Overseas Travel Surprise

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.

Photo credits: Jcimagery.

Your article must be written in English

May 30, 2012


Great images! Thanks for sharing

May 30, 2012


cash is the king ;)

May 27, 2012


Thanks for the beautiful pictures.. :)

May 26, 2012


Congratulations for the beautiful pictures of this trip and thanks for the warning and for having described your travel!

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.

May 25, 2012


Great images !

May 25, 2012


great blog.. thanks for sharing :)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Related image searches
Money related image searches