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Beware - American Express Card Foreign Currency exchange rates

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I know I'll get a lot of torment from seasoned travelers for not knowing this already. I'm sure you'll point out that its been discussed to death on this very board, but I'm still going to post in case there are a few other clueless shoppers left in the world.

American Express charges 2% of the transaction amount as a service fee to do foriegn currency exchanges on your card. Now this isn't ordinarily a big deal - a few cents on a $20 purchase or a few dollars on your Mexican hotel bill, but I just bought additional time share at my condo and they charged me several hundred dollars to process the transaction.

No need to chastise me for not reading my AmEx contract. I know somewhere in the fine print it says I agreed to this fee. I know I've paid it before on small purchases never even realizing it was more than a fluctuation in the exchange rate. What upsets me is in the marketing of an AmEx card we are told that they get "the most favorable" exchange rates on foreign currency. Implying that that great rate is passed on to the card member. I could have gotten a better exchange rate at the hotel front desk than what AmEx got for me after they took their 2% swipe.

So here's my point. If you are going to make a large purchase or pay a large hotel or cruise bill, think twice about how much addtional that will cost when you get home. I think this policy should be changed. It doesn't cost AmEx any more to process a $10 transaction than it does to process a $1 million transaction. To charge a percentage rather than a flat transaction fee is a real rip off to card members. And please don't tell me that all the card companies charge this fee, or that I should feel lucky that it wasn't more. Its still a rip off.

Mr. Barry Arnold
Sr. VP Customer Serv.
777 American Expressway
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33337

will get a letter from me regarding this policy - asking that it be reconsidered. And I won't make the mistake of using my AmEx for foreign currency transactions again.

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