If you are viewing this post you probably have one or more of the following questions in mind, which I will answer.
- What is the fee Chase charges when using international ATMs?
- Does Chase bank give me a fair exchange rate when shopping in other countries.
- What, if any, other fees are associated with international withdrawals and purchases when using a Chase debit/credit card.
- Is there a way to avoid these fees?
- Does Chase have any ATMs in Mexico?
First, Chase bank charges
$3.00 $5.00(as of February 2011) Non Chase ATM fee when you use an ATM outside the U.S. that is not a Chase ATM. Although Chase is a big bank, I don’t think it is large enough that it is offers a competitive edge for international travelers.
Second, does Chase bank give a fair exchange rate when converting your USD to other currencies on purchases? My answer is NOT REALLY. If you view your transactions closely, you’ll find that on top of the discounted* exchange rate Chase gives you, Chase bank also charges you an additional 3% to convert your money. See the screen capture of a few of my transactions below.
The transaction Debit Card was for a total purchase of $1380 MXN (Mexican Pesos). Multiplying debit purchase by 0.08002899 translates to a charge of $110.44 USD. Which means that they took my dollar at $12.47 MXN a little less than the going rate according to x-rates.com (see below). Not a big deal, however in addition to that, you’ll notice an Exchange Rate Adjustment of $3.31 USD. Chase bank charges an additional 3% for regular debit card purchases.
Now, I think the real injustice occurred when I used an ATM. When withdrawing $500 MXN (Mexican Pesos) on the same day, my dollar was discounted further. For the $500 MXN that I withdrew, I gave $43.80 in return plus an additional $3.00 fee. I understand the fees, although I think it is excessive, however the exchange rate charged is what is troubling.
According to my statement I was charged .08002710 dollars for every Mexican peso I withdrew, which comes out to $40.08 USD. Then we factor in the Exchange Rate Adjustment of 3% or $1.28 USD in this case. That leaves us with $41.36 that I should be exchanging for the $500 Mexican pesos. However, I was charged $43.80 USD. What?! Where did that dollar and forty-four cents come from? That’s troubling. Effectively, for that transaction, I bought my Mexican pesos at premium because I received $11.41 pesos for each one of my dollars, when according to x-rates, the exchange rate that day was $12.58. Of course if you factor in the ATM fee, I am only receiving $10.68 for every dollar. I’m paying over 16% of my money to perform transactions like these via Chase. Yes, 16 percent. Show me an investment that will give me that continuous yield and I will put all my money into it!!!!
Anyway, that’s upsetting. Moving on, what if any, fee is associated with Chase Bank if you decide to conduct international transactions? Well as we just saw, the 3% surcharge that will be added to your exchange rate. And possibly more depending on Chase Bank’s funny math.
Is there a way to avoid these fees? Yes, but it may be too much to ask. Chase allows customers up to 3 free transfers to Banorte Banks up to $1,500 each transfer. I just confirmed it this morning with a Chase rep over the phone. The only caveat is that you have to initiate the transfer at your local bank. Also, you don’t need to have an account in Banorte. Apparently it’s like a free Western Union type service.
Lastly, does Chase bank have any ATMs in Mexico? No. I also confirmed that over the phone. When compared to Bank of America, BofA customers are able to go to Scotia Banks and withdraw money from the teller line or ATM without any fees. Also, it has been my experience that BofA does not charge “Non bank ATM fees”. On several occasions when I withdrew from HSBC ATMs in Mexico, I was only charged the HSBC ATM fee of 70 cents. I never looked too closely at the exchange rates, but it was never alarming. I think the exchange rates were fair.
One more thing, Difster’s comment below points out that BofA customers do not get charged fees when withdrawing from Santender. This comment stems from 4 years of experience. (Thx Dif)
Hope this helps my international traveler’s out there.
Footnotes/References *Based on comparison to exchange rates found on x-rates.com