Dynamic Currency Conversion -- Just Say, "NO!" (if you can)

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by Jenny & Curt, May 9, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Jenny & Curt
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    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

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    Haven't seen this topic here. For those who are unfamiliar with the <ahem>scheme sometimes known as DCC, it works like this: You are in a foreign country, perhaps suffering jetlag or language insufficiency. You are making a purchase, and hand over your credit card. Perhaps you have even applied for and brought a card that does not charge or pass on currency conversion fees, so you're feeling pretty smart, even in your 16-hours-in-coach-with-turbulence-and-a-toddler haze. You have already consumed whatever you're about to pay for (car rental, hotel, dinner), so your negotiating position is pretty weak.
    Smiling clerk swipes your card through the card machine, and now the little elves in the credit card machine magically turn 6,649.17 Thai Baht into USD$229.95 and charge you in your home currency. Be aware that this is not for your own good! There is, of course, a middleman, and the rates do not favor you. So, be careful. I have noticed this in Asia, Austria and New Zealand, but, as soon as word gets out that there is a new way to fleece tourists, be assured it will come to your favorite vacation spot, as well.
    In most cases, it is a simple matter of being vigilant and actually reading what the terminal asks before pushing the green button. It will say something like, "$229.95 USD OK?" and you will press, "No," and it will charge in the local currency. Some shopkeepers, though, claim not to be able to de-select the auto-conversion. I have chosen to let it go for 10 Euros, but didn't in Thailand. I kept the voided receipt from when the clerk first used the DCC, to see what the difference would be. The $229.95 I refused to pay through DCC ended up, on my Capital One (no conversion fee) card, to be $220.82. I congratulate myself, as I can find plenty of other things to spend $9.13US (4.13% of the "real" total) on.
    Here's some further reading:
    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/chin...t-cc-rip-off-dynamic-currency-conversion.html
    http://www.travelfinances.com/Resources/dynamic-currency-conversion.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_currency_conversion
     
  2. BurBunny
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    BurBunny Silver Member

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    The DCC has been in Europe for years. As a precaution, if a price is quoted with an equivalent price in Dollars, I tell them that I want to be charged in X (whatever the local currency is). Don't just decline the DCC, but make sure you specify the local currency to make it even more clear.
     
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  3. secretsea18
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    secretsea18 Gold Member

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    Thanks for posting this...

    I did encounter this a few years back in Singapore. You end up getting converted twice...
     
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  4. Chad
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    Chad Silver Member

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    Sadly this also is spreading in the US for those of us using non US issued cards.
     
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  5. Wurm
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    Wurm Silver Member

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    It happened to me at the Hotel de Rome in Berlin about five years ago. I ended up paying about 3% for the conversion (versus about 1% that my card would have charged for converting the charge in Euros). Since then, I always decline.
     
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  6. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    I've had two Holiday Inn Express properties in the U.K. charge my prepaid rates in dollars this year, in both cases adding on a 3% fee, without my authorization. In the first case they gave me a credit to a future stay (had one planned), and in the second case a complete refund (actually made about 20 cents as the exchange rate had changed), and rebilled in pounds. I have a credit card with no foreign exchange rate so these 3% surcharges jump right out.

    On a 10 day trip to Ireland in February, I was offered the ability to charge in dollars at both hotels and restaurants and always declined that option. I've probably ran across it more there than in any other country I've been to.
     
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  7. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    I have a real problem with this. What is the possible solution? Customers should at least be given a choice. I have been ripped off on this a few times.
     
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  8. Wow what a con.
     
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  9. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    Yes- I don't know why Visa/MC allow this.
     
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  10. Only these card holders?
     
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  11. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    I am not sure actually if any other cards are hit with this- but Visa and MC definitely are.
     
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  12. CrankyScott
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    CrankyScott Silver Member

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    Excellent warning....I have seen even seasoned travelers fall for this.

    Last week while in Frankfurt, Germany the Marriott at checkout automatically billed my credit card in USD (without asking). The total charges were $485.83. I refused the charges and asked to be billed in Euro. On my credit card statement the total charge was $469.77.

    That is a $16.06 savings for me or what the hotel called a "conveyance fee" to bill in USD.

    Please be careful when traveling abroad and do not get caught in the USD conveyance fee. It’s just pure profit for the hotel.
     
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  13. Kagehitokiri
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    Kagehitokiri Silver Member

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    and you cant always decline the way hotels do it...
     
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  14. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    Do some countries offer a pre-loaded credit card? So I can purchase a card in the UK that is loaded with say 500 pounds?
     
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  15. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    The only place I've seen the rate turn out somewhat decent is Harrods...I guess when your spending as much as people can spend there, they don't need to inflate the exchange rate. Granted, I try to use cash to avoid extra fees! ;)
     
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  16. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    I like Harrods- however nothing will help you when it comes to spending there :)
     
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  17. rwoman
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    rwoman Gold Member

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    Which is why most of my purchases are limited to tea or their crazy sales after Christmas! ;)
     
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  18. CrankyScott
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    CrankyScott Silver Member

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    While checking out and settling my bill I was presented with this slip:

    [​IMG]

    I declined the Dynamic Currency Conversion and asked to be billed in the local currency (INR). The clerk said "oh this is to benefit you and it avoids conversion fees". I said that was incorrect and to void and reissue in INR.

    I saved $19.46 by declining the currency conversion.

    Sadly, most hotel staff don’t understand this and falsely reassure guests this is helping them. All it does is place more profit to the hotel.
     
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  19. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    You didn't trust the "Mark-Up: 0%" that's right there on the receipt? :D
     
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  20. CrankyScott
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    CrankyScott Silver Member

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    LoL - I did trust that line - its the line above that had me worried. The hotel exchange rate was listed as 43.83. My Chase bank statement shows 45.85.

    So many people are ignorant about this scam and hotels are making tons of free cash........when I have complained to Visa and MasterCard they said the retailer is supposed to ask your preference. Instead 99% of the time the retailer opts you in and then looks at you like you have four eyes when you decline.
     
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  21. Fredd
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    Fredd Gold Member

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    It happened to us once in Italy (could have been anywhere as other posters make clear) several years ago and we weren't even aware that we'd been scammed until we read somewhere about it later.

    A very useful thread!
     
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  22. CrankyScott
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    CrankyScott Silver Member

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    Oh you are so right my friend......here is a new twist on this that has me fuming!

    Marriott Hotel in Liverpool automatically opts you in unless you opt out at check-in. Here is a portion of the registration card:

    [​IMG]

    At checkout the receipt showed the Dynamic Currency Conversion of which I declined and the hotel staff showed me the registration form and said they would not reverse the charge as I had not selected the box to have the charges in sterling pounds. They also gave the line of how this was for my benefit and Marriott would never offer something that was not good for the guest.
     
  23. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    Please do send this to Marriott corporate- ridiculous unfair business practices.
     
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  24. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    According to Visa and MC rules there must be a statement that allows the customer a choice. in fact few clerks know about that. If you protest and say you want the charge in local currency only they are obligated to do that, even though many of them do not know how to do it. Almost all hotels, with the glaring exception of some Marriott properties will make the change gladly.
     
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  25. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    They allow it because major commercial customers want it. the extra income to the merchants can be as high as 6% but usually is more on the order of 3% or so.
     
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