With Summer Approaching Persels & Associates Warns Watch Out for the Hidden Credit Card Fees for Overseas Purchases

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Travelers have budgeted for their summer trips but have they budgeted for the fees the credit card companies add each time they make a purchase abroad?

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Also carefully review your statements when you get back and if there are too many international fees or double charges – call the credit card company and dispute them.

With summer approaching millions of American will travel overseas to visit family and friends, study abroad or travel for work during June, July and August. Travelers have budgeted for their summer trips but have they budgeted for the fees the credit card companies add each time they make a purchase abroad?

“Credit card companies charge fees for international purchases,” said Persels & Associates Operations Manager, Joe Cosentini. “We want to help consumers understand the credit card rules before they travel.”

The fee is called an international or foreign-transaction fee, and it's charged by credit card companies each time you use your card overseas. It is a percentage of the overall purchase once that price is converted to U.S. dollars. The fees can also be called a currency conversion fee or an international conversion fee. And they can add up!

This is how the fees work: if a purchase costing 100 Euro in France converts to $135 in U.S. currency, the international transaction fee is a percentage of the $135. Visa and MasterCard charge a 1% processing fee on foreign transactions, and then the bank that issued your card adds its own fee, which typically ranges from zero to 3%, according to IndexCreditCards.com. That’s an extra 4% on every purchase a traveler makes.

How do the other major credit card issuers stack up? Below are fees from each issuer (for banks that issue Visa or MasterCard branded cards, these numbers include the Visa or MasterCard fees) from the IndexCreditCards.com site:

Capital One: 0% transaction fee. (Capital One not only doesn't impose its own fee, but it also eats the 1% fee that Visa or MasterCard impose.)
Discover: 2% transaction fee
Iberia Bank: 2%
American Express: 2.7%
Bank of America: 3%
Barclays Bank Delaware: 3%
Chase: 3%
Citibank: 3%
GE Money 3%
HSBC: 3%
U.S. Bancorp (U.S. Bank): 3%
Wells Fargo: 3%

What can consumers do?
“It's wise to find out what the fee for your card is before you leave the country so you can budget your spending abroad,” said Cosentini. “Also carefully review your statements when you get back and if there are too many international fees or double charges – call the credit card company and dispute them.”

Here are some other tips from Persels & Associates:
1. If you have been a good customer, meaning that you’ve been paying your bill on time with few late payments, you can ask to have the international fees waived. It's best to do this before you go, but you can also try when you get back.
2.You can request that the various other fees that have been charged to your account be waived, especially the late payment fees. While some companies will flat out refuse to waive them, some others will reconsider or say I can't waive the international fee but I can look at other fees to see what I can lower.

Whatever the fees are it's important to pay on time and communicate with your bank or credit card company if there's a problem.

About Persels & Associates
Persels & Associates, LLC, and its entities are pioneers in the field of offering "unbundled" legal services to individuals who cannot afford traditional legal services. As Americans credit debt rose, Persels & Associates bridged the "gap" between consumers and their debtors. Today, Persels & Associates employs over 150 lawyers in the 50 states and has 25 central office staff attorneys with over 40,000 clients. For more information, please visit http://www.perselsandassociates.com.

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Karen McGagh
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