Paying for Paris series: How to limit those pesky add-on banking fees
In addition to avoiding extra charges on purchases, there are a couple other steps I’m sharing in this week’s “Paying for Paris” series to help you limit all those pesky add-on bank fees. While these fees are a bit nominal on their own, they can add up and personally, it irks me to have to pay to use my own money.
First, check to see if your bank has a partnership with an international bank. While you probably won’t be able to avoid the foreign transaction fees, you may not have to pay the ATM usage fees. For example, Bank of America currently partners with BNP Paribus so if you have a Bank of America account and withdraw money from a BNP Paribus ATM, you save $5 every time you withdraw money (accurate at the time of this posting). Five dollars here and there can add up depending on how many times you withdraw money. Personally, I like to withdraw cash every couple of days so that I don’t have a lot on me if I lose my handbag or it gets stolen (or pickpocked). In a week, that could add up to $15-20 in savings. Twenty dollars probably won’t make or break your Paris budget but it is nice not to have to pay to simply access your own money – plus, that could be a couple more tasty treats from a patisserie!
Second, shop around for a credit card that offers no foreign transaction fees. For me personally, no foreign transaction fees is my number 1 requirement for my travel credit card. No sense in paying around 3% extra every time you make a purchase (check with your credit card company for details on your actual percentage rate). Depending on how much you use your card and how big your transactions, that can really add up to significant savings. And, while I’m talking about credit card, I like a credit card that is pin and chip (not just chip and signature) AND has no foreign transaction fees for purchases. In the US, it is a bit harder to find pin and chip. Lately, more American credit card companies are moving to chip and signature but in Europe, you may find yourself stuck if you don’t have pin and chip card. How pin and chip works is when you use your credit card for purchases say at a metro ticket kiosk or at a restaurant, you may be asked to enter your pin number to finish the transaction. In my experience, it was 50/50 on if the metro ticket kiosk asked for my pin. I found it worth the upfront effort to seek out a pin and chip credit card simply for the peace of mind that all my transactions would be completed without issue. Some people also like their credit cards to accrue points and I’m right there with ya! However, when I travel, I use a dedicated credit card just for my travels so it is nice if the credit card earns points but for me it is not a must have.
Lastly, set up a separate bank account just for your travels. Now, this by itself doesn’t necessary save you any money but if your ATM card is stolen or lost, you are at least out only what you have in that dedicated account verses out your entire bank account.
While I haven’t figured out a way to be 100% fee free when traveling, I find doing these simple things limits those annoying extra fees.
What suggestions do you have to limit travel fees?
Part 1 “Paying for Paris” series: How to Avoid Extra Changes on Purchases