I Narrowly Avoided a Very Common Travel Credit Card Rip-Off Today — Here’s How

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Scott:   I absolutely HATE junk fees.  So when I saw the restaurant bill this morning, I almost lost my lunch while paying for breakfast.

Keep a Sharp Eye Overseas When You Pay With a Credit Card to Avoid Getting Stung!

First of all, do NOT use a credit card that charges nonsense foreign transaction fees.

I’m in Europe and I’ve been using my trusty Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.  (This is our #1 credit card for beginner travelers AND it has no international fees.)  Anyway, in Europe you don’t hand the waiter the card then wait for your server to return.  Instead, they bring out the little credit card machine to your table and you insert your card.

Now here’s where I almost messed up.

I forgot that you have to remind them — every single time — to charge you in the LOCAL currency.  What if you don’t?  You’ll get charged a “currency conversion” fee!

That’s outrageous!  Some of you lavishly wealthy folks would shrug your shoulders at the 3% add-on to your bill.  But I’m a guy who doesn’t go out to eat tacos on Monday because I know they’re on sale Tuesday.  I’m all about Big Travel with Small Money, not, Big Travel with Small-Stupid-Fees-That-Add-Up-to-Eat-Away-at-Your-Eating-Out-at-Restaurants-Budget-Money.   

My bill was rung up in US dollars with the added fee.  So I had to have it voided and run again, this time in local currency.  Beware of this at any and every place you hand over your card.

It’s just the principle of the thing.  I have no foreign transaction fee credit cards for a reason.  Because I don’t like junk fees!  I like to pay for things I value, like freshly squeezed orange juice that I can pollute with vodka.

Bottom Line

When traveling abroad, insist and ensure that you are paying in that country’s currency and NOT in US dollars.