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Answers (3)

Foreign currency spread on credit cards

Foreign currency spread on credit cards

  1. cpunerd

    TLDR: Do any of the popular points/mileage-accrual cards have sub-1% foreign currency spreads?

    I currently live in Switzerland, where the only credit card with any sort of mileage accrual is 1) expensive and 2) has bad foreign fees. I’m in luck that I have a US passport and mailing address, so I want to apply for a few US cards. My main goal is to get cards that will allow my wife and I to redeem transatlantic flights in premium cabins, so lots of mileage (or points transferred to miles) accrual. However, because we live in Europe and spend most of our time here, we need something that not only has no foreign transaction fees, but also has a very small spread on the exchange rate. My Swiss UBS credit card has no loyalty program and a 3% spread. My US Schwab debit card has no loyalty program and a very low spread (typically about 0.25%). Does anyone have any idea what the spread is like for some of the more touted cards on this site (e.g. Chase Preferred)? I can’t really find any information about it online.

    Thanks!

  2. Donna

    I’ll take a shot at this. I’ve lived in the EU off and on during the past 13 years as a joint US and Italian citizen (actually lived in Lausanne in 2009-2010). While working in Europe I am normally paid in local currency, have a local bank account and a local credit card. I did however, have a US checking account and other income from the US in dollars. I had airline credit cards, which I used for my flight purchases and other expenses which were paid from my US checking account in dollars. There were no foreign transactions fees and very favorable exchange rates from local currency to dollars. If I had to convert back to foreign currency for payment, from a foreign bank the cost would have been high. That said, I had all major US airline cards (United, US Airways (now AA) and Delta) and paid no fees. One thing that was great, the price of tickets on US carriers ordering from my various European homes back then were easily 35% cheaper than buying from a US location. It was a good deal.

    Most of these banks offering cards do have online chat and international phone numbers from which you can call to answer questions. Hope this helps – good luck!

  3. cpunerd

    Thanks a bunch for the info. I think calling would be a great idea, I’ll give it a try. I hope I can get a straight answer from whoever picks up.

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