Mia (gryfindormia) wrote in bankers,

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Foreign Transaction Rates

I'm afraid I know nothing about the banking world save what horror stories my friend has from his days as a teller.

I come bearing a question. I'm moving overseas for a long while (approximately two years) and would like to continue using my debit card while overseas. Every bank has different foreign transaction rates, and I'm trying to find the best one. Do you have recommendations? Or is there even such a thing as a bank which offers these services for free, i.e. I don't don't have to pay the bank every time I swipe my debit card or do an ATM transaction?
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I don't know of any bank which offers this service for free, but I can tell you if your debit card has a VISA logo, you could probably do worse on exchange rates. Expect to pay 2-3% of each transaction in exchange fees.
Yeah, thankfully it's a VISA card.

As I asked nosleepnever below, would it be free if I ran it through as credit instead of debit, or would it not matter, or would that be something that the bank handles and not VISA?
At our bank, we don't charge to use the debit card PROVIDED you run it as a credit card. A lot of the banks around here (Indiana) are like that, but I don't know how yours works. As for the ATM withdrawals, we don't charge for the first one, but then we charge $1.50 for each one made in a month (plus whatever that ATM you're using will charge you). I hope that helps!
Is that the norm for most other banks, that if I run it through as credit it won't charge me?
It is for the banks around here that I'm aware of, but we don't have a Chase or anything big like that. We have First Financial Bank (out of Ohio), Irwin Union Bank & Trust, Nat City, 5/3rd, ones like that. Unless the merchant decides to pass on the charge to you. :)
Excellent. I shall have to ask my current institution, thanks.

I was originally thinking of leaving them, but I found out that they only charge fifty cents for every card transaction and $1.50 for ATM ones. I'm starting to think that's really good, would you agree?
Oh, heck yeah. Around here, our rates are the best; I would definitely agree that yours are great. I've actually got a call in to one of the ops people to find out if there are fees for using the debit card as a credit card in foreign countries; the person I spoke to first told me no, but then someone at the branch swore there was a minimal fee, like the $.50. I'm just not sure. :) I will hopefully find out Monday in case I ever get asked again!
at the bank I used to work in, we charged a set 3% flat rate foreign transaction fee. that was set by Visa, not by the bank. however, using your debit card would probably be better than travelers cheques... I just hate them.
Thanks for the help. So this 3% is going to be at every bank everywhere with VISA, right? Yeah, seeing as I'm going to be there a long while I can't live off of traveler's cheques, and it would drive me insane after a while anyways. :)


August 2 2008, 23:21:59 UTC 9 years ago Edited:  August 2 2008, 23:22:37 UTC

So this 3% is going to be at every bank everywhere with VISA, right?

Not really. VISA might charge 3%, but they don't charge the consumer. They charge the issuing banks (the banks who give out the cards). It's up to the issuing banks whether to pass the entire 3% to the consumer, or they might foot half of it and just charge you 1 or 2%, or, they might not charge you at all and eat the charges.

Unfortunately I work for a credit card bank, so I don't know too much about the rules for debit cards. But for credit cards, generally I would say the smaller the bank, the more likely they will eat the charge and not pass it to the consumer. Why? Because chances are they might not have that many foreign transactions going through their interchange. Thus smaller amounts to pay VISA...

Hm, I googled 'VISA foreign transaction fees' and came up with this helpful page. Aside from listing different banks and their FT fees, it's also got some good advice, especially for ATM users. Realistically, most banks do charge the fee. Some might charge per transaction, so obviously the fewer transactions you make, the less fees you would have to pay. So withdrawing one $100 transaction is definitely cheaper than 5 withdrawals of $20 each. :)
I'd try HSBC. http://www.us.hsbc.com/1/2/3/hsbcpremier/worldwide

I actually work for another bank but we're affiliated with certain banks overseas and not very many. I'd go with HSBC if I were moving out of the country, though.
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