You May Be Losing Money from Credit Card Refunds (in Foreign Currency) - 6% in the Case of Citibank

I have recently purchased a duvet from The St. Regis Boutique and after being told that I needed to fork out another USD 74.46 (Economy Service) or USD 135.91 (Priority Service) for shipping (on top of the USD 80 shipping fee that I have already paid) due to a miscalculation on their part, I have decided to cancel my order and I have just received a refund on my Citi PremierMiles Visa Card. Now this happened over a period of a week or so I understand that there are currency rate fluctuations but I did not expect them to be that significant.

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Photo Credit: Citibank

Photo Credit: Citibank

It should be clear now that Citibank charges 3.0% fees for foreign currency transactions made on the Citi PremierMiles Visa Card. Using the Visa Exchange Rate Calculator for my transacted amount on 24 February 2019 gives me the exact figure that was posted to my account - SGD 647.78. When I was offered a full refund by the merchant, the posted amount was only SGD 609.31 (SGD 38.47 lower than the original amount). Now this is not a scam and it is due largely to the 3.0% fee that Citibank levies (of course the currency rate fluctuations play a part too but the USD/SGD rate has been fairly consistent in the past week).

According to the aforementioned Visa Exchange Rate Calculator, the exchange rate on the date of refund (06 March 2019) was 1.357 while the exchange rate on the date of transaction (24 February 2019) was 1.355 I should be in a better off position if no fees were levied. However, the most banks charge a fee each time a foreign currency transaction is made. In my case above, I was essentially 'losing' 3% when I transacted and another 3% when I was offered a refund (and still not getting any miles or points from this transaction!). Even though in my case, it was only under SGD 40, this is definitely something to take note of when you use your credit cards for foreign transactions. Just to be clear (because people can always misconstrue my intentions), I am not saying that this is a scam or anything but it is just something I wanted to point out so consumers can make better decision in general.