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A foreign transaction fee is an additional fee charged when you make a purchase through a foreign bank or in a foreign currency. The fee is associated with converting the dollars in your account to the local currency.
Foreign transaction fees vary from issuer to issuer but usually hover around 3%. Cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees are typically associated with travel since the bank wants to incentivize you to use this card on travel-related purchases. Having a travel card in addition to an everyday use credit card is an important complement wallet to avoid unnecessary charges while traveling abroad.
When paying with your card on international travel, you may be prompted by the credit card machine to pay your amount directly in USD as opposed to in the local currency. This is known as Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). Even though you may have a card that does not charge a foreign transaction, you might be tempted to take up DCC. However, in most cases DCCs are not advisable for a number of reasons. One such reason is because DCCs usually don't utilize favorable exchange rates. So while there is no 3% transaction fee, you may lose more purchasing power through the currency exchange. This is because the goods provider you are paying gets to set the currency exchange and therefore is likely to offer a poor conversion rate.