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Old 05-02-2008, 02:33 PM   #1
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Foreign Money

One of my credit cards just sent me a new User Agreement which raises the foreign exchange rate to 3% of each transaction in addition to whatever the rate is on that day. Previous they were taking 1% which seems more than generous since they are already getting the merchant fee from the store owner.
Does anyone have a bank card that still has no fee, or a 1% fee?

Second question, specifically aimed at visits to Canada. I've always traded my US dollars for Canadian dollars at a bank in order to get the best exchange rate and lowest service fee. I have found over the years that some banks are charging higher rates than others. Some take a percentage of the amount and others charge a flat fee. Would the Canadian folks mind finding out what their bank charges and post that here so I could get an idea of which bank might give the best return?

Thanks in advance,
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Old 05-02-2008, 03:16 PM   #2
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RE: Foreign Money

This may or may not still be true --- but ---

I've always been told that the best bet was to get money at a Canadian ATM. I seem to remember that you get the exact exchange rate (no buy/sell split) and just have to pay the ATM fees - which aren't free, but since they're fixed, the best bet was to make a single big withdrawl and not try to $20 and $40 it.

But that could all have changed in the last coupla years.
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Old 05-03-2008, 03:41 AM   #3
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RE: Foreign Money

Congress is going to Piss in the Soup of the credit card co's.

Seems they make 40% of profits from "fees".

Since they charge a small merchant 4% to 6% , which if you multiply by 12 comes to 48% to 72% yearly on credit they create out of thin air , or borrow from the fed at 2% , its not going to be a problem for their survival.

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Old 05-03-2008, 07:54 AM   #4
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RE: Foreign Money

Chris is correct... ATMs are by far your best bet. Get cash and pay in local currency. That way, the merchant doesn't get to set his own exchange rate, which you risk happening if you pay with US$.

Most banks lets you get US$500 per day in cash from an ATM. Of course, this makes taking on more than $500 in fuel a real PITA.* But, it's good for most other foreign expenses.
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Old 05-04-2008, 06:53 AM   #5
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RE: Foreign Money

Finding ATM or credit cards that do not charge a hefty fee for foreign withdrawals or charges is very difficult.
Suntrust's Platinum ATM Check Card (VISA) does not charge any foreign conversion or other fees for withdrawals and their conversion rate is very good.
Capital One's credit card (VISA) does not charge any fees for foreign charges and their conversion rate is very good.
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Old 05-05-2008, 04:50 AM   #6
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RE: Foreign Money

If you're going for a while , simplest is to transfer a few $K to a destination area bank , and get a local card.

Works best in Euro land where the phones suck , and local cards are pre loaded debt cards

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Old 05-05-2008, 11:41 AM   #7
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RE: Foreign Money

All this talk reminds me of a holiday disaster the wife and I got into about 20 years ago. Fly down to Barbados and Trinidad for a three week winter unwind with $300 US cash and my "good anywhere/any time Am Ex card. So after being at one resort for a week we went to check out and move to another location only to find that NO ONE in the Carib. area was accepting AmEx at the time. Seems there was a great delay in AmEx advising merchants down there of stolen/fraudulent cards and several businesses had been stung badly.
So - what do we do now? No other credit cards as I only had this one for travel and the time difference between the Carib. and the PNW was such that the banks closed there before they opened at home. Finally convinced the asst. manager to stay overtime and phone our bank to get approval for cashing a check. Let me tell you it was the last time I ever relied on AmEx for any credit! Cost us 2 days extra at that resort and a late penalty at the next one. Finally found that the Hilton in Port of Spain Trinidad had direct communications with the home office and would accept the card - wow - what a relief!
YMMV
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Old 05-05-2008, 03:32 PM   #8
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RE: Foreign Money

Quote:
thackston wrote:

Finding ATM or credit cards that do not charge a hefty fee for foreign withdrawals or charges is very difficult.
Suntrust's Platinum ATM Check Card (VISA) does not charge any foreign conversion or other fees for withdrawals and their conversion rate is very good.
Capital One's credit card (VISA) does not charge any fees for foreign charges and their conversion rate is very good.
I dunno... I use my bank ATM/debit card in Ensenada all the time (BanaMex locations only!). Costs me normal ATM fee (US $3.00), plus about 1% of the transaction.* Definitely cheaper than screwing around with Money Changers and negotiating exchange rates with them.

*
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Old 05-05-2008, 06:30 PM   #9
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RE: Foreign Money

After checking with several Canadian banks, and a friend checking with her Canadian Credit Union it appears that an American not living in Canada is not welcome to have an account. If one were to insist, there would be monthly "account fees", "outsider tax", and other various and assorted hurdles to cross. All exceed the cost of just changing money at the bank and paying their fees.

ATM fees appear to be not much better choice. The service fees would eat any benefit.

Capitol One might be a reasonable choice as mentioned by Thackston. A friend just came back from Italy where he used his brand new Capitol One card to try exactly what I'm trying to do. I'll know more when his statement comes in as to whether it worked.

The only good news I got was that at the CU mentioned above, the member can change "reasonable" amounts of US money to Canadian without any fees or charge. So, since I carry an amount of Canadian cash on board in case I get to Canada on the weekend or a holiday, I can have her trade money for me when we are in her town.

I'd still like the convenience of a reasonably priced CC. Maybe Capitol One will be it. Maybe their ATM fees are reasonable too? Is that too much to ask? Maybe so.

Thanks for all your comments,

Ken
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Old 05-05-2008, 08:08 PM   #10
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RE: Foreign Money

I am not totally sure I am following what y'all are talking about. I travel the world. Use American Express. And don't have fees related to the transactions. Now y'all may just be referring to Canada. Canada in and of itself is quite a tax and fee happy culture.
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Old 05-06-2008, 03:56 AM   #11
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RE: Foreign Money

Canada in and of itself is quite a tax and fee happy culture.


YOU BET , these folks actually pay SALES TAX on Postage Stamps!!

Guess the price of Socalized Medicine will get them to agree to any disgrace.

Although the ones that want to live seem to be fleeing to the good old USA by the tens of thousands , rather than die in line.

Very organized lines tho.

FF

-- Edited by FF at 04:57, 2008-05-06
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Old 05-06-2008, 08:41 AM   #12
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RE: Foreign Money

"I am not totally sure I am following what y'all are talking about. I travel the world. Use American Express. And don't have fees related to the transactions. Now y'all may just be referring to Canada. Canada in and of itself is quite a tax and fee happy culture."


American Express charges a 2% fee for all foreign purchases. At least on my small business account they do. To double check I actually called them to ask and they confirmed that they give you that days exchange rate, MINUS a 2% fee. Check your statement carefully against your reciept and see where they take it. It may be that they simply adjust the official exchange rate by 2% to make it "invisible" to the average user. If they admit they take it, you can be sure they do.

Ken
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