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AMEX Foreign Transaction Fees

New York City, New...
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AMEX Foreign Transaction Fees

Help! I just realized that AMEX charges a foreign transaction fee. I've read online that people have successfully called and had the fee waived (without upgrading to a more expensive card). However, I just called and they wouldn't budge. Any tips on having American Express waive the foreign fees?

Paris, France
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1. Re: AMEX Foreign Transaction Fees

I would just use a different card.

AMEX is not as widely accepted in France as it is in the US. Any time you change currency it's going to cost you something, if you have no other options then just use your AMEX sparingly.

Paris, France
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for Paris, Loire Valley
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2. Re: AMEX Foreign Transaction Fees

American Express charges 2.7% on any charge made outside of the USA. I have never heard of anyone successfully contesting the charge but there are a large number of free credit cards that charge a lot less, some charge nothing.

Palmetto, Florida
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3. Re: AMEX Foreign Transaction Fees

Unless you hold a "higher" privilege/ higher fees cards, most credit card companies will charge a Foreign transaction fee. Not sure I would believe what people blog about their experience or assume it would work all the time. I like amex for the service, but you have to give them a reason to give you "free" service like you are asking. Length of being card holder, amt you spend etc... or some extenuating circumstances.

So did you go on your trip already, and used the card?

newark, nj
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4. Re: AMEX Foreign Transaction Fees

what exchange rate is used on the credit cards when you use them in a foreign country?

Tampa, Florida
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5. Re: AMEX Foreign Transaction Fees

You have to look at your cardholder agreement -- it varies widely from card to card and from bank to bank.

New York City, New...
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6. Re: AMEX Foreign Transaction Fees

I find that, regardless of which card I use, the currency exchange rate is based on the intra-bank rate. This, is not, of course, the transaction fee - rather, the currency exchange rate itself - I assume that is what poster at #4 is asking about?

Paris, France
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7. Re: AMEX Foreign Transaction Fees

Momcat1992 is correct.

The actual dollar/euro exchange is handled and executed by the large exchange houses such as Pulse/Visa and Cirrus/Maestro/Mastercard. Exchange rates are the standard mid market rates, charged at 1% of the exchange amount.

I am not sure exactly if AE uses one of the above exchanges or handles the transaction in house. None the less, it is relatively easy to avoid the amounts they charge on foreign transactions without paying a high annual card fee.

Louisville, Kentucky
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8. Re: AMEX Foreign Transaction Fees

My experience has been that some cards post a separate transaction fee (my debit card does this) and others, like American Express, build it into the exchange rate...you don't see it, but you can learn about it if you read the terms of your card on the AmEx website.

On several trips, I've used a Cap One MC that doesn't charge an international transaction fee and I've received an exchange rate that pretty much matches the quote I can view on currency exchange sites. This year, I'm adding the Chase "chip" card because I'm just going to feel better that I have one. American credit cards don't yet have the "PIN" technology that is required for use in automated machines such as train ticket kiosks, toll booths and unmanned gas stations, but as you will read on this link, some travelers have been able to use them for purchases below a certain amount or by entering "0000" as their pin (?):

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187147-i14-k53183…

How this works seems to be mostly about the particular machine, but we've run into some issues (particularly in Amsterdam) where having the chip would have made a difference. Most places in France have technology that reads the magnetic strip on the back of our US credit cards, but in the event I find myself in a place that doesn't, I'm going to feel better knowing that I have a chip card. In France, I've never had a problem with my magnetic strip card being read at manned counters, but having run into a situation at an Amsterdam train station where the readers were all chip, I'm going to like having a chip card. BTW, American Express has a chip card in the works, but it's not yet available.

Here is a link to the Chase site and you can decide if this might work for you:

https:/…credit-card-search.aspx

The chip cards are the British Airways, Hyatt, Select and Palladium cards that have the square to the left and above the credit card number.

...and here is a good NY Times article on the subject.

…nytimes.com/2012/…

newark, nj
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9. Re: AMEX Foreign Transaction Fees

I'm pretty sure all American Express cards have the chips. Because I was in Paris in August and all my credit cards would not work in the Velib machines and all my friends would not work either. However I tried my American Express 'Blue' card, the one that is clear. That card worked in the machine and I had no trouble using this card in other Velib machines as well as in the metros.

Paris, France
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10. Re: AMEX Foreign Transaction Fees

To my knowledge, none of the AE cards has the required EMV technology chips. Coincidentally, Velib just happens to accept all American Express cards regardless of any chip they may or may not have internally.

There are several locations, i.e. CDG and le Louvre, where the métro machines will accept US magnetic strip credit cards for ticket purchase.