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

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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.)

Comments (107)

  • Ryan says:

    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.

    • Matt says:

      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.

  • Ivo says:

    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.

  • CV3V says:

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

    • John says:

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

  • panka says:

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