Friday 26 December 2014

Play your cards right on non-European journeys

Siobhan Howe

Published 04/07/2014 | 00:00

'When checking my credit card bill on my return, I was shocked at the amount of charges I had racked up from the trip. '
'When checking my credit card bill on my return, I was shocked at the amount of charges I had racked up from the trip. '

I recently returned from travelling in America. When |I was there, I used my credit card for most of my purchases and for some cash withdrawals. I mostly used my card when paying for hotels and eating out.

When checking my credit card bill on my return, I was shocked at the amount of charges I had racked up from the trip.

I used my card while travelling before and it has never cost me this much. I can't make sense of |a lot of these charges. They can’t possibly be regular charges as they amount to quite a bit.

As you've experienced, when travelling outside the Eurozone, it can be very easy to build up a significant amount of charges when using your credit card. If there are any charges or fees that you are unsure of, contact your credit card provider and ask how exactly these charges were applied.

In your case, the charges on your statement may be a combination of a number of different fees that you can be hit with when you use credit cards outside the Eurozone.

The first is a currency conversion fee, which is a fee you pay every time you use your credit card for foreign currency purchases. This is usually |a percentage of the value of the transaction, but most credit card providers have a minimum fee per transaction, which can be as much as €3 each time you use your card.

So, if you used your credit card |a lot while in America, even for transactions of a small value, these charges can quickly add up.

You also mention that, while |you were away, you used your credit card to withdraw money from ATMs.

Most credit card providers will charge you for withdrawing cash. This charge appears on your statement as a ‘cash advance fee'. You will also be charged a currency conversion fee if you are using your card outside the Eurozone countries. Many credit card providers also charge you interest from the day you take out cash.

Check out the National Consumer Agency's current and credit card cost comparisons on www.consumerhelp.ie for more details of charges that apply when using your cards abroad.

Siobhan Howe works with the National Consumer Agency. showe@independent.ie

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