ARLINGTON, Va. — Visa has eliminated a fee on foreign transactions after realizing it was charging U.S. troops on bases considered U.S. soil, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Since 1986, Visa has charged a 1 percent fee for currency exchange; for example, changing dollars into euros, said Rhonda Bentz, vice president of public affairs.

Then in the spring, the credit card company decided to charge the fee for all transactions on foreign soil, Bentz said.

But Visa realized, or was informed, that overseas bases are U.S. soil, legally, and ended the practice. It still will impose the fee for currency exchange.

Bentz stressed that the fee is assessed to member banks who then determine whether to charge individual cardholders or “eat it.”

By charging the fee for all foreign transactions, Visa hoped the member banks and other financial institutions would pay more of their “fair share,” she said.

On June 9, Visa repealed the fee for single currency transactions, Bentz said. So if U.S. troops do not convert money to make a purchase, the fee does not apply, she said.

Also Tuesday, Bentz said it is up the banks to decide whether to waive the fee for U.S. troops.

“I don’t know if we even know it’s a member of the U.S. armed forces making a transaction,” she said.

Sgt. 1st Class Alen Schulze said soldiers would likely use base bank machines more often.

“Which brings another problem,” Schulze said. “Young soldiers walking around with loads of Euros in their pockets.”

Schulze said he was surprised that no exception was made for servicemembers serving overseas.

“I would think that a company like Visa would try to assist the soldiers a bit more,” Schulze said.

Community Bank has posted signs saying that as of Sept. 1, it will follow the Via guidelines, charging the 1 percent for currency exchange, but no fees on transactions simply because they’re not in the continental United States.

Reporter Russ Rizzo contributed to this report from Darmstadt, Germany.

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