Subject: Re: Interest on Visa/Mastercard used abroad
Michele:

That 3% that Chase wants to add on to your purchases is part of the currency conversion rate they use. The Visa (or Mastercard) system itself charges about 1% on conversions, which is quite reasonable, and seemed to be the only extra charge for conversions above and beyond the interbank exchange rates as seen at http://www.oanda.com

In the last few years the institutions that issue the cards have decided they see a way to skin some extra bucks out of their customers and they have been adding their own surcharge, i.e., that 3% is what Chase wants to add on, even though it does absolutely nothing to earn it (it's not clear if that 3% includes the sytem 1%).

If you shop around you can probably find a Visa issuer that doesn't add that charge, for instance credit unions are pretty good for this. Don't let the issuer, like Chase, try to tell you that it's a Visa charge: it isn't.

On the other hand, do be aware that even at 3% it's still a better exchange rate than you can get using travelers checks or changing currency at exchange booths or even banks. But it still galls me to pay the extra for the simple reason that the card issuing organization does nothing to merit the extra charge: Visa has already done all the work.

Regards, DAVE HATUNEN Tucson Arizona, out where the cacti grow