Credit card companies and banks generally charge an additional percentage for all purchases made with a card in a foreign country. If you’re traveling abroad, you may want to find another way to pay.
Most credit card companies and bank debit cards will charge an additional percentage on transactions made abroad, to help them pay the cost of clearing the transaction with international institutions. This is sometimes called a currency conversion fee.
The foreign transaction fee may be around 3% or so, which really starts to add up if you’re using the card a lot as you explore the world. They might also charge up to $5 for each transaction made at a foreign ATM, and that’s before any charges from the actual ATM machine company. So you could end up paying $10 or more every time you use a foreign ATM.
Most of these charges will not be paid at the time, or taken out of the amount that you withdraw, per se, so you may find that they all pile up on your ledger and give you something to think about at the end of the month, even though you may not have given them much thought at the time.
It is possible that your bank, has an international branch in the country where you are traveling or working, and it may make sense to go through the effort of getting your money there. Some banks or credit cards market themselves as travel-friendly, so you may find some with very low fees or no fee at all for international transactions.
All things considered, the fees charged by your credit card company or bank may be lower than the fees for converting your currency at the airport kiosk or for letting the vendor charge you in US dollars at the register using a service known as dynamic currency conversion.
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