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Travel Tip: Avoiding Foreign-Transaction Fees

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If there’s one complaint I hear from people almost every day, it’s about those dreaded transaction fees abroad.

The first place most people get nailed is the foreign transaction fee on their credit card. Visa or MasterCard charges a 1 percent fee to convert the foreign currency into dollars, and the issuing bank charges another 1 or 2 percent.

A 3 percent fee may not sound like a big deal…until you get your statement. On a $100 purchase abroad, that’s $3, and it adds up fast.

Now the good news is, more and more banks are creating travel-friendly cards. For example, the BankAmericard Travel Rewards card doesn’t have any foreign transaction fee and there’s no annual fee on the card.

And it’s equipped with the EMV chip which means you can use it in countries that no longer use magnetic strip cards.

The other place where these fees can really hurt is at the ATM. As soon as you withdraw cash, your bank can charge a flat fee. And that’s often on top of a foreign conversion fee.

Limit your transactions, even if it means taking out a large sum at once. You can ask your bank to raise the withdrawal limit.

Or ask if your bank has partnerships with other institutions to waive transaction fees. Internationally, there’s the Global ATM Alliance, and domestically, there are regional networks, like Alliance One.

Keep reading for more travel tips.