Surprise: DKB Visa credit card was 2.78 % more expensive than the Number26 MasterCard!

How you can save a lot of money at card payments in the USA!

I was shocked, when I made the evaluation of the cash-less payments using the credit cards of the Comdirect, DKB, Fidor and Number26 on my USA-trip.

Card payments in US-Dollar tested in practice

Card payments in US-Dollar tested in practice

In brief, you will see in the video how I bought respectively one Kitkat for USD 0.79 and paid by credit card.

The chocolate was “only” 2 cent more expensive at the Comdirect and DKB – due to the different exchange rates as well as the foreign transaction fee.

Most people would say, “This is okay”, just like I said at first … but please take a look at the extrapolation in the article!

Video of the USD card payment

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Test result:

Provider Compounds of a card payment in foreign currency Link of the provider
Amount of payment Exchange rate Amount of payment in home currency + Foreign transaction fee = Debit entry on the account
Difference to the best provider
Top providers of this special portal
number26
Fidor
$ 0.79 1. 144927 € 0.69 € 0.69
€ +/-0.00
(+/-0.00 %)
Weiter zur Bank
number26
Number26
$ 0.79 1.144927 € 0.69 € 0.69
€ +/-0.00
(+/-0.00 %)
Weiter zur Bank
Visa Card der Comdirect
Comdirect
$ 0,79 1.1338 € 0.70 € 0.01
(1.75 %)
€ 0.71
€ +0.02
(2.90 %)
Weiter zur Bank
Visa Card DKB
DKB
$ 0.79 1.1334 € 0.70 € 0.01
(1.75 %)
€ 0.71
€ +0.02
(2.90 %)
Weiter zur Bank

Extrapolation to a card payment of US-Dollars 1,000:

Provider Compounds of a card payment in foreign currency Link of the provider
Amount of payment Exchange rate Amount of payment in home currency + Foreign transaction fee = Debit entry on the account
Difference to the best provider
number26
Fidor
$ 1.000 1.144927 € 873.42 € 873.42
€ +/-0.00 €
(+/-0.00 %)
Weiter zur Bank
number26
Number26
$ 1.000 1.144927 € 873.42 € 873.42
€ +/-0.00
(+/-0.00 %)
Weiter zur Bank
Visa Card der Comdirect
Comdirect
$ 1.000 1.1338 € 881.99 € 15.43
(1.75 %)
€ 897.42
€ +24.01
(2.75 %)
Weiter zur Bank
Visa Card DKB
DKB
$ 1.000 1.1334 € 882.30 € 15.44
(1.75 %)
€ 897.74
€ +24.32
(2.78 %)
Weiter zur Bank

Evaluation and tips for future USA-trips

The card payment was performed in an immediate sequence (see continuous booking number on the receipts) in the supermarket “Crystal Lake Thriftway” in Haddon Township, New Jersey, on the 12th of October 2015:

Credit card payments in US dollars

4 × the same card payment with the main credit cards of our special portal

The result of the Visa credit cards of the Comdirect and DKB was a shock to me. When buying the chocolate, 1 cent difference was due to the poorer exchange rate compared to the MasterCards and 1 cent because of the foreign transaction fee.

If I would have wanted to stop it at this test, it would hardly have been causing me a shrug.

What difference do 2 cents at a chocolate bar make?

However, we do not travel to the USA only because of one chocolate! People spends a lot more than US-Dollar 1,000 on a business or holiday trip. Think about it: hotel, restaurant, transportation and shopping!

Therefore, we made the extrapolation – and you are welcome to use the difference at the 1,000 mark to multiply it with your spending.

For example, you have spent US-Dollars 4,000 with the DKB Visa credit card during a family vacation in Florida, then you have paid almost Euros 100 more (or should I say “too much”?) compared to the MasterCards of Fidor and Number26!

The minimum exchange rate differences and foreign currency charges at low amounts have a huge effect when increasing the amounts.

The difference is huge at higher amounts!

Before we proceed, let´s see the statements of the test

Fidor Bank

Statement of card payment of Fidor smartcard in the US

Fidor customers get the fewest information about card transactions in the transaction overview. Unfortunately, not even the exchange rate.

Number26

Statement of card payments in the United States about Number26

Conveniently clear presentation of the card payment including exchange rate and a simultaneous automatic assignment to the category of expenses. If one did not buy chocolate, but e.g. office items in the supermarket, then one could change the category through the small triangle next to “Lebensmittel” (groceries), if one is keeping an automatized household book using Number26.

Comdirect Bank

Statement Comdirect for card payments in the United States.

Who takes part at Wechselgeld-Sparen (change savings) at the Comdirect, gets the cents until the whole Euro transferred to the call money account and receives a higher interest rate (bonus program). The 30 cent are not made part of our card payment test.

DKB

online statement at DKB bank.

Clear billing of the card transaction.

Let´s take a deep breath and take a second peek on the test result!

Classification and relativism

1. Exchange rates fluctuate

The exchange rate between the Euro and Dollar constantly fluctuates (stock market rates). Additionally, our four main credit cards – picked as the (subjectively) best and most interesting from a huge number over the years – settle through different places.

The Comdirect is working with the exchange rates of the Commerzbank, DKB settles through Firstdata (page in German language), the exchange rates of the Fidor Bank and Number26 are directly linked to MasterCard. Again, there are fluctuations. At the cash withdrawal test a few days earlier, the Comdirect was on the pole position. At the same test two years ago (page in German language), it was the DKB, which offered the best rate.

Billing rates are subject to changes

I will repeat this test several times given the opportunity to elicit a long-term means. As a regular reader (page in German language) of this special portal, you will be informed proactively about this subject.

2. Interest-free periods with a credit line

Number26 is a pure credit account (interest-free) and the current account of the Fidor Bank is usually also only used as a credit account. Their credit cards work like a debit card. That means that the transactions immediately reduce the balance on the current account. And one has to pay the balance in advance.

The Comdirect and the DKB Visa credit card are most often used as a true credit card. The transactions are left until the settlement free of interest on the credit card account. At the Comdirect, the interest-free period is up to seven days and at the DKB up to 30 days.

Differences between a “true” credit card and a debit card

Depending on your personal financial situation, it can be more meaningful to settle the account interest-free after the journey, than creating a balance reserve in advance.

3. Collecting bonus points

Who is registered at the DKB Club or at the Comdirect-Wechselgeldsparen (change savings), benefits further at every card payment. The details of these bonus programs will not be discussed in the framework of this article.

Number26 and Fidor Bank currently do not have bonus programs that reward card payments.

Cost drivers: Foreign transaction fee

If we want to agree on the fact that exchange rates fluctuate and sometimes one or the other bank wins the comparison, the cost factor “foreign transaction fee”, also called foreign currency fee, still exists.

You can turn the tide as often as you want: credit cards without foreign transaction fee are less expensive!

The Comdirect and DKB regularly perform worse than Fidor and Number26 due to this 1.75-percent fee.

There are only very few banks that waive on this source of income, as this overview shows: credit cards without foreign transaction fee .

If you are paying electronically frequently in the USA, in other non-Euro countries or in online stores with foreign currency, then try to get yourself a credit card without this fee.

With this feature alone, you can save about 1.75% – in other words, Euros 17.50 per 1,000 transaction – in all future payments. There are even banks that charge an international service fee of up to 3.50 %!

Secret advice for DKB and Comdirect customers

In spite of this test result, there is little reason to be sad. You have still selected one of the greatest banks in Germany!

The DKB and Comdirect namely offer their customers two things that are unique in this combination:

  • no foreign transaction fee at cash withdrawals
  • refund of foreign fees at cash withdrawals

Yes, you got that right!

If you now get the idea of withdrawing cash at the ATM instead of paying with the credit card and subsequently ask for a refund of the usual ATM-fee of $ 3 to 5 … then you have thought correctly. This works!

With this, the Comdirect as well as the DKB offer its customers an excellent way to perform particularly favourable payments in a foreign currency abroad.

Of course, both banks do not advertise this use of conditions, but it works great, as you can read in these two articles:

Summary + Recommendation for action

It is best to take two credit cards with you on a trip abroad. This is recommended alone for the case that one credit cards has a defect or gets stolen.

Take one credit card of the left side and one of the right side when travelling:

Comdirect, DKB
Visa Card der Comdirect Visa Card DKB
Fidor, Number26
number26 number26
  • Cash withdrawals (eventual refund of withdrawal fees)
  • Deposit a security (preferably use the credit line than blocking your account balance)
  • Credit card payments (electronically, cashless)

All four cards are free (no annual fee). Similarly, the corresponding current account is free of charge too (no account management fee).

Here you can get informed about the details of the credit cards:

This card payments test in the USA can be applied analogously regarding the international service fee to other non-Euro countries.

Which credit cards do you use in the USA or in other foreign currency countries?

I am looking forward to know, which credit cards you use on the road abroad and your experiences with it. The comments box is activated for you. You are also welcome to post questions about the tested credit cards and its use abroad.

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Who writes here?

Someone who gained experience with more than 100 banks in more than 20 countries during the past 15 years. My name is Gregor and if you click to continue you can find out why I am here and what this site is for ⇒ continue.

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