“Would you to pay in local currency or the currency of your card?”. It seems such a simple question doesn’t it? When you make a card transaction overseas, whether it is a currency, credit or debit card, you are generally given the choice of paying in the local currency or in your own currency. There is DEFINITELY a correct answer! But do you know for sure what it is?
The Answer is to ALWAYS choose to complete the transaction in LOCAL currency.
Currency card, credit card or debit card, it makes no difference…
For example if you are shopping with a UK card in Italy you will be given the choice of paying for your purchase in Euro (the shop currency) or in GB Pounds. As you are take the payment machine it will flash up a message along the lines of “Would you like to pay in local currency or in the currency of your card?” Your answer? – Local!
ATMs are worst of all at making you question your decision…
When drawing cash out at an ATM you are actively encouraged to select your home currency. It displays phases such as “Choose your home currency to lock in your rate now and avoid any currency fluctuations”.
And you hesitate and think “ ooh I know one of these is the right thing to do…”
And then you’re not sure…
For example, I drew out CA$203 at an ATM in Canada. The rate that I was encouraged to ‘lock in’, by having it convert to my UK currency, was 1GBP = 1.55CA$, meaning the charge would have been about £130.96. The local CA$203 was processed as £119.42 on my statement – a rate of 1GBP = 1.7 CA$.
Thats a difference of £11.76 on one transaction, in effect an awful exchange rate!
So it might seem convenient, even sensible to choose to use your home currency but DON’T DO IT! NEVER, EVER!!
ALWAYS choose local currency and not your home currency.
The main reason for this is that it is YOUR bank that will handle the currency conversion. If you allow a shop, restaurant or even their card machine provider calculate the conversion rate to give you a home currency figure, they will almost certainly give you a very poor rate, far below market exchange rates.
They’ll be quids in if you accept their conversion rate!
Why? Because really there is no other reason for them to offer you the service! If they can make a profit on the card transaction, as well as on the sale itself, so much the better for them. The shop has just made two profits on one sale! In reality a business is able set any exchange rate they like. So if you accept it, they will process it at that rate and you won’t be able to dispute it later. PLUS you will still be charged any relevant overseas transaction fees by your card provider as it won’t help you avoid them! So it’s an easy profit for them at no gain to you at all.
Also bear in mind that there is less chance of you being deliberately ripped off by selecting local currency. The price shown will match the purchase you are making and there is no chance of someone setting a fraudulently inaccurate exchange rate. Be cautious… the more a shop assistant or waiter tries to pressure you into paying in your home currency, the more likely it is that it is a potential fraud or scam. Insist on paying in their currency – as whilst they can choose whether and which cards they accept, your card provider does NOT authorise them to to choose between local and home currency on your behalf. If you are presented with a transaction that is already converted to your currency then refuse to enter your pin and ask them to do it again. If necessary say you will do to an ATM and get cash.
NEVER put your pin in without checking the amount AND the currency. Choose LOCAL currency every time!!
It all adds up when spending money overseas. We always avoid overseas transaction fees completely by using a currency card such as Monzo or Revolut which generally also gives an excellent (Business) exchange rate. You can also ‘fee free’ credit card but be CERTAIN that a card is ‘fee free’ abroad as well as at home before using it overseas – an added $5 on every cup of coffee for conversion will hugely increase your holiday spending! Check with your bank or card provider to be sure or apply for a currency card.
If you’re tempted to take a cruise to Canada yourself then take a look at our video above! Search for
your own cruise to Cornerbrook below…
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