How to Not Get Raped by International Transaction Fees

Cleveland Heights Travel Blog

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Ever hopped overseas armed with nothing but your debit card and an over-abundance of retail enthusiasm?  Then you've experienced the bite of "international transaction fees."  You know.  Those little charges your bank likes to add on to purchases and ATM withdrawals just because they know you're overseas, and you don't have the option of just walking into a branch and picking up a few dollars.  Well, I've found out how to avoid these fees.

Two words: Capital One

So, I'm reading a good travel blog at the New York Times site called Frugal Traveler (a must bookmark for those of us that haven't quite mastered the art of shitting gold bricks), and he's got a good article on avoiding nasty fees from using credit and debit cards while overseas.  Pretty simple solution, really.  Bank with Capital One.  Capital One doesn't charge additional fees for using your card overseas.

I already have ("had," rather) a Capital One credit card, but in the interest of rescuing my sinking credit rating, I paid it off some months ago and cut the card into itty bitty pieces.  Luckily, though, I hadn't closed the account.  So, upon hearing the "no fees" news, I gave the good folks at Capital One a ring and asked them to kindly send me a new card.  I'll just be using the credit card for emergencies though (meaning: when I run out of real money after 3 days of shopping, drinking, and partying).  For my main line, I opened a money market account through Capital One Direct Banking.  This way, I'll be able to transfer money from my main checking account (since my bank's debit card charges an additional 2% on all international charges) to the Capital One account, and use that card at ATMs.  Capital One is part of the Plus network, so as long as I can find an ATM with the Plus logo, I won't be charged a single cent.  Good deal.

The only drawback is that the Capital One card is strictly an ATM card.  Meaning, I can't use it to make purchases.  Only to get money from a machine.  So, I'll just have to try to keep ample cash on me.  Maybe that will be a good way to keep me within my budget.



Anywayz, if you choose to go this route, plan ahead.  For the first 30 days that your account is open, there will be a 10 day holding period before you have access to your deposits.  After the first 30 days, the holding period is reduced to 5 days.  So make sure you open your account and make your deposits with ample time for it to actually land in your account.
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