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June 1999 Vol. 14, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
What's this?

New Credit Card Fees

Contents of this Issue:
All publicly available

Return to Fiji Aboard the Naia

NASA, Spit, Soap, and Olive Oil

Fiji Insider Travel Tips

Travel Updates

Reader's Travel Tip

New Credit Card Fees

Inflatable Sharks

After Divers Die

Are Rebreathers Safe?

Jellyfish Sting


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Ben Davison

Publisher and Editor

Undercurrent

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Sausalito, CA 94965

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from the June, 1999 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

While credit card companies do not allow merchants to tack on a fee when customers use a card instead of cash (see Undercurrent, January, 1999), some traveling divers using credit cards abroad may get whacked with a surcharge from the bank issuing the card. In the last few months, First USA and Citibank have begun tacking on a 2% fee for all foreign VISA and Mastercard charges. First Cards, which are also issued by First USA, will tack on 3%, and this 3% rate will also apply to cards from American Airlines and United that accrue miles. American Express and Diners Club charge 1%.

Whats a traveler to do? Consumer Reports Travel Letter says its still a good idea to charge your purchase overseas rather than exchange currency or travelers checks, because the exchange rate is far better. Credit card companies typically grant consumers the same favorite rate banks give each other for bulk transactionsessentially a daily wholesale rate plus a 1% fee. By contrast, travelers can lose 5-10% of their money when they convert their cash. But the new fees are beginning to narrow the margin.

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