Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Cash or Credit in London (Part 2)
So a few notes about using credit cards abroad. Each credit card company will charge you an exchange fee. The fee for my Visa, American Express and Mastercard runs a little over 2% of the foreign charge. Think of the fee as a convenience. To purchase theatre tickets for the plays I would be seeing I did not wait for the last minute by purchasing them in London and end up with undesirable seats. Instead I purchased these online while in the states and these foreign transactions fees already begin to apply with each charge of a credit card.
Also for Visa and Mastercard holders, always call each credit card company to let them know you will be traveling abroad. If you make unusual charges outside of your country of residence or even state, they may put a hold on your card until they can verify you are still in possession of your card. If you forget and find charges are refused, it's nice that each company allows you to call collect using the long-distance number on the back of your card.
For American Express customers, unusual charges will be placed on hold until Amex is able to contact you.
It's best to check with your bank or credit card company if you intend to make cash withdrawals abroad. Obviously there will be fees from both the foreign bank and your bank or credit card company for each withdrawal. These vary depending on the financial institution.
IMPORTANT ADVICE: Make copies of all your credit or bank cards and make a copy that you keep secured or leave a copy at home with a family member. Obviously if you lose these cards you will have the telephone numbers on the back to call the card company in addition to your credit card number.