How can you find out if your bank is taking a cut on every purchase you make overseas? Grab a magnifying glass and pull out your cardholder agreement. If you've had a card for a while, your bank may have popped in a fee notice with a bill.
"It's in the fine print that you get. But how many people keep that, let alone read it?" Perkins asks.
Your best bet is to call your bank and ask about the surcharges. Be sure to ask about fees on debit cards and ATM cards, as well.
Bank of America charges a 2-percent fee each time a customer uses an ATM card, debit card or credit card outside the country. Card customers pay the 1-percent conversion fee from Visa and MasterCard, as well. Bank of America also charges a $1.50 to $2.50 fee each time a customer uses an overseas ATM.
Other issuers charging a 2-percent surcharge on foreign transactions on top of the 1-percent charge from Visa and MasterCard include Citibank, Bank One/First USA, Chase, Providian and Wells Fargo, according to a phone survey by Bankrate.com.
Who's not charging these sneaky fees? A handful of big issuers and lots of smaller ones.
Capital One, MBNA America, FleetBoston and Wachovia Bank are not charging extra fees on foreign transactions at this time.
None of the nation's credit unions charge these kinds of fees. Most community banks don't either.