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Need tips to avoid paying credit card fees while traveling in France

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Jun 20th, 2011, 06:03 AM
  #1
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Need tips to avoid paying credit card fees while traveling in France

Hey fodorites - I just found out my credit card (Chase) charges a 3% fee against all transactions made outside the US.

Do any seasoned travelers have any tips on avoiding these fees? I will be traveling next weekend.

Looking for tips like 1) is there a particular US bank that has a network of affiliated ATMs in Europe where I could open an account and have easy access to $$ while abroad? 2) what are the pros and cons of using travelers checks? (it seems so last-century, but I suppose to avoid fees I'm willing to do anything!) 3) any other cards I should look at?

thanks guys!
ABCDEFG is offline  
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Jun 20th, 2011, 06:13 AM
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Leaving next week? Likely too late to get a Capital One card... apply now anyway to be ready for next time. Also check with Charles Schwab.

You may have time to seek out a local credit union who will offer better terms.

Travelers Checks? Forget them altogether. You'll have a hard time cashing them and will lose money when you buy them. Even if they're 'free', you'll lose on the exchange rate.

If a quick visit to a credit union doesn't do the trick the best you can do is find out if Chase has an arrangement with a foreign bank so at least you save the out of network fees.
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Jun 20th, 2011, 06:14 AM
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Capital One is really your only option for a credit card (that I know of)...
illnative is offline  
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Jun 20th, 2011, 06:17 AM
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Chase has a British Airways card with no transaction fees- too late to get it also. Best thing to do is what I do- chaulk the fees up to the cost of your vacation. A month after your statement won't remember them but you will remember the good time you had.
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Jun 20th, 2011, 07:45 AM
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The other thing you can do that may help, is check with the bank that holds your ATM card, if they have a partner in the country you are in you can avoid some of the ATM fees.
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Jun 20th, 2011, 07:53 AM
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I have 2 credit union credit cards, both of which charge only 1% over the interbank rate. Ditto for their debit cards for ATM withdrawals. So check the local credit unions, both the speed with which you can get a card and the actual surcharge. I'm told that not all credit unions charge only the 1%.
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Jun 20th, 2011, 10:01 AM
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Other than credit unions, I do think Capital One is your only choice for a credit card without a fee. Chase cards like that have large annual fees.

ATM fees are a different story from credit cards, as I think there are more possibilities there. Like some brokerage account (Schwab) has some kind of accounts that don't have foreign fees, I think. People mention them but I don't know what all is involved, I presume you have to have some kind of account with them.

Travelers checks have always had fees and always will. And they would be higher than 3 pct, in any case, so that really don't make sense, even if you could use them more easily than you currently can. Perhaps yo uhave never used them so don't realize places charge fees to cash them.
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Jun 21st, 2011, 01:44 AM
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Charles Schwab got out of the credit card business in 2010.
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Jun 21st, 2011, 03:57 AM
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Capitalone.com best for me

Visa taken widely no FE fees

Venture 2 for 1 miles recently

Great promotions snagged 70000 miles

On a matching deal I posted not too long ago.

Might look at comething like that
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Jun 21st, 2011, 04:00 AM
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The only other way to avoid fees book hotels

Through US sites betterbidding.com

ATM Euros big banks for best euro exchange pay cash for everything
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Jun 21st, 2011, 04:01 AM
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BA.com no fee AMEX

SPG.com also

Not taken as widely worth it for the points FF miles deals sometimes
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Jun 21st, 2011, 04:17 AM
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According to cardhub.com, the Chase Saffire Preferred Card does NOT charge foreign transaction fees. Card costs $95 a year but is dropped for first year. Perhaps you can call today and get your current Chase card switched to that type.

Agree with most suggestions above, and especially since you wil not have time to get any other cards than what you have, do check by calling or seeking online to see if your current ATM card has "partnership" branches.

Bank of America,for example, charges no ATM withdrawal fees at BNP Paribus in France.

One reflection, though: credit cards may add fees but usually give you a good exchange rate. And I agree that a good travel experience tends to wipe out worries about the fees.

Did want to summarize what you can do for future:
--Capitol One Credit Card**--no foreign currency fees and small to none annual fee (lots of card options available)
--Charles Schwab Debit Card--Can reduce the Visa debit part to less than a $ but still have a $500 withdrawal limit. and they will refund any foreign ATM withdrawal fees
--Bank of America ATM has partner banks in a lot of countries

Good luck.
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Jun 21st, 2011, 08:39 AM
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Chase has a British Airways card that does not charge the foreigh transaction fee. The Virgin Atlantic Amex card also does not charge a fee. and The BA miles are good on American Airlines, and the Virgin can be used on US airways, if tyour city is not served by Virgin or BA.BIt late to worry about it though

My Bank of America debit card charges no fees if I use it at a partnerbank and they give the current exchange rate.
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Jun 21st, 2011, 09:09 AM
  #14
 
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The first thing I did when I moved to France (from UK) was dump my Capital One card as they were charging a fortune for every ATM transaction on top of foreign exchange charges.
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Jun 21st, 2011, 10:14 AM
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Here's another thumbs up for a Capital One card.....when you apply get a Capital One Venture card....you'll get 2 points for every dollar spent.
I just upgraded to the Venture card....there is a $59 annual fee....my old Capital One card had no fee but I was only earning 1.25 per dollar.
Have a great trip!!
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Jun 21st, 2011, 10:16 AM
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ps...I use my Capital One card as a charge card...not as an ATM card.
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Jun 21st, 2011, 10:25 AM
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We applied last week for a Holiday Inn Priority Club card. It doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee and they drop the $49 annual fee for the first year. At the end of the first year, they give a certificate for a free night at a Holiday Inn and they also give various amounts of points depending on what you buy (we don't pay attention to points so we don't care about that part.)

Maybe you could call Holiday Inn's 800 number, ask if they can sign you up for the card, sign up to be a Priority Club member. Or maybe you don't even have to be a member. We got the info last week and already have the card. You might be able to get one before you leave.
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Jun 21st, 2011, 10:56 AM
  #18
 
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I applied for a Cap One card about ten days before leaving for Paris in February. Once approved, I asked them to put a rush on it. They told me to follow up in 5 days, by phone, to make sure it was in the works, which I did. I received it the day before we left. I was really pleased, to say the least. A week could be cutting it a little close, though...

Good luck!
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Jun 21st, 2011, 12:55 PM
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There are several banks that do not charge for foreign credit card transactions: TD Bank and Capital One for example but paying $95 per year for a card disqualifies it as free.

Bank of America does waive their onerous $5 per transaction fee per foreign ATM withdrawal from members but only eliminates the 1% currency conversion fee on SOME accounts.

Many credit unions and several small banks allow free ATM withdrawals from any bank's ATM.
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Jun 21st, 2011, 06:10 PM
  #20
 
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3% is excellent unless yo sign up for Cap One - but you don;t have time for this trip. Much better than the 10% you will pay for Trav checks or changing case.
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