I just received a notice from VISA that there are changes coming to all card holders as of Feb 3. The interests rates are all going up and in addition, there is something that will affect every visitor who uses a VISA card outside of the U.S.:
"TRANSACTION FEE FOR FOREIGN PURCHAES
We add a fee of 3% of the U.S. dollar amount of each purchase made outside the U.S. whether in U.S. dollars or in a foreign currency. This fee is a FINANCE CHARGE"
To say the least, my wife and I were stunned at this new policy. I immediately called VISA to see if there were any exceptions. The answer was that you can refuse to go along with the charges and "OPT OUT". However that will mean that when you card expires, it will not be renewed because of your refusal to go along with the new changes.
My wife and I always use VISA when in Aruba and paying an extra 3% even when the charges from the local business are in dollars is just an outrage.
Just to check on what AMEX does, we called them and their new rate is 2.7% on purchases in foreign currency. However if you are charged in dollars there is no fee added to the transaction.
This means that this year we will be using our AMEX cards wherever they are accepted in Aruba, especially if the business is charging our purchase in dollars.
For all of you VISA card holders, please check your latest invoice and the notice is inserted with the bill.
This is all a sad indicator as to what the banking crisis has done to all of us.