the UK all the ATMs seem to be fee-free; I think its a legal requirement.

Nate79
Posts: 3578
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:24 pm
Location: Delaware

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by Nate79 » Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:11 pm

There seems no reason to use credit cards with foreign transaction junk fees. Just get a credit card that gives both cash back and no foreign transaction fee. They are pretty common these days. Any chance you are a member of Costco? Their credit card is no foreign transaction fee and good cash back.

GeraniumLover
Posts: 117
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2016 3:39 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by GeraniumLover » Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:15 pm

Use credit cards (ones with no foreign transaction fee) and always have the charges made in local currency and not USD.

Use ATM cards for cash (use ones with no ATM fees and, if asked, don't let the ATM owner pick the exchange rate). Avoid currency exchanges!

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 14356
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by Watty » Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:25 pm

Here is the Rick Steves web page for money tips. Even if you are not going to Europe a lot of it will be the same.

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money

I tend to not charge things that lost less than about $75 and just pay those with cash I get from an ATM. I figure that the less I use a card the less chance there is of it getting compromised.
dh wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:03 pm
Ordering international money from my bank is more expensive....
Even if it was free that would be a bad idea for more than a couple of hundred dollars worth. That would be like someone from overseas coming to the US with thousands of dollars of US cash in their pocket.
dh wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:03 pm
Am I missing other options? I do not have time to get a new credit card with no international fees before my trip.
If you by any chance have a Costco credit card they dropped the international fees earlier this year so you could be looking at an old fee schedule.

For things like hotels you can book your reservations on a US travel site like Expedia and pay for the hotel in dollars. Be sure that you are on the US site since when you are out out of the country it may direct you to the local version of Expedia or whichever site you are using.

At this point I would not fret about it too much except for figuring out which is your best(or least bad) choice of the cards you have. If you charge $3,000 with a 3% fee that is only $90. Live and learn and when you get back get a card with no fees for your next trip even if you don't think you will be taking one anytime soon.

User avatar
Cyclesafe
Posts: 658
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2014 1:03 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by Cyclesafe » Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:28 pm

Was in Norway last month and was shocked that some hotels and restaurants DO NOT TAKE CASH. Credit/debit cards only. Times are a'changing….

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 14356
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by Watty » Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:29 pm

One more thing, find out what the daily limit is on your ATM card is and if it is low see if they will raise it. The problem is that if it is something like $300 per business day and you withdraw that much on a Friday then it may be three day before the next $300 is available.

User avatar
Artsdoctor
Posts: 3563
Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2012 3:09 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by Artsdoctor » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:05 pm

Cyclesafe wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:28 pm
Was in Norway last month and was shocked that some hotels and restaurants DO NOT TAKE CASH. Credit/debit cards only. Times are a'changing….
Yep. I've been to both Norway and Sweden recently, and did not even need to carry any cash. Everything was put on a credit card. The only time I really missed it was not being able to tip employees in the hotel for exceptional service--but they had a fund that you could add to by credit card when checking out!

User avatar
climber2020
Posts: 1097
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:06 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by climber2020 » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:25 pm

dh wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:03 pm
Am I missing other options? I do not have time to get a new credit card with no international fees before my trip.
It depends where you’re going. In parts of Southeast Asia, I was surprised to find that many hotels will exchange US dollars for local currency at good rates and with no fees.


It’s too late for this trip to get a better card, so using the Citi card is probably the best bet. Make sure to file a travel notification.

dh
Posts: 290
Joined: Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:01 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by dh » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:07 pm

climber2020 wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:25 pm
dh wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:03 pm
Am I missing other options? I do not have time to get a new credit card with no international fees before my trip.
It depends where you’re going. In parts of Southeast Asia, I was surprised to find that many hotels will exchange US dollars for local currency at good rates and with no fees.


It’s too late for this trip to get a better card, so using the Citi card is probably the best bet. Make sure to file a travel notification.
Thank you, everyone. I really appreciate the feedback and will get another card for future trips. I will use the Citi card this time (I have called and them and shared the dates of my travel). I really appreciate everyone taking the time to respond!

Starfish
Posts: 365
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:33 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by Starfish » Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:03 am

There are plenty of good travel cards with no charges and other good benefits (travel insurance, primary rental car insurance etc) and they come with bonuses, you should get couple.
Getting cash with a debit card should be at most 1% for Visa/MasterCard.
Take with you some money in cash but don't carry them with you. Put them in the room safe.

AlohaJoe
Posts: 3830
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:00 pm
Location: Saigon, Vietnam

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by AlohaJoe » Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:11 am

dh wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:03 pm
I am exploring best options for using cash, credit cards, and/or debit cards overseas. All the credit cards I have include a 3% fee on international transactions.
Just as a reality check: if you spend $1,000 then the international transaction fees will come to $30, which is probably less than a single lunch/taxi/etc.

I stopped worrying about international transaction fees a long time ago. I probably waste more than $30 by overspending on mediocre restaurants, or tourist attractions that aren't that great, or buying some souvenir that ends up buried in a drawer for the next 20 years the minute I get home.

I can make up the $30 by picking a slightly cheaper different hotel room for a single day or by going to a slightly cheaper spa or...(more realistically)...I just don't care about penny pinching $30 when I'm spending $1,000 on a vacation.

Starfish
Posts: 365
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:33 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by Starfish » Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:16 am

But you are not spending 1000$, you are spending maybe 3k$, with flight and hotels... so even less important.
Watty wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:25 pm

dh wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:03 pm
Ordering international money from my bank is more expensive....
Even if it was free that would be a bad idea for more than a couple of hundred dollars worth. That would be like someone from overseas coming to the US with thousands of dollars of US cash in their pocket.
I am not sure why is that a bad idea? I do it both ways once or twice a year and I did not find any problem.
Not only in Western Europe, even less developed countries, using public transportation and all that.
It is true that it is inconvenient, you cannot just walk around with a bulge of money in your pocket, at least because it's uncomfortable, so you need a room with a safe. But this is pretty much the norm nowadays. If not you have to get a little creative with a place to hide them (and not forget them at the end).

criticalmass
Posts: 656
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:58 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by criticalmass » Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:37 am

Starfish wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:16 am
But you are not spending 1000$, you are spending maybe 3k$, with flight and hotels... so even less important.
Watty wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:25 pm

dh wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:03 pm
Ordering international money from my bank is more expensive....
Even if it was free that would be a bad idea for more than a couple of hundred dollars worth. That would be like someone from overseas coming to the US with thousands of dollars of US cash in their pocket.
I am not sure why is that a bad idea? I do it both ways once or twice a year and I did not find any problem.
Not only in Western Europe, even less developed countries, using public transportation and all that.
It is true that it is inconvenient, you cannot just walk around with a bulge of money in your pocket, at least because it's uncomfortable, so you need a room with a safe. But this is pretty much the norm nowadays. If not you have to get a little creative with a place to hide them (and not forget them at the end).
No need to carry much cash at all in developed countries. I recommend using a no (or low) foreign transaction fee debit card to obtain a small amount cash after landing, and then top off as needed. You can’t lose cash you don’t have, and your big expenses are paid with credit card anyway. Cash can be a pain, and coins get heavy.

Bogleheads love to reduce or eliminate fees, so a 0% FTF debit card and credit card are highly desirable. Others already suggested the (great) Fidelity or Schwab debit cards, and these also reimburse any surcharges worldwide. Note the Fidelity debit card lists 1% FTF but this is only for purchases; cash is 0% FTF.

Get a 0% FTF credit card, preferably one with cash back or other rewards. There are many to choose from in 2018. Capital One Quicksilver is a good choice, and comes with a $200 or $150 bonus depending on what link you use to apply, and how much you spend in first 3 months.

Avoid “dynamic currency conversion” where merchant systems try to convert to dollars for you. Just say no. Many ATMs in tourist areas are attempting to do this too. Visa and MasterCard allow this only if the cardholder has an option to say no. Amex doesn’t permit DCC. If you allow DCC to convert, you get a much worse rate (even with “no commission” haha) than Visa, Amex or MC provide. If your card has a FTF, you still pay that anyway, plus the bad DCC rate.

Take two cards in case one doesn’t work, and let issuer know you are traveling if required. (Some issuers like Capital One don’t use travel notifications any more with chip/EMV cards).

Also, use your 0% FTF credit card to buy air/train/boat tickets if using foreign carriers, even before you leave. Avoid cash exchanges.

Enjoy the trip!

obgraham
Posts: 1141
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:30 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by obgraham » Thu Sep 20, 2018 1:41 am

It does depend where you are going. I found Italy less agreeable to cards than cash, this past spring. Some places there tack on a credit card fee.

And I've been to plenty of less developed countries where lots of places are not set up to deal with cards.

So always have more than one way to pay. And there's nothing wrong with having some local currency along.

international001
Posts: 472
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:31 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by international001 » Thu Sep 20, 2018 3:17 am

cantabtim wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:56 pm
Also I just noticed a previous post that referenced "ATM fees". In my experience you can generally avoid them just by trying a few different banks. We were in Spain a couple of weeks ago (for about the 30th time in 10 years) and I found that many of the institutions named "Caja" something or other (savings bank I believe) charged 2 or 3 Euros, but most of the bigger chains (BBVA, Deutche Bank, Santander) did not. In the UK all the ATMs seem to be fee-free; I think its a legal requirement.
REally?

In my experience, BBVA and Santander starting to charge you few months ago. Even without asking before! Did you check your statements and compared it to the rate that day?

Bankinter and Bankia did not charge me

international001
Posts: 472
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:31 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by international001 » Thu Sep 20, 2018 3:21 am

criticalmass wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:37 am


No need to carry much cash at all in developed countries. I recommend using a no (or low) foreign transaction fee debit card to obtain a small amount cash after landing, and then top off as needed. You can’t lose cash you don’t have, and your big expenses are paid with credit card anyway. Cash can be a pain, and coins get heavy.
Also marginally important. The rate depends on the debit card. Debit card from small banks usually have a higher spread. I found that Capital One Debit card had the lowest spread and thus a better deal. Plus a higher daily max amount ($1000) Also, they have a decent savings account. I usually make a transaction from savings -> checking from my cell just before cashing out in the ATM

criticalmass
Posts: 656
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:58 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by criticalmass » Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:37 am

international001 wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 3:21 am

Also marginally important. The rate depends on the debit card. Debit card from small banks usually have a higher spread. I found that Capital One Debit card had the lowest spread and thus a better deal. Plus a higher daily max amount ($1000) Also, they have a decent savings account. I usually make a transaction from savings -> checking from my cell just before cashing out in the ATM
This is incorrect information. Assuming no DCC, the currency conversion is performed by the network, not the issuer. There is no issuing bank “spread “ in this context. The issuing bank receives funds already converted.
The issuer may add or subtract a FTF from the default network fee, resulting in a cardholder FTF between 0% and 4%. Note that the amount you are charged is based on the Post date rate, which may or may not be several days after the transaction date.

You can look at past exchange rates for Visa here (MC has a similar site).
https://usa.visa.com/support/consumer/t ... lator.html


Wholesale rates between MasterCard and Visa do vary slightly. I’ve found MC to be more likely in my favor, but the difference is minuscule.

criticalmass
Posts: 656
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:58 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by criticalmass » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:25 am

international001 wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 3:17 am
cantabtim wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:56 pm
Also I just noticed a previous post that referenced "ATM fees". In my experience you can generally avoid them just by trying a few different banks. We were in Spain a couple of weeks ago (for about the 30th time in 10 years) and I found that many of the institutions named "Caja" something or other (savings bank I believe) charged 2 or 3 Euros, but most of the bigger chains (BBVA, Deutche Bank, Santander) did not. In the UK all the ATMs seem to be fee-free; I think its a legal requirement.
REally?

In my experience, BBVA and Santander starting to charge you few months ago. Even without asking before! Did you check your statements and compared it to the rate that day?

Bankinter and Bankia did not charge me
Both Fidelity and Schwab will automatically reimburse those pesky surcharge/terminal fees.
They’ve been popping up at some ATMs in Europe, especially Southern Europe, including Italy and Spain recently. I still walk down the street to another ATM with no fees, even though I’d be reimbursed.

essbeer
Posts: 153
Joined: Sat May 09, 2015 6:23 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by essbeer » Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:24 am

Barclays is supposed to have an option for overnight shipping on a new card for something like $15. The Uber card has no FTF, plus bonuses on restaurants and hotels so it's a great travel card. Worth at least looking into that.

User avatar
snackdog
Posts: 342
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:57 am

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by snackdog » Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:41 am

It depends partly on where you are going. There are quite a few countries where $500 cash could be the difference between life and death, either in a medical emergency or criminal situation. I know this from experience. These also happen the be the places you are more likely to need to work extra hard not to lose $500 cash to theft, so be careful. I always carry sufficient emergency cash appropriate to the situation and spread the risk around with fellow travelers. Solo travel heightens the need for cash - if you have a medical emergency in a hotel you can't get out to an ATM and most doctors in that situation want cash up front for a house call.

carguyny
Posts: 326
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2016 4:56 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by carguyny » Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:05 am

Cyclesafe wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:28 pm
Was in Norway last month and was shocked that some hotels and restaurants DO NOT TAKE CASH. Credit/debit cards only. Times are a'changing….
Was in Italy last month and if you're off the beaten track many places only take cash. Norway and Italy are very different places.

What I travel with and I travel about 100 days a year:
1: no fee ATM card, I use Fidelity but many options (leave at hotel)
2: prepaid debit card that I carry on me with small balance (I use Chime)
3: low limit reward credit card with high restaurants rewards and no fees (I use Uber and carry it)
4. Small amount cash
5. High limit/high service credit card in case I get in a bind that stays at the hotel (I use Amex Plat)

I love getting off the beaten track and not hanging out in the main troust locations. This has severed me well for any situation.

I also have a lot of cards in my digital wallet, but they're not the real card numbers so add an extra layer of security.

User avatar
oldcomputerguy
Posts: 3442
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2015 6:50 am
Location: In the middle of five acres of woods

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by oldcomputerguy » Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:17 am

Watty wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:25 pm
Live and learn and when you get back get a card with no fees for your next trip even if you don't think you will be taking one anytime soon.
In fact I would suggest that the OP get two such cards. The last thing you want to have happen is to be in a foreign country and find out that the one card you brought with you has been compromised and locked out. DW and I have a Delta AmEx and a CapitalOne Visa, neither of which charge international fees; I carry them both when we venture (no pun intended) out of the U.S.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

criticalmass
Posts: 656
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:58 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by criticalmass » Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:32 am

oldcomputerguy wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:17 am
Watty wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 4:25 pm
Live and learn and when you get back get a card with no fees for your next trip even if you don't think you will be taking one anytime soon.
In fact I would suggest that the OP get two such cards. The last thing you want to have happen is to be in a foreign country and find out that the one card you brought with you has been compromised and locked out. DW and I have a Delta AmEx and a CapitalOne Visa, neither of which charge international fees; I carry them both when we venture (no pun intended) out of the U.S.
Or you can just take another card you already have handy even if it has a fee, for emergencies I’m less concerned about 3% fees. Just ensure you let the issuer know you’re traveling,if required.

Beware about counting on Amex overseas. In many areas Amex acceptance is very limited. Despite owning Diners Club network, Discover acceptance still isn’t good except for Japan (jcb) and China (union pay) where Discover works everywhere.

international001
Posts: 472
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:31 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by international001 » Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:18 am

criticalmass wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:25 am


Both Fidelity and Schwab will automatically reimburse those pesky surcharge/terminal fees.
They’ve been popping up at some ATMs in Europe, especially Southern Europe, including Italy and Spain recently. I still walk down the street to another ATM with no fees, even though I’d be reimbursed.
Are they w/o foreign fee if you use them at a merchant?
Linked to the brokerage accounts?

international001
Posts: 472
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:31 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by international001 » Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:20 am

criticalmass wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:37 am


This is incorrect information. Assuming no DCC, the currency conversion is performed by the network, not the issuer. There is no issuing bank “spread “ in this context. The issuing bank receives funds already converted.
The issuer may add or subtract a FTF from the default network fee, resulting in a cardholder FTF between 0% and 4%. Note that the amount you are charged is based on the Post date rate, which may or may not be several days after the transaction date.

You can look at past exchange rates for Visa here (MC has a similar site).
https://usa.visa.com/support/consumer/t ... lator.html


Wholesale rates between MasterCard and Visa do vary slightly. I’ve found MC to be more likely in my favor, but the difference is minuscule.
I have 2 mastercards (CapitalOne, Couleebank). In a couple of occasions I tried one after the other and I was charged a different amount on $$

criticalmass
Posts: 656
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:58 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by criticalmass » Thu Sep 20, 2018 10:46 am

international001 wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:18 am
criticalmass wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:25 am


Both Fidelity and Schwab will automatically reimburse those pesky surcharge/terminal fees.
They’ve been popping up at some ATMs in Europe, especially Southern Europe, including Italy and Spain recently. I still walk down the street to another ATM with no fees, even though I’d be reimbursed.
Are they w/o foreign fee if you use them at a merchant?
Linked to the brokerage accounts?
I only use a Schwab debit card with the Schwab checking account. No foreign transaction fees for any transaction. Schwab set my purchase limit to $1 on my request, as I never make purchases on a debit card. Reimburses all surcharges at end of monthly statement time.

My Fidelity debit card is linked to my Fidelity smartcash checking account (now renamed). No FTF for withdrawals. If you hypothetically made a merchant purchase, there is a 1% FTF. But I would never make purchases on a debit card so who cares about a hypothetical purchase FTF. Reimburses all surcharges at posting time.
Last edited by criticalmass on Thu Sep 20, 2018 10:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

criticalmass
Posts: 656
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:58 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by criticalmass » Thu Sep 20, 2018 10:48 am

international001 wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 9:20 am
criticalmass wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:37 am


This is incorrect information. Assuming no DCC, the currency conversion is performed by the network, not the issuer. There is no issuing bank “spread “ in this context. The issuing bank receives funds already converted.
The issuer may add or subtract a FTF from the default network fee, resulting in a cardholder FTF between 0% and 4%. Note that the amount you are charged is based on the Post date rate, which may or may not be several days after the transaction date.

You can look at past exchange rates for Visa here (MC has a similar site).
https://usa.visa.com/support/consumer/t ... lator.html


Wholesale rates between MasterCard and Visa do vary slightly. I’ve found MC to be more likely in my favor, but the difference is minuscule.
I have 2 mastercards (CapitalOne, Couleebank). In a couple of occasions I tried one after the other and I was charged a different amount on $$
What dates did the transactions post, and what was the published FTF? How do they compare to the MC history exchange rate webpage versus the rate on your statement?

Peppergrass
Posts: 46
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:25 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by Peppergrass » Thu Sep 20, 2018 1:31 pm

AlohaJoe wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:11 am
dh wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:03 pm
I am exploring best options for using cash, credit cards, and/or debit cards overseas. All the credit cards I have include a 3% fee on international transactions.
Just as a reality check: if you spend $1,000 then the international transaction fees will come to $30, which is probably less than a single lunch/taxi/etc.

I stopped worrying about international transaction fees a long time ago. I probably waste more than $30 by overspending on mediocre restaurants, or tourist attractions that aren't that great, or buying some souvenir that ends up buried in a drawer for the next 20 years the minute I get home.

I can make up the $30 by picking a slightly cheaper different hotel room for a single day or by going to a slightly cheaper spa or...(more realistically)...I just don't care about penny pinching $30 when I'm spending $1,000 on a vacation.
starts to add up if you spend 100k or more... I spent 150k in AU last trip. I do agree to some extent if we are talking a teenager traveling abroad with a few K, then no need to stress over something so little but... .....


what I do, I have a bank of America travel card ( blue card ) and it is no transaction fee, and a small percentage back you can claim to apply to your CC bill, you cannot like a normal card use it to deposit that extra into any account though, only your CC bill..

harrychan
Posts: 1418
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:37 pm
Location: Pasadena

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by harrychan » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:19 pm

student wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:29 pm
If you have accounts with Fidelity or Schwab, get a debit card from them. No foreign transaction fee and they pay for fee charge by the ATM.
This is what I do with my ATM. I use an international bank's ATM at my destination. As long as it has the 'plus' or 'cirrus' logo, I'm good to go. The foreign ATM card fee is usually minimal (under $5). I get as much cash as possible which is usually $500USD then use credit card for other transactions. More than enough .
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

aristotelian
Posts: 4772
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:05 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by aristotelian » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:43 pm

For cash, I also use Schwab checking account with free ATM withdrawals worldwide. I use a brick and mortar bank for my primary checking, but I use this account for cash when traveling. I would not hesitate to use it as a primary checking account, except that I would be annoyed with the local banks charging Schwab, so I only use it when traveling.

For CC, I use Capital One Quicksilver 1.5% cash back. I could do better to maximize rewards, but this is one of the few cards I know of with the combination of generous rewards, no annual fees, and no foreign transaction fee. Great all purpose solution for US and abroad.

Starfish
Posts: 365
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:33 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by Starfish » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:51 pm

Peppergrass wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 1:31 pm
AlohaJoe wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:11 am
dh wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:03 pm
I am exploring best options for using cash, credit cards, and/or debit cards overseas. All the credit cards I have include a 3% fee on international transactions.
Just as a reality check: if you spend $1,000 then the international transaction fees will come to $30, which is probably less than a single lunch/taxi/etc.

I stopped worrying about international transaction fees a long time ago. I probably waste more than $30 by overspending on mediocre restaurants, or tourist attractions that aren't that great, or buying some souvenir that ends up buried in a drawer for the next 20 years the minute I get home.

I can make up the $30 by picking a slightly cheaper different hotel room for a single day or by going to a slightly cheaper spa or...(more realistically)...I just don't care about penny pinching $30 when I'm spending $1,000 on a vacation.
starts to add up if you spend 100k or more... I spent 150k in AU last trip. I do agree to some extent if we are talking a teenager traveling abroad with a few K, then no need to stress over something so little but... .....


what I do, I have a bank of America travel card ( blue card ) and it is no transaction fee, and a small percentage back you can claim to apply to your CC bill, you cannot like a normal card use it to deposit that extra into any account though, only your CC bill..

Haha...150K si very uncommon especially for people who travel often.
I go with family and spend much less than that.
Planes are expensive but I use miles, good deals or low cost airlines. Anyway, they are prepaid.
Housing runs 50-200$/night depending on place/season, but also prepaid.

Restaurants, car/bike rentals, museums, bars, local transportation etc maybe ~1-300$ a day. So yeah, couple of thousands go a long way for a family.
I know there plenty of ways to spend more, but that is not the point.

AlohaJoe
Posts: 3830
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:00 pm
Location: Saigon, Vietnam

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by AlohaJoe » Fri Sep 21, 2018 6:37 am

Peppergrass wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 1:31 pm
AlohaJoe wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:11 am
dh wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:03 pm
I am exploring best options for using cash, credit cards, and/or debit cards overseas. All the credit cards I have include a 3% fee on international transactions.
Just as a reality check: if you spend $1,000 then the international transaction fees will come to $30, which is probably less than a single lunch/taxi/etc.

I stopped worrying about international transaction fees a long time ago. I probably waste more than $30 by overspending on mediocre restaurants, or tourist attractions that aren't that great, or buying some souvenir that ends up buried in a drawer for the next 20 years the minute I get home.

I can make up the $30 by picking a slightly cheaper different hotel room for a single day or by going to a slightly cheaper spa or...(more realistically)...I just don't care about penny pinching $30 when I'm spending $1,000 on a vacation.
starts to add up if you spend 100k or more... I spent 150k in AU last trip. I do agree to some extent if we are talking a teenager traveling abroad with a few K, then no need to stress over something so little but... .....


what I do, I have a bank of America travel card ( blue card ) and it is no transaction fee, and a small percentage back you can claim to apply to your CC bill, you cannot like a normal card use it to deposit that extra into any account though, only your CC bill..
FWIW, that card appears to be a Visa and Visa's wholesale exchange rates are usually around 0.5% worse than Mastercard's wholesale rates.

0.5% of $150,000 is $750 you would have saved by switching to using MasterCard wholesale exchange rates.

international001
Posts: 472
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:31 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by international001 » Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:40 pm

criticalmass wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 10:48 am

What dates did the transactions post, and what was the published FTF? How do they compare to the MC history exchange rate webpage versus the rate on your statement?
ONe transaction minuts after the other
What do you mean FTF? Which is the MC exchange rate webpage?
I looked at https://www.xe.com/ and both rates were very close to it. Just Capital One was a bit better Don't remember how much

criticalmass
Posts: 656
Joined: Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:58 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by criticalmass » Fri Sep 21, 2018 6:05 pm

international001 wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 5:40 pm
criticalmass wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 10:48 am

What dates did the transactions post, and what was the published FTF? How do they compare to the MC history exchange rate webpage versus the rate on your statement?
ONe transaction minuts after the other
What do you mean FTF? Which is the MC exchange rate webpage?
I looked at https://www.xe.com/ and both rates were very close to it. Just Capital One was a bit better Don't remember how much
FTF =foreign transaction fee. The post date counts, not the transaction time.
MasterCard publishes its historical currency exchange rates on a website, just like the Visa site already posted. Your favorite search engine can find it. XE is a third party site and currency conversion service separate from MasterCard.

international001
Posts: 472
Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2018 7:31 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by international001 » Fri Sep 21, 2018 6:30 pm

Ok.. if I get the chance I'll repeat the experiment

simas
Posts: 287
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 5:50 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by simas » Sat Sep 22, 2018 2:16 pm

dh wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:03 pm
I am exploring best options for using cash, credit cards, and/or debit cards overseas. All the credit cards I have include a 3% fee on international transactions. I am leaning toward using my Citi card that offers a 2% cash back on purchases, essentially reducing my cost to 1% on international transactions. Ordering international money from my bank is more expensive, using my debit card is more expensive, and exchanging at kiosks at the airport are even more expensive.

Am I missing other options? I do not have time to get a new credit card with no international fees before my trip.
You never said where you are traveling so the thread became of collection of anecdotes - where are you going? that would dictate everything else.


going to London is one thing and going to rural Bangladesh is a different thing. even in the same county, thing you can do with credit cards in Moscow (credit is ok) is very different from what you can do in rural Russia (cash is ok, credit is not) which is in turn very different from remote sites in the same Russia (cash rubles is ok, everything else is trash and would not buy anything for dollars, euro, pounds. there are also no banks, ATMs, or currency exchange offices)

FireProof
Posts: 583
Joined: Thu May 05, 2011 12:15 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by FireProof » Sat Sep 22, 2018 2:28 pm

Never exchange money except in countries with currency controls (Argentina used to be that way), where you have to exchange in the street at a black market rate. Either use a credit card, or use cash taken from an ATM.

jjbiv
Posts: 251
Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2011 8:23 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by jjbiv » Sun Sep 23, 2018 11:22 am

AlohaJoe wrote:
Fri Sep 21, 2018 6:37 am
Peppergrass wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 1:31 pm
AlohaJoe wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:11 am
dh wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:03 pm
I am exploring best options for using cash, credit cards, and/or debit cards overseas. All the credit cards I have include a 3% fee on international transactions.
Just as a reality check: if you spend $1,000 then the international transaction fees will come to $30, which is probably less than a single lunch/taxi/etc.

I stopped worrying about international transaction fees a long time ago. I probably waste more than $30 by overspending on mediocre restaurants, or tourist attractions that aren't that great, or buying some souvenir that ends up buried in a drawer for the next 20 years the minute I get home.

I can make up the $30 by picking a slightly cheaper different hotel room for a single day or by going to a slightly cheaper spa or...(more realistically)...I just don't care about penny pinching $30 when I'm spending $1,000 on a vacation.
starts to add up if you spend 100k or more... I spent 150k in AU last trip. I do agree to some extent if we are talking a teenager traveling abroad with a few K, then no need to stress over something so little but... .....


what I do, I have a bank of America travel card ( blue card ) and it is no transaction fee, and a small percentage back you can claim to apply to your CC bill, you cannot like a normal card use it to deposit that extra into any account though, only your CC bill..
FWIW, that card appears to be a Visa and Visa's wholesale exchange rates are usually around 0.5% worse than Mastercard's wholesale rates.

0.5% of $150,000 is $750 you would have saved by switching to using MasterCard wholesale exchange rates.
Could you suggest such a MasterCard which also has a cash back rate of at least two percent, like the BoA Travel Rewards card? I’ve looked and haven’t been very successful. I’d also be interested in a MasterCard ATM/debit card from a bank with no foreign transaction fees to use to withdrawal cash in foreign countries. Bonus points if they also offer a reasonable interest rate on deposits. Thank you!

TraveLife
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2018 3:48 am

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by TraveLife » Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:18 am

When we travel overseas, we use Capital One credit card for no transaction fees. Our main ATM card is Charles Schwab bank. ZERO fees. Someone mentioned Fidelity ATM card as having no fees. This is not correct. They do impose the 1% Visa interbank fee. We are Fidelity clients. They do not rebate the fee as Schwab does. We normally get our cash (Euro, GBP) from an ATM machine. We are going on a 15 day Baltic cruise in May. I am ordering a small amount of Rubles, Norwegian and Swedish Krone from my bank before we leave. I just want enough for bus fare, tips or a coffee. Any purchases are with CC.

timewarp
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:35 pm

Re: Traveling overseas .. credit cards? cash exchange?

Post by timewarp » Mon Sep 24, 2018 9:50 am

Just a side note be very careful overseas that you don't get pick pocketed. I got picked getting on the subway and never knew it happened. Thank God I didn't have my passport with me. I got "bumped" several times getting on the subway and it was just a distraction as they were getting my wallet at the time. Always have another credit card with you that maybe you keep with your passport in the room. If anyone especially a group of people approach you or you are in close proximity be very aware.

Post Reply