American Credit Cards in Europe
Best Practices for American Credit Cards in Europe
With the American dollar flying high for exchange with Euros and most other currencies many Americans are concluding that this is the time for that dream foreign vacation. What are the best strategies to employ to take full advantage of the favorable currency situation? What amount of cash should you take? Should you exchange some dollars for Euros here in the USA? Exchange your money over there? Or should you plan on charging most of your expenses to your American credit cards in Europe and hope the credit card issuer and overseas merchants will be fair about their fees if any foreign transaction fees are usually charged.
Prepare in Advance for American Credit Cards in Europe
First order of business is to check on the policy your credit card issuer has in place. You will want to inform customer service of your trip in advance. Remember your foreign transactions will show up as unusual and suspect if you don’t let the issuer know your plans in advance. This is a good time to ask the card’s representative about their policies with regard to foreign transaction fees. Capital One and Discover don’t charge any foreign transaction fees at all. With these cards its best to ask the foreign merchant to be charged in local currency. If your card does charge a foreign transaction fee it will be approximately 2-3 percent of the amount of the transaction. It’s possible the credit card issuer may waive the fee if you ask.
Retailers may Charge a Conversion Fee of 3-7 Percent to Users of American Credit Cards in Europe
Using your own currency saves you from the headache of mentally converting back from dollars to the foreign currency. This convenience may cost you an an added 3-7 percent of the transaction charged by the foreign retailer or its bank. Even if your card does charge a foreign transaction fee, it may be cheaper to pay that fee than the foreign conversion fee of 3-7 percent.
American Express bans conversion fees by its foreign merchants.
Cash is King
On a personal note I think the trip is more enjoyable if you bring along some Euros or whatever currency you will be using. There are cabbies, baggage handlers, pubs with great bartenders and waitresses as well as a variety of other situations where you will be glad you have this comfort factor. This illustrates a certain amount of thoughtfulness on your part. Do the currency exchange here in the USA. Have one less thing to worry about during this great time when you have so many adventures and memories ahead of you.