Prior to traveling abroad, I call all my credit card companies to alert them of my travel locations and travel dates. This way, my purchases abroad won’t be denied. Additionally, I confirm that my credit cards don’t add a foreign transaction fee. The cards that do carry the foreign transaction fee (usually 3%), I take out of my wallet and keep them at home until I return from my trip. It is not worth it to be charged an extra 3%!
On my recent trip to Asia, I called and verified which credit cards to bring with me. I had a plan for exchanging currency for the restaurants that might not take credit cards. Yet I still made a mistake!
I rang up my tea and cake at the Lady M Cafe in Hong Kong. That was when the cashier asked me if I preferred the charge in HKD or USD. Having not been asked the question before during the trip, I quickly responded USD, without thinking… assuming it would be “easier”.
Subsequently, while I was enjoying my tea and cake (which was delicious by the way!), I looked at the receipt in detail. It showed both the HKD and USD total amounts. Take a look here:
Lesson learned. Always choose the currency of the country you are in! Let the credit card do the conversion. I was charged MORE in USD than I would’ve been if I stuck with HKD. This is because Lady M’s conversion rate is higher than the banks.