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bob_brown Jun 2nd, 2007 10:54 AM

capital one foreign currency conversions
From time to time we have discussion about which credit card is best for Europe. I know two facts: 1. Bank of America would charge me 3% if I let them by using its card outside of the USA. 2. Capital One appears to charge me ONLY at the current rate of exchange. No fees of any kind added.

Here are some actual transaction amounts from a recent experience with Capital One.

I charged a bill for 247.40 chf to Capital One on May 10. The exchange rate for that day and time, almost to the minute, was 1.2201 as verified independently.

I paid $202.77 (US) from my bank account.

Later that same day I charged 35 chf. The rate had drifted some as you would expect to 1.21993% My bill in US dollars was $28.69.

I certainly do not see any add-ons here. Certainly no 3%.

So if you are wondering which credit card to use overseas, here is some evidence on which to base your final decision.

Obviously, I use Capital One. And my Bank of America Visa card stays at home.

I do carry a second credit card just in case, but I have no intention of using it unless I must.

Dukey Jun 2nd, 2007 11:55 AM

On the face of it it would seem you did better by using your CapOne card.

Hoever, what you dont know is the exhange rate your B of A card would have used.

bob_brown Jun 2nd, 2007 12:03 PM

I doubt if the B and A exchange rate would have been lower than the bank wholesale rate, which is what I said I verified independently.

Are you thinking I don't know what the bank wholesale rate of exchange is?

EricH Jun 2nd, 2007 12:16 PM

Well Bob, at noon on May 10 the wholesale rate was 1.2192, so you're pretty close.

All your work saved you a little less than $7. I'd consider that a waste of time, but your value of time may vary.

J62 Jun 2nd, 2007 12:21 PM

Thank you for the detailed info about Capital One - handy to know.

Citibank adds the foreign exchange fee at the end of the billing cycle - at the statement date.

I'm assuming the answer is yes, but can you confirm there were no add-ons even at the end of the cycle?

Christina Jun 2nd, 2007 12:35 PM

I don't think credit cards use the exchange rate that is in effect the exact minute you made a purchase. I think they use rate based on when it is actually processed by them, and I know on one of my cards (because I called and questioned a fee and for what date it was applicable), it wasn't processed for a day or two after the purchase. So I don't see much point in trying to track exact change rates down to the minute of your purchase.

nukesafe Jun 2nd, 2007 02:32 PM


Thank you so much for confirming the Fodor's conventional wisdom that Capitol 1 rules. I just got mine for my upcoming trip to France. Last time I used my Bank of America card and got ripped off -- especially when I couldn't find one of their partner bank outlets and had to pay the additional $5 fee.

I don't understand EricH's comment that you did "all that work to save $7". What work? You saved enough bucks on a single transaction to buy yourself a beer by simply using a card not issued by bandits.


brookwood Jun 2nd, 2007 02:52 PM

I think E and H was just being snotty.
Usual. Some people know no other way to act. Born ill mannered and never reformed. Inborn compulsion to show control freak tendencies. Some guy post facts; some other joker wants to take issue with them.

I agree. $7.00, not much. Sure one transaction probably. But pursue that out to $2,000 or even $3,000 on a total trip including hotels, train travel, intra European airfares, meals, and various other purchases, the total saved is more than $7.00! And in my case over the last 5 years I have made many trips to Europe where I used a Capital One card.

At an average credit bill of $2,000 per trip, that is $10,000. That is $300 total. Besides, I don't like the idea of B of A or any other bank stiffing me for something I don't need to pay.

Why should I pay those banks anything extra for a conversion fee when I can avoid it? There is no service added for the extra money. I get a credit card billing statement from one just like I do for the other.

Besides Uncle Nasty missed the point.
It was verification that Capital One charges less than other banks.

That was the issue, as I read it, not the paltry $7.00 on this one charge.

SeaUrchin Jun 2nd, 2007 03:16 PM

I got so angry after my last trip when I saw all the extras BofA charged me. I just got a preauthorized Capital One registration form, I think I will go ahead and apply for my upcoming trip. Thanks.

SusanP Jun 2nd, 2007 03:24 PM

There have been many discussion here on this subject, and those of us who use Capital One consistently point out that they do not add any fees. They even absorb the 1% that MasterCard or Visa adds. Bob was simply confirming this once again. As noted, you will save a lot more than $7 on your whole trip!

mpkp Jun 2nd, 2007 03:38 PM

There was a lawsuit a few years back and the banks must separately state all the fees -- that is why you see them detailed out on your credit card -- they would prefer you not know what they are doing.

I have a visa that passes on the 1% fee and that is what I use. One thing I do not like about Capital One is how they report your credit to the bureaus -- they do it differently from the others as they only report what you owed on the card -- not what your limit is -- bu doing so they bring your credit score down because one component of your credit score is how much of your available credit you are using -- for example if you have a $5,000 limit and you have a balance of $1,000 you are using 20% but if the $5,000 is never reported it looks as if you are using 100% of your credit for that card -- and that can impact your credit.

Robespierre Jun 2nd, 2007 03:46 PM

I believe the exchange rate applied to bank card transactions is the one in effect when the merchant closes out the terminal for the day (typically early afternoon US time for Europe transactions).

The easiest way to find out what you were actually charged is to run the transaction through

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