Foreign Transaction Fees Without Leaving Home

by Lynn B. Johnson on May 4, 2009

Home IconI’m crazy about books. Certifiably crazy. So when I realized I hadn’t completed my six-volume set of William Blake: The Illuminated Books, I feverishly scoured ABE Books and Amazon for the best book vendors for the cost. The winner was a bookseller in London, so I went to their secured Web site, entered my credit card number, and then squealed delightedly when book six of six arrived on my doorstep.

Imagine my surprise when I got my credit card bill that month and learned that my bargain shopping came with a 3-percent foreign transaction fee!

Many credit card companies have now instituted foreign transaction fees even if you don’t step foot outside your door; all you need to do is spend money at a foreign business and then wait for the wallop in your credit card bill the next month.

It’s a good reminder to always read the little inserts from your credit card company that come in your bill or are mailed separately. And if you want to avoid paying the fee, you can use Card Hub to find a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. (Please note that CardHub is owned by the same parent company as this blog.)

Another option is to pay via PayPal, by funding your PayPal account thru your checking account. If the international merchant accepts PayPal payments, then you (the buyer) will not be charged any “cross-border payments.” The merchant will have to pay a fee, though, which is “determined based upon sales volume from the previous calendar month.”

Of course, I could limit my book buying to just the local dealers and save myself this fuss and bother.


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