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How Can You Reduce The Cost Of Using Your Credit Card Abroad?

Aug 17, 2007
When you compare credit cards, it may profit you to compare what it costs to use them abroad. Not all credit cards are created equal when it comes to overseas holidays. The balance transfer credit card that has such a great interest rate could sink your finances if you use it abroad. Read on to find out why you should compare credit cards, or even apply for a credit card exclusively for use on your jaunts abroad.

Is your credit card accepted in more places worldwide? The wide acceptance of the major credit cards has been one of their major advertising and selling points for years. Whether you're in Borneo, Kurdistan or Gay Paree when you find that perfect memento, you know that you can just whack it on your credit card and tuck it away to take home with you.

If you do, you may be in for a rude surprise when the credit account comes due. That 1000 you charged just might have managed to grow to 1100 - and that's before they start adding on the interest. Over the past year or so, all the government financial offices have put out reminders and warnings that using your credit cards abroad could cost you a lot more than you expect. The main culprit is the currency exchange fees, which you may end up paying up to three times on a single purchase - once to your bank, once to the credit card company and once to the merchant who sells you the goods. In close second behind the currency exchange rates are fees for using foreign ATMs and high cash advance fees for overseas cash advances.

There are ways to reduce the excess costs of using your credit card abroad. One of the most important ones is to be sure you're using the RIGHT credit card. Sit down with the fine print of all your credit card contracts and compare credit cards to see which, if any, charge no currency exchange fees, or limit them. Be sure to compare the fees for taking cash advances on your credit or debit cards from overseas ATMs, as well as any other fees that apply on foreign turf.

If you're considering a trip abroad, or if your work or leisure life regularly takes you overseas, you may find it worth your while to apply for a credit card specifically for use outside the UK. Take the time to compare cards and browse through the credit cards on offer. Use the general rules you'd use to compare credit cards - interest rates, annual fees, reward points - but take into account the particulars of using each credit card overseas, whether on holiday or for business. When you actually compare credit cards that way, you may find that a card with a higher rate of interest - but which charges no currency exchange rate on overseas purchases - makes far more financial sense for you. That's particularly true for business purposes, when you pay off the outstanding balance each month.

Other tips to control your credit card expenses overseas include:

1. Avoid overseas cash advances if possible. The rates on those are often off the edge of the map.

2. If you can, exchange your currency yourself and pay for purchases in cash.

3. Be mindful of merchants who offer the convenience of doing currency exchange themselves.

You could end up paying far more for that convenience than expected.
About the Author
Jon Francis has been involved with finance for many years! With an in-depth knowledge of the credit card UK market help helps others get the best from a credit card.
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