Just before the latest credit card bill was signed into law a few months ago, I predicted banks would start charging transaction fees for purchases made through an international company. I hate it when I’m right.

Tacking on a three or four percent surcharge, even when the purchase is in dollars, is unconscionable, of course. But let’s not get drawn into a discussion about whether these banks have a conscience.

Instead, let’s focus on what you can do when you find a foreign transaction fee on a credit card bill.

Here’s what happened to reader Michael Weber:

A few months ago I purchased a round trip ticket from Miami to Hamburg, Germany through Expedia, flying Air Berlin, using my MasterCard from Citibank. In the past I have always used my Amex card.

Subsequently, I found a $27 foreign transaction fee on my statement and not knowing what this was for I called Citibank. They said that whenever a purchase is made from a foreign company, a charge of three percent will be incurred.

When I told them that I paid Expedia, which is a domestic company and not Air Berlin, they said that Expedia is just a middle man and they are paying Air Berlin directly — thus the $27. Unless I have been inattentive in the past I don’t believe I ever paid this fee to American Express.

Am I the last one to know about this fee or is there something wrong here?

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  • Elliott

    Christopher Elliott has been called one of the world’s leading travel experts. But his focus isn’t on the destination, or ev…

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