Prepaid Credit Cards?

Apr 10th, 2005, 07:51 PM
  #1  
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Prepaid Credit Cards?

I'm planning a month-long trip to France this summer and am trying to figure out a way to outsmart the currency conversion charges. I already have an ATM card through a bank that offers free ATM usage around the globe (they'll refund any bank's fees), but I'm still trying to avoid the 1% to 4% that American credit cards charge per transaction overseas.

Does anyone know of any prepaid credit cards (either available here or in France) that I can preload with Euros?
xene97 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2005, 08:06 PM
  #2  
 
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There isn't any such thing as a prepaid credit card. If you prepay it, then it isn't a credit card.

There isn't any way you are going to get money with no fee at all like an international bank would which handles transactions in millions. You are a consumer that needs a service for you traveling needs, you are going to have to pay something for that service, even if only one percent. You do not have to use a credit card that charges 4 pct.
Christina is offline  
Apr 10th, 2005, 08:33 PM
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If you mean one of the prepaid "travel cards" like AMEX's or the one AAA sells - no. You still have fees/conversion charges. And if by "here" you mean the USA, how would you propose to fill it w/ € anyway?

Do you really think there is a way to "outsmart" the system? Good luck!
janis is offline  
Apr 10th, 2005, 08:48 PM
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I've been thinking about this and this is the best suggestion I can come up with to beat the system.

Get a work permit so you can work in Europe. Get a job there and they will pay you in euro. Open a bank account in a bank in a country that uses euros and deposit your paychecks into that account. After you open your account, get a credit card through them. Charge things on that credit card and pay the balance with a check from your European bank account. There you have it! No charge for currency conversion.
Patrick is offline  
Apr 10th, 2005, 10:32 PM
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I have been checking on this myself and this is the result. My (California) Washington Mutual Checking Card, which is a debit card from my checking account which I will fill up before I go, charges a flat $3 fee for any Euro withdrawal from an ATM. This means that if I withdraw $100 it is 3% which matches many credit cards, but if I withdraw say $300, then it is only a 1% fee, better than I have found anywhere. American Express has a cash card which you fill up before you go, and they charge a flat $15 for the card.
humanone is offline  
Apr 10th, 2005, 11:53 PM
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humanone, keep in mind your bank almost certainly charges a 1% fee on top of the $3 fee. Still not bad for a 250 Euro withdrawal or so, of course.
WillTravel is online now  
Apr 11th, 2005, 12:03 AM
  #7  
 
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Suggestion. Bring USA $s. Convert them as necessary with a legal money-changer. Conversion rates are usually posted and can be compared. Maybe it is time to reconsider Traveller's Checks. They are safer to carry than cash.
GSteed is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 12:41 AM
  #8  
 
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The new prepaid credit cards have outrageous special fees and pitfalls outlined in the fine print - I don't know why. Most conventional credit cards are adding on sneaky built-in conversion fees. Don't bother asking which ones don't, because the list shortens every week. I think a credit union atm card (non credit and possibly non debt) has the least such fees.
viking is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 06:00 AM
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Use a credit union. I have never been charged a fee for using a foreign ATM by my credit union.

Now, my Grandfather got around this by opening a bank account in London since he traveled there so often. (And he never had a job there so I assume that was not required.)
CarolA is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 06:05 AM
  #10  
 
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The only way to "beat the system" in terms of avoiding credit card "conversion" charges is very simple: don't use a credit card for anything!

Can it be done? Sure, especially if you have an ATM card that doesn't incur any fees for withdrawals.

Will you ever actually do this? Somehow I doubt it so stop wasting your energy trying to figure out how to beat the system.
Intrepid1 is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 06:12 AM
  #11  
aggiemom
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You know, my husband has been driving me crazy trying to figure out how NOT to pay the 1-3% fees on our ATM, credit, etc cards. I got caught up in it at first but now it's "who cares?" Seriously, figure out how much it will cost you. If I spend even $10,000 shopping on my trip next month via credit or debit (honey, if you see this, of course I have no intention of doing this!) that's still only $100-$300. I can cross this "problem" off my list. Some things are unavoidable so keep it in perspective.
 
Apr 11th, 2005, 06:14 AM
  #12  
 
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Carol, I didn't mean to suggest that a job was necessary to open a European bank account. But if your grandfather took US money to London and put it in his bank account there, I'm sure he was being charged pretty hefty conversion charges when he did so. My statement about having a job meant that you'd also have to earn your money in euros, so when you deposited euros in your European bank account you weren't losing value, like you would if you were putting in dollars that you brought from home.

About exchanging money at a "booth". Yes you can compare, but I've never seen one of those booths that exhanged for less than a percent. Usually more like 5 to 7 percent. You can compare all you want to, but since none of them do it for "free", what's the point? Same with exchanging TC's. There may be no "fee", but they'll invariably give you a horrible rate for buying them in a different currency or else for "selling" them in a different currency.
Patrick is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 06:22 AM
  #13  
 
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There should be a foreign currency fee deducted with card usage, according to this article:
http://www.startribune.com/stories/1614/5126484.html

"...Like credit and debit cards, purchases made abroad using a travel card are converted automatically into the currency of the country and then deducted from the card amount. There is usually a foreign currency conversion charge for this service..."
Travelnut is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 08:42 AM
  #14  
 
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Patrick,
Actually my grandfather had very good timing. He took his money to Europe when the dollar was very strong. We wound up leaving the account open several years after he could no longer travel waiting on the dollar to recover. (He didn't want to take a hit, but he had originally funded it so well that he was using British Pounds purchased at a very good rate for years! All of us should be so lucky!)
CarolA is offline  

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