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Credit cards provide the lowest currency exchange rates, study says

Credit card networks have the lowest currency exchange rates and can save international travelers 7.9 percent relative to banks and 14.7 percent relative to airport services, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by Card Hub, analyzed U.S. dollar-to-Euro conversion rates charged by 15 of the nation’s largest banks, Visa, MasterCard and Travelex. It found that credit card networks have the lowest exchange rates, Technorati.com reports.

The study showed that Northern Trust had the best currency conversion rate and no fee and U.S. Bank had the worst rate and a $9.99 fee, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Most credit cards, the study found, charge a three percent fee for any transactions processed outside the United Sates, though the credit cards will still save travelers 4.9 percent and 11.7 percent over using bank and Travelex cards.

Until recently, Capital One was the sole major-bank provider that did not charge the three percent international credit card fee, but Citi, Chase and American Express have entered the market over the past few years, Technorati.com reports.

Consumers are able to use no international fee credit cards for flights and travel accommodations before a trip because foreign fees apply to purchases processed overseas, not just those made abroad.

Consumers may also avoid high exchange rates by consulting and exchanging with a local bank or by using a low-international fee ATM, Technorati.com reports.

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