Saturday, September 7, 2013

Getting ripped off using a La Caixa Visa in foreign currencies

If you’re traveling to the UK for example, you may be tempted to use your La Caixa Visa card, since, according the contract there is no fee for this. Unfortunately, they end up just ripping you off on the exchange rate, giving you a rate about 5% below the interbank rate.
Effectively you’re getting charged a 5% fee, but you might not know it unless you look up the historical exchange rates.
We also used a Deutsche Bank Visa, which looks like it charges a hidden 2% fee via the exchange rate.
If anyone knows of a Spanish Visa card that does not rip you off in this way, I’d love to hear it.
One alternative is an American Express Corporate Card, which doesn’t change any extras (at least with the contract my company has), but you can’t use it everywhere.


Anonymous said...

Regarding Amex -- I don´t know about cash in ATMs but for purchases (hotel in Uk) Amex corporate charged for currency exchange. At least they put it clearly in the bill: "Cambio aplicado a la divisa 0.8475 + Comisión conversión moneda 4,01"

santcugat said...

I used my Amex Corporate Card for both hotels in the US and buying from and I didn't see any extra charges. Perhaps my company negotiated a better contract with Amex (luckily we can use it for personal stuff as well).

American credit card companies can't hide fees in the exchange rate anymore (they lost a big class action lawsuit a couple years ago on that).

Anonymous said...

Lots of incredibly curious things like that - my bog standard Dutch Visa debit gives me free cash withdrawals from all Spanish (French blah blah) machines, whereas if I were to use LaC in Spain in outlying areas/banks I could end up paying 12-15 a go. And their account maintenance charges appear to be applied at random

santcugat said...

They can remove the maintenance charges if you threaten to leave. They know that the charges are totally bullshit.

One time I did a foreign wire transfer to La Caixa (in Euros) and they tried to charge me a 2% commission for receiving the transfer.

The only way to bank here is to know the manager and have them waive all the commissions for you.

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