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Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) [2014-2016]

Old Jan 18, 2014, 11:10 pm
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: emilio911
What is it?

Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) is a "service" some merchants and ATM operators offer that will charge a cardholder in the native currency of the card rather than the local currency. A more complete definition and examples are available via this Wikipedia article on DCC. While sold as a convenience to cardholders traveling outside of their home country, it is a pure profit play by the merchants. You may end up paying a fee of up to 8% over the purchase price for accepting DCC. Always decline DCC and asked to be billed in the local currency!



Where will I see it?

You can be hit with DCC anywhere there is a difference between your debit or credit card's denominated currency and the currency of the location where you're trying to use the card. The most common example will be at a merchant overseas, but now some ATMs are offering the service too. While many US cardholders complain about getting tricked into accepting DCC overseas, some merchants in the US have started to use DCC as well.

What is the issue?

Unless you're the merchant or ATM operator, there isn't much benefit to using DCC. Some customers say they prefer knowing exactly how much they'll be charged in their home currency or may not know the exchange rate of the place where they are visiting. For example, if you are in Prague for two days and you don't know how much the Czech Koruna is worth relative to the US Dollar, you might feel more comfortable knowing that you're buying an item for $205.00 versus 4000 CZK. However, the real exchange rate as of January 18, 2014 would place 4000 CZK at $197.18. You just paid an extra $7.82 for the "convenience" of knowing how much you'd be charged!

DCC often charges about a 4% premium over the true exchange rate. The problems don't stop there since many US banks still charge a 3% foreign transaction fee (FTF) for purchases made outside of the US. Not only would you get hit with the $205.00 charge, you could also find yourself facing a total charge of $211.15 if your card has a 3% FTF.

This is a pure money grab from the merchants, and it's billed as an easy way to squeeze additional revenue out of the transaction. Numerous [1, 2] articles have talked about DCC duping many consumers. Discover even has a warning about being tricked into DCC when using a card abroad.

For example, this FlyerTalk member reported that Avis charged his Saudi credit card in Saudi riyals instead of USD for a car rental in Florida without his consent. This has also been a trend for hotels, particularly large chains as indicated here and here.

DCC is simply not worth it for the consumer. Unless you like paying a convenience fee of up to 5% of the total transaction just to know how much you will be billed, you should always decline DCC and ask to be billed in local currency when handing over your card.

Furthermore, it is in your interest to obtain a card that has a 0% FTF. FlyerTalk member kebosabi maintains a fairly comprehensive spreadsheet of EMV-enabled cards ideal for overseas travel, many of which offer a low or 0% FTF as a feature. There is also a wiki at FlyerGuide of various FTF of debit and credit cards.

What can I do to avoid DCC?

American Express currently does not support DCC on its network, so you are safe from DCC if using an American Express card. However, Visa and MasterCard card networks can support DCC, so be vigilant when purchasing abroad with a Visa or MasterCard branded card. There have been reports of being charged DCC with a Discover card in China [citation needed], but primarily the issue is happening with Visa and MasterCard cards.

Before handing your card to the merchant, always specify clearly that you want to be charged in the local currency and that you do not want DCC. For some transactions, you retain control of your card as you dip it into a chip reader and can view on a screen to select which currency you want to use for the transaction. Always select the local currencyto get the best exchange rate. Do not select the card's native currency!

Similarly, for ATM withdrawals, make sure you decline any kind of conversions. Some good examples of what to look for when using an ATM overseas are here and here. You're probably coming off of a long flight and fatigued, but educating yourself beforehand can save you from getting ripped off. The user interfaces on almost all of these ATMs are set up to encourage you to take the bait, and you have to be extremely vigilant not to fall for it.

If you are doing a PIN-based transaction, you should have the opportunity to review the total amount and denomination of the transaction before entering your PIN. If you are doing a signature transaction and the merchant has processed your transaction with DCC, cross out the amount and write "DCC refused" on the receipt. Do not sign the receipt, and demand that the merchant reverse the transaction and run it in the local currency. If no verification is required due to a small purchase amount, ask the merchant to reverse the charge and repeat the transaction using local currency. If all else fails, file a dispute with your card issuer when you return home. Even if it's immaterial, the banks will get the message like they did with EMV.

Some merchants will claim that their systems have to bill you in your native currency. This is a complete lie. But just like a mag stripe only card, this is battle where you have to be prepared. Don't settle for merchants claiming that "it has to be done this way" or "pay cash if you don't want this". Be prepared to walk away, and, if you must complete the transaction, write "DCC refused & merchant didn't give a choice" on the receipt and cross out the amount. Let the merchant know that you will be filing a dispute with your bank.

Disabling DCC

Disabling DCC on ANZ terminals in Australia

ANZ markets DCC as Customer Preferred Currency (CPC). Terminal operators can contact ANZ Merchant Services at 1800 039 025 to have this feature disabled. Currently, your Visa or MasterCard will be subjected to DCC if denominated in: CAD, CHF, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, MYR, NOK, NZD, SEK, SGD, THB, USD, or ZAR. All DCC transactions on ANZ will cause a 2.5% markup. Steps to avoid DCC:
  1. Insert, swipe, or tap your payment card
  2. Have the cashier select credit (CR)
  3. The terminal will display CREDIT ACCOUNT
  4. If applicable, enter your PIN
  5. The terminal will display PROCESSING \ PLEASE WAIT
  6. The terminal will display EXCH <exchange rate> \ <currency> <amount> \ ACCEPT RATE? \ ENTER=YES CLR=NO
  7. Instruct the cashier to press the yellow CLEAR (CLR) button (If entering a PIN, you can retain the terminal to perform this step yourself. If entering a signature, you can ask for the terminal to control this process, not indicating that it's a chip-and-signature card.)
  8. The transaction should now process without DCC

If you see a signature slip with DCC verbiage and a checkbox indicating a currency selection, kindly ask the merchant to void the transaction. If it's a PIN-based transaction, you have an additional opportunity to cancel the transaction because it will ask for your PIN a second time. For instance, if you see "EUR 17.29 KEY PIN" refuse to enter your PIN and start again.

Disabling DCC in China

There are many reports of forced DCC in China, and there is a great thread [closed to new posts] on DCC in China on the the China Destinations forum.

Disabling DCC on Bankcomm terminals in Beijing http://www.hongkongcard.com/forum/fo...p?id=12272&p=2 #19

jair101's DCC instructions of March 2011 http://www.etveg.com/misc/DCC_China.pdf

Disabling DCC in Eurozone and UK

DCC offered in tourist traps (Harrods Knightsbridge/Galleries Lafayette Montparnesse/El Cortes Ingles Grand Via Madrid)

Unlike the rest of the world, Visa Europe does not require merchants to collect a ticked box on the slip (presumably because merchants there don't keep signed slips under Chip-and-PIN)
El Cortes Ingles collects a signature electronically and the DCC selection is made on the signature pad - the choice is respected.
Harrods and GL rely on cashier input in the POS for the currency choice - the cashier may forget to ask. The POS do not offer voiding (only refunds), but since you're given a slip to sign the best thing to do is to deface it before signing and submit chargeback request to issuer bank on return home.

There may be smaller merchants who also collect DCC but I seemed to have pre-empted most of them by saying "charge Euros (Pounds) please"

In Spain all merchants by law are required to provide you with a complaint form called an hoja de reclamaciones if requested. The form has two carbon copies. The customer retains one copy as a record of the complaint. The merchant maintains another copy, and the third is sent to the local consumer protection bureau. Merchants are also required to post a sign conspicuously informing the customer of the right to complain (usually in Spanish and English). Do not accept the lie that they don't have any forms. This is illegal, and you are able to call the police if the merchant refuses to provide you with this official form. It's interesting to see merchants start to squirm when you know the rules, and most merchants will start to be accommodating after you mention it. (Please still fill out the form even if the merchant cooperates after mentioning it because these are likely the merchants who won't otherwise change their behavior.)

Disabling DCC in Hong Kong and Macau

Hong Kong and Macau can get as non-compliant as China, possibly because many acquirers have cross-border operations and know they can get away with non-compliant firmware and procedures.

In practice, if you are given a DCC slip, and the cashier has not taken a choice before giving you your copy, the slip will be processed in your home currency - be prepared to dispute.

Unable to disable Global Payments DCC in Hong Kong instance #1, instance #2

Unable to disable DBS DCC in Fortress Electronics HK

Unable to disable BoC DCC in Free Duty HK

Disabling DCC in Japan and Korea

Japan's just starting out http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/japan...ing-japan.html and http://www.hongkongcard.com/forum/fo...p?id=3939&p=17 #168 but there are no reports I know of where cardholders are compelled to use DCC against their will.

Korea is also not much affected by DCC but where offered, trying to opt out is harder than Japan due to the language barrier (both verbal and written)
http://www.hongkongcard.com/forum/fo...hp?id=4303&p=3 #23
http://www.hongkongcard.com/forum/fo...p?id=12272&p=2 #11

Disabling DCC in the Maldives

Disabling DCC on Global Payment terminals in the Maldives

Disabling DCC in Thailand and Taiwan

DCC present but generally not an issue. Cashier will generate quote slip is usually generated and pass to cardholder. When cardholder refuses, a verbage-free slip denominated in THB/TWD will be produced.

Certain Taiwan hotels may take deposits in cardholder currency. But these are only pre-authorisations and can be voided in full for TWD-only final checkout payments.

Disabling DCC on Websites

Airbnb - (Since the "loophole" seem not to work anymore, please report if you chargeback the DCC. )
Hotwire - You need to select your preferred currency before making a search.
PayPal - The instructions to stop the DCC on a recurring charge are here.

I got duped by DCC already before I found this thread. Is there anything I can do?

If you've been hit with DCC and the merchant did not follow the Visa/MC rules, you should file a dispute with your card issuer. Even if the transaction is a small amount, it's worth it to dispute the charge on principle. Do not let merchants get away with this scam uncontested!

If you were not clearly given a choice of currencies and did not specifically communicate a preference to be billed in your card's native currency - if you did not accept DCC - then you have recourse when filing a dispute with your card issuer. The Visa Product and Service Rules clearly state (p 339):
  • Merchants that offer DCC must be compliant with the regulations
  • Inform the cardholder that DCC is optional
  • Not impose any additional requirements to use local currency
  • Not use any language or procedures that may cause the cardholder to choose DCC by default
  • Not convert a transaction in the local currency to the card's billing currency after the transaction has completed
  • Ensure that the cardholder expressly agrees to DCC

You can even use terminology from Visa Product and Service Rules when filing the dispute, giving Reason Code 76: Incorrect Currency or Transaction Code. Reason Code 76 is used when the transaction was processed with an incorrect transaction code, or an incorrect currency code, or one of the following:
  • Merchant did not deposit a transaction receipt in the country where the transaction occurred
  • Cardholder was not advised that Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) would occur
  • Cardholder was refused the choice of paying in the merchants local currency
  • Merchant processed a credit refund and did not process a reversal or adjustment within 30 calendar days for a transaction receipt processed in error

MasterCard's rules also clearly state that the POI Currency Conversion must be decided by both the merchant and customer. When filing a dispute with a MasterCard, list chargeback Reason Code 4846 from the MasterCard Chargeback Guide, which covers POI currency conversion disputes in the following circumstances:
  • The cardholder states that he or she was not given the opportunity to choose the desired currency in which the transactions was completed or did not agree to the currency of the transaction, or
  • POI currency conversion took place into a currency that is not the cardholder's billing currency, or
  • POI currency conversion took place when the goods or services were priced in the cardholder's billing currency, or
  • POI currency conversion took place when cash was disbursed in the cardholdeer's billing currency.

You do have a choice of currencies. Exercise that choice!

Do not get taken by surprise when faced with DCC, and know your options. As Visa/MC purport, you do have a choice of currencies, but you need to make that choice heard! Don't be complacent in this sneaky tactic by some merchants to pad revenues.

Before going to a different country, get educated. Understand the exchange rate relative to your native currency. Know how to recognize when the merchant is trying to force DCC on the transaction, and pull out all of the stops to make sure it doesn't happen to you.

If you have a chip-and-PIN credit card, it's easier to control the transaction to try to prevent DCC. With chip-and-signature, if you get an uncooperative merchant, deface the merchant's copy of the receipt. Write LOCAL OPTION NOT OFFERED, cross out the DCC currency amount, and sign the receipt.

This will give additional evidence when filing a dispute to get the DCC charges refunded. When filing the dispute, you can use the Visa Exchange Rate Calculator or MasterCard's Currency Conversion Tool to determine the Visa or MasterCard exchange rate on the date the transaction posted to your credit card. Compare this to the DCC value to figure out the amount by which the merchant overcharged you. Don't forget to add in any Foreign Transaction Fee if your card has one. (If it does, you should really consider finding a card for use overseas without a FTF. )

Example Images (click for a larger image)

Hotel receipts in China, the Netherlands, and Dubai respectively:



Purchase receipts in China and Korea:




Cancelled translation in Hong Kong:



Novotel in Shenzen:

Print Wikipost

Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) [2014-2016]

Old Mar 14, 2014, 10:34 am
  #151  
 
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Originally Posted by Majuki
What about in Switzerland?

About a year ago, I didn't see DCC in Germany except at the Frankfurt Marriott. In the Czech Republic I only made a couple of card purchases and none were DCC. In Austria I only had the hotel, the Renaissance Wien, which didn't charge DCC. I didn't make any card purchases in Slovakia. I thought the Czech Republic would be a good candidate for DCC, but maybe I didn't visit places that did it.

I've never noticed it in Switzerland either. Some countries in Europe seem to be a bit confused with DCC as they usually gather I'm English but they don't understand why I'd be charged in a different currency and often select Euros without asking (which is fine with me). This is mainly because Europeans thinks that the UK is the Euro.

Spain is the only place I've ever been caught out with DCC, I was never asked. It was only for 4 Euros though, so I couldn't really be bothered to get him to void it. Pretty much all my big expenses will go on my Amex (its usually accepted) that is foreign transaction fee and then I don't have to worry about DCC.
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Old Mar 14, 2014, 11:50 am
  #152  
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Originally Posted by reclusive46
Spain is the only place I've ever been caught out with DCC, I was never asked. It was only for 4 Euros though, so I couldn't really be bothered to get him to void it. Pretty much all my big expenses will go on my Amex (its usually accepted) that is foreign transaction fee and then I don't have to worry about DCC.
The problem here is that not fighting the DCC markup on 4 is only exacerbating the problem. It's like the merchant saying it'll be 3% more to use a card.
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Old Mar 18, 2014, 9:09 pm
  #153  
 
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Just to show everyone what the transaction of Discover Card in China looks like.

Actually, this slip isn't the most formal one I've seen so far. Usually the ISSUER would be something like 银联卡 or 他行卡.

@percismith, do you feel this is weird that the slip is from a Bank of Beijing machine, but the acquirer is Bank of China?
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Old Mar 18, 2014, 9:46 pm
  #154  
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The unionpay file in post #141 says "00010344 ","国际业务平台". Actually more detailed than the usual ones you've seen.

As to the Bank of Beijing link, I really can't figure it out.
AFAIK there is no BoC ownership in BoB http://static.sse.com.cn/disclosure/..._n.pdf#page=45
So is this some sort of sub-acquiring agreement? I'll post the q up in hongkongcard.com (sorry my Chinese is not good enough for PRC 51credit or kayou315 websites)
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Old Mar 18, 2014, 10:00 pm
  #155  
 
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Originally Posted by percysmith
The unionpay file in post #141 says "00010344 ","国际业务平台". Actually more detailed than the usual ones you've seen.

As to the Bank of Beijing link, I really can't figure it out.
AFAIK there is no BoC ownership in BoB http://static.sse.com.cn/disclosure/..._n.pdf#page=45
So is this some sort of sub-acquiring agreement? I'll post the q up in hongkongcard.com (sorry my Chinese is not good enough for PRC 51credit or kayou315 websites)
Dude, how do you know this much about Banking business in China... I think I've known enough here but there no way I can pull this document of BOB out...
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Old Mar 18, 2014, 10:03 pm
  #156  
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I don't. But I work in financial reporting and I know how to get financial disclosures for listed companies online for a few jurisdictions including China (not to mention I audited some of them whilst training in a public accounting firm)
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 12:10 am
  #157  
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Originally Posted by zyxlsy


Just to show everyone what the transaction of Discover Card in China looks like.

Actually, this slip isn't the most formal one I've seen so far. Usually the ISSUER would be something like 银联卡 or 他行卡.

@percismith, do you feel this is weird that the slip is from a Bank of Beijing machine, but the acquirer is Bank of China?
I have an opinion that BoB simply provides the hardware. The acquirer is definitely BoC.

He mentioned HK's parknshop has a similar arrangement with Amex where Parknshop will run AE transactions through DBS hardware but the acquiring, settlement and troubleshooting is all Amex.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 7:13 am
  #158  
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zyxlsy indicated in the other thread that hotels in China are now able to process without DCC as long as it has been requested?
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 8:42 am
  #159  
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Originally Posted by Majuki
zyxlsy indicated in the other thread that hotels in China are now able to process without DCC as long as it has been requested?

Originally Posted by zyxlsy
If you go to a hotel and put hundreds of dollars on your card, just let them turn off DCC. If they fail, ask them to cancel and re-do. For 建行 and 中行 machines, just press the red cancel button after entering amount and clicking enter (this works in all 30 hotels I've tried in Beijing, Shanghai, Shijiazhuang). If you find a 工行 machine, just swipe your Visa or MasterCard, as all the 工行 ones I've run into in Beijing don't have DCC turned on by default.

Never seen a machine that is unbeatable in China. Maybe there is, but the chain hotel ones are controllable. They are becoming aware of the hostility from big foreign customers like Morgan Stanley who use business credit cards. Actually, the chain hotels I've been to all will willingly turn DCC of for you, and banks do annoy them by pushing them to cheat the customers, but apparently hotels are on the customers' side once they know you know the deal.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 9:24 am
  #160  
 
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Originally Posted by Majuki
zyxlsy indicated in the other thread that hotels in China are now able to process without DCC as long as it has been requested?
At least, the ones I've been to all did what I requested.

As far as I can remember:

*Ritz-Carlton Beijing Financial Street (the front desk staff told me Bank of China would come to them to do "sales" of DCC, but the guests of this brand are mostly 500 companies, and they don't wanna be fools, so the hotel would turn off DCC very willingly and professionally)
*Westin financial street Beijing
*Westin Chaoyang Beijing
*Sheraton Dongcheng Beijing
*InterContinental financial street Beijing
*InterContinental Beichen Beijing
*Crowne Plaza Beijing Sun Palace
*Crowne Plaza Beijing Chaoyang U-Town
*All Holiday Inns in Beijing
*Holiday Inn Express Wangjing Beijing
*Holiday Inn Downtown Shanghai
*Holiday Inn Express Zhabei Shanghai
*Renaissance Yuyuan Shanghai
*InterContinental Ruijin Shanghai (this one they used another POS which has no DCC, but I have to request the IHG points by phone from Chase)
*Holiday Inn Shijiazhuang (this one they didn't know to press cancel, but did so when I instruct without hesitation)

All of the POS I ran into in these hotels are from 交通银行, 中国银行, 工商银行, and UnionPay. 工行 and UnionPay don't have DCC (as far as I have encountered), and 交行 and 中行 can be turned off by pressing cancel right after pressing enter.

For smaller private business, they tend to wanna save on the swipe fee, so they would stand with the bank to DCC you. Just get a Discover to use in China.

P.S. I am trying to find a UnionPay sticker to put on my Discover, so people would not refuse it simply because these is no UnionPay sign. I've faced this... Once in IKEA, they swiped my card, thinking it is a foreign card, probably waiting for DCC to happen, but the POS machine act as they were swiping UnionPay cards. They panicked, held me for five minutes, trying to confirm they got the transaction for numerous times, then let me go.

The slip just says 银联卡 when you use Discover in China.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 9:58 am
  #161  
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Thanks for the detailed reply. I will request to be billed in RMB at hotels, but the suggestion of "just use Discover" sort of runs contrary to this thread. Does the cancel trick work on all terminals? I thought I remember some posts on the China DCC thread by percysmith that noted the terminals were locked down in a way that forced DCC.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 10:13 am
  #162  
 
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Originally Posted by Majuki
Thanks for the detailed reply. I will request to be billed in RMB at hotels, but the suggestion of "just use Discover" sort of runs contrary to this thread. Does the cancel trick work on all terminals? I thought I remember some posts on the China DCC thread by percysmith that noted the terminals were locked down in a way that forced DCC.
I think percysmith mentioned Shenzhen or Guangzhou. Shanghai is the most southern I've been to, and I've been fine so far.

Beijing and Shanghai is particularly professional at this matter.

Just mention "bill me in RMB". Always ask for the most senior guy, and actually, don't let the non-Chinese guys deal with this matter. Those guys tend to be trainees, and don't know the story behind... Present the idea of RMB billing way at the beginning and constantly reiterate this throughout and make sure they say "yes we will turn it off" without hesitation.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 10:57 am
  #163  
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Originally Posted by zyxlsy
I think percysmith mentioned Shenzhen or Guangzhou. Shanghai is the most southern I've been to, and I've been fine so far.

Beijing and Shanghai is particularly professional at this matter.
I have not been to Mainland China, only Hong Kong and Macau. I got hit with DCC at the Venetian in Macau, but I didn't see DCC in Hong Kong. This was in July 2011. I didn't notice about the DCC until I went back to check my records while creating this thread. In Taiwan they will always print a quote slip in TWD or USD, and I've never had a problem getting billed in TWD. My wife always specifies TWD in case there is a language barrier, but usually the cashiers at department stores will give me the quote slip to tick an X in TWD. The only exception I've seen has been at the Novotel in Taoyuan where they will place a hold charge on your card in USD, but it gets removed when you check out.
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 1:32 pm
  #164  
 
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Originally Posted by zyxlsy
Dude, how do you know this much about Banking business in China... I think I've known enough here but there no way I can pull this document of BOB out...
Being able to Google in an another language also helps expand your search results rather than being limited to English languages sources. That's how I do it for stuff related to Japanese (anime, manga, video games, Japanese mass transit, etc.).
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Old Mar 19, 2014, 8:00 pm
  #165  
 
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Originally Posted by Majuki
I have not been to Mainland China, only Hong Kong and Macau. I got hit with DCC at the Venetian in Macau, but I didn't see DCC in Hong Kong. This was in July 2011. I didn't notice about the DCC until I went back to check my records while creating this thread. In Taiwan they will always print a quote slip in TWD or USD, and I've never had a problem getting billed in TWD. My wife always specifies TWD in case there is a language barrier, but usually the cashiers at department stores will give me the quote slip to tick an X in TWD. The only exception I've seen has been at the Novotel in Taoyuan where they will place a hold charge on your card in USD, but it gets removed when you check out.
In Hong Kong (Percysmith definitely is more familiar with this matter, but I'll tell my experience), there is DCC on every machine (seems so), but you do get the choice. 100% of the POS I ran into (around 100 so far), will print a choice slip first, and after they enter your choice, you get another confirmation slip. This is the way at most of the boutique stores (Hermes, Chanel, etc.).

In restaurants and hotels, they almost always ask you HKD or USD, and I've had no problem so far choosing HKD. Some restaurants don't ask first, so I'll tell them to use HKD.

Like Korea, you can be "chosen" to use USD, as suggested by percysmith, simply because the final choice is entered by merchants by hand. I tend to believe 99.9999% of the merchants are good people who might not know what this DCC is, and there are always evils who would con you deliberately as DCC might be beneficial to the merchants on some degree.

So, in Hong Kong, always make it clear at the beginning. Its system is more foreign CC friendly than China's. So don't be afraid.
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