We Know Better & Still Got Caught By One Of The Most Common Tourist Scams Out There

When returning from a trip to the United Kingdom, I was going through the stack of receipts I threw in my luggage while reconciling my credit card statements. Everything was looking fine until I came up to one that looked a little off. It only took me a few seconds until I figured out what happened. Sharon and I were taken by one of the most common scams foreigners fall for when traveling overseas.

Dynamic Currency Conversion. 

This is a practice where the vendor, in this case, a restaurant, takes your charge in a foreign currency and converts it into your home currency, while charging you a convenience fee for the service.

Here’s our receipt for dinner. I removed the name of the restaurant.

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From the receipt, our bill was £65.14 and our credit card was charged $90.13 USD. I love the disclaimer on the receipt.

I have been offered a choice of currencies and have chosen to accept DCC and pay in US DOLLAR at today’s exchange rate. Mark up: 3.99%

In the words of Sharon, “NO WE WEREN’T!”

Tell me about it. For this bill, we were charged an exchange rate of $1.383586/£1

I’ve written about the Dynamic Currency Conversion scam and how, if you are asked if you want to pay in local currency or your currency, you should always pick the local currency. Not only will you always get a better conversion rate from your bank, but you’ll also still have to pay a foreign transaction fee if your card charges one. I hope you’re using a card that waives those fees.

Thankfully Sharon paid with her American Express Bonvoy Brilliant card so we didn’t have to pay any additional fee to the extra 4% Mark Up.

So what should have we paid?

Let’s compare this bill to our check for dinner the previous night at Duck & Waffle Local.

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Our bill was £74.25 and we paid in local currency. The charge on our AMEX bill showed up as $98.86. That means we paid an exchange rate was $1.33/£1.

Big picture, how much did this cost us? If we had paid the bill in local currency at the lower exchange rate, we would have paid $86.63 for dinner. Instead, we paid $90.13, a difference of $3.50. I’ll round a tip by more than that if we get good service.

Was it worth this restaurant to screw me over for $3.50 in currency conversion charges? I don’t think so. They managed to turn a pleasant dinner with really good food into an experience where I feel I was taken advantage of for less than $4.

I mean, the food was really good. If they didn’t pull a stunt like this, I might have even told you how good the food was and that you should go there when you visit London. But now, nope. To be fair, I’ll try to reach out to the establishment and let them know what happened and will update the article if I hear back from them.

Until then, check out the lamb shoulder that Sharon had for dinner. It was really good. It’s a shame I can’t recommend the place.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

8 thoughts on “We Know Better & Still Got Caught By One Of The Most Common Tourist Scams Out There”

  1. You should mention and shame the restaurant doing it. Businesses get penalized and, or learn when it impacts their bottom line. Consumers should be able to know what businesses will take advantage when given the opportunity

  2. Did you actually sign the receipt? Had a restaurant try to do this to me in Killarney, told me they couldn’t fix it.. Told them that’s fine, I’m writing dispute on the bill and disputing the amount with the credit card company. Did just that at home, Chase immediately refunded me the $1.50ish that it was. It seems to happen more and more at restaurants where i have to tell them, please charge my card in local currency.

    1. We unfortunately did. The charge on the bill was correct and we just weren’t in the habit of checking the machine when inserting the card or signing the check. Doesn’t make the activity on their part any less shady.

  3. Grrr. Happened to me too last year, and I consider myself pretty saavy. Grrr! I can’t believe I didn’t catch it until it was too late.

    1. I’ll kick myself once over the lost $3.50. I’m pretty sure more balance was left on my wife’s Oyster card when she lost it. 🙂

  4. Europcar is notorious for this on a large scale even when you are super specific at check out to pay in local currency. They will do the conversion and add fees on top of this. I’ve fought hard with them on this. You’ve been warned.

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