Visa or Mastercard?

Old Jan 25th, 2000, 06:50 PM
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Visa or Mastercard?

Would there be any advantage to using one instead of the other? Somewhere I recall reading something about one of them not giving as good an exchage on the American dollar because they assess a service charge to the transaction. Is that true? If so, which one?
Old Jan 25th, 2000, 07:59 PM
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This varies entirely with the bank issung the card (so many banks issue boith these days - - and strangely, their policies might not be the same).

It can be difficult to find out, and can change with only very "fine print" notification in your monthly statement or other mailings. Call the 800 number on your card and quiz them carefully.

Best wishes,

Old Jan 25th, 2000, 10:36 PM
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There is an unavoidable ~1% service charge above official exchange rate no matter what you use. That is to pay for the folks who do the currency exchange, I suppose.

Then after that, as REX says, each CC issuing bank decides how much ADDITIONAL surchage they will tack on. I have one with 0% additional charge and 2% additional charge. Guess which one I use. So the total percentage surchage above official exchange rate for me is either 1% or 3% depending on the card.

There are other factors which I can only guess since I am not in international currency business.

It appears that the CC exchange take place at time quite later than the time transaction took place. Comparing the ATM rate vs MC rate, both with basic 1% transaction fee, MC exchange seem to match the official exchange rate much later in the day, while the ATM exchange rate seem to be the instantaneous rate at the time cash was dispensed.

Lastly, at a hotel in Germany, I was asked to use VISA instead of MC, since according to the merchant, he gets hit with higher fee from the MC.
Old Feb 1st, 2000, 08:48 PM
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for the first time, I was told a place (in Germany) did not acept Mastercard but would take Visa (thanks goodness I had both).
Old Feb 2nd, 2000, 05:49 AM
Bob Brown
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My experience says have both Visa and Master Card. Also, for ATM use, I found that in some Swiss villages a bank might accept only a Visa inscribed debit (check) card or only a Mastercard debit card.
But usually there is more than one bank around.
I also have a reserve in American Express checks. Just in case. (Sort of like having both a belt and suspenders.)

We arrived in Zurich once and the ATM machine that we saw in the airport was down. Our train was leaving in a few minutes, so I cashed one check at the bank window to have pocket money until I got to my destination.
All the other checks I had made trip home because we either charged or used the ATM for currency.
Old Feb 2nd, 2000, 06:18 AM
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Speaking strictly "by the numbers," there are more Visa outlets worldwide.
Old Feb 2nd, 2000, 08:37 PM
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You would want to check with the issuers as to how they determine the current exhange rates and what additional charges or fees are assessed for both purchases and ATM withdrawals. Note that most assess a percentage (with a minimum) fee for ATM withdrawals (cash advances) and interest accrues immediately. You would also want to find out what portion of your available credit line is available for cash advances. All of this depends upon your particular accounts. And, just before leaving, be sure to advise your credit card providers where you'll be. They've been known to "freeze" accounts while they attempt to contact the holder due to "unusual or foreign" transactions. It's best not to rely on just one card. Obviously, you'd want to use the one primarily with the lowest fees and charges, but it's a good idea to have another for a backup. Whatever you take along, be sure to make a list of the numbers and expiration dates, along with the direct dial phone numbers (not the US 800 numbers which cannot be used overseas), in case a problem arises and you need to speak to someone immediately. Keep a copy (or two) of your list in a safe place, not in your wallet. Be sure to save all your receipts. Not only is it interesting to check the transactions on your statement for the exchange rates used, they're essential in the event of a billing error.
Old Feb 3rd, 2000, 01:03 PM
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Not totally sure I understand the full response just above, and many people seem confused about the difference between using a credit card at an ATM for cash advance, and using your own bank card (we usually call them debit cards) tied into your own checking account at home to do a withdrawal from your checking account from an ATM elsewhere. There is a lot of difference. First of all the credit card often charges up to 3 percent for the currency exchange, a fee for withdrawal from an ATM, and then starts charging you interest from that minute on your credit card account. This can amount to a lot. I always have enough in my checking account to cover my full trip and use my bank's ATM card to withdraw local cash in foreign countries from my own checking account. There is usually a $1.50 charge for each transaction no matter how large, but often there is absolutely no other charge and the rate is still the best you can find. My bank's card is honored at all Cirrus and Honor ATMs. It is extremely rare to find any European bank ATM that doesn't accept my card (except for their equivalent of our old building and loan companies or credit union type banks.)

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