What Is a Foreign Transaction Fee?
Financial institutions charge foreign transaction fees to cover the costs of converting your money to foreign currency or passing your money through a foreign financial institution. With Chase, you can receive a foreign transaction fee if you make a card purchase, non-ATM cash transaction, or ATM withdrawal in a currency other than U.S. dollars. These fees also apply to online transactions or purchases made in foreign currencies even if the purchase is completed in the U.S.
Foreign transaction fees typically consist of two parts: a network fee (the fee to convert your money to a different currency) and an issuing bank fee (charged by your financial institution for the service of handling the transaction). The foreign transaction fee may be broken up into several payouts but is typically applied to your account as a single charge.
Your bank may also refer to foreign transaction fees as:
- Foreign rate adjustment fees
- Foreign exchange rate adjustment
- International transaction fees
- FX fees
How Much Does a Foreign Transaction Fee Cost at Chase?
Chase charges account holders a 3% foreign transaction fee for the entire purchase price or withdrawal after it is converted to U.S. dollars.
If you use your Chase card outside of the U.S., U.S. Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico, you may also be subject to a foreign ATM withdrawal fee. Chase charges $5 for international cash withdrawals plus 3% in foreign transaction fees.
Some Chase account holders are exempt from foreign transaction fees. The following account types receive automatic fee waivers:
- Chase Premier Plus Checking: For military members
- Chase Sapphire Checking: On foreign transaction fees
- Chase Private Client Checking: On foreign transaction fees
- Chase Private Client Savings: On foreign transaction fees and foreign ATM fees
How to Avoid a Foreign Transaction Fee
Traveling can already be expensive; foreign transaction fees only add fuel to the fire. However, there are several things that you can do to avoid the additional charges.
Limit ATM usage abroad
Each time that you visit a foreign ATM, you are probably subject to a foreign transaction fee as well as a foreign ATM charge. If possible, avoid using an ATM altogether. If you do need to use one, try withdrawing as much cash as you’ll need for the entire trip to avoid excessive charges.
Before you leave for your trip, you should also see if there will be an in-network ATM where you’ll be traveling. You can typically look on your bank’s website or mobile app for ATM locations.
Exchange currency before leaving
Planning ahead can quite literally pay off. Try to calculate how much money you will need for your trip ahead of time so that you can swap cash at your bank prior to your departure. Although you will still be subject to fluctuating exchange rates, you won’t have to pay extra money for a foreign country to convert your cash.
If possible, you should also try to exchange currency away from hotels, airports, hotels, or other exchange centers; the rates here tend to be higher than average.
Pay in local currency
When you make a purchase or complete a transaction in a foreign country, the merchant will typically ask if you want to pay in USD (U.S. dollars) or in that country’s currency. It’s best to pay in local currency. This is because of a little thing called dynamic currency conversion (DCC). DCC enables merchants and shop owners to set an approximate exchange rate to convert your money to USD, which is typically an inflated rate. Whatever money is not paid out in the actual conversion of currencies, the merchant gets to keep.
By paying in local currency, you avoid dynamic currency conversion and end up paying closer to the actual exchange rate between the U.S. and the country that you are visiting.
Use a fee-free credit card or bank account
Chase and many other financial institutions offer cards and bank accounts with perks when it comes to fees — including unlimited out-of-network ATM usage, overdraft protection, and foreign transaction fee waivers. If you travel a lot, consider opening one of these accounts or cards to save more money long term.
How to Get a Foreign Transaction Fee Refund
If you get stuck with a foreign transaction fee and want to request a refund, there are several things that you can do to increase your chances of success.
When you contact Chase customer service, be ready to provide your name, bank account number, and the fees that you’d like refunded.
You can begin with: “Hi. My name is . I recently received a foreign transaction fee. I’m calling to see if you would be willing to issue me a refund.”
Provide your points of leverage
Kindly provide the customer service representative with the reason for your refund request and one or more points of leverage to back up your argument. Are you experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19? Do you not travel often, so this is your first run-in with foreign transaction charges? Be upfront with your bank — they might be more willing to work with your situation.
Be patient and persistent
If you hear “no”, it’s okay to press the issue, ask to speak with a manager, or try calling back at a later date to speak with someone different. Just remember: Be kind. The representative that you’re speaking with likely didn’t write the rules, so stay polite and know that every negotiation won’t be a success.
Find Chase Bank’s full fee schedule here.