High conversion fee

This item appears on page 62 of the December 2008 issue.
This is subscriber only post.
Get one year of online-only access — only $15!
Below is a sample of the article.
Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

If you would like to read an issue from the archives that is free to nonsubscribers click here.

My husband, Alan, and I took a cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest, July 22-Aug. 6, 2008, with Vantage Deluxe World Travel (Boston, MA; 800/322-6677). All in all, it was a super trip and we highly recommend it.

Shortly before departing, however, we were informed that the ship was converting all charges to euros. Given the state of the dollar at that time, this was understandable. As with most cruise lines these days, all charges on the ship could be put on a credit card, which we did.

When our Citibank MasterCard bill arrived, there were two charges to Vantage, totaling $451.32. The charges were for tips to the crew and, I think, a shore excursion. The Citibank fee for this amount was $13.53 (billed as a “foreign transaction fee-finance charge”). That’s three percent!

The other on-ship charges, such as the bar bill, were not charged a fee, which leads me to think the 3% charge was only for what could be considered “cash advance” by Citibank. While it’s probably stated somewhere in the rules that Citibank will do this, and we have just paid the bill, I do think it’s excessive. We’ve never before been charged more than one percent for money conversion.

I want to emphasize that I don’t question that they can charge as they did; it’s just that we were unprepared. Next time, we’ll travel with more euros or charge to another credit card.

SUE HUNT
Pensacola, FL

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

My husband, Alan, and I took a cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest, July 22-Aug. 6, 2008, with Vantage Deluxe World Travel (Boston, MA; 800/322-6677). All in all, it was a super trip and we highly recommend it.

Shortly before departing, however, we were informed that the ship was converting all charges to euros. Given the state of the dollar at that time, this was understandable. As with most cruise lines these days, all charges on the ship could be put on a credit card, which we did.

When our Citibank MasterCard bill arrived, there were two charges to Vantage, totaling $451.32. The charges were for tips to the crew and, I think, a shore excursion. The Citibank fee for this amount was $13.53 (billed as a “foreign transaction fee-finance charge”). That’s three percent!

The other on-ship charges, such as the bar bill, were not charged a fee, which leads me to think the 3% charge was only for what could be considered “cash advance” by Citibank. While it’s probably stated somewhere in the rules that Citibank will do this, and we have just paid the bill, I do think it’s excessive. We’ve never before been charged more than one percent for money conversion.

I want to emphasize that I don’t question that they can charge as they did; it’s just that we were unprepared. Next time, we’ll travel with more euros or charge to another credit card.

SUE HUNT
Pensacola, FL