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Mitchelle Stephenson

Edgewater, Md.

Author Cindy Loose responds:

MBNA will announce a new currency exchange fee in April, which will become effective in May, MBNA spokesman Ed Murphy said last week. While a new line item will show a 3 percent charge on foreign currency charges, the increase is actually 2 percent. Previously, MasterCard added 1 percent to the wholesale exchange rate for foreign currency charges and embedded the fee into the overall charge. Now, the bill will reflect MasterCard's old fee, plus a new 2 percent fee added by MBNA.

Asked if existing customers can successfully protest the increase, Murphy said, "Any time we change the terms of the agreement, we give the customer the option to opt out."

THOSE OF US who have a certain credit card were advised that our purchases in foreign currency would be subject to a 3 percent surcharge. But the card also offered us a new travel benefit -- ship your luggage for free, once a year.

Sounded great. So I called to arrange for my stuff to be shipped to the QM2 at the pier in New York. Okay, but there would be a $50 port charge. I said that I had already paid port fees -- not good enough.

Well, I figured, let's ship the bags to the airport, from which the tour company would take us and our luggage to the pier. But that was a no-no -- too much traffic and activity.

So where can you ship the luggage for free? From home to a hotel or office. This benefit is worth what you pay for it.

Hyman Shapiro

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