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.)

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Comments

  1. Revolut is a great new charge free credit card. A British startup too: https://revolut.com/

    • 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 xe.com. 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 xe.com 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%.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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

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