Upcoming Vacation? Look Out for These 4 Added Travel Costs

Share this article

When planning a vacation, we account for costs like transportation, lodging, food and gifts. But no one wants to pay for any added travel costs that could be avoided in the first place.

Here are four costs you may be able to reduce or even steer clear of the next time you travel.

1  Foreign transaction fees

When going abroad, if you use a credit card (or debit card) for purchases or transactions made in the local currency, you may be charged a foreign transaction fee. On average, this fee can land anywhere between 1% to 3%. While this may not seem like a big deal per transaction, these charges can add up quickly.

Before your travels, check with your bank and credit card companies to see what travel fees they may charge. A good place to start is by reviewing your card’s terms and conditions. Some credit card providers – like ones with a travel rewards program – may not charge any foreign transaction fees.

2  Exchange rates

If you want cash on hand, you may want to avoid getting money from the currency kiosks you find at the airport or in town because they tend to charge high exchange rates.

If you really need cash while traveling abroad, consider using a local bank ATM. You'll likely be able to get a better exchange rate than you would at a money exchange kiosk.

While you may be charged a fee for using your debit card at a foreign ATM, some US banks may waive or refund those fees for their cardholders. Check with your bank to confirm the details for international cash withdrawals and ATM access.

3  Dynamic currency conversion fees

If you’ve ever shopped or made other transactions abroad, you may already be familiar with dynamic currency conversion (DCC) fees.

DCC is a feature that allows you to pay for things in your home currency instead of the local currency. While this might sound logical and convenient, be aware that you could get stuck with an unfavorable exchange rate and additional fees that could make your purchase more expensive than it would’ve been if you had chosen to pay in the local currency.

DCC is an optional service, so you can choose to decline this at the point of sale and opt to pay in the local currency.

4  Cell phone fees

A few texts messages, a bit of map checking, some email replies and social media updates. How much could that cost per day?

You can take steps to avoid or lower international plan charges. One option is to purchase an international calling or data plan from your current provider or buying a cheap pay-as-you-go phone when you arrive.

Or you could “go dark” – turning off your phone (e.g., social media, texting, streaming, etc.) to really get away from it all. But that may be a little extreme, so take a look at the international plans available from your wireless provider and choose an option that makes sense for your travel needs. 

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Articles on this website were commissioned and approved by Marcus by Goldman Sachs®, but may not reflect the institutional opinions of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions.