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I have a CapitalOne Quicksilver (Visa) credit card (US-based, in US$) which is advertised as 0% foreign transaction fees.

However, I am not sure how the exchange rates are calculated.

According to this 2013 blog post, the exchange rates for CapitalOne Visa credit cards should exactly follow the Visa Exchange Rate calculator. However, what I find is that there is a small markup (perhaps 0.2%?) when I compare the exchange rate (which is given to 10 significant figures) that appears on my credit card statement with that calculator.

So, how precisely and exactly are the CapitalOne credit card exchange rates calculated?


Below are a few data points from my recent transactions (Google Spreadsheets link). I am using the card in Singapore (in SGD) and the amounts are then converted to USD which I have to pay.

For example, the first row of data says that on Oct 12th (date of transaction according to CapitalOne CC statement), I spent 43.00 SGD, which was converted at a rate of 1.372924649 to 31.32 USD that I had to pay. However, according to the Visa Calculator, I should have paid only 31.255969 USD which rounded off to the nearest cent would be 31.26 USD.

It looks like I was mistaken about there possibly being a 0.2% markup -- this turns out to be true only for the Oct 12th transaction and it otherwise seems to be a little random. It would appear then that CapitalOne doesn't seem to be following Visa's exchange rate calculator? What then is it using?

Please also explain why the three transactions on Nov 2nd have slightly different exchange rates even on my credit card statement.

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One possible consideration is that Singapore is +8 GMT, which is 12 hours ahead US Eastern Summer Time (-4 GMT) or 13 hours ahead of US Eastern Standard Time (-5 GMT).

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CapitalOne is using the day after the date you have listed on your spreadsheet.

For example, for your first transaction of 43 SGD, you have a date of 12-Oct-2018. However, if you plug 13-Oct-2018 into Visa's Exchange Rate Calculator, you'll see that it gives you the same USD price as CapitalOne charged you.

The discrepancy in date might be related to the time difference, as you noted.

In my opinion, it is nothing to worry about. As you noted, it is just as likely as not to work in your favor. For cards that do have a foreign exchange fee, the fee averages 3%, and the difference you are seeing is nowhere close to that.


In response to your edit:

Please also explain why the three transactions on Nov 2nd have slightly different exchange rates even on my credit card statement.

All three of these transactions are using the exchange rate from November 3.

It appears that CapitalOne is using the real exchange rate for November 3 for each of these transactions. They then round to the nearest penny. Finally, for the exchange rate that appears on your statement, they calculate it for each transaction using the rounded amount that you were actually charged.

Example: The 11/2/2018 transaction of 30.00 SGD is converted to $21.902010 USD based on the 11/3/2018 rate. This is then rounded to $21.90, and is what you were charged on your credit card account. For the exchange rate listed on your statement, they simply calculated 30.00/21.90 = 1.369863014. Because of the rounding to the nearest penny, the exchange rates calculated on your statement in the last step are all slightly different from each other, but notice that all three of them are identical to the first three decimal places. Yes, it might be less confusing if they simply showed you the actual rate used in the first step, rather then back-calculating the rate after the rounding occurs, but that is the choice they made, and most people won't care.

  • This seems plausible but doesn't seem to precisely work out. For example, my 42.15 SGD transaction on Oct-27 is converted to 30.573671 USD on the Visa calculator for Oct-28. Also, could you explain why the three transactions on Nov 2 have slightly different exchange rates? – user1180576 Dec 20 '18 at 2:23
  • @user1180576 I haven't checked every line in your spreadsheet, but I checked a bunch of them, and they all seem to work by using the next date, within 1 penny. Differences of 1 penny could occur just by differences in rounding. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Dec 20 '18 at 2:42
  • @user1180576 I have added to my answer to address the concern in your question edit. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Dec 20 '18 at 3:15

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