Overseas Travel Surprise

posted on 24th of may, 2012

We've been fortunate enough to travel with a regular frequency. Everything from Hawaii to Alaska to more far flung locales like Panama, Costa Rica, Cayman Islands, and more. Canada is our neighbor so we make it up there at least once a year.

Until two years ago - we took a ski hiatus and went to the US sun instead.

So when I booked our ski vacation to Whistler this year, I was shocked when the credit card bill came back. Yes, the dollar amount was correct (even though the exchange rate was not what it used to be). But there were two extra fees included that added up to $47. I marched into the bank and demanded they be removed immediately. Without batting an eye, I was told "no".

Fine then. I left (swearing I was closing that account with that establishment) and went home to do some research. What I found changed some of our overseas travel plans.

The charge was a Foreign Transaction Fee. It appears when I use my credit card and the bank has to do a currency conversion (in this case US to Canadian). Because both the deposit and final payment was on the same bill, I had two of them, adding up to my $47. I found out that this particular bank not only charged the 1% Visa/Mastercard fee, but another 2% was added by our bank - making 3% in fees. It doesn't sound like a lot, but my $47 could have purchase a couple extra "I've Been to Canada" t-shirts.

For that trip, we used the credit cards for our local credit union which only charged the 1% put on by Visa/Mastercard, but no bank fees. From research and family experience, there is one card that doesn't charge, but only one that I've found.

So plan your overseas finances carefully, making small purchases with cash. When you do have to use the card, remember another fee will come with the bank statement.

Comments (13)

Posted by Laurasinelle on May 30, 2012
Great images! Thanks for sharing
Posted by Zenonk on May 30, 2012
cash is the king ;)
Posted by Thevegetable on May 27, 2012
Thanks for the beautiful pictures.. :)
Posted by FabioConcetta on May 26, 2012
Congratulations for the beautiful pictures of this trip and thanks for the warning and for having described your travel!
Posted by Jcimagery on May 26, 2012
Thanks for all the kind words. Whistler is fantastic. My thirteen year old started skiing when she was four and we try to go once a year.

Love the "debit" card idea. Love the idea of not having a bill when we got home, too.
Posted by smartview27 on May 25, 2012
Great images !
Posted by Onime on May 25, 2012
great blog.. thanks for sharing :)
Posted by Adeliepenguin on May 25, 2012
I just came back from Europe and tried something new that worked great. I got a "debit" card loaded up with Euro's, in the dollar amount I thought I'd need for the trip. No foreign transaction charges plus I came home and didn't have wait for a big credit card bill to come in. It worked out very well, and I just cashed it in when I got home and got the left over money back in US dollars. A pin is required to use it, so there is little risk if it is stolen or lost. And I still had the credit card to use, if I wanted to. I believe you can load the card with Euros or British Pounds.
Posted by Gmargittai on May 25, 2012
So how was Whistler? Was it worth the trouble? We used to go there when we lived in Vancouver. Huge mountain but weather is quite unpredictable.

We went last year to Mexico and I thought to leave my cell phone behind but still took it don't know why. After a few days I get a call from Visa to confirm some purchases that were made with my credit card but did not seem right. Of course they were not mine. Card got canceled instantly and the money was promptly returned. I am always taking my phone since then, even if I am not making or expecting any calls.
Posted by Egomezta on May 25, 2012
None of my cards charge extra fees for using them. Find one that doesn't do that. Great images by the way.
Posted by Jcimagery on May 25, 2012
Capital One is the one card we found that doesn't have the fee. It's also the one we don't have, but have thought about getting as we spring back into travel mode.
Posted by Jcimagery on May 25, 2012
Capital One is the one card we found that doesn't have the fee. It's also the one we don't have, but have thought about getting as we spring back into travel mode.
Posted by Peanutroaster on May 24, 2012
Shop around for a card that doesn't have this fee. Capital One I believe is the one we use for out of country trips.

Comments (13)

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Photo credits: Jcimagery.

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Given that we travel worldwide with kids, we see the world through their eyes. While we adults are looking at the beauty of the Grand Canyon, the kids are starstruck by the chipmunk carrying a nut across the parking lot. Anything goes when you stop looking for the expected.

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