Sears Financial Stops Charging Canadians Foreign Currency Fees

Sears Financial says farewell to foreign currency transaction charges for over two million Canadians. Half of Canadians say they'd would swap their existing credit card for one that doesn’t charge this fee, a survey reveals.

Sears Canada’s Financial Services division, Sears Financial, announced today that as of July 23, 2012, foreign currency transaction charges will no longer be incurred on the Sears Financial MasterCard and Sears Financial Voyage MasterCard. With over two million MasterCard credit cards in the market, and hundreds of thousands of vacations booked through Sears Travel annually, eliminating the fee is part of Sears Canada’s renewed commitment to do more for the customer.

The foreign currency transaction charge is applied in addition to the exchange rate when a customer uses a credit card for a transaction outside of Canada. Most Canadian credit cards charge 2.5%.

Half of Canadians (51%) said they would consider switching to another credit card if it meant they didn’t have to pay the foreign currency transaction charge, revealed a recent survey commissioned by Sears Financial, which looked at travel and spending habits.

The results also showed that 65% of Canadians travel abroad at least once every two years and that the overwhelming majority (92%) use their credit card to pay for meals, entertainment, and other purchases when travelling. In fact, 61% always or frequently use credit cards as their primary form of payment when travelling.

A recent Statistics Canada survey found that during the first quarter of 2012 travellers spent $8.3 billion outside the country, $5 billion spent in the United States alone. These numbers include “snowbirds” who travel to warmer climates, and suggest Canadians pay millions of dollars a year to use their credit card abroad.

“Many of our customers are snowbirds. They and others will benefit significantly from this change,” said Peter Kalen, Senior Vice-President, Sears Financial and Home Services. “While many travellers will continue to incur additional charges on all their foreign purchases, over two million Sears Financial MasterCard cardmembers will enjoy the freedom to spend without being charged 2.5% on foreign purchases. We also see this as a positive move for our Sears Travel customers.”

Sears Financial made the decision to remove foreign currency transaction charges as part of Sears Canada’s company-wide initiative to do more for the customer. This includes recently lowering the price on over 5,000 items, an improved return policy and satisfaction guarantee, and the re-launched ‘The Baby’s Room,’ offering new brands and more selection of nursery and juvenile products at great prices.

“Removing this charge is another demonstration of our ongoing commitment to provide customers and cardmembers with the quality and value they’ve come to expect from Sears,” added Kalen.

In addition to no foreign currency transaction charge, Sears Financial cardmembers will also earn valuable Sears Club Points everywhere MasterCard is accepted. These points can be redeemed for almost anything in-store and online, including a full range of flight and travel bookings at Sears Travel. Canadians can apply for a Sears Financial MasterCard at any Sears store.

Survey Results Highlights:

Most Canadians (92%) use their credit card while traveling, with nearly two-thirds (61%) using it as their primary method of payment. Canadians spent an average of $880 using a Canadian credit card on their last trip abroad.

Travelers checks are a thing of the past, with 82% saying they rarely or never use them, while 64% rarely or never use their debit card abroad.

Transaction fees are more important than any other consideration when choosing to use a credit card outside of Canada; 82% of Canadians describe transaction fees as very or moderately important, followed by:

  • Interest rates 64%
  • Travel insurance 61%
  • Rewards points 60%

Half of Canadians (51%) said they definitely or probably would switch to another credit card if the other card does not charge a foreign transaction fee.

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