June 25, 2024


Originally published
March 4, 2024, 8:31 p.m. ET

A covert charge in foreign countries that seems innocuous.
AFP via Getty Images

You’re on your own if you get ensnared in this foreign monetary maneuver.

An adept travel specialist is cautioning Americans touring Europe to stay alert for a credit card currency exchange “scam” that’s inflating expenditures in the region.

Brian Kelly, the brains behind ‘The Points Guy’ travel portal, asserted on Monday that the deception dubbed as “dynamic currency conversion” or DCC in brief, “may rob you of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.”

DCC occurs when credit card devices abroad offer patrons the opportunity to make payments in US dollars or the tourist’s home currency rather than the local one, generally Euros.

The snag here is that these traders nearly always throw in an elusive charge instead of an equal trade that isn’t entirely candid to vacationers who need to make a snap judgement.

Specialists are cautioning about a conversion rate ruse aimed at foreigners in Europe. Getty Images

“Every single place I visited, there was an option to pay in US dollars,” recalled Kelly, discussing a recent European sojourn.

Illustrating this with a 384-Euro charge he faced, Kelly was offered the choice to pay $437.

“However, I chose to pay through my US credit card, which only charged me $416… Had I clicked on ‘yes,’ I would have been short by $20,” elucidated Kelly, who endorses the use of XE.com for swift and precise exchange rates.

“I’m acquainted with many globetrotters who get bamboozled by this,” he revealed.

Kelly mentioned that ATMs are also persistent in doing this, even flaunting the American amount in green and the European rate in red.

“They are really keen on snatching your money. Be wise, charge in the local currency, and let your bank handle the transaction,” he advised.

Kelly isn’t the lone voice ringing the alarm bell on this stingy tactic, which can be traced back to the 1990s.

“Essentially, it amounts to a scam. The consumer ends up paying more invariably just to see the price in their domestic currency,” the European Consumer Organisation cautions.

In Europe, customers are often goaded to pay in US dollars for a crafty fee.In Europe, customers frequently get coaxed to pay in American dollars for a tricky fee. @briankelly / Instagram

“What’s worse, there’s no practical way for the consumer to make an informed decision when presented with the DCC option,” the organization added.

When consumers pay in local currency, their bank will automatically handle the conversion rate, based on the ECO.

Nonetheless, when one opts for DCC, it’s the supplier’s service provider who facilitates the conversion — likely with the concealed charge included.

Visa also cautions customers abroad about the traps of DCC.

“If you don’t see the essential details or sense coercion to choose one currency over another, Visa advocates for declining the currency conversion offer and reporting the incident to your card issuer,” the company advises.

“Choosing to accept or reject DCC won’t disrupt your capacity to make purchases or withdraw cash internationally,” Visa further adds.

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