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Re: Credit Cards/ATM #41633
07/07/01 10:34 AM
07/07/01 10:34 AM
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 3,054
Asheville, NC USA
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
.
Lan Sluder/Belize First  Offline
Keep in mind that under (U.S.) law, you are only liable for the first $50 of purchases made with your stolen card (or nothing if you notify the issuer before the card is used improperly.)

So even if the thief charges $50,000 on your card, the issuer eats the charges, not you.

Thus, the bank isn't looking out for YOUR interest; it's looking out for its interest.

--Lan Sluder


Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com
Re: Credit Cards/ATM #41634
07/12/01 03:32 PM
07/12/01 03:32 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 165
Washington, PA, USA
K
Karen Pasquariello Offline
 
Karen Pasquariello  Offline
K
I appreciate that Visa was trying to protect me, but protect me from whom? Myself? I guess what really irritated me was that I have had the same card for 15 years, have never been late on a payment, have literally traveled all over the world and not once ever had my card declined. My problem with Visa is that I was standing in front of clients and had my card declined, and it put me in a tough spot financially to have to come up with the money. It would have been nice to have received some sort of communication from Visa that warned me ahead of time that if I traveled out of the country, without notifying them, that the card could have been declined, instead of embarassing me. Of course, they were very apologetic, but I felt it was very poor customer service on their part. So, yes, I am shopping for another credit card.


Karen Pasquariello
Re: Credit Cards/ATM #41635
07/12/01 06:53 PM
07/12/01 06:53 PM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 92
S
silly Offline
 
silly  Offline
S
-just make sure when you are whipping out your card it is the CREDIT card instead of your DEBIT card. I accidently put our hotel bill on my debit (I was in vacation lala land ). You can imagine my surprise when I called to get my bank balance and it began with the word "NEGATIVE!!!"

Re: Credit Cards/ATM #41636
11/13/01 08:36 PM
11/13/01 08:36 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 23
NJ, USA
A
Alyse Offline
 
Alyse  Offline
A
I'm particularly interested in Lan's response about the "surcharge". My group of 6 is staying at Banana Beach next week, and my deposit of $100 was charged with a Visa last month. When I got the bill, I noticed a small ($2) surcharge added to the deposit. According to Banana Beach, they did not charge us the surcharge, my issuing bank did. I am trying to confirm this. Banana Beach also mentioned that when they accepted my deposit of $100 US ($200 BZ), they were only credited $196.75 Belizean by their bank (Mas o Menos Ltd), and therefore lost $3.25. Supposedly, that bank charged me the "conversion fee" of $2.

Banana Beach recommends we pay their final bill in US dollars, to avoid these fees. Is anyone familiar with this situation? Banana Beach is also booking our airline tickets on Tropic Air, and I'm following up on whether there will be a credit card surcharge on that as well.

Thanks,
Alyse
[email protected]

Re: Credit Cards/ATM #41637
11/14/01 10:15 AM
11/14/01 10:15 AM
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 3,054
Asheville, NC USA
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
.
Lan Sluder/Belize First  Offline
Several things that may apply here:

First, it used to be that most credit card conversions from Belize dollars to US dollars used the conversion rate of 2 BZE to 1US. Now, however, most are using the conversion rate 1.97 to 1, or 1.98 to 1, based I think on the current interbank exchange rate (this is quoted in the Wall Street Journal every Monday in the World Value of the Dollar section). So things are costing a little more if you use a credit card.

This is odd in that as a practical matter the Belize dollar, due to a shortage of U.S. dollars in Belize, has actually DECLINED in value against the U.S. dollar of late, and some money changers are giving US$2.20 to $2.40 or more just to get US dollars.

Second, I believe that Banana Beach does have some kind of surcharge for credit card use. It's hard to figure because Banana Beach typically quotes inclusive rates, a rate that includes taxes and surcharges. I know that when I recently got a mailing from Banana Beach, in connection with a guidebook I am doing, it stated that the promotional rates quoted were inclusive of taxes and surcharges, whatever that means. (I would note, however, that these charges are small and that Banana Beach is a great value, one of the best on the island for what you get.)

Third, some credit card companies do charge a fee for converting any foreign currency charge. It is just another way a bank generates fee income.

--Lan Sluder


Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com
Re: Credit Cards/ATM #41638
11/14/01 12:21 PM
11/14/01 12:21 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 23
NJ, USA
A
Alyse Offline
 
Alyse  Offline
A
Thanks Lan. We are still looking forward to staying at Banana Beach. Tim Jeffers explained that the central Belize bank will add the conversion fee to any credit card transaction, and he recommends paying for things with US dollars or traveler's checks to avoid this. Banana Beach itself will charge a 5% service fee for any outside activities it books for it's guests that use credit cards, to compensate for the merchant account fee that gets passed on to them. They will not charge this service fee for the rooms, the in-house gift shop, or internal hotel fees.

So it seems that at the very least, using a credit card will incur a conversion fee via the Belize bank. At the worst, we'll be paying that fee, plus a potential 5% service charge, for using a credit card for other activities. I guess the lesson is to always ask before paying with a credit card.

Re: Credit Cards/ATM #41639
11/14/01 12:25 PM
11/14/01 12:25 PM
Joined: Jul 2000
Posts: 170
Nanaimo, BC, Canada
Cinca Offline
 
Cinca  Offline
It is also important to note that it is illegal for them to charge a surcharge. I ask in advance, and if they do, I tell them that I will stay elsewhere that doesn't charge it. If we all do that, they will soon stop that practice.

Re: Credit Cards/ATM #41640
11/14/01 12:43 PM
11/14/01 12:43 PM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 23
NJ, USA
A
Alyse Offline
 
Alyse  Offline
A
Is it really illegal? That's disturbing to hear, after reading so many good things about Banana Beach. The one thing I did find a little suspect, is that Banana Beach offered to book our airfare on Tropic Air and that we could pay for it at the hotel when we arrived. What wasn't stated (until today) was that this service would cost us 5%. I am now verifying if that 5% was included in the quoted airfare that was booked for us ($93US roundtrip).

I spoke with Visa directly and they do charge a 1% conversion rate for all overseas activity. I never saw this before and I've traveled extensively with this card. They explained that it may not have been broken out as a line item before, probably just rolled into the converted dollar amount of the bill. They also said that individual issuing banks may charge an additional fee for foreign transactions - luckily, my credit union does not.

Re: Credit Cards/ATM #41641
11/14/01 01:15 PM
11/14/01 01:15 PM
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 3,054
Asheville, NC USA
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
.
Lan Sluder/Belize First  Offline
Cinca,

I believe you are wrong about that. There is no law in Belize that prohibits it, to my knowledge.

Credit card issuers do generally prohibit it in the U.S., but not necessarily outside the U.S. Also, there are apparently ways to set this up, I think as a discount for cash, as long as it is applied across the board, so that it meets the requirements of the credit card issuers.

This has been rehashed many times here and elsewhere.

Many hotels still do levy a surcharge in Belize for credit card use, though the practice is less common than it used to be.

I too think it is a bad practice, from a marketing point of view if nothing else. It almost always leaves a bad taste in the mouths of guests.

I can understand why hotel operators and others do it, as so many of them are struggling and operating on thin margins, but in general I think from a marketing point of view it is better to price the product to include the cost of credit card transaction fees averaged over all transactions (cash and credit). This means a slight increase in prices and it also means that cash payers pay a little more than they would otherwise, and so in that sense it is unfair, but it's better marketing.

--Lan Sluder


Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com
Re: Credit Cards/ATM #41642
11/14/01 01:22 PM
11/14/01 01:22 PM
Joined: Apr 2000
Posts: 3,054
Asheville, NC USA
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
.
Lan Sluder/Belize First  Offline
I also can understand why Tim would want to add the surcharge on outside charges paid for through the hotel. I suspect he doesn't often mark those up and so if he charges you net he loses 5% on everything you spend elsewhere but run through your hotel account.

One time I was staying at Banana Beach and asked Tim to set up a day boat charter for me. He kindly did, and as I recall the boat owner wanted US$150, but I asked Tim to put the charge on my hotel bill, and I would settle it all up at the end of my stay. He did, and I did, though now that I think of it I don't think Tim charged me the 5%, so he lost money.

In any event I think Jeffers and his operations are as honest and reliable as they come. They offer excellent value and do what they say they will.

--Lan Sluder


Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com
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