Consult this guide for information regarding international transactions, programs and customers. International and foreign mean "outside the United States."

International transactions

As desired, you can permit your cardholders to make transactions in foreign countries, meaning in countries other than the one where your sponsoring bank is located. For example, if your sponsoring bank is in the United States, then purchases made in Europe and South America are foreign transactions. If your sponsoring bank is in Mexico, then purchases made in the United States and Canada are foreign transactions.

What counts as a domestic transaction

Card networks usually provide an indicator in authorization requests for domestic transactions. When a network determines whether a transaction is domestic, it can be as simple as comparing the country code of the issuing bank to the country code of the acquirer, and if they are the same, the transaction is domestic.

In the case of U.S. territories, the determination is based on whether the issuing bank is in the same territory or region as the acquiring bank. Transactions that cross regional boundaries may not be considered domestic. For Visa cards issued in Puerto Rico, for example, there may be special issuer reimbursement fees applied for non-domestic transactions. Consult the documentation from each card network for more information about how they determine whether a transaction is international or domestic.

When Galileo determines whether a transaction is international for the purpose of assessing fees, it first consults the indicator in the authorization request. If a valid value cannot be obtained in that way, Galileo compares the merchant's country code to the card's country code. You can also use the DOMCC parameter to specify which countries should be considered domestic for your program.

International fees

Networks charge currency-conversion fees for international transactions. These fees are billed in a separate invoice rather than being included in the authorization amount. Issuing banks may also charge international transaction fees. Both fee rates will vary based on the card type.

As desired, you can charge fees to your cardholders when they use foreign ATMs or make purchases in foreign countries. See About Fees for additional information about setting up fees.

Colombia ATM issuer-fee inquiries

When Colombian cardholders withdraw cash from ATMs, they first see the fee amount for the withdrawal and then they can accept the fees or cancel the transaction. To display an issuer fee, the ATM sends Galileo a special inquiry to retrieve the issuer fee amount. See Colombia ATM Issuer Fee Inquiries for details.

International transaction process

When a merchant obtains an authorization, the amount in the authorization request is the amount in the cardholder account's local currency. For example, if a cardholder who resides in Alabama goes to a gift shop in Rome, and the sale total is 50 Euros, the authorization amount will be expressed in the equivalent number of dollars. The card network performs the currency conversion automatically.

When the settlement arrives, the settlement amount is usually different from the authorization amount, because it reflects the currency conversion rate at settlement time instead of authorization time.

Multicurrency BINs

In some cases, it's advantageous to have a different settlement currency than the billing currency, such as when international currencies experience high amounts of fluctuation between the local and billing currencies. See Multicurrency BINs for more information.

Consult these examples of international transactions:

International programs

If your sponsoring bank is located outside of the U.S., or if your account holders reside outside of the U.S., consult this section for information specific to international programs and accounts.

3DS Authentication

Many non-U.S. jurisdictions require or recommend that ecommerce sites use 3-D Secure (3DS) authentication to help prevent fraudulent transactions. Galileo supports third-party implementations of an access control server (ACS) and is currently (April 2024) developing an in-house solution. See the 3-D Secure Access-Control Server guide for more information.

Multicountry certification

Galileo completed the Mastercard certification for the following non-U.S. countries:

  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Colombia
  • Brazil
  • Peru
  • Chile
  • Uruguay
  • Argentina

For Visa, Galileo is certified to operate in Canada and Mexico.

Coordinate with Galileo to set up programs that extend into any of those countries.

Names on cards

Because of the naming customs in some countries, a person's full name might exceed the character limit on a physical or virtual card. See Names in Latin America in the Design a Card guide to see the rules that Galileo uses to present the name on a card, including truncation where necessary. You can ask Galileo to enable this functionality for your program.

Setting PINs

Some jurisdictions require cards to perform offline PIN validation, meaning that the PIN is encoded on the embedded chip, and the card reader validates the PIN that is input on the keypad with the PIN on the chip. Galileo can help you determine if your use case involves offline PIN requirements.

Consult the Offline PIN guide for setup methods as well as the PIN Retrieval Service guide for one way to make PIN retrieval easier for your customers.

MSI Installments

Programs that have a sponsoring bank in Mexico can offer meses sin intereses (MSI) installment payments. See MSI Installments for more information.