I dropped something like $5,000 on my trip to Peru recently. The price was worth it for the experience of hiking Peru’s Incan ruins. My mistake, however, was lugging my Bank of America debit card around. After I got back, I noticed the 3% charge for use of the card overseas.
Justin has written about how most credit cards have a similar charge for use overseas, because of the currency conversion. (His posting was later picked up by the New York Times).
But there are a few cards that do away with this annoying fee, which really builds up. The most well known one is probably Capital One. I was all about to get one for my next trip when I came across this horror story.
One guy transferred $6,000 onto his Capital One card (because his credit limit was only $1,000, and so he restructured it to work as essentially a debit card). It was all fine and dandy, until he tried to use his card in Costa Rica and found out it was flagged for suspicious activity. Apparently you need to have opened the card several months in advance. And he suggests spending generously with it so that your credit limit goes up.
Makes me think twice about getting this card. Maybe the lesson here is get one early, and perhaps get several.