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Benita
February 2nd, 2006, 04:56 PM
After reading all the volumes of responses to the different topics involving the transaction fees due to Oceania's using a foreign bank, I am very confused. Can anybody tell me which card is the one to use to avoid the fee? This is getting even more confusing than trying to find out if we are indeed going to Libya on the May 21 cruise (But that is a whole 'nuther thread)

JoePDX
February 2nd, 2006, 05:42 PM
After reading all the volumes of responses to the different topics involving the transaction fees due to Oceania's using a foreign bank, I am very confused. Can anybody tell me which card is the one to use to avoid the fee? This is getting even more confusing than trying to find out if we are indeed going to Libya on the May 21 cruise (But that is a whole 'nuther thread)

I used a Chase Mastercard for our final payment last November and did not get levied a foreign transaction fee.

We leave today for our cruise. Nautica here we come! Yippee!! :D

Joe

Druke I
February 2nd, 2006, 06:02 PM
I have used a Citibank Mastercard for Oceania's deposits and fares, and although the billing statement indicates IRL for Ireland, there has been no service fee assessed.

Jancruz
February 2nd, 2006, 08:10 PM
American Express is the one I always use!!
Jan
*************

Andee
February 2nd, 2006, 10:41 PM
We used our M&I Visa with no foreign transaction fee.

mike35
February 2nd, 2006, 11:36 PM
I switched from MBNA, which always assessed a foreign transaction fee to Capital One, which doesn't. Saved a bundle on my recent Oceania cruise!

Mike

ftrplt
February 3rd, 2006, 12:27 AM
I have an MBNA Visa "World Points, Platinum" and they charge 1%. As a long time member of MBNA, it's not worth the effort to change cards.

mike35
February 3rd, 2006, 02:00 AM
I have an MBNA Visa "World Points, Platinum" and they charge 1%. As a long time member of MBNA, it's not worth the effort to change cards.

We figure our savings from not being charged the onerous 1% will be over $1000 per year, having switched from MBNA to Capital One. Plus - MBNA's domestic air "rewards" require 25,000 per trip, whereas Capital One is only 20,000.

Definitely "worth the effort" for us.

Mike

Ed and Jim
February 3rd, 2006, 07:49 AM
American Express always works well.

Benita
February 3rd, 2006, 09:53 AM
I sent an email to Citibank Advantage and they said they do not apply the foreign transaction fee if the charges are in US dollars. For those of you charged the fee from your credit card company, was the charge put in US dollars, or was there a conversion from a foreign currency?

lcand1923
February 3rd, 2006, 02:33 PM
We have used a formerly Bank One/now Chase Priority VISA and have not been charged the Transaction Fee for deposits or final payments. When I spoke with the Customer Service representative I was told that as long as the charges were in US dollars, no foreign transaction fee would be assessed.

digby
February 3rd, 2006, 04:52 PM
I used my United Airlines VISA and was not charged the extra fee for my upcoming cruise. Out of the country I use a local credit union's VISA which does not charge the extra 3% overseas transaction fee. Shop around. There are many good choices.

drwong
February 6th, 2006, 01:41 PM
I sent an email to Citibank Advantage and they said they do not apply the foreign transaction fee if the charges are in US dollars. For those of you charged the fee from your credit card company, was the charge put in US dollars, or was there a conversion from a foreign currency?

The charge was put in US dollars. Note that credit card companies can (and will) charge you TWICE for overseas transactions - one is the currency conversion fee, and the second is the foreign transaction fee. Even though the vendor may perform the conversion at the Point-of-Sale (POS), some unscrupulous credit card companies nevertheless tack on a 3% "foreign transaction fee," just because they can. And beware - some overseas vendors who provide POS conversions will tack on their own conversion fee, which you probably won't notice if you don't look carefully at your receipt and compare it to the current exchange rate.

Check out the outrage from earlier posts about Oceania outsourcing its credit card processing operation to a firm in Ireland. Also, check out page 60 of this month's Conde Nast Traveller for a listing of the various fees that credit cards are charging for foreign transactions. (I'd post a link, but it's not online yet).

Bruin Steve
February 6th, 2006, 02:24 PM
Okay...help me figure this one out...
I would really like to use my MBNA Visa...It's through Royal Caribbean...and at 125,000 "points", I get a free 7-night Caribbean cruise for two...I'm currently at around 85,000 points, so the Oceania cruise fare would make up a large chunk of that 40,000 point difference...

Obviously, I don't want to pay any hidden charges...

Now, if I go ahead and use that card and something DOES come up, can't I get it removed? After all, it is an "unauthorized" charge...I have not consented to a "foreign transaction" fee for a purchase made in US $ from a US company...

PurpleCow
February 6th, 2006, 03:08 PM
On my Capital One Platinum Visa I was not charged a currency conversion fee when I used ATMs in Ephesus, Mykonos and Athens nor when I paid by credit card. I was not charged foreign transaction fees for any of those withdrawals or purchases, nor for paying for the cruise in the first place or settlement of my shipboard account. This was last July. I don't know if this policy still holds, but I recently purchased airfare from KLM and there wasn't any kind of extra charge. Surely they bank in the Netherlands.

mike35
February 6th, 2006, 03:47 PM
Bruin Steve

MBNA will charge the 3% through Oceania. My travel agent was able to get Oceania to apply the charge as an on-board credit from Oceania. A real pain in the butt, but at least the bottom line evens out. What's worse, however, is the 3% that MBNA charges on all transactions incurred while you are out of the USA. As I said before, that's why I switched to Capital One (as well as that Capital One has a more generous "points" system than MBNA).

Mike

drwong
February 6th, 2006, 04:27 PM
I have not consented to a "foreign transaction" fee for a purchase made in US $ from a US company...

Actually, the credit card company will tell you that you did when you applied for the card! You consented to paying a 3% foreign transaction fee that was hidden among the fine print in the contract of adhesion. The credit card company will then put the blame on the US company who outsourced the transaction processing to an offshore firm, saying they had nothing to do with that decision, and recommending that you contact the US company with your grievances. The US company might then suggest using an alternative card that doesn't carry the usurious fee. Once you've transferred the charge to your new card, cut up the old one and send it back to the originator saying you're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

Bruin Steve
February 6th, 2006, 06:38 PM
What I meant was that I had not consented to a 3% foreign transaction fee on a DOMESTIC charge...

Nonetheless, I started thinking about this one...and remembered that I had charged my Deposit of $1000 back in August...So I went back and looked at my internet statement from September/August and, lo and behold, there was a $30 "foreign transaction fee" following my deposit notation...

I called Oceania...and they said they would give me a shipboard credit for the $30 and advised me to use a different credit card for the balance payment...

Now, again, I'm not really happy about using a different credit card because, though I have several, I use them for different purposes...and get different "rewards" for each...

So, I called MBNA...Their rep claimed that they are no longer charging this charge and I need not worry about it when I use the card on Oceania in the future...(I hope he's correct on this)...

Anyway, I asked, how about a refund on the $30? He claimed not to be able to do this...first, because it was so long ago (I chided him with if I were to take them tocourt on it, it's still WAY under the statute of limitations)...Then, he changes his tune to not being able to do it since, a couple of months ago, after a fraudulent use of my credit card number by an unknown party, we closed down the account number and transferred it to a new number...So, now, he claims, he cannot access the accounting of the old number...I responded that I sure could--all the old statements come right up on the screen when I log into their website...If I can access the info in seconds, surely he could...No luck, he said he'd call me back by next Monday!!!

Anyway, we're making progress...I think...

drwong
February 6th, 2006, 07:08 PM
So, I called MBNA...Their rep claimed that they are no longer charging this charge and I need not worry about it when I use the card on Oceania in the future...(I hope he's correct on this)...

Anyway, I asked, how about a refund on the $30? He claimed not to be able to do this...first, because it was so long ago (I chided him with if I were to take them tocourt on it, it's still WAY under the statute of limitations)...Then, he changes his tune to not being able to do it since, a couple of months ago, after a fraudulent use of my credit card number by an unknown party, we closed down the account number and transferred it to a new number...

I wouldn't believe the MBNA rep's claim, if his excuses for why your $30 couldn't be refunded is any reflection on his veracity (or competence). Credit card companies are notoriously stingy at refunding fees - is it any wonder they're reporting record profits, despite their cries of being the victims of credit card fraud?

If there has been a change in policy, by all means get it in writing via a revised statement of fees. The automatic 3% foreign transaction fee is such a lucrative profit center for credit card companies that I can't imagine a company changing its policy just because a small handful of users bothered to examine their monthly statements (albeit belatedly!).

And although Oceania may be a "domestic" company, the Irish firm they use to process their credit card charges certainly isn't!

drwong
February 9th, 2006, 07:46 PM
The Conde Nast Traveler article is now available on-line:

http://www.concierge.com/cntraveler/articles/detail?articleId=10173

Unfortunately, the table/chart of the credit card and the fees charged only appears in the magazine article.

Benita
February 9th, 2006, 09:14 PM
On the basis of the Conde Nast magazine and from assurances from Citibank - in writing via email- I just made the final payment for our Libya-less cruise. I'll post whether a surcharge is added.

Benita
February 17th, 2006, 12:27 PM
I just got my credit card bill for the final payment on the May 21 cruise. We used the Citibank Advantage Card. There were no fees or transaction charges added.

drwong
February 18th, 2006, 12:53 AM
That's excellent, Bernita. I noticed a common thread - those who pay annual fees for their credit cards seem to have no 3% foreign transaction fee, while those who use "free" cards have the fee. I guess those "free" credit card companies have to make up the lost revenue in other ways!

I recently signed up for an annual fee-free credit card from the "new" US Airways - they changed credit card alliances to a VISA issued by Juniper Bank. I checked the statement that came with the card, and sure enough, there's a 3% add-on fee for foreign transactions, on top of any currency conversion fee. I fired off an angry email and they responded that the 3% was to cover the processing costs of these foreign transactions - why it would cost more to electronically process a charge from Ireland than from Miami is beyond me! Needless to say, I won't be using my Juniper Bank card on our upcoming cruise.

Benita
February 18th, 2006, 07:39 AM
Actually, the credit card is free (at least for the first year). Every year, I get a solicitation through Citibank and they give me about 10,000 American Airlines miles for accepting and using the card once. After a year, they try to charge $50 for the card and I cancel it. A few months later, I get another solicitation for the same deal.
Because of the article in Conde Nast, I just ordered a free Capital One card. According to the article, they do not charge a foreign currency conversion rate (which is 2-3% by almost all companies, including Citibank), in addition to not charging if the charges are made in US dollars from an international bank. I like my free MBNA card, as we use it to get free Royal Caribbean cruises, but they charge for both instances.
The Capital One card can not be used at ATMs and they charge a great deal for cash advances, so I would not use it to get foreign currency. For that, I use the credit card from my brokerage card, as they allow for 50 free ATM transactions a year.
It pays to shop around, but I hate taking all those cards on vacation.
As a tip, I only carry half of them and give the other half to my husband, so in case one of us is mugged or loses a wallet, we still have usable cards.

PurpleCow
February 18th, 2006, 09:25 AM
I used my Capital One card at an ATM in Kusadasi and one in Mykonos. No foreign transaction fee. I don't remember the conversion fees, but the ATM fee was just a couple of dollars. Since we don't carry a balance on the card cash advances aren't any different from regular charges.

Benita
February 18th, 2006, 11:46 AM
Thanks Purple Cow. The Conde Nast Article said the Capital One card did not work at ATM machines. I'll have to try it out, once I get it.

jjfeldm
February 18th, 2006, 01:18 PM
Overseas, the Shock of the Surcharge
By DAVID A. KELLY

WHILE credit and debit cards make it easier than ever to manage finances while away from home, changes in international fees and the unintended consequences of fraud-detection technology have made traveling with plastic a bit trickier and potentially more expensive than it used to be.

"Consumers will save a lot of money if they think about using the right card when traveling, and think about it in advance," said Jennifer Openshaw, chief executive of Openshaw's Family Financial Network and host of "Winning Advice with Jennifer Openshaw" on ABC Radio. "Using the wrong card can add close to 10 percent to the overall cost of a given purchase," she said. "For example, your bank might charge you 3 percent for a purchase, and the merchant might charge 6 percent to convert the charge to dollars."

The challenge for most people is that even if they have a few cards from Visa or MasterCard, the financial arrangements and charges may differ depending on the issuing bank, said Justin McNaull, a spokesman for AAA in Washington. "The rates you'll pay depend on the card you carry, the bank that issues the card and the merchant's policies. They all can have varying rates, so the actual cost to you is some combination of those three different aspects," Mr. McNaull said.

While MasterCard and Visa charge a 1 percent fee for processing foreign purchases, individual banks or other businesses that issue the credit cards can and often do impose a surcharge.

"A credit card is still the best way to pay for hotel rooms and big-ticket items," said Ed Perkins, contributing editor to SmarterTravel.com and author of the book "Business Travel When It's Your Money." But, he noted, most banks are now charging a 3 percent surcharge on foreign billings, instead of the 1 percent conversion fee that MasterCard and Visa impose. "The extra 2 percent is a pure gouge, and banks do it because they can get away with it," he said.

The additional fees are relatively new. Though they are now typically broken out on credit card statements as foreign currency transaction fees, unless you use a calculator or call your bank you won't know whether your bank is charging you 1 percent, 3 percent or some other percentage.

"The 3 percent charge has been coming into effect over the past year, but a lot of smaller banks and credit unions only charge the 1 percent, and American Express is still at 2 percent," Mr. Perkins said. Depending on how much you plan to charge and how often you travel, it may be worth signing up for cards that charge the lower fee.

Many banks, including large ones like MBNA, now charge an additional 2 percent for foreign transactions on top of the 1 percent charge by Visa or MasterCard. Capital One, however, is traveler-friendly. Not only does Capital One not charge an additional foreign exchange fee, but it also does not even pass along the 1 percent currency conversion charge that Visa and MasterCard charge for all purchases made abroad.

Most travelers don't live by credit cards alone, so when it comes time for getting currency from an A.T.M., make sure you reach for the right piece of plastic. "If you need cash, use a debit card to get money from an A.T.M. instead of a credit card, since the fees are generally much lower," Ms. Openshaw said. "The biggest mistake I see is travelers taking cash from their credit cards, since you get hit with the A.T.M. fee, a cash advance fee and the currency exchange fee. A $1,000 withdrawal from a credit card account can easily end up costing another $50 to $100 if you're not careful."

Using a debit card to withdraw money from one of your bank accounts will typically incur only a currency exchange fee and perhaps an A.T.M. fee. But you should check if your bank has partnerships with foreign banks or A.T.M. networks that will reduce the cost of withdrawals and eliminate additional fees.

For example, Mr. Perkins said, "With a checking account at Bank of America you can have no fee withdrawals from a handful of major oversees banks, such as Barclays in United Kingdom or Deutsche Bank in Germany, that are part of their global A.T.M. alliance. Or if you have a checking account with Citibank, you can get no-fee withdrawals from Citibank A.T.M.'s throughout the world."

If you're using a debit card to get cash from an A.T.M., make sure your debit card is linked to the accounts you want to use. "You might also want to unlink your debit card from accounts that you won't need access to before you go, since a thief could do a lot of damage," said Linda Sherry, a spokeswoman for Consumer Action, a nonprofit agency that publishes an annual credit card survey. An alternative can be a prepaid, reloadable cash card not linked to your bank account, like the American Express traveler's check card. Although the card has a one-time $14.95 fee, it is good for three years and travelers can load money onto the card in dollars, euros or pounds. And with a surcharge of 2 percent, they can use the card in a different currency. Withdrawals using the card at A.T.M.'s in the American Express network are $2.50 a transaction, regardless of the amount.

But transaction fees aren't the only concerns, as credit card companies and banks are cracking down more aggressively on fraud. While that may sound reassuring, it might end up being upsetting: charges suddenly coming from a foreign country can set off alarms at your bank.

Without some notification on your part, you could wind up in an awkward (or at least bothersome) situation at a hotel or restaurant in a foreign country with your credit card charges declined. "Using credit cards while traveling can put you on a high fraud alert, so that after you make a few transactions your card may be denied and you will have to call the bank," Ms. Openshaw said. "You could end up in a situation where you can't use your credit card at all."

To avoid this, it's important to call your credit (and debit) card companies and let them know when and where you're going on vacation. That way their fraud detection procedures won't be triggered, or if they are, your plans will already have been recorded. "It doesn't hurt to call both your bank and credit card companies to tell them that you're going to Greece or will be out of the country between certain dates so they won't shut you down," Mr. McNaull of AAA said. "Technology is allowing them to track charges more aggressively, so it's possible that an international shopping spree may create a fraud alert and they will deny legitimate charges."

Making sure you've armed your wallet with the most cost-effective array of credit and debit cards takes a little work before the trip. "Be prepared for some runaround when trying to find out the fees for foreign transactions," Ms. Sherry of Consumer Action said. "A lot of representatives don't have a clue, so you have to be persistent."

Of course, regardless of how much homework you've done or how many pieces of plastic you carry, it's always smart to have options, she added. "Make sure you have a backup position too. Just put a couple of $100 bills in your wallet, because currency is a good way to protect yourself. If you need money, you can almost always go to an exchange bureau."

digby
February 18th, 2006, 01:50 PM
"I noticed a common thread - those who pay annual fees for their credit cards seem to have no 3% foreign transaction fee, while those who use "free" cards have the fee. I guess those "free" credit card companies have to make up the lost revenue in other ways!"

Not true in my case! My no fee credit union VISA charges no overses fees but my with fee UAL VISA does.

mike35
February 20th, 2006, 12:01 AM
As I stated in an earlier response, and as is mentioned in the article, my Capital One card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction charge, plus it has the best mileage "points" of any of the cards that I've had in the past.

Mike