Avoid This Foreign Currency Ripoff At All Costs

When you’re traveling outside of your home country, figuring out how much things cost in relation to your home currency can be difficult. You need to know the current conversion rate between the two currencies and then apply that to the purchase price. Sometimes you can eyeball the price when it’s a simple ratio. US Dollars to Japanese yen is usually somewhere around 1:100:

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If I was buying something that cost 1000 Yen, I’d know that’s about $10 or a little less. Things get a little more tricky when traveling to the United Kingdom.

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If you’d see something that costs £100, it also costs $132 USD. So just think that everything is 30% more expensive than it appears to be and you’ll be fine.

What about my dad who’s going to Thailand. One US dollar equals 33 Thai Baht. Try doing that math in your head all the time.

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Imagine if your hotel, or restaurant or gift shop offered, when you handed them a credit card, if you would like to pay for this in local currency or your home currency? If you’re tired of doing math, I’d bet you’d jump at the chance to pay the amount in your local money, right?

math-chevy-chase

However, If you ever get this question, ALWAYS PAY IN LOCAL CURRENCY!!!

The service being offered is called Dynamic Currency Conversion and it’s a total ripoff. What the location does is convert the purchase charge to your currency at an exchange rate of their choosing. This is almost always higher than the currency exchange rate that your bank would charge. If you think using this service will avoid your bank’s Foreign Exchange Fee, you’re wrong. That fee is charged for any transaction taking place outside of your home country, regardless of the currency used to process the charge.

I used to think this ripoff was only used to overcharge Americans who were traveling overseas. However, I’ve learned that US merchants will also use this scheme on guests in the USA from other countries. No matter where you are from, here is what you need to do:

  • Always make your purchases in local currency.
  • Use a credit card that has no foreign exchange fees.

If you’re from the US and traveling abroad, there are many cards with no exchange fees, If you are traveling from the UK, you also have several options, including the Platinum credit card offered by the Post Office,

Spend overseas with no fees

Want to buy something in another currency – online or while you’re away?
The Platinum Credit Card won’t charge you a fee. And if you pay your balance in full and on time when you get back, that emergency purchase or must-have item will cost you nothing extra.

The reason you want to use a credit card is because the transaction cost will convert at the bank rate the time the transaction was completed. I guarantee you that the exchange rates the banks charge each other is better than the rate you’ll be given when buying something as a visitor to a foreign country.

If you remember one thing when traveling overseas (or simply buying anything in a foreign currency), ALWAYS pay in local currency. Please and thank you!

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