Citibank is one of the most popular retail banks in the US and has an overseas presence with branches in 19 countries overall. You’ll find a wide range of products on offer, including credit cards and accounts aimed at day-to-day spending and saving. Some of the credit card and account packages are aimed at helping expats and travelers make the most of their money with travel rewards, zero exchange fees, and access to a global ATM network.
This article covers the most important things you need to know about using a Citibank card abroad, including:
- Citibank foreign transaction fees for debit cards and credit cards
- ATM fees for Citibank cards
- The exchange rates used for Citibank cards
- How to avoid high fees and charges when using your card abroad
Citibank offers linked debit cards for all of its account packages. Different accounts are designed to suit different needs, from basic accounts with low monthly fees, to premium accounts which have strict eligibility criteria, but which come with extra perks.
Foreign transaction fees are usually applied to purchases which are not carried out in dollars — which means you’ll pay them when you travel, and may also be charged when you buy online from a seller based overseas.
One of the perks of the Citi Priority Package and CitiGold Package is that foreign transaction fees are waived — allowing you to save money. However, the eligibility requirement for CitiGold account requires them to keep $200,000 in their Citibank accounts to qualify.
|Account type||Foreign transaction fees||Other important fees to consider|
|Basic Banking Package¹||3%||$12 monthly fee, waived if account conditions met|
|Access Account Package²||3%||$10 monthly fee, waived if account conditions met|
|Citibank Account Package³||3%||$25 monthly fee, waived if account conditions met|
|Citi Priority Package⁴||No fee||$30 monthly fee, waived if account conditions met|
|CitiGold⁵||No fee||You must have a relationship balance of over $200,000|
Of course, if you’re spending abroad, the exchange rates matter as much as the upfront fees charged by your bank. If you get a poor exchange rate for your purchase or cash withdrawal when you’re overseas, you may end up paying more than you expect. To avoid any nasty surprises when you get your account statement or credit card bill, it’s good to know which exchange rate is being used for your foreign purchases.
Citibank uses the Visa or MasterCard exchange rate for international card transactions, depending on which network issued your credit or debit card.⁶ You can find the rate for your purchase, using the tools available on the Visa or MasterCard website. You’ll even be able to look up the rate applied on previous dates to see how it changes over time.
When looking at exchange rates, it can help to understand a bit about the mid-market rate. This is the exchange rate you’ll find on google, and the one that banks use to buy and sell currency on the open market. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the rate that’s applied when you buy things using your card, or exchange your currency. Instead, you are likely to find that your card issuer or currency exchange service adds a markup to the mid-market rate, which they keep for themselves.
One provider which uses the mid-market rate for all transactions, is TransferWise. Thanks to Transferwise, you can send money all over the world for a low transparent fee, and using the mid-market rate, like the one you’d see on google. You can also get yourself a TransferWise borderless account, to hold money in multiple currencies in one account, and convert your funds easily when you need to. Right now, you can also get a linked multi-currency MasterCard debit card for fee free purchasing overseas. We’ll talk a bit more about the borderless account later.
If you have decided to get a credit card from Citibank, you have a broad range of options. There are some cards which are aimed at customers who travel frequently, or shop online with international sellers. These waive the foreign transaction fee for overseas purchases, but can come with an annual fee.
Typically the other credit cards available do not come with an annual fee, but do charge a foreign transaction fee which will be applied for all overseas purchases, and may also be added when shopping online with merchants who are based overseas. Of course all Citi credit cards come with a range of other features, which may include balance transfers, travel rewards and reduced annual fees.
Here’s a run down of some of the important fees to consider — check out the full details online.
|Card type||Foreign transaction fees||Other important fees to consider|
|Citi/AAdvantage Credit Cards (excluding American Airlines card) ⁷ ⁸||No foreign transaction fee||Annual fee of $99-450 depending on the card type chosen|
|Citi Premier Card⁸||No foreign transaction fee||Annual fee of $95|
|Costco Credit Cards including the Costco Anywhere Visa Card⁸||No foreign transaction fee||No annual fee if you hold Costco membership|
| ||3% of purchase value||APRs vary according to the card type, and your assessed creditworthiness¹⁷|
There are several different charges to know about, if you’re using your Citibank card abroad.
There are more than 2,400 ATMs at over 700 Citibank branches in the US, plus Citibank branded ATMs in over 20 other countries around the world.¹⁸ Customers with a Citibank card can get fee free withdrawals from Citibank ATMs globally. You can also get free USD withdrawals within the US at a broader network of 60,000 ATMs.
If you withdraw money from an ATM at home or abroad, which is not part of the Citibank network you may need to pay a fee. A charge of $2.50 is made for non-Citibank withdrawals for some accounts, check your account package if you want to know whether you’re affected or not.¹⁹
Depending on the card or account type you hold, you may pay an international transaction fee for using an ATM overseas. These fees are covered in the sections above, by card type.
Withdrawing money using your Citibank credit card — rather than a debit card linked to your account — is usually more expensive. You’ll need to check the terms of your card, but you may pay a $10 or 5% cash advance fee, depending on which is larger, on top of any other fees you incur for the ATM withdrawal, such as a foreign transaction fee.²⁰
If you use an ATM which is not managed by citibank, the provider might add their own fees and charges. These are in addition to the fees detailed above.
Citigold customers qualify for unlimited refunds of ATM fees applied by other providers - so even if the ATM operator adds their own fee, you will have the money refunded.¹⁹
If you’re using your credit or debit card when travelling, there are a few other things you should know, if you want to make sure you get the best available exchange rate every time.
One thing you should understand is dynamic currency conversion — usually shortened to DCC. DCC is where you’re asked if you’d like to pay in your own home currency or the local one, either by a merchant when buying something, or at an ATM when making a withdrawal.
DCC is sold as a service for travellers who don’t want to worry about working out the cost of things when they’re abroad. Simply pay in dollars, and you can keep track of your money more easily. But there’s a problem. Using DCC will usually cost you more than choosing to pay in the local currency.
That’s because, with DCC, the merchant or ATM operator will choose the exchange rate applied and can also add on fees to the transaction. This exchange rate may not be as good as the one you would otherwise get from Visa or MasterCard, which makes the true cost of the purchase higher.
If you want to get the best price for your overseas purchases, always opt to pay in the local currency wherever in the world you are.
Using your card as you travel can be convenient — and as long as you avoid high fees, such as those associated with DCC, you can also get a good deal on your overseas spending. Here are a few tips to make sure you make the most of your money while abroad.
- Before you go anywhere, make sure all your personal contact details are up to date with your bank. If they have any worries about your account, it might be blocked or limited — so they’ll need an active phone number to be able to get in touch
- You’ll also want to make sure you have all the contact details for your bank recorded in case of issues while you’re away
- Let your bank know you’ll be travelling, so overseas transactions don’t get flagged as suspicious, and get a 4 digit PIN for your bank card if you’re headed to Europe
- If you’re making ATM withdrawals, make sure you know the fee structure being applied by your bank. If there is a charge per transaction, you may be better off making fewer, larger, withdrawals, to minimize the overall costs
- It’s also worth knowing that some ATMs — especially those in pubs and clubs — will add their own fee on top of any your bank charges. This is usually shown on the display before you confirm the withdrawal
- Check whether your card will be accepted wherever you are headed. Visa and MasterCard have high acceptance rates in many countries, but American Express can be trickier in Europe. There are tools available online to check whether merchants and ATMs will accept your card as you travel
- Check how the exchange rate used for your credit or debit card compares with the mid-market rate. You may want to try and grab a TransferWise borderless account that lets you get access to dozens of currencies all in one account — you can also sign up to the waitlist to get a linked multi-currency MasterCard debit card for fee free purchasing overseas.
If you’re planning on paying for your trip abroad using your credit or debit card, Citibank have a few credit or debit cards which can help you get a better deal on your spending. It helps to understand the terms of your specific card before you travel, so you don’t get any nasty surprises — but by choosing the right card, and following our tips, you can get a good deal on your day to day spending when travelling.
All sources last checked 12 March 2019
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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