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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 Apr 17, 2014, 10:16 pm
  #271  
 
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Originally Posted by jbcarioca
The date the FX rate applies is the "settlement date", which is the date on which the merchants processor is paid by the issuing bank processor. Many people, including here, offer precise dates on which that takes place, but in fact there is no precise date because time lags can happen between merchant, merchant processor, network transmission, issuing bank processor (if applicable) and issuing bank. Usually all that happens very quickly, often in a single day or two, but not always and not consistently. Time zones, cutoff times, holidays and other factors intervene to reduce consistency.

Even so, as you observe, credit card FX rates, assuming no DCC and no FTF, are virtually always far better than a consumer can get elsewhere. Ditto for debit cards. Between Visa, MC, Discover and American Express different procedures apply. Discover does almost all theirs through a large bank, Royal Bank of Canada, IIRC, while American Express does their own in many countries and use local partners in a few of them. Visa and MC have long standing procedures that generally are quite consumer-favorable. Still everyone makes money in this process. There are exceptions: for example, Argentina has horrible rates because the central Bank sets an artificially low rate for all official transactions, thus almost all regular travellers use cash that they buy through an unofficial market. Those exceptions are not common these days.
Your settlement theory makes perfect sense. Thanks!
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Old Apr 17, 2014, 10:29 pm
  #272  
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Originally Posted by zyxlsy
Your settlement theory makes perfect sense. Thanks!
Besides Visas, MCs and Amex cards, we have Unionpay cards from HK banks.

China Unionpay publishes the applicable exchange rate, daily, on http://en.unionpay.com/front_ExchangeRate.html (or at least they used to until this month - the engine's broken).

For non-HKD/RMB transactions we get to run via Unionpay, we get the exact exchange rate that unionpay.com webpage said we would, for the posting date.
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Old Apr 17, 2014, 10:30 pm
  #273  
 
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Originally Posted by reclusive46
I'm just glad my Lloyds Amex has no foreign transaction fees because DCC is starting to become a pain in the US, especially at restaurants where one or two even apply DCC after adding the tip.
This is mad... I just realized in US if you are using a non-US CC, you have to watch them the second time because these is tip...

I started tipping in cash recently, so I won't have to check my activities to make sure correct tipping is added, and the servers can get their tipping more quickly. The downside is that I don't like carrying cash...
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Old Apr 18, 2014, 7:22 am
  #274  
 
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Originally Posted by zyxlsy
Your settlement theory makes perfect sense. Thanks!
FWIW those are summaries of actual procedures, without all the steps.

I stated writing a history of all this, but then realised it would be massive overkill in this thread. If anybody cares I have lots of background on this since I began in the industry with the setup of what became Visa, which happened when the network went global in the very early 1970's.
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Old Apr 18, 2014, 8:46 am
  #275  
 
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Just did a check. Used my Discover card today in Beijing. The rate is a little over 6.20, meaning one USD can be used to substitute 6.20 CNY.

Visa rate is a little over 6.22, MC rate is a little under 6.22. There you have it. Discover doesn't have FTF and DCC, but the rate is less favorable.

Originally Posted by percysmith
Besides Visas, MCs and Amex cards, we have Unionpay cards from HK banks.

China Unionpay publishes the applicable exchange rate, daily, on http://en.unionpay.com/front_ExchangeRate.html (or at least they used to until this month - the engine's broken).

For non-HKD/RMB transactions we get to run via Unionpay, we get the exact exchange rate that unionpay.com webpage said we would, for the posting date.
Didn't know there is a website. I usually just call 95516 using a Mainland phone. You have to have perfect Chinese listening comprehension skills to understand the Chinese spoken by a machine...

Originally Posted by jbcarioca
FWIW those are summaries of actual procedures, without all the steps.

I stated writing a history of all this, but then realised it would be massive overkill in this thread. If anybody cares I have lots of background on this since I began in the industry with the setup of what became Visa, which happened when the network went global in the very early 1970's.
You are a god to me ! (worshiping)

I can tell based on your status(es)... Well if you write one, it won't be a overkill for me.

The understanding of mine is that Visa rate is the best I can go for, unless I have a friend who needs to trade foreign currency with me, so it's a win-win but chances are slim.
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Old Apr 18, 2014, 10:55 am
  #276  
 
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Originally Posted by othermike27
By my calculation, you were scammed for about 4.8% = (70.42-67.19)/67.19, assuming your currency conversion from GBP 40 to $67.19 was correct for that day. That seems typical of the many reports here (and, by the way, higher than even the AMEX 2.7% FTF).

I don't recall if I was given a choice the one time I was DCCed at a hotel a few years ago, but I probably thought, "Oh, that's nice. They converted to dollars for me." Ignorance is bliss...
Yeah, I'm guessing their DCC rate is around 4.5 - 5% above the market rate & the tour company thought they could sneak it by since it was a phone transaction. Now that it's in dispute, they will soon realize they tried to scam someone who's in the know about DCC fraud
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Old Apr 18, 2014, 11:52 am
  #277  
 
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Originally Posted by Newark7
Yeah, I'm guessing their DCC rate is around 4.5 - 5% above the market rate & the tour company thought they could sneak it by since it was a phone transaction. Now that it's in dispute, they will soon realize they tried to scam someone who's in the know about DCC fraud
Maybe or maybe not. The tour company probably deals with lots of tourists and many prefer to be charged in their own familiar currency and perhaps, although I'm not defending it mind you, they feel that is the best way to handle all these things and deal with the oddball who doesn't believe in it.
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Old Apr 18, 2014, 12:50 pm
  #278  
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Originally Posted by JEFFJAGUAR
I wonder how common a practice this is i.e. on phone or on line orders to perform a dcc transaction without asking. And I would wager that most customers don't know the difference or are even grateful that they are charged in their own currency. Do remember the people here on this board are somewhat more sophisticated and in tune with what is going on in the travel industry.
A bit similar to DCC on hotel bookings charged by hotels without card present.

I later found out it is possibly compliant to DCC under VIOR (see section under Priority Check-Out and Express Return) but consent is meant to be obtained, but it's even harder to police due to lack of merchant's slip (a cardholder cannot readily provide DCC opt-out evidence - even if the obligation is on the merchant to prove cardholder did, at least HK and Singapore banks and regulators don't enforce that in practice).

Card non-present charges are an even lucrative area to perpetrate DCC fraud.
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Old Apr 18, 2014, 1:08 pm
  #279  
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Originally Posted by JEFFJAGUAR
Maybe or maybe not. The tour company probably deals with lots of tourists and many prefer to be charged in their own familiar currency and perhaps, although I'm not defending it mind you, they feel that is the best way to handle all these things and deal with the oddball who doesn't believe in it.
I'd bet my bottom dollar that the incremental revenue provided by dcc was and is the primary factor.
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Old Apr 18, 2014, 2:28 pm
  #280  
 
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Throwing an idea from third base here:

Basically I think that the underlying thing that many are pissed about DCC because it's charged like a hidden tax, in percentage of the total value, a "cut" scheme that goes to benefit the merchants.

What if the DCC was a low fixed amount, like $0.10 per foreign transaction?

So at a rate of 100 JPY = $1:

a 600 JPY charge would come up as $6.10
a 6000 JPY charge would come up as $60.10
a 60000 JPY charge would be $600.10

Basically, the DCC would be fixed at $0.10 per transaction whether you buy something at $6, $60, or $600, rather than being a percentage of the total value, and ten cents is all that the merchant gets for each transaction rather than being a percentage "cut."
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Old Apr 18, 2014, 11:53 pm
  #281  
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Originally Posted by kebosabi
Throwing an idea from third base here:

Basically I think that the underlying thing that many are pissed about DCC because it's charged like a hidden tax, in percentage of the total value, a "cut" scheme that goes to benefit the merchants.

What if the DCC was a low fixed amount, like $0.10 per foreign transaction?

So at a rate of 100 JPY = $1:

a 600 JPY charge would come up as $6.10
a 6000 JPY charge would come up as $60.10
a 60000 JPY charge would be $600.10

Basically, the DCC would be fixed at $0.10 per transaction whether you buy something at $6, $60, or $600, rather than being a percentage of the total value, and ten cents is all that the merchant gets for each transaction rather than being a percentage "cut."
If it's a fixed amount, then what rate would they use? I doubt any merchant is going to find a bank that will convert foreign currency for them at a flat 10 cents without any percentage commission.

Remember that when a merchant uses DCC, their bank gets paid in a foreign currency. Visa or Mastercard does not do the conversion, which means that someone else has to do it.
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Old Apr 19, 2014, 3:20 am
  #282  
 
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http://www.atmmarketplace.com/blog/1...gn=other_blogs
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Old Apr 19, 2014, 6:13 am
  #283  
 
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The last paragraph of the referenced article: "With awareness and use of DCC on the rise, FIs should not ignore the competitive edge that DCC-capable cards can provide. It can allow an FI to better serve customers who travel internationally, and at the same time, increase revenue."

The article also points to this Mercator Advisory Group posting:

Dynamic Currency Conversion: A Growing Global Opportunity
Posted: February 06, 2014
Author: Tristan Hugo-Webb
Abstract: As the obstacles to international travel and trade decline, the number of international travelers is likely to grow. As a result, around the world automated teller machines and point-of-sale terminals are likely to process larger volumes of transactions initiated by foreign payment cards. Dynamic currency conversion (DCC) solutions provide acquiring financial institutions, merchants, and consumers a method of meeting this growing opportunity.

Any time financial people talk about "growing opportunity," my BS meter pegs and my wallet starts to tingle.

So, keep your guard up out there!

Last edited by othermike27; Apr 19, 2014 at 6:17 am Reason: added pointer
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Old Apr 19, 2014, 8:07 am
  #284  
 
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Originally Posted by cbn42
If it's a fixed amount, then what rate would they use? I doubt any merchant is going to find a bank that will convert foreign currency for them at a flat 10 cents without any percentage commission.

Remember that when a merchant uses DCC, their bank gets paid in a foreign currency. Visa or Mastercard does not do the conversion, which means that someone else has to do it.
This may not be stated quite clearly, so a clarification might be in order:

1. The merchants bank (acquirer) is paid their normal fees but the merchant, called "discount rate". Those fees are in the local currency of record for the merchant, normally the currency of the country in which the merchant is located. There are even arcane exceptions to that.
2. The issuers bank is always paid in the currency of record for the card that was issued, without exception.
3. All DCC does is replace the normal process for FX with one artificially established by the merchant in cooperation with their acquirer. Nothing else. The published rates for the associations do not apply in that case, but all other association and issuer fees do apply including foreign transaction fees, if any.
4. For US transactions, the largest acquirers are aggressively marketing DCC to encourage US merchant to ride the "gravy train". The prototypical US promotion to merchants might be this one, from FDR which is the largest US acquirer by far, partly with JV's with major US issuers:
https://www.firstdata.com/downloads/...version_ss.pdf
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Old Apr 19, 2014, 8:08 am
  #285  
 
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Having been stung multiple times by DCC as well as Chase Bank's $5 overseas ATM fees & 3% foreign transaction fees, I did a little research trying to find a US bank with no ATM fees or currency conversion fees. So far the only one I could find is Schwab Bank, so I'm going to give them a try. They advertise zero fees & ATM fee rebates when charged by the ATM owner. This way I can just use cash in DCC heavy countries, such as Spain, while avoiding all bank fees.
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