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Using your card abroad - fees and charges explained

Using your card when you're on an international trip means you won't have to rely on just cash.

However, there may be fees or charges to be aware of.

What are the charges for using your credit or debit cards outside of Canada?

There may be fees for buying things or using an ATM to withdraw cash in another currency. There are 3 charges you need to know about:

1. Currency conversion fee

There's usually a fee to convert the currency if you use your card outside of Canada:

  • to take cash out from an ATM
  • in bars and restaurants
  • in shops

A fee may be added to the cost if you pay in the local currency - usually a percentage of the value of the transaction.

If you choose to convert to Canadian dollars at the point of sale, the conversion rate is set by the merchant. Fees can often be high, so it can be cheaper to pay in the local currency. Then the credit card provider will do the currency conversion at their current rate. You should always be able to select which currency to pay in.

2. Cash fee

You'll usually be charged a fee for using your credit card to withdraw cash, wherever you are in the world. This is typically a percentage of the amount you've withdrawn and there may be a minimum charge. This could be on top of a separate currency conversion fee.

Depending on the ATM you use, there may also be an ATM convenience fee. So check if there's a charge before taking cash out.

3. Interest charges

If you're paying for things outside of Canada with your credit card, or using it to withdraw cash, interest charges will apply in the same way they do at home.

Explore: HSBC cardholder agreement & rates and fees

Will fees be shown on your statement?

You'll see the details of your international transactions, including a breakdown of any charges, on your bank statement.

It should include:

  • the exchange rate
  • the cost of what you've paid for when converted to Canadian dollars
  • any fee for converting currency
  • the cash fee if you've withdrawn money with your card

If you're an HSBC customer, you can view your statements through online banking. You'll also be able to view your transaction history and account balance to help keep on top of your spending.

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