Credit card caution

Old Jan 9th, 2009, 06:36 PM
  #21  
 
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I agree with Sandi, this can happen anywhere.
On a trip to Southern Africa in '07, my Mastercard number was stolen and about $8000 was charged, mostly at home improvement stores. I'm almost positive it was taken at a restaurant in the Emproer's Palace complex in Johannesburg, but of course I can't prove it. I'd alerted the credit card company ahead of time that we'd be traveling in Africa, so, ironically, the charges weren't caught. But once home Mastercard swiftly erased the bogus charges from my account and sent a new card.
A few months later, my husband had the same thing happen in San Francisco at a BART station, where we're pretty sure some crooks had a card-reader in the automatic ticket slot. So it happens all over the world. Even vigilance is no guarantee. And the cost of all these thefts get passed on to consumers.
On cash: In Botswana at Wilderness camps, we found most camps took credit cards and we could put tips AND gift store purchases on it. But there's no guarantee all camps will be so equipped, or that the machines will be working. In South Africa, they really don't seem to care whether tips are in rands, dollars or euros.
On fees: I just received a notice from Amex about their foreign currency rates going up. I forget the percentage, but it's sky high. So ATMS may in fact be cheaper. However, since my bank provides them free, I am now thinking of going back to an old fashioned currency--traveler's checks-- for a spring trip to Asia/India. The bank's have pushed us back to the dark ages!
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Old Jan 9th, 2009, 09:41 PM
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Travelers Checks - last I heard they were not accepted at most places because of counterfeiting. This changed?

And yes, the banks will bleed you to death if they can.

regards - tom
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Old Jan 10th, 2009, 11:24 AM
  #23  
 
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Amex foreign exchange fee is going up to 2.7% this month. This is for Amex cards issued by Amex. Amex cards issued by other banks (Citi, BofA, etc.) will have different fees.

Visa and Mastercard vary from 0-3% depending on the issuing bank and type of card (very few are 0%).

ATM/debit cards vary from 0-3% depending on the issuing bank and type of account. There may also be a per transaction fee which is separate from and in addition to the foreign exchange fee.

Here's a list of what various banks charge http://www.flyerguide.com/wiki/index...reign_Exchange

I've had fraudulent charges appear after 2 different trips to Africa. In neither case was this due to faxing a copy of my credit card. For me, it's still preferable to carrying cash.
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Old Jan 10th, 2009, 01:23 PM
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"American Express has increased the cost of borrowing on one of its credit cards to 46 per cent. The company now charges 46 per cent APR on the British Airways Premium Plus card, making it Britainís most expensive credit card."

What's in your wallet?

regards - tom
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Old Jan 10th, 2009, 04:45 PM
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Tom, I don't know about traveler's checks being denied because of forgeries, but I'll check it out.
Patty, thanks for the link. It pays to do your homework. I'e always been a credit card girl because I always pay them off and I like the advantage of a one-month "float." But the thought of increasing the total cost of my trip by almost 3% just for simple spending makes me ill.
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