Points Intervention: Saving on Foreign Transaction Fees

May 27, 2015

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In Points Intervention, I help people get their awards earning on track. This month I’m working with small-business owners — just in time for them to take advantage of the Chase Ink Plus Business card’s current offer of 60,000 bonus points after a spend of $5,000 within the first three months.

points intervention

Intervention: Christophe Carón Episode 1

Sometimes my job takes me to really interesting places. This week I met with Christophe Carón, owner and manager of Délice and Sarrasin, a crêperie in the West Village in New York City. The cafe, where Christophe’s mother is the chef, has been open for four months, and he is curious to see if he should switch credit cards to maximize the business’ spending.

To get a sense of where Christophe is now in terms of miles and points, I had to ask him a few questions.

When I asked him which airline he prefers and he answered Delta, I was inspired to apologize to him right off the bat. Nobody should be stuck with an airline that devalues its customers’ miles the way Delta has been doing lately! Christophe is undeterred, however, saying he’s a happy SkyMiles partner, and as man running a French cafe with French-produced ingredients, has found Delta’s partnership with Air France especially useful.

He uses a Delta Platinum Card from American Express, and Christophe’s partner, a Starwood Preferred Guest member, flies Delta as well.

“I can’t convince you to switch from Delta?” I ask. Christophe answers that it depends on what he learns from his Points Intervention. Challenge accepted.

Foreign Transaction Fees

Délice and Sarrasin imports many of its ingredients directly from France every month. Christophe is therefore concerned about foreign transaction fees, so that will be one big consideration when I look at business credit cards that might be right for him — it’s critical that he get one that avoids foreign transaction fees.

Charging Rent

Christophe’s other big expense is rent. While he could conceivably use a service that enables him to charge his rent to his credit card and then cuts a check to his landlord, this type of transaction often entails a fee as high as 3 percent. To rack up this much in fees each month just to accrue points toward free travel might not be worth it.

Delicious Lessons

While Christophe is eager to learn as much as he can from me, I have to say this experience has been a bit educational for me, as well. For example, in this video I learn that galettes are the same thing as crepes, but made with buckwheat flour. Also, Délice and Sarrasin makes its own hazelnut spread. Nutella is Italian, and this cafe is all French — plus, he says, his mom’s version is better and healthier. It almost felt as if I went to France for the afternoon!

Check out tomorrow’s video, in which I’ll give Christophe some valuable recommendations. And if you or your small business needs a Points Intervention, email intervention@thepointsguy.com.

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