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FX Conversion when travelling.
Old 09-04-2016, 12:02 PM   #1
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FX Conversion when travelling.

We have been travelling in Ireland for the past week. We use a credit card that utilizes the then current FX rate with no add on admin charges.

JUst about every time we have used the card in Ireland the cashier has handed me the the pad to input our PIN. However, the transaction was always converted to my CAD currency. When we hesitated, we were always given the option of being charged in Euro. This is our preference.

I kept track of a few of the 'conversion' offers and compared them to the euro charge, converted to CAD, on my card account. The difference was consistently 10 points. Conversion at 1.46XXX on the card, effective rate offered by the vendor was 1.56CXX
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Old 09-04-2016, 01:00 PM   #2
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It is well known that one should never let the vendor do the conversion. Let your credit card company do the conversion. My understanding is that they cannot force you to do the conversion.
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Old 09-04-2016, 01:22 PM   #3
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One of the reasons I prefer to use mostly cash when traveling.
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Old 09-04-2016, 01:26 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by LOL! View Post
It is well known that one should never let the vendor do the conversion. Let your credit card company do the conversion. My understanding is that they cannot force you to do the conversion.
+1

Especially when the CC has no exchange fees.

Edit to add - Braumeister also makes a good point, about having cash. We had more than a few issues with both debit and credit cards ..
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Old 09-04-2016, 02:29 PM   #5
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One of the reasons I prefer to use mostly cash when traveling.
I have a different method: If they don't take my credit card, I take my business elsewhere.

I'm sure there must be some country where cash is required, but I haven't been to them and I've been to a lot of foreign countries.
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Old 09-07-2016, 12:02 PM   #6
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I've used my cards several times in the Netherlands and France the past week + and I've only been charged in Euros. Fortunately!
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Old 09-07-2016, 12:11 PM   #7
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I was only offered the "pay in US$" option in a large sporting goods store, where I was looking for a jersey for my grandson.

Both my credit and debit cards didn't work when we first arrived. Declined, even though I had notified the CC issuer about our travel plans and shared our itinerary. It took multiple phone calls to get that straightened out. We were helped by some friends - they made an ATM withdrawal for us and we sent them (actually, their son) a check after returning. They pay both exchange and ATM fees, but they live in Mexico so I'm not sure they have the same options we have here in the US.
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Old 09-07-2016, 12:54 PM   #8
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We have hardly used any cash in Ireland. Credit card, either tap and go or PIN facilities, are everywhere from take away coffee shops to convenience stores.
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Old 09-07-2016, 01:39 PM   #9
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I read about people being rung up on their home currency, but it has not happened to me. A Barcelona forum talked about it happening, so I'll be vigilant there. But some of the discussions saying it was common in Europe were from 2013 and 2014, and we traveled extensively in Europe then and afterwards and never ran into the problem.
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Old 09-07-2016, 02:41 PM   #10
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I have seen little signs near the register in European shops offering to make the charge in your home currency, but you had to ask them to do it. The default was always Euros.
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Old 09-07-2016, 03:41 PM   #11
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I was charged in USDs once during our trip last month. It was my fault, since I wasn't paying attention. Fortunately the amount I overpaid was small. It was for our car rental in Sicily.

Other than that, we were always charged in the local currency.
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Old 09-07-2016, 04:14 PM   #12
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ATM - only way to go. At least with my banks, and in Latin America.
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Old 09-07-2016, 05:54 PM   #13
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I don't think it's happened to the missus and I as a default other than once when taking a cruise even though we selected the option to not have the cruise line convert for us. Had to get them to change it.

Last fall while in South Korea with a buddy, he was buying a shirt at a department store and ended up being charged in Canadian dollars. He also had to get them to reverse it and charge him in Korean wons. (Great service though. They ironed it for him so that he could wear it that night. )

I like carrying cash too but pro's and cons depending on the situation.
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Old 09-07-2016, 06:08 PM   #14
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I have a different method: If they don't take my credit card, I take my business elsewhere.

I'm sure there must be some country where cash is required, but I haven't been to them and I've been to a lot of foreign countries.
We tried this while we were in Toronto for 2 weeks. It worked most places, but in Chinatown I'd say 75% of the places we walked into wouldn't take CCs, or in one case charged a large fee (like USD$3) for the privilege of using our "American" credit cards (it did literally say "American Airlines" on it, so that must be how the vendor knew it was an American based CC).

I had resigned to getting some cash from an ATM the next time we returned to Chinatown, but by that point we had acquired $40 in local currency (my daughter found $20 on the ground, then we bought some friends lunch and they insisted on giving us $20 cash to cover part of lunch). So we were able to shop at the less expensive places that took cash only (like 3/$1 Chinese pastries vs $1-$1.50 for the same thing at the place that took credit cards).

In the end, I felt like my credit-only focus may have cost us more in the form of higher prices and less choice than what I thought I would save in forex and ATM access fees (maybe $4 on a $100 withdrawal).
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Old 09-07-2016, 11:18 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by brett View Post
We have hardly used any cash in Ireland. Credit card, either tap and go or PIN facilities, are everywhere from take away coffee shops to convenience stores.
So when you tap and go, what currency does it do it in , since you don't get a choice ?
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Old 09-07-2016, 11:22 PM   #16
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We tried this while we were in Toronto for 2 weeks. It worked most places, but in Chinatown I'd say 75% of the places we walked into wouldn't take CCs, or in one case charged a large fee (like USD$3) for the privilege of using our "American" credit cards (it did literally say "American Airlines" on it, so that must be how the vendor knew it was an American based CC).

I had resigned to getting some cash from an ATM the next time we returned to Chinatown, but by that point we had acquired $40 in local currency (my daughter found $20 on the ground, then we bought some friends lunch and they insisted on giving us $20 cash to cover part of lunch). So we were able to shop at the less expensive places that took cash only (like 3/$1 Chinese pastries vs $1-$1.50 for the same thing at the place that took credit cards).

In the end, I felt like my credit-only focus may have cost us more in the form of higher prices and less choice than what I thought I would save in forex and ATM access fees (maybe $4 on a $100 withdrawal).
I haven't been to China town in TO, but have gone in other parts of Ontario and nobody even noticed I was using a USD CC.
I think the China town experience was most likely a strong desire by the merchants to deal in cash as it's less traceable/accountable for tax purposes.
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Old 09-08-2016, 03:36 PM   #17
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I haven't been to China town in TO, but have gone in other parts of Ontario and nobody even noticed I was using a USD CC.
I think the China town experience was most likely a strong desire by the merchants to deal in cash as it's less traceable/accountable for tax purposes.
I have a feeling that's the reason CCs aren't accepted at many Chinatown stores/restaurants. It was certainly weird because nowhere else in the dozens of other places we used our CC (the one that says "American Airlines" on it) did we ever get questioned or get asked for an extra fee.

Maybe she was confused and thought I wanted to be charged in USD (like we are discussing here) and she was going to include a $3 mark up to my total (something like $13 for a case of mangoes and some apples IIRC) to cover the fx conversion back to CAD when Mastercard processes the charge?
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