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Anyone heard of a credit card foreign transaction fee?

We went to Mexico earlier this month and pretty much charged everything to our credit card. A $72.89 "foreign transaction fee" charge just showed up on our statement. I called Citi and they said they charge a 3% fee if we use our credit card in a foreign country. So, are we essentially being penalized for using a credit card?

This was my first time out of the country (I know, I'm so sheltered), so I have no idea how this stuff works. Some of the charges from Mexico that were initially posted to our statement were less than we thought they would be. For example, I swam with the dolphins at the aquarium, and it was supposed to be $135 USD. It showed up on our Citi bill as $124.68. Is the $72.89 some weird retroactive charge that Citi is charging us because they didn't charge us the full amount to begin with?

Re: Anyone heard of a credit card foreign transaction fee?

  • I have tried (unsuccessfully) to get my cc company to waive this for me because it's bs, however most cards have them.  I have read that you can call and see if you can get it changed but I have had no success.  They basically charge you an extra fee for having to process out of the country charges even though the software is equipped to handle it.  I don't know why they charged you less than you were expecting though.
  • Yes, when my husband was on a business trip in Dubai and London he had foreign transaction fees on our credit card from purchases he made overseas.
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  • yep, like everyone else said... it's pretty standard.

    we do a lot of travel out of the country and got sick of having to pay an extra 3% for our trips, so I did a bunch of research and found that capitalOne actually does NOT charge a foreign transaction fee, so we got a card to only use out of the country (our normal CC gives us miles, which we love, so we want to keep using it).  anyway, just wanted to let people know that there is a company that doesn't charge it, if anyone is interested. 

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  • thanks for sharing about cap. one.  good to know!
  • ditto everyone else. stupid huh?

    i see a lot of travel expenses for our people in Singapore and those with Citi are in fact always charged the 3%.
  • I've not had a fee on wither my CC or m debit card.  But then again, I most often travel to Canada so I wonder if there is some kind of deal worked out.  I couldn't tell you on the other countries because the folks footed the bills on those, but Im sure there are.  I know the phone packages change with each country, so I wouldnt be surprised if the CC packages did too.
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  • When we went to the Bahamas we charged things to the CC and there were no fees at all.  We have Wells Fargo, dont' know if that's anything to do with it. 
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  • Ugh, that sucks. I was going to try and protest the charge, but it seems like this is pretty standard and it would probably be a waste of my time. Lesson learned I guess!
  • yep, ditto cap one - I believe they are the only ones who don't charge this ridiculous "fee."  might be worth it to open an account next time you travel. 
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  • We just got back from Mexico ourselves.  And yes, many credit cards have a foreign transaction fee.  The reason you were charged less is this...when you ask someone how much something is, if they tell you in dollars (for example, $135.00).  The rate paid in pesos is actually less than what they round it up to be.  For example, $110 pesos they just say its $11.00.  But the exchange rate is so that its actually less than $11.00.  They just round it up.  But when you charge it on your credit card they charge it in pesos and your credit card converts it to dollars.  Does that make sense?  So thats why (depending on you credit card foreign fee) its sometimes cheaper to use your credit card in Mexico.  Esp if they don't charge a fee.
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