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Amex Good, Hostgator Bad

I love my American Express card. I have the platinum one thanks to Todd, which has a lot of cool benefits like being able to go into airport lounges and such.

However, they always seem to freeze my account when I travel. Last year, when I went to Tokyo, Todd and I ate at a baller Kobe beef restaurant in Kobe. We went to pay and both of our Amexes got declined. Ouch.

We called from a payphone across from the restaurant and they finally fixed it.

Airport currency exchange -- even worse than you'd have thought


I always knew currency exchange at the airport was a bad deal, but I never really calculated it out -- I just tried to avoid it.

I was passing through Haneda airport last night, and had a stack of Chinese RMB I wanted to sell to get Japanese Yen. 

The rate was 15% lower than the market rate. That's just one way. The selling Yen / buying RMB rate was similarly crazy.

To exchange $650 of RMB for Yen would have cost over $90.

That's nuts. You can get 1% or 2% at banks sometimes. A credit card with no foreign exchange fee (all Capital one cards, high-end Visa Signatures and AMEX cards) means you're getting 1% or 2% off the market rate. Worst-case scenario, you can et 5% pretty easily.

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