UK use the credit card or British $ !!

Old Jul 7th, 2005, 12:30 PM
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UK use the credit card or British $ !!

I'm going to London in about 10 days and am debating as to whether to use my credit card or buy pounds. The credit card companies have put fees of about 3% on foreign currencies + their built in fee(generally 1%).Also some businesses(UK)will convert to the US $( generally 3% add on) and the credit card company will hit you with a fee in addition to fee of the merchant. So that being the case would I want to use my credit card or buy the British $(traveler's checks/money).I'm a member of AAA & AARP or is there a company that gives a better rate for currency/traveler's checks. Thanks
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Old Jul 7th, 2005, 12:47 PM
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Use your ATM card at ubiquitous ATMs - best rate of exchange and open 24 hours. Only what you local bank charges you - need 4-digit PIN and tell your ATM bank issuerer you're going to the UK. Credit card fees making them expensive to use - especially those with minimum fees even on minor purchases. Traveler cheques? buying British pound cheques in US means getting an especially dismal exchange rate - better to use your credit card and hauling cheques around, etc. Even banks may charge a 5 pound fee or such to cash them - if hotels take them, again probably a rate as dismal as British weather. Can take out up to about $250 a day at ATMs - use that and you'll be dollars ahead. Make sure you magnetic stripe on the back is in good condition and take extra cards and some backup US dollar traveler cheques and credit cards in some case your ATM card won't work - mine always has for years now - unfailingly - but ATM cards hooked to savings accounts make not work - should be hooked to a checking account. And tell your bank you're going or your card could be blocked with the first foreign transaction as a security measure.
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Old Jul 7th, 2005, 01:21 PM
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Hi b,

As noted, get cash from ATMs, not TCs.

If you do use your credit card, insist that you be billed in GBP, not $.

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Old Jul 7th, 2005, 02:49 PM
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I just got back from London and looked at my checking account statement on-line.

I use Bank of America, and all of my cash withdrawals at Barclay's aTM machines had no extra charges because Barclay's is an affiliate of BOA. Therefore the withdrawals were trerated as on-net transactions.

As nearly as I could tell, I was charged the wholesale rate of exchange when I withdrew my pounds.

AAA has available to its members a credit card from MBNA which for the time being levies a 1% charge. I say "for the time being" because MBNA has been bought by Bank of America which levies a 3% charge.

Capital One also, as nearly as I can tell, also only charges 1%.

You will pay for £ denominated traveler's checks. Don't fall for that line that there is no fee. When you buy, you don't get the bank wholesale rate. Instead, you pay a higher price per unit of foreign currency. Hence the seller claims "no fee", but you pay none the less.

And based on testimony written here by others, you have to find a place to cash the checks, and usually pay a fee for the benefit. If you have American Express checks you can ride down to the Haymarket and convert them to paper money, but the office is not open 24/7.

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Old Jul 7th, 2005, 04:42 PM
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If you use your credit card, you can contest any charges that have been converted to US$ for you. They are supposed to give you a choice before charging.
This occured to me on several occasions in the UK, always hotels. I was NEVER informed. Once I caught it by noticing that both pounds and US$ were lsited but US$ with the US$ amount quite high.
The other times I saw a line beneath the signature line that said "I accept the conversion rate offered" which I refused. They do make it very difficult to refuse by coming up with all sorts of excuses. But bottom line, the statement below the signature line makes it obvious that you have a right to refuse.

Always check your receipt before signing!
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Old Jul 7th, 2005, 06:31 PM
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FYI alt 156 is £
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Old Jul 7th, 2005, 07:17 PM
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Niblette - After talking with MasterCard International last week, I found out there is absolutley nothing you can do once your card has been scanned. They don't even need your signature according to MasterCard and once the card has been scanned the transaction is complete whether you refuse to sign or not. You are just lucky if they agree to cancel and rescan your card. MasterCard International told me is was up to the consumer to ask before you incur charges what the currency will be and even then they may still ignore you and do it anyway. I will continue checking this but essentially you have no recourse for dynamic currency conversion. I have an ongoing file/complaint/investigation against H10 resorts in Spain with MC. It is against their (h10's) agreement with MC that they are supposed to ask up front but MC will probably not drop them because of one consumer complaint.

As for other charges on my MC while in Spain I was charged the interbank rates with no extra fees of anykind. I checked the interbank history on Onanda for the dates of the charges against the charges and receipts and there wasn't any built in 1% fees nor any 3% conversion fees. My MC is through my credit union.

According to MC International your rights for charges in the states are treated differently than overseas charges.
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Old Jul 7th, 2005, 07:37 PM
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Ici, FYI alt 156 doesn't "compute" if you're on a Mac.
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Old Jul 7th, 2005, 09:25 PM
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People who use macs don't know these things like they run in their blood? Foolish of me to think that only pc users would not know every alt key.
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Old Jul 8th, 2005, 10:25 AM
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RE: ATM fees - i use two ATM cards from local banks and have never been charge an ATM fee to use ATMs anywhere in Europe - so i don't think it's because your bank is affiliated with a bank ATM - you can use any ATM of any bank in my years of ATM using in Europe and not get a service charge from the European ATM - talking about bank ATMs not ones at private money changers, etc.
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