Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Money Is The Root Of All Service Charges

Service charges for ATM withdrawals and credit cards are one way that banks snag the traveling customer literally coming and going. It's the subject of a lot of discussion and analysis among travelers.

A lot of things are simpler since we first started to travel and Travelers Cheques were the way to go. That doesn't mean it's gotten cheaper though.

We've been using ATMs and paying cash while outside the country whenever possible. Our Wells Fargo checking account formerly allowed us to make unlimited withdrawals from foreign ATMs without incurring their nasty $5 fee. They've whittled that number down to two per monthly period. We thereafter pay $5 plus a 3% commission per withdrawal. In other words, it's going to cost you an annoying $20 to withdraw $500.

Since our current credit cards, like most, add 3% or so in charges for foreign transactions (and one can only trust that the actual exchange rate itself is fair), we decided to get ourselves a Capital One credit card, which touts the fact that it doesn't charge foreign transaction fees.

We're looking forward to giving our new Capital One card a test drive, perhaps on our next trip to British Columbia, and checking the rate against our go-to currency exchange site,XE.


Gregory said...

Have you looked at the British Airways Visa card? They've just stopped imposition of the 3% fee. I know it's oneworld, but I decided it wouldn't be bad having a few miles there -- especially if I want to do some flying inside Australia at some point in time.

Kathy and Brian said...

Oneworld? Never heard of 'em. ;-)

Seriously, for domestic use we have a United Visa card mainly for UA tix, and stick with our Costco AmEx for most other purchases. It's been annoying seeing the charges added for the odd foreign purchase such as a hotel room multi-night stay.

The BA card is an intriguing thought though. Thanks!