I had to fly out to the Netherlands last week. It was a last minute thing, so I ended up buying Euros at London City Airport, using my personal VISA Debit card (I would claim back expenses later).
Because it was a Debit card, and not a Credit card, it meant I wouldn’t pay any additional charges outside of exchange rates and commission. Right?
Wrong. Maybe I’ve been living a sheltered life, but it turns out that VISA applies a 2% surcharge on any transaction involving foreign currency – even when I am buying that currency with my own money!
I noticed the £6 charge on my statement today, and immediately queried it, and was told it was all quite normal and correct. They said I should have been informed of the charge when making the transaction. I wasn’t, so I said I was challenging the charge. “You can’t do that,” said the man from the Co-op, “It’s a charge actually made by VISA”.
“I don’t care,” I said, “It may be absolutely futile, but I wish to make this an official complaint.”
The chap, who was very pleasant, made his excuses to go and talk to someone. When he came back, he said – this time only – they would make an exception and credit the charge.
Guess the cost of dealing with a customer complaint is more than 6 quid.
What annoys me most about this is that right next door to the foreign exchange desk was a cashpoint. If I had known of this charge – even on debit cards – I could have simply drawn out £300 quid from the cashpoint and bought the currency for cash.
Which is what I will do in future.