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Update: The Latest on Foreign Transaction Fees

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For those of you who travel frequently overseas, you know that foreign transaction fees add up quickly. These fees are usually between 2 to 3 percent of your purchase. Credit card issuers charge this fee for any transaction made in a foreign currency or on purchases that involve a foreign bank.

What many consumers don’t know, is that you might be charged this fee without ever leaving your family room. If you buy merchandise online from a foreign merchant, you could be charged a foreign transaction fee. When I recently noticed a foreign transaction fee on my credit card statement, I tracked it down to a Canadian website that sells used text books. I’d given my credit card to my daughter to order used books for college. In this case, I saved a lot of money on college books.

But if your normal purchasing patterns are costing you a great deal of money—whether it’s due to travel or Internet purchases—you need to start keeping an eye out for a card that has eliminated these fees.

I wrote a blog about the latest on foreign transaction fees three months ago and since then, there have been some small, but positive developments.

Here’s a current list of some credit cards—by issuer—that aren’t charging foreign transaction fees:

  • Capital One: The only issuer who doesn’t charge this fee on any of their credit cards.
  • Pentagon Federal Credit Union: PenFed Promise Card and PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express Card.
  • Chase: The Hyatt Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, British Airways Visa Signature Card, Continental Airlines Presidential Plus Card, Chase Priority Club Select Visa Card, United Mileage Plus Club Visa Card, Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card, and the J.P. Morgan Palladium card.
  • Citi: ThankYou Premier Card and ThankYou Prestige Card
  • American Express: Platinum and Centurion cards
  • Barclay’s: Harvard Alumni Association World MasterCard

Now, I mentioned PenFed, but there are many other credit unions that offer cards that waive the fee entirely. There are also credit unions that charge only the 1 percent fee that Visa and MasterCard charge them for the conversion. If you have access to a credit union in your area, it’s worth checking out the foreign transaction fees on their cards.

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