Bits: my worst ever Dynamic Currency Conversion scam, Flybe sale, good Iberia Plus wine offer

Lots of small stories today as I try to clear a backlog after my trip last week.  And speaking of that trip ….

The worst example of Dynamic Currency Conversion I have ever seen

I was in the Waldorf-Astoria Ras al-Khaimah last week which I will review soon.  It is a very impressive hotel but, at check-out, I experienced the worst Dynamic Currency Conversion scam ever.

Hotels like to give you option to pay ‘in your home currency’ because they use an exchange rate far worse than the one your credit card company uses.  The total cost will be higher than if you paid in local currency and then paid the 3% FX fee on your card.  If you have a Post Office, Lloyds Avios or Halifax Clarity card, there will be no FX fee.

You MUST be offered the choice of paying in local currency.  A hotel is violating its credit card agreement otherwise.  Some hotels will ‘try it on’, however, and give you a card machine which displays a Sterling figure.  You need to reject this and insist you are charged in local currency.

What the Waldorf-Astoria did was worse.  I was given the card machine and the amount showing was in Dirham.  I entered my PIN.  The screen then flashed up ‘£ XXX.XX charged’ as it processed the transaction – in Sterling.

This was clear theft.  What was even more shocking is that the payment slip that came out of the machine showed the total in Dirham and only in small print did it say that I had actually paid in Pounds.

I immediately told the hotel to reverse the transaction.  It turned out that this particular card machine had been especially programmed to do this and could not work in any other way, so a different card reader had to be found.

Using the 2nd machine, I was given the option of paying in Pounds or Dirham.  I chose Dirham and charged it to my Curve MasterCard which has a 1% FX fee.

Because you see instantly the value of Curve transactions on your smartphone, I could see within seconds that I had saved £30.36 compared to the first transaction.  This was 4% of the total bill meaning that the hotel had charged me 5% for the ‘privilege’ of ‘paying in my home currency’.

You should ALWAYS reject the option to pay in £ when overseas, even if your credit card has a 3% FX fee – you will still be better off.

waldorf astoria ras al khaimah

Flybe Super Size Spring Sale launched

Flybe has launched another short term sale – the key difference with this one is that it covers May half-term and all of the Summer.

Flights are priced from £24.99 and must be booked by 8th March.  Travel dates are from 12th April to 19th October.

Remember that you collect 4 Avios for every £1 spent on Flybe flights, excluding taxes.  Full details can be found here.

Flybe sale

Earn 480 Avios in Iberia Plus with a new wine offer

Finally, Iberia Plus has launched a new offer with its UK wine partner Vinoseleccion.

As you can see here, £48 gets you six bottles of 2011 Rioja.  This includes free UK delivery.  You will also receive 480 Avios into your Iberia Plus account, which is one way of activing it in order to use ‘Combine My Avios’.

A few HFP readers have used Vinoseleccion in the past and the general feedback about the wine has been positive.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Bits: 500 Avios with first LOVEtheatre booking, new Qatar business class seat on the way
25% off Starwood Preferred Guest points means buying airline miles at 1.5p
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  1. “Using the 2nd machine, I was given the option of paying in Pounds or Dirham. I chose £ ”

    Do you mean you didn’t choose £? Either way, I’m shocked that a machine could even be set up that way, good to know that’s even possible.

  2. That’s nae a bonny looking Waldorf.

    If I were in charge Waldorf’s would be in keeping of the NYC version, grand of buildings restored to luxury accom.

  3. The DCC scam is my biggest frustration when travelling in Europe. For me the worst offender is by far Accor – even in law abiding Germany they never ask and the bill always comes up in £’s. On a recent stay at Mercure in Amsterdam they grumbled and had to go get a second machine when I insisted on paying Euro. Following a stay at the Dusseldorf Airport Novotel last year it took six weeks to get a refund of the difference (I was tired and hadn’t initially noticed the £ charge when checking out).

    • Pullman Bangkok charged my advanced purchase reservation in GBP rather the THB, I was not happy and complained. Issue was only resolved when escalated to GM. The difference was only about £30 but the sneakiness of it really annoyed me.

      • Londonbus says:

        Hong Kong and Mainlinad China are bad too – tthey invariabl select sterling and you get handed a machine asking for your PIN number. Not good..

  4. sam wardill says:

    Hotels that scam guests like that deserve to be outed. Thanks Rob!

  5. I wonder how curve can give you in immediate figure. Don’t they need to wait for MasterCard rates for the day to be published?

    • There’s no such thing as a “rate of the day”, the rate is constantly changing. If you use the Mastercard website you’ll get an average of the day, but the merchant will get whatever the rate was at that specific second.

      • Though on second look maybe I’ve got that completely wrong? I read that somewhere (presumably reputable) a while ago but can see no mention of it on the Mastercard Exchange rate page – which as you say, refers to daily rates. Just goes to show you shouldn’t believe everything you read!

        • No, the rate is for all transactions on the day. Visa even publishes its rate in advance (for supercard)

  6. Hi Raffles … is there a reason why you did NOT pick Dirham when using your Curve card with the 2nd machine?

  7. Everywhere in Hong Kong does DCC, from PizzaExpress, ToysR’Us, to bars and hotels. You’re given (the rather small) option to tick a little box on the receipt to pay in $HK or home currency. Easy to miss when you’re in a rush.

    • Guesswho2000 says:

      Yes, that’s a major bugbear of mine in Hong Kong! The mainland is even worse though.

      In both cases I’ve regularly found the transaction gets processed and the first you know about it is a box you have to check on the receipt. A number of times I’ve had to argue the point in broken English (though which, in fairness, is better than my attempt at Chinese!).

      • Yes, noticed that too. They carry out the transaction, give your card back after you’ve entered the PIN and only then give you a slip to select the currency and sign.

        Just done the maths on my hotel stay at the Sailsbury YMCA of Hong King, their DCC rate is 9.5% !!!

  8. More importantly did you book the whole hotel to have a bill of £750!!!!
    The rates in Ras al-Khaimah are ridiculously cheap or they used to be when I last looked :)

    • Big room, bill is tax deductible!

      You don’t get far in that hotel on the cheap. I was looking at some of the invoices on reception whilst the DCC saga was going on and even those on packages in standard rooms were paying £200 per night.

      • I once borrowed an iPad, from the lounge, at the Atlantis Dubai and came across a screenshot of reservations, that hadn’t been deleted, with all the room numbers and prices paid. It made for very interesting reading and also made me feel better as I had got a reasonable deal :)
        Admittedly lots of guests were only staying 2-3 nights, however that wasn’t surprising given the rates they were being charged, I doubt they could afford to stay any longer:( Admittedly it was Easter!

      • Feel free to tell me to mind my own business, but why is it tax deductible?

        • That’s the advantage of running a profitable travel blog. You get to travel business class and lounge on the beach at 5-star resorts and put the costs down as expenses! :)) Good for Rob, I say, but it’s why it always amuses me how, whenever anybody dares to make a slightly negative comment about this blog, people on here will jump on that poster’s back as though he/she has committed blasphemy and as though Rob is some poor backpacker with minimal income who is slaving away just to give us all points-earning opportunities… :)))

          • That’s what I assumed, but I wasn’t sure if there was a particular business reason for being there – like he was attending some kind of conference etc.

            I have absolutely no issue with the profit he invisibly generates from this blog (as you say, many people are under the impression it’s just a casual blog), but claiming luxury holidays as business expenses because of a few brief reviews reeks of tax avoision on the scale of Amazon etc. to me.

            I’m certainly not convinced that’s the case with Rob though, hence the question.

            • Another typically ignorant, nasty, carping, comment.

            • Business trip, to be explained on Monday

            • Ignorant? Yes, I am ignorant on the matter – hence why it was a question and not a statement.

              Nasty? I’m not quite sure asking a question about his tax affairs is nasty – he certainly didn’t seem to take it that way either. None of my business sure (I did point that out and say they didn’t need to reply) but I would have hoped Rob would have pointed out if he felt it was being nasty.

              Carping? Well assuming you mean it was a critical comment, I guess you could say that. I am indeed critical about tax avoision – though again, it was a QUESTION and not a statement. A mistyped question at that – it shouldn’t have said on the scale of Amazon (assuming Rob isn’t spending millions of pounds on these business trips!).

            • Avoision? lol

              New word to my vocabulary.

              Nothing to add to my obvious personal conclusions about this poster, except: Callum you could just occasionally think ‘today I will post totally pleasantly, even if I have a constructive criticism or suggestion to make’.

              You have made a couple of valid albeit caustic comments in the past,

            • Genghis says:

              So as long as the expense is wholly and exclusively for the use of the business then it’s tax deductible. Nothing dodgy about it.

            • I had to have a chuckle at this.

              You think there’s a legitimacy in being a poor backpacker relative to a profit making enterprise with respect to deciding if it’s a legitimate expense?

              It either is or is not, it’s not based on your income, wealth, gender, age, skin colour or anything else arbitratrary.

              There are communist countries out there if you do prefer such economic systems.

        • Business trip

          You think my wife lets me dump her and the kids for a solo beach holiday?!

          • Well said Harry and I’m glad someone else has noticed this as nearly every comments made by certain people on here gave the impression that they must have a negative attitude towards life and other people in general. If you don’t believe me, just look at some old post comments and you will see the undertone…..

          • Genghis says:

            Harry – didn’t you know – avoision is the even greyer area between avoidance and evasion… :)

            • lol

              However, I am very forgiving to the Autism spectrum, my son is autistic & I think I’m a bit of an undiagnosed autyboy myself – universities are full of high achieving Asperger’s people, as I guess are Raffles’ boards.

            • Or even ‘aviosion’ if it also generates Avios in the process.

            • rather clever lol :)

  9. Richard says:

    Rob why did you use your Curve cad and not your Supercard which I thought had no fees? Thanks

    • I’m guessing he used curve as it can be charged to an amex at the back end which you can’t do with supercard. He probably has a card that gets more in value in points than the 1% charge. Either that or he has a spend target to hit on an amex.

    • Waribai says:

      A chance to use the Amex?

  10. That’s dreadful that they had it setup that way for less savvy customers – I’d drop a complaint to Diamond Desk to highlight the issue (and probably get some HHonors points too!).

  11. I’ve booked several nights in NYC/BOS via the German site, so prices were showing in Euro. Should I then insist to pay in $ when checking out to avoid being scammed? I am a bit confused.

    • Hotel will charge you in $. They may or may not give you option to pay in £, which you should refuse. Euro will not come into it.

  12. Yes, Vinoseleccion….very nice wines, hopeless customer service.

    They also phone you every few weeks from Madrid to pester you in to buying more wine. Avoid would be my advice.

    • That’s strange. I’ve bought several times from them and never had one sales call. Wines arrived on time and as expected. Avios points take at least 3-4 weeks to post but they appear in the end. No reason to avoid in my experience.

      • I’ve used them twice and they were great – also no pestering phone calls. Free delivery and points posted a few weeks later – no hassles. Would definitely use them again.

        • Same here – wines were very good quality, nice way to activate the IB a/c, no phone calls

    • They were very good when I had to get it redelivered (they wouldn’t leave it by my porch), took a while to get an English speaker on the line but after that sorted in a few days.

      Keep sending me mailshots tho

  13. Duncan S says:

    I had a similar problem at a hotel in Dublin. Was tired when paying and didn’t notice they’d charged my Halifax Clarity in GBP instead of EUR. I insisted the manager refund the original transaction and process it again in Euros. I was never given the choice.

    Out of interest, am I to assume that the SuperCard > Curve > Amex route doesn’t work? I have to assume so based on you using Curve directly and getting hit with the 1% fee.

    • Unlikely to. Curve is classed as a prepaid card and you can’t link prepaid cards to a Supercard. It would in any case completely screw Supercard’s business model due to the high fees so if it did work I can see them shutting it down pretty quickly.

  14. Anna Tomlinson says:

    Thanks for highlighting this. I always choose sterling, when asked, but on a recent trip to Düsseldorf also had the experience of another commenter when the receptionist used my check in swipe to conclude the transaction in Euro. I asked for it to be reversed and it was. I had previously had the experience of getting immediate fx credit card refunds and then finding when my statement arrived that in the few minutes between the purchase and the refund a rate change meant I paid more than I got refunded. However, this time the rate change worked in my favour and I came out with a 20p profit. Result!!

    • Why do you always choose Sterling and voluntarily get screwed on the rate?

      Raffles is advising you to always choose local currency when offered as the rate is significantly more favourable to you.

      • Brendan says:

        Not sure if this is the case here but I know people who need to claim business expenses back weeks later prefer to pay in £ as it saves hassle with exchange rate movements going against them when they come to claim,

        • And if they’re putting business expenses through a personal card they’re probably benefiting from more points due to the higher cost….

          These days most people have online access to transaction details. I’ve always put foreign currency expenses through at the amount of the converted Sterling charge. If you have something like a Supercard (or Curve) it should be even easier.

        • Genghis says:

          I don’t really understand why it’s better for business expenses to pay in GBP using DCC. Surely you just take the GBP cost which hits the credit card statement as the expense (which is cheaper paying in local currency?)

  15. I’ve had this too at the (now closed I think) IC Rome, where they swiped the card in GBP and got me to sign a folio on an A4 piece of paper with the Euro amount shown prominently in several places but the fact it was actually charged in GBP hidden in small print, so I didn’t notice until the transaction showed up on my card bill. Complained to hotel, IHG and Visa, and none of them did anything. Turned out to only cost £1.50 more than the IHG cards fees, but I had originally tried to pay with a supercard which was rejected, likely because the transaction was in GBP – obviously if I could have paid with that it would have been cheaper. It’s put me off IHG massively though – what’s the point in the brand if they aren’t going to stop their hotels scamming you? – so I’m switching to using instead as you get 20% back and can prepay in your home currency, stopping these scams.

    It’s also worth noting AFAIK AmEx won’t let them charge your card in anything other than your home currency, so it’s frustrating they don’t offer foreign exchange fee free cards themselves in the UK (as then I’d just pay with AmEx and know they couldn’t DCC scam me).

    • You’re wrong about the Amex. The Lloyds Amex, for instance, is designed specifically for foreign currency transactions.

      • DCC is not available on AMEX, only visa and MC because AMEX want to retain the revenue they make from the transaction and they dont want that taken away from them.

        I agree that AMEX should have fee free transactions and am not sure why they dont offer that with the Platinum card, after all is costs a lot to have it.

      • This isn’t offered by AmEx themselves though – I chose my words carefully 😉 after what I’ve heard about Lloyds customer service, I don’t want to use their card.

        • Had the card for 6 months, never had any issues with it or cause to interact with their cs

          • If you do you’ll find their normal cs is useless for anything you couldn’t do yourself online. I also accidentally pushed the card slightly over the credit limit by a couple of pounds (my fault) which although I took corrective action within a day or two resulted in a cascade of charges and interest many times the amount I was over by some of which was incorrectly applied.

            I have to say though their official complaints channel was very responsive and quick to deal with issue, refunded the charges in full and some compensation on top less than a day after I raised it.

    • In my experience DCC is rarely if ever offered on Amex transactions. I’m not sure whether it is possible but it certainly reduces the risk.

      As Brian says the Lloyds Avios Rewards Amex (£24 per year fee) does offer loading free transactions making it a good option if you’re getting value from the upgrade voucher to justify the annual fee.

      • It certainly is at Boots in AUH airport as they scammed the women in front of me and I told them not to even think about it with me,.

    • Richmond says:

      “I’ve had this too at the (now closed I think) IC Rome, where they swiped the card in GBP and got me to sign a folio on an A4 piece of paper with the Euro amount shown prominently in several places but the fact it was actually charged in GBP hidden in small print, ”

      I had exactly the same happened in Hilton in Mainz. Folio showed amount in Euro, I never paid by card in terminal, they just charged my card. Then days later I noticed very small print that my card was charged in £. I complained and was totaly ignored.

      I always ask before payment to be charged in local currency. I used Nationwide card which has no fx fee.

  16. Esperluette says:

    I have also been caught out on the PayPal site where one gets offered a choice of home versus local currency. My Halifax fx free card is what I want to use , in local currency,but the screens are awkward and I have been unable to use local currency on a couple of occasions when I was expecting the very small print option to appear.
    Raffles and fellow readers ,do you know if the PayPal conversion rate is much worse than the MasterCard one?the transactions involved were small and I could not tell the difference , specially after a few minutes of fx fluctuations.
    Seems like a super complaint by which is needed for institutionalised scamming!

  17. DCC is also one of my pet hates. I suggest a one star negative review on TripAdvisor calling them out for overcharging (which is effectively what it amounts to, worse still it is deliberately hidden overcharging). If they refuse to refund, after making a fuss at the time I also dispute the transaction and request the difference to be refunded by the card company. Even if it is a few pence it’s the principle.

    The worst bit is retailers are being encouraged to ‘offer’ DCC as an additional revenue stream. No wonder some them ‘forget’ to give you the choice or claim to have machines that can’t.

    • In my experience, ignorance about DCC is as prevalent amongst cashiers as it is amongst the general public. While I’m sure some of them are deliberately scamming you, I’d wager most don’t think they are. Many I speak to (in less touristy areas than upmarket hotels) are genuinely confused when I say I’d rather be charged in the local currency and had no idea that DCC charges you more.

      I also met a few small business owners (who I knew a little beforehand so was confident they weren’t lying) in Australia who were specifically told by the Travelex reps who sold them the machines that it’s better for the customer to use DCC.

      • Sussex bantam says:

        I used to be the finance director of a set of retail stores which operated in airports. Barclaycard actively sold DCC as a way for us to make more profit by overcharging our customers. They literally pointed out how to set artificially low exchange rates and presented us with a business case showing increased profits

  18. Mark LLL says:

    On an unplanned visit to Ireland, I presented at a Dublin Tourism Office and arranged a seven night stay at a city centre hotel. The office required ten percent of the price upfront (which the hotel would deduct from my bill) all prices in euro. I argued they should ask for ten pc of first night only, but no matter because whatever I paid would be deducted later, so no loss.
    On check-in I surrendered the Tourism Office receipt for the amount I’d paid.
    At check-out, – very rushed, my biggest mistake – the hotel billed me in Sterling. I paid it using cc. Felt aggrieved about their dodgy exchange rate, but no time to argue.
    Later realised that hotel had not deducted the ten pc which I’d paid upfront.

  19. Thanks Rob for this- it not only alerts new people to the issue but also illustrates how much you can save by following the advice


  20. Yeah, it happens a lot everywhere, last one I had was in duty free in Rome. The worst is that many machines don’t display the value when you enter PIN, so you can’t see that currency is wrong until confirmation is printed. If there is one useful regulation EU should enforce is for every chip&pin machine to have to display charge you’re accepting – otherwise frankly I’d much rather have goold-old signature, at least I know what I’m signing!
    In Rome I had to get the charge reversed and then charged in Euros – the lady said that it just went straight through to pounds but I wonder if it’s really the case, or did she select the home currency without thinking much or asking me. She could then use euro on the same machine after I complained I wanted to be charged in euros.

  21. I do not own hotels but I use Elavon as a merchant acquirer for card transactions.

    They offer DCC with a 3% or 5% uplift but you don’t get it all, as they rob you as well as the customer. I don’t use it as I think it is simply theft but some do.

    I have local currency banks in many places I visit so can pay in local currency.

    • Elavon only charge 3.5% uplift for doing the conversion and not 5% and you are correct a % of that stays with the hotel.
      I am not quite sure how you can say you are being robbed for offering DCC to your guest, you dont have to have it activated on your terminals.

      • There is no robbery taking place. Elavon is not a charity and takes a % of the mark up for providing the service. Bigger companies negotiate the %. Smaller companies just work with set options. As a merchant it is a good income source for little work.

  22. The think what seems to have been totally missed here is that a lot of banks outside of the UK will charge more than 3.5% in fees for foreign transactions. Sure you have a 1% card and that’s great for you but your write up makes it sound like 1% cards are standard practice. This is not the case.

    You totally forgot to mention the benefits of DCC when calling it a scam and that might suggest that you have not really thought about what DCC really is.

    For a bit of balance on this…
    The customer gets to pay the final amount in a currency that they understand
    The customer gets the exchange rate fixed for the transaction so they don’t need to worry about ex rate changes before the transaction is posted.
    The customer is often covered by a rate guarantee, meaning that if it turns out the issue/bank offered a better rate on the same day then they can claim the difference back.

    Whilst these benefits may not be important to you, they can be very important to other people and are anything but a scam for them.

    DCC may not appeal very much to people in the UK but can be very attractive to people coming into the UK, especially if the the bank/issues they use charge conversion fees in excess of 3.5%.

    DCC is a choice and is different for everyone, I am not sure how you can call that a scam?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Surely the scam Rob is talking about is not being given the choice in the first place.

      I can’t think of a single reason to choose it unless you are buying in a country with extremely volatile exchange rate (RUB ZAR BRL come to mind atm) even then I’d take the chance and just let my 0 fees card sort it out.

      • And TGLoyalty you are lucky in the fact that you have a 0 fee card, not everyone has this and in some cases banks often charge a lot more than 3.5% to do the conversion.

        Yes you are correct you should always be offered DCC, if you are not offered it and they process it without your permission then you can claim the full amount back from your bank.

        Lets not forget, just because it is not suitable for you is not to say it is the same for everyone.

        The hotel in question was wrong to do what they did but I would hardly brand DCC as a whole a scam and that is what this blog post has attempted to do.

        • Which cards charge a lot more than 3.5%?? Many US cards are fee-free, UK are almost all either fee-free or 2.5-2.99%, no Australian ones I saw were over 3% – I’d be interested to know which cards charge so much more. Given the predominantly UK audience for the blog any UK examples would be of particular interest.

          The way DCC is actively hidden from many customers (and it appears from the comments often retailers too) in the fine print and that the company carrying out the conversion makes a tidy sum on the side certainly makes it a scam in my (and many others’) view.

    • Utter balls. DCC is a scam. How can the customer evaluate the “choice” he is offered.

      • The customer can evaluate with the information they have at hand and from perhaps knowing what the bank/issuer will charge them. If they cant do that then they would have a rate match and this would mean if the bank did offer a better rate on the same day then they could claim the difference back.

        I don’t know of any bank that will offer a rate match the other way round, In my mind this is a win win for the customer by using DCC.

  23. I work in this area so I can add some insight.

    Usually the DCC mark up in Europe is around 3%. In the Middle East from 3 to even 7% can be seen on occasions.

    DCC is not always a bad option, and often the bad reputation is from articles where people are not analysing the full picture. For instance my Barclays Premier and AMEX Platinum cards charge me a 2.75% currency conversion fee, I know some other credit cards charge 3.5% or so when transacting in a foreign currency. If I pay 3% mark up on DCC then the benefit is that at least I know what I am going to be charged in £’s on my statement, whereas if I pay in local currency I do not know the exact amount.

    If the card issuer charges a mark up then the card issuer makes a profit on this mark up. In DCC the merchant and the card acquirer share in this mark up – whereas the issuer does not get anything. If a bank is truly offering an FX Free card then this product will be a loss leader for them. Every company, no matter its size will have a cost of providing a foreign currency transaction – as essentially to that bank they need to exchange foreign currency in order to allow payment in local currency.

    Even a large bank with its scale does not get the exact spot rate on FX, therefore I would suggest that whilst they may not be charging a fee per se, you may not be getting the actual published rate that you may be expecting from looking in the financial pages. Finally, many card providers do not update their internal rates on a realtime basis, so an FX fee covers the volatility of the market movements, without having any spread in place the banks runs the risk of its rates set earlier in the day being loss making at the point when you make your purchases.

    • Just to add to this. Visa and MasterCard operating rules are very clear that cardholder must be offered a clear choice in both currencies, and any DCC by force or without choice is against their rules. I have seen merchants get significant fines for DCC non compliance, which can run into very high amounts just for one or two transgressions.

      • Which is the core issue of course, and why I always dispute the charge and ask to be refunded the difference if the retailer refuses to do so or claims they cannot.

        If enough people do this the rules will be enforced and the retailers will quickly find it isn’t worth breaking them.

    • Haven’t seen a situation where DCC has been a good option, as many have already said that the 3% fee charged when just using a standard credit card is still lower than a DCC transaction. Yes you get to know the amount in GBP that you would be charged but when its always going to be more than not having the DCC it still makes no sense in choosing it as you would still need to pay your bill either way.

      • It’s a service that you can chose yes or no to use. If the DCC rate is 3% and the card issuer will charge you close to this then there may be value in knowing how much you will be billed. I sometimes choose DCC despite knowing its workings quit closely.

        • Fair enough some people maybe interested to know the costs upfront before agreeing to them.

          There are plenty of options for cards with no fx fees especially for transactions in Europe, even 3% is too much for me.

          Can’t wait for the curve card!

        • Nonsense. It’s a scam. Stop trying to defend it. How does the customer make an informed choice?

          • The customer makes an informed choice because they know that, for example paying in Euros means uncertainty and accepting the exchange rate on offer means they know exactly how much will show on the bank statement.

            It’s even more informed if they have checked all the bank/issue fees before going on holiday.

  24. Revolut is a great new charge free credit card. A British startup too:

    • Using it in any country will automatically use that country’s currency and the exchange rate used is the same as the rate seen on What’s especially good is that it ties in with an app on your phone so when you sign up you get a digital card immediately. You can also freeze your card from the app at any time. I’m not affiliated with them in any way – just thought it’s a genuinely useful and interesting service.

      • So how do they make any money?

        • I would assume in the same way as other card issuers I assume, via merchant fees.

          • Exactly:

            “We earn a nominal fee paid to us by merchants every time you spend on your Revolut Card.
            Revolut was launched to offer a fair and transparent service. It has been designed to offer the best value and the best user experience.”

      • No, it will never be the same as unless it doesn’t use visa, MasterCard or amex.

        • From their FAQ – I don’t know if this is the same rate as visa, MasterCard or amex. I also couldn’t see the footnote though due to the formatting of their site:

          Our rates mirror the Spot Interbank exchange rate*. The interbank market is the top-level foreign exchange market where banks exchange different currencies. It is a wholesale market through which most currency transactions are channeled and, as such, offers the best possible exchange rate available. This spot interbank exchange rate typically beats that of banks and other consumer foreign exchange services by 3-5%.

  25. Lee-Anne says:

    Been wise to DCC for quite a few years thanks to Martin Lewis / Moneysavingexpert. Also have a Halifax Clarity credit card which has no FX fees. We travel to Thailand most years and they always ask – and show you on paper the two rates. However I’ve never had anything pushy or underhand since I have become wise to this.

    However am really annoyed that an agent am currently using in South Africa for a safari this summer is trying to get us to pay using an online portal called Exchange4Free. This portal will only let you pay in your local currency (GBP) and gives no option to pay in ZAR!! I refused when paying the initial balance to use the portal and insisted a different route (essentially manual via the lodges themselves). But they are trying to sell it again as a great way to make all the various deposits or balances in one easy convenient payment. Convenient for how? Not me!!! Am not sure if the agent is trying to play dumb or really doesn’t understand what I am saying when I say that it is disadvantageous to me.

    What also annoys me is that the portal payment page states no expensive international transfer or swift fees which almost implies no fees in that regard at all…………………………………………..however at the bottom of the page after you enter the amount of ZAR to be paid it shows transfer fee £0.00 and below that an unspecified fee of £37.31!!!

    The difference on our balance is around £80 even factoring in 3% fees for credit card payment!

  26. Just out of my ignorance, do any Visa or Mastercard offer perks for foreign currency transactions irrespective of transaction fee? On Amex Gold I get double reward points on non sterling transactions – granted once you factor in 3% loading fee you are effectively paying 3p per Avios, which is not a cheap way to buy Avios – but still better than DCC when one would lose out on the bonus points altogether.

    • I don’t think so – for Visa and MC each issuing bank will set its own rewards rather than VI and MC themselves (Amex controls the rewards and the processing of the cards themselves). Also now the interchange fees have been capped at 0.20% and 0.30% for Visa and MasterCard Debit (0.20%) and Credit (0.30%) for consumer cards, this means there is less income for rewards to be paid from – all rewards are essentially paid from these interchange fees. Amex have not been part of this regulation from the EU, thus at the moment Amex still charges corporate merchants 2-4% interchange fee, which is then used for the perks for cardholders.

  27. Hi Rob, completely OT but was just browsing through BA’s The Club and saw the Harvey Nichols offer of 5 Avios per £1 spent and 2,000 bonus if you spent more than £1,000 plus the BA > HN status matching that I thought might be interesting for the audience here. Just not sure if it was on your radar so wanted to mention it.

    • Thanks, hadn’t seen that – £1k is a hefty HN online spend though!

      • Johnnycl says:

        It should also stack with the Amex spend £100 get £20 statement credit which expires tomorrow, plus the Avios eStore 8 avios per £1. You could get £100 of gear for £80 plus 1,300 avios.

      • Just about lunch these days I’d have thought :)

  28. Worth noting that DCC is also prevalent in a lot of duty free shops around the world, equally annoying.

    • Worst offender might be “Lotte Duty Free” in South Korea, which DCCs you in USD.

  29. Iberia Plus Store is giving 200 free Avios (was 165 previously, mentioned in December) for the Amazon BuyVip signup!