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Old 02-01-2010, 17:18   #1
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Transaction Fees in the BVIs?

Can anyone tell me if I am going to incure (international) transaction fees with use of my credit card in the BVI? Debit Card? Don't want to bring a lot of cash but with all the hidden fee's I'm almost tempted to.

Thanks!
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Old 02-01-2010, 18:01   #2
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It will depend on your credit card company. I have several cards and pay fees of 1.5-4% in Europe. American Express is the highest. You need to call the 800 number on the back of your card and ask to find out.

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Old 02-01-2010, 18:02   #3
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Depends on your credit card company. Call them or check the terms of your agreement. It doesn't necessarily matter whether or not you are actually exchanging money (i.e. something other than US dollars into US dollars). First 3 times we were there, our credit card company did not charge a transaction fee. However, last time down, just last year, we were charged a 3% transaction fee for all charges on the Visa. Capitol One is one company that does not charge a foreign transaction fee.

Most establishments in the BVI will not take American Express, so use Visa or Mastercard. Also helpful to call your credit card company prior to getting there so they don't think charges are related to a stolen card.
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Old 02-01-2010, 18:09   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alyeska View Post
Can anyone tell me if I am going to incure (international) transaction fees with use of my credit card in the BVI? Debit Card? Don't want to bring a lot of cash but with all the hidden fee's I'm almost tempted to.
Yes. After chartering in the BVI (from the US) in June '09, I came home to find every credit card transaction (debit card used as a credit card) to have incurred a transaction fee of 2.99%.

There is no sales tax in the BVI (at least none that I noticed or that appears on my receipts). Here in Lake County, Florida, I pay 7% sales tax. The way I look at it, I saved 4%.
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Old 02-01-2010, 18:45   #5
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Thanks all! Just called my credit card company and confirmed kevingy's post. Every transaction is going to get tagged for 3%.
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:23   #6
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You can shop the different banks for credit cards and find some that will not charge such high fees. I only pay 1% on withdrawing local currency in the Caribbean, although I haven't done it in the new years (2010) yet. The news nets are full of stories on the new credit card laws which eliminate some very high prices "cash cows" that credit card companies were using to bilk money out of clients. So they are furiously inventing new ways of charging for stuff that was previously free. This has happened several times before over the years and the solution was to switch to a competing bank that offered a better deal. When enough folks do that - as has happened in the past - banks perk up and take notice and rescind a lot of the new fees/rates. It's called - taking action and not just being a sheep and going along.
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:37   #7
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Take lots and lots of cash and please keep me posted where you will be. lol


sorry had to


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Old 03-01-2010, 07:40   #8
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Well, from what we've seen the last 8 years, Banks have almost universally run TO adding currency conversion fees. There's been no evidence I've seen that this practice is recent nor that there's pressure to reverse it; in fact, the opposite (safety in numbers) seems to be the case for Banks.

There's been a fair bit of info exchanged over on the SSCA DB about which cards are incurring which fees, and which few are not. One common strategy is to shift to an account at an institution with the intent of serving an international clientele, such as a brokerage or mutual fund company. We've never seen a currency conversion fee in 37 countries & island nations while using our T. Rowe Price Visa card, one of many reasons why we've appreciated having a brokerage account with them (even tho' we don't use it for trading purposes).

If you plan on extended cruising outside the USA, it's worth doing some research in this area.

Jack
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:40   #9
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Both our U.S. based Mastercard and Visa cards are subject to a 3% foreign currency transaction fee. We minimize use of them by periodically drawing cash in the local currency from ATMs. The local banks that I've used don't extract a fee for ATM use, and luckily, my U.S. financial institution doesn't either.
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Old 03-01-2010, 08:25   #10
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Last year was the first year my Master Card showed the added fees about 2.5% in both the BVI and USVI. When I called they said it was a new policy that was covered in one of the mail outs with bills some time ago.... being on a boat in the Carib... I didn't get the memo. Prior to leaving this time I called around. Only the American Express did not have the fees unless I was converting dollars to another currency. However their base interest rate was higher than the others and fewer places will accept American Express due to their huge fees they charge the companies that use them.

Best bet if you are going to be down for a while is to open a local bank account (debit seems best) and transfer/ wire in funds. You may get a one time wire/ transfer fee but no other fees. While traveler's checks use to be a good idea... fewer places are accepting them and some places only accept cash.

You do not want to be caring around on you or on your boat any large amounts of money. Making occasional withdrawals from your local bank saves money and problems and is worth the hassle if your going to be around the area for more than a couple of weeks. Check out USAA if your prior military or Dependant/ spouse of one. They have the best policy on no ATM charges worldwide but limits do exist and the rates may not always be great on credit cards.

One warning... in the Carib Credit Card use is far safer than Debit card use particularly with ATM's
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Old 03-01-2010, 08:33   #11
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Ype - for most cards on most islands. Our mastercard was going to add a second fee on the first of the year so we said "good bye" after 20 years. They reconsidered. Use cash or get a card that doesn't chrge transaction or exchange fees. I use cash or a World Elite Card.
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