A Foreign Fee

What to know about credit card foreign transaction fees

If you’re traveling abroad, there are certain things you should know: Where you stashed the underwear, how to say “I’m lost” in the country’s native language and the ins and outs of credit card foreign transaction fees. If you don’t know the latter, you’re not alone. A recent study from WalletHub found that 52 percent of consumers “aren’t sure” if their cards come with foreign transaction charges. The problem is that if you don’t understand these fees, your vacation spending could get out of hand quickly. Here are some things to know so that your spending remains in check.

They come from everywhere. As Marketwatch reports, you need to be aware of foreign transaction fees even when you’re sitting on your couch. That’s because credit card companies will hit you with this charge — typically three percent of the purchase price — even if you’re just buying something online from a retailer based outside of the US. This is not something consumers seem to be aware of. The WalletHub report found that 86 percent of consumers didn’t understand that foreign transaction fees can be applied to online purchases made stateside.

You’ll likely need to search them out. Credit cards often list foreign transaction fees separately, so be sure to read the fine print before signing up. With more than 50 percent of cards charging fees for international purchases, it’s important to know what you’ll be paying. Especially if you’re a frequent flyer.

They are avoidable. Despite so many cards charging foreign transaction fees, there are ways around them. If you travel often, find a card with no foreign transaction charge and no annual fee, then use that card exclusively when traveling or when you make international purchases. You could also find a card that comes with inexpensive usage of international ATMs. That way you’ll be able to withdraw a large chunk of cash and only pay a small fee once, as opposed to a foreign transaction fee for each credit card purchase.

Chris O'Shea

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