Posted by William Charles on June 29, 2016
Credit Cards

Published on June 29th, 2016 | by William Charles

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Should You Use The Mercez App To Determine What Credit Card To Use Internationally?

Mercez is an app (iOS only) that aims to help people save money when travelling internationally. It’s been getting a bit of attention recently (in this MMS review & this Out and Out review), I had planned to do a review of it awhile ago (when I was putting together our piece on foreign currency exchange rates, but the developer stopped answering questions when I was doing my write up). The app’s main aim is to save you money on foreign transactions by helping you select the best card to use.

It does this by allowing you to add credit cards you have to the app, then it looks at the following things:

  • Any foreign exchange fees that these cards charge
  • Exchange rates that vary by payment network

Unfortunately there is no way of knowing what exchange rate Visa, Mastercard or American Express will use ahead of time. What Mercez does is that it assumes that if a payment network has taken the lead for ‘best rate’ then it’s likely to keep that lead for 2-3 days. The problem with this is that most card issuers use the settlement date rather than the transaction date, so even if a payment network has ‘taken the lead’ when your transaction occurs – by the time the transaction has settled it might no longer be the best option (even if it keeps that lead for two or three days).

Mercez will also never suggest an American Express or Discover card as the best option, as those payment networks aren’t clear about what rate would be use. I’d love for this app to work as advertised, but I still think the best card to use is always going to be one that doesn’t charge a foreign currency fee and also offers a category bonus on whatever purchase you’re making.

You can try and fiddle with exchange rates as much as you like, but I still don’t think it’s as clear cut as apps such as these make it seem, or the other conventional wisdom of always using Mastercard over Visa. Let me know your thoughts about the app in the comments.



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Nick
Nick

Not a huge deal, but I think you meant “App Store only” or “iOS only”, not “Apple Store only”. Apple Store refers to the physical retail stores that Apple operates, which is different than their online app marketplace…

Acslaterbro
Acslaterbro

Who cares, you knew what he meant.

IOException
IOException

Really?

Zephyr
Zephyr

Yes.

NinjaX
NinjaX

hahaha… I love these comments…

farsighted99
farsighted99

I had to pay for some travel arrangements last week in UK pounds, but decided to wait until after the Brexit decision, figuring the pound would drop. Unfortunately, they decided to leave the EU, and the pound dropped (I didn’t want them to leave, but that’s another matter). I had to pay for my arrangements by Friday. I chose the Citibank Executive card, which has no forex charges. The charges were in pending for awhile. It wasn’t until yesterday (Tuesday) that I got the actual rate. I read up on it, and apparently they usually don’t close the currency rate until the next day… I ended up getting 1.374, which isn’t bad; I ended up saving some money. But I know the rated dropped to 1.34 that Friday, and then to 1.32 on Monday. but a lot better than 1.498 for the Day Before Brexit. I saved $104.12 for an 856 UK pound transaction.

This probably will never happen again. Though I am hedging another purchase in case it has a second drop… This is more of a game for me than anything else. If it drops more, I’ll probably load up on UK pounds for my trip.

The fact that i didn’t get the lower rate on my exchange isn’t surprising. I often have wondered if the so-called “exchange rate” is higher just because there is no forex charge anymore…

NinjaX
NinjaX

just buy shitload GBP now. you will be rich and take hotties on dates when you go to the UK…

farsighted99
farsighted99

think this pullback is a dead cat bounce. I think it’s going to drop further in a week or so…

savemesf
savemesf

I downloaded this app after Harlan’s review last year and immediately deleted it because the Visa exchange rates were several months old. MMS’s current review shows the same issue (Visa rates as of 1/31/16 lol) . So unless I am missing something. this app is completely useless. Would love to know if there is a way around this glitch.

James Carson
James Carson

“the best card to use is always going to be one that doesn’t charge a foreign currency fee and also offers a category bonus on whatever purchase you’re making.”

Which no-FTF cards have bonuses on non-US purchases?

Rebecca
Rebecca

I think Discover does, but only because I can’t find anywhere that says it doesn’t.

Steve
Steve

Capital One cards

jcb
jcb

Arrival+

Aram
Aram

I’ve used Mercez on my short labor day weekend trip to Portugal and its a good idea but their Visa rate was far from current and stuck in January. Since I’ve liked the idea I’ve emailed the Devs about it but it still in January. I think what would be even greater idea is to crowd-source the data so we at least get close to current idea otherwise it doesn’t give any useful info (and to the not attentive eyes gives the wrong (very old) info provided that I know my no-FTF cards by heart 🙂

Patrick
Patrick

We have hundreds of data points over here:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/credit-card-programs/1650945-foreign-exchange-rates-discussion-forex-all-cards-new-post.html

MC is better than Amex is better than Visa. In 99% of cases.

No app required.

Peter
Peter

Hi Doc,

Got a question about credit card “post dates”. In my experience, Citi almost always posts on the transaction date, while Chase never does. Chase usually posts a day after the transaction date, and sometimes takes longer.

So if I make a purchase on 7/1, I expect my Citi statement to say 7/1 while the Chase statement to say 7/2 or 7/3.

Question is, is the 7/1 with Citi the same as the 7/2 with Chase (i.e. with regard to whether something gets coded at the end of a day or beginning of the day)? Or do Chase purchases always post later than Citi’s? In the case of this topic, this lag can have an effect on the ultimate exchange rate.

Lrdx
Lrdx

Meh, difference between rewards of a given Visa/MC/AmEx card one might have is probably more than difference between exchange rates anyway, even if some cards are only give bonus points within the States.

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