henry wrote:I've read in a number of places that foreign transaction fees are still charged even when companies claim they do not charge them. Something about what Visa and MasterCard charge alone. I don't exactly understand all of this. Is it barged gauranteed on all Visas and MasterCards? I've heard there are some banks that refund these fees but no specifics. Is American Express not subject to this because they issue their own cards? Are AmEx's without foreign transaction fees true no-foreign-transaction-fee cards.
I was in the market for a Chip and PIN, no foreign transaction fee, no annual fee credit card. It came down to two options from HSBC and one from Barclays but now I find out that even though they are marketed as no foreign transaction fee credit cards, Visa and MasterCard will still charge a fee.
Can anybody on here clear the air? Few details on this are available online.
Neither Barclay's nor HSBC has a chip and PIN card, although both (especially HSBC) love to throw around the term, neither is chip and PIN. Barclay's now acknowledges this at least...
I think you're confusing fees with rates. NOBODY, ANYWHERE, EVER will sell you foreign currency at the average interbank rates you see on Google. Ever. In my experience, MasterCard and Discover are as close to those rates as you'll get, then Amex, then Visa. All are very close, but Visa is generally the worst. That is not the same as the fee, and it's usually well under 1% spread from interbank... you cannot beat that pricing, anywhere.
Of the cards you mentioned, I suggest the HSBC for travel because it has contactless. That means that for small purchases at most newer merchant terminals you can just tap it to pay, and avoid the hassles of signing and being hassled over the signature. Just tap and done, and it's just as secure. You can also use it on some public transit, such as Transportation for London services. I just got my HSBC card today...
The HSBC also comes with terrible rewards and no purchase protections I can see mentioned. It is NOT a good general purpose card. I believe it is good to have several no-FTF cards. Assuming you want only cards with no annual fee, I suggest getting these cards (in order):
HSBC Platinum Rewards Mastercard (contactless, BEST thing you can do for acceptance and ease of use)
Schwab Visa Debit (for ATM use mainly, I don't purchase on debit)
Discover IT (Discover has great rates like Mastercard, and doesn't allow DCC so you can avoid the DCC scam easily)
Bank of America Travel Rewards (may as well have a Visa, and an all around decent card)
Things get more interesting if you're willing to add in cards with an annual fee:
Delta Skymiles Gold (doesn't allow DCC, excellent purchase protection)
Barclaycard Arrival+ (supports offline PIN authentication which enabled you to buy train tickets in France and Belgium without going to a ticket counter, though this problem will likely be solved sooner than later)