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#74574 - 10/09/03 10:53 AM Credit-Card Surcharges  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 55,669
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
Credit-Card Surcharges

Consumer Alert:
Credit-Card Surcharges
If you travel with a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or other credit card, watch out when charging purchases overseas.
The reason: Most U.S. and Canadian credit-card companies are now tacking an extra 2% to 5% fee on international transactions.
This is not a currency-exchange commission, because the Visa/MasterCard clearinghouse has already taken its commission (currently 1%) when converting your transaction from foreign currency into U.S. or Canadian dollars. Instead, it's just another way for the credit-card issuer to squeeze extra profits out of customers who may not be aware of the added fees.
More recently, the Washington Post reported that Providian National Bank is adding 4% to purchases in currencies other than U.S. dollars. Chase has announced a 2% surcharge. American Express, which isn't affiliated with Visa or MasterCard, has doubled its charge for U.S. cardholders from 1% to 2%.
How to avoid surcharges
·Don't use your Visa or MasterCard overseas until you've questioned your card's issuer about fees added to foreign-currency transactions. (Check before each trip, because policies may change on short notice.)
·If your credit-card company is one of the offenders, cancel your account--and tell them why you're switching to a different MasterCard or Visa issuer.
·If you have an American Express account, use your card only when absolutely necessary.
·In addition to surcharges on credit-card transactions, some banks are now charging hidden fees of several percentage points on foreign-currency ATM transactions. So, if you thought your ATM card was a safe haven from credit-card surcharges, think again-- before withdrawing cash abroad.
·Two major U.S. credit-card companies, Capital One and MBNA, weren't charging "conversion fees" at last report. (But check before using their cards, since policies can change at any time.) USAA is another option for U.S. military or National Guard personnel, retirees, and dependents.

#74575 - 10/09/03 11:53 AM Re: Credit-Card Surcharges  
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,459
SimonB Offline
SimonB  Offline
All the more reason for the government and banks to step up and allow vendors to charge cards in US dollars. It can be done but you really need some clout for it to happen.

Things like this hurt tourism, time for Belize to be proactive on this one.

#74576 - 10/09/03 12:03 PM Re: Credit-Card Surcharges  
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 95
beach bob Offline
beach bob  Offline
>> Two major U.S. credit-card companies, Capital One and MBNA, weren't charging "conversion fees" at last report.

I don't believe their info is current; Capital One charged me about 1.9% on my CC charges when I was in San Pedro in July, & I am a platinum card holder w/ them. Haven't had an MBNA card in years, so I have no idea 1st hand experience there...

#74577 - 10/09/03 02:07 PM Re: Credit-Card Surcharges  
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 2,090
Debbie Offline
Debbie  Offline
My husband used his Bank One card in Costa Rica in August and had all kinds of fees on it. We were both astounded. eek Use fees, currency exchange fees, and two for a cash advance!!! It was ridiculous. Time to look for another card! Thanks for the info on Capital One. We just got smoozed by them in the mail. I'll look closer. Thanks.

#74578 - 10/09/03 02:17 PM Re: Credit-Card Surcharges  
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 95
beach bob Offline
beach bob  Offline
Don't misunderstand me Debbie, I am happy with my Capital One Visa. If I could find a CC w/ none of these int'l. charges, I'd probably sign on. FWIW, I found out about the 1.9% charge prior to my trip, when I laid down the deposit for my room. I decided after some research it was on the low end of the fee range for the cards I have, so that's the one I used. As these CC co's go, Capital One is pretty good. (& considering my overall low opinion of CC co's.)

Far as I know, all cards charge for cash advances, though the fees vary considerably. A USE FEE? Sheesh ... sounds like the car dealership 'transaction fee': they charge $250 - $400 for the privelege of letting you buy the car from them... eck

#74579 - 10/09/03 02:35 PM Re: Credit-Card Surcharges  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 475
ChrisW Offline
ChrisW  Offline
Do you have the link? I would like to pass this info on to some friends.


#74580 - 10/10/03 06:27 AM Re: Credit-Card Surcharges  
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,675
dbdoberman Offline
dbdoberman  Offline
CASH - don't leave home without it

#74581 - 10/10/03 09:32 AM Re: Credit-Card Surcharges  
Joined: May 2000
Posts: 1,191
Chris Offline
Chris  Offline
Time for US Dollarisation in Belize. The idea of Belize (pop. under 300,000) having its own currency would make a little - but still not much - sense if it was "floated" on the international currency market. Because it is fixed at 2:1 there is absolutely no reason to have a different currency. It is daft. The Belize dollar is virtually unexchangeable outside of Belize even though theoretically it is worth exactly 50US cents.

Belizeans wanting to get US dollars for overseas purchases have to pay as much as $2.25BZE-$1.00US with black market moneychangers....the Central Bank of Belize makes it almost impossible for Belizeans to get US dollars legally.

Time for Belize to use the US buck. Now that the new peach coloured $20.00US bill is out it has a tropical look! I wonder if that was a hint from Uncle Sam?

#74582 - 10/10/03 09:39 AM Re: Credit-Card Surcharges  
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 192
chismera Offline
chismera  Offline
Better switch to Euros

#74583 - 10/12/03 02:14 PM Re: Credit-Card Surcharges  
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 2,624
bywarren Offline
bywarren  Offline
Here is an interesting perspective on the Belize dollar //
It would be VERY hard for the Belize government to switch to any currency that is traded. That would result in a hugh devaluation of the Belize dollar. The government now pays all of it's "local" bills, ie. salaries for goverment workers and purchases in Belize dollars. They need all of the foreign currency they can get their hands on to service the national debt. That is why US dollars are so hard to come by for the private sector. It would be much better for Belize in the long run to switch. That would help to attract foreign investment, but would be a very hard "fiscal pill" for the government to swallow. It is much easier for the government to print Belize (funny money) dollars than to get "real" money. I am just surprised that the government has not required all those entering the country to change their foreign money into "funny money" thus giving the government access to all that foreign currency. I hope the government doesn't read this board and get any ideas. I have always said the only thing Belize money is good for is buying rice and beans and a joint. laugh

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