Foreign Currency Transaction Fees List

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I just made a trip to China and one of the interesting things I learned before I left was that a credit card will often tack on a foreign currency transaction fee if you use your card abroad – this fee is tacked onto the cost of the purchase and is used to cover the foreign currency exchange, in theory. No matter what the reason, the fee still exists and it certainly would be helpful to know which card issuer charges the most and which charges the least right? So, check out the table below:

Card Issuer Fee
Capital One 0%
Discover 0%
Wachovia 1%
Washington Mutual 1%
American Express 2%
Bank of America 3%
Citibank 3%
JP Morgan Chase 3%
Wells Fargo 3%
US Bank 3%

Visa and Mastercard automatically charge the card issuer 1% for the foreign currency transaction itself so a lot of the Visa/Mastercard cards will pass that onto the end user (which is included in the number above). Capital One is the lone exception, eating the fee, and Discover and American Express obviously aren’t on that network so don’t have that extra overhead.

It looks like Capital One and Discover are the best for this though I’d argue that you likely want to get a Capital One card because Discover isn’t as widely accepted overseas. It’s the reason why I chose a Capital One card as the best international credit card on my trip to England.

{ 49 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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49 Responses to “Foreign Currency Transaction Fees List”

  1. Cheap Bastard says:

    Folks- The Charles Schwab card is better than the Cap One because it rebates 2% (cap one is only 1%).

  2. Canuck says:

    Cheap Bastard,

    Thanks for the IB info.
    At $0.06 on the Euro in Visa/CIBC commissions/charges, a 10,000 Euro family vacation charged to my VISA means $600 extorted by my bank, more than enough to pay for the IB commission and the non-resident European account fees.

    • Cheap Bastard says:

      Yes, IB is indeed a cheap way to convert money. But keep in mind the 10 page application process and proof of residency process is hell. It’s worth the effort though if you travel a lot, or need to do a big exchange.

      So there’s no confusion, the 10k doesn’t have to be exchanged. IB just wants to see a 10k USD min balance for their forex accounts. And that’s USD values of all currencies combined. There’s no fee if you drop below that though.

    • Cheap Bastard says:

      I’ve recently discovered that IB has a minimum activity fee of $10, so if you don’t spend $10 in commissions for a given month, the difference between $10 and that months commission is taken.

      It’s still the best FX deal though, if you’re moving money into the US.

  3. savingeverything says:

    This page or posting needs updating for 2010! Credit card foreign transaction fee have increased. American Express=2.7% Discover Card (if accepted ex-US)=2.0% Barclays Junipers=2-3%. Also, what is the effect if you bought a sweater and return it 2 days later. Do you have to pay the foreign transaction fee (3%) for both the purchase and the return? or just once?

  4. W. Martin says:

    The information regarding Capital One credit cards not charging a foreign currency conversion fee only applies to US accounts. Canadians who use Capital one cards are charged a 2.5% conversion fee on top of the US$ exchange rate. I confirmed this today April 22, 2010

  5. Gary Scott says:

    Does anyone know the rate that First Caribbean charges for currency exchange?

  6. Dan says:

    I just called my AmEx rep and their fee has increased to 2.7% from 2%. Thanks for the information!

  7. Patrick says:

    I confirm W.Martin comment that Capital One Canada charges 2.5% conversion fee and on top of that all your foreign purchases are converted into US$ then Cdn$. So you get hit 3 times. I called Capital One Canada and could not get an answer regarding the exchange rates applied to the transaction.
    I could not believe that Capital One Canada could not convert directly from Euro, Yen or Bath into Cdn$. Is Canada a 3rd world country with monkey money?

  8. sara says:

    If you order stuff from Internet or if you use another bank ATM fee you might see foreign currency fee on your bank statement.

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