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Credit card exchange rate vs fees

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Hello,

There is a lot of helpful information here already on credit card use in Europe. I hope to avoid it and take travellers cheques - but in order to buy services from the US before the trip (regional plane tix; rental car reservation), etc. I have to use my US credit card.

I've heard that Capital One has no foreign transaction fee but poor exchange rates. Although someone here said the rates were fine. Do you know the best combination of low fees and good exchange rates? Or even how credit cards determine the exchange rate at the time of purchase (i.e. is it published/public)?

Thanks,
Anjali

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