Having just returned home from Europe to find my first bank statement awaiting me, I was dismayed to discover a line item below my Washington Mutual ATM withdrawals that read, “Foreign Transaction Fee.” An additional 1% was tagged onto every amount I withdrew while in Europe in addition to the normal $2 ATM Withdrawal Fee assessed for failing to use my bank’s ATM machine.
I’m not too happy about this new fee. Sure, it was mentioned in the fine print, but I never read the tiny writing and was unhappily surprised with the fees upon returning home. Apparently this type of fleecing is becoming more common for banks as they take advantage of more and more tourists using their ATM cards abroad instead of Traveler’s Checks.
Rick Steves, always helpful with travel advice, has taken issue with this same topic and has penned an informative article about how banks and credit card companies are slyly bending us over every time we spend money abroad. Steves mentions a few tips to avoid or lessen the impact and tells us what to expect before leaving home.