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Foreign exchange rates discussion [FOREX]--all cards

Foreign exchange rates discussion [FOREX]--all cards

Old Sep 11, 15, 9:37 am
  #91  
mia
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Originally Posted by JapanFlyerT View Post
...rates are only on the monthly printed statements,
The PDF statements available online include the details:

08/09 PLUSNET PLC 0845 1400200 SHEFFIELD $12.81
08/10 POUND STERLING
8.24 X 1.554611650 (EXCHG RATE)
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Old Sep 11, 15, 10:04 pm
  #92  
 
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Originally Posted by mia View Post
The PDF statements available online include the details:
Those rates are simply the USD amount divided by the foreign currency amount. The seemingly long string of numbers serve only to obfuscate..
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Old Sep 11, 15, 10:41 pm
  #93  
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Originally Posted by sponge_gto View Post
Those rates are simply the USD amount divided by the foreign currency amount.
JapanFlyerT wants to be able to see the original amount in the local currency, the exchange rate, and the converted amount in USD. All of that is present on the PDF statement. If the GBP amount (8.24) multiplied by the exchange rate (1.554611650) were not to equal the USD amount (12.81) there would be an arithmetic error.

What were you expecting to see?
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Old Sep 14, 15, 7:18 am
  #94  
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Originally Posted by mia View Post
If the GBP amount (8.24) multiplied by the exchange rate (1.554611650) were not to equal the USD amount (12.81) there would be an arithmetic error.

What were you expecting to see?
I would expect the exchange rate to be the rate used for the transaction and the USD amount to be rounded appropriately to the nearest cent. Instead, it does appear that the "exchange rate" is back-calculated from the other two amounts and is therefore extraneous.
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Old Sep 15, 15, 2:28 pm
  #95  
 
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Originally Posted by Kremmen View Post
I would expect the exchange rate to be the rate used for the transaction and the USD amount to be rounded appropriately to the nearest cent. Instead, it does appear that the "exchange rate" is back-calculated from the other two amounts and is therefore extraneous.
Thanks for clarifying my point. Apologies for being unclear at first.
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Old Sep 15, 15, 3:05 pm
  #96  
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To be sure I understand correctly, if the exchange rate were presented with fewer decimal places it would not be extraneous?
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Old Sep 15, 15, 8:45 pm
  #97  
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Originally Posted by mia View Post
To be sure I understand correctly, if the exchange rate were presented with fewer decimal places it would not be extraneous?
No, that would be even worse.
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Old Sep 16, 15, 6:00 am
  #98  
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Originally Posted by Kremmen View Post
No, that would be even worse.
I apologize for my inability to understand. Please copy, paste and edit this to show me how you think it should look:

08/09 PLUSNET PLC 0845 1400200 SHEFFIELD $12.81
08/10 POUND STERLING
8.24 X 1.554611650 (EXCHG RATE)
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Old Sep 16, 15, 6:31 am
  #99  
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Originally Posted by mia View Post
I apologize for my inability to understand. Please copy, paste and edit this to show me how you think it should look:

08/09 PLUSNET PLC 0845 1400200 SHEFFIELD $12.81
08/10 POUND STERLING
8.24 X 1.554611650 (EXCHG RATE)
It'd look exactly the same, just with the actual exchange rate listed that the institution was using for transactions that day. (Given your example, that could be anywhere from about 1.5541 to 1.5552.)
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Old Sep 16, 15, 12:06 pm
  #100  
 
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Originally Posted by Kremmen View Post
It'd look exactly the same, just with the actual exchange rate listed that the institution was using for transactions that day. (Given your example, that could be anywhere from about 1.5541 to 1.5552.)
Using an extreme example, if you spent 1 penny in GBP and it shows up on your statement as $0.02, I'd like to see the exchange rate listed as 1.55... (perhaps with more significant figures that they actually used in the calculation) instead of 2.0000000000000 (which I'm alleging it would be).
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Old Sep 23, 15, 9:09 pm
  #101  
 
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posted this in TravelBuzz but I think this crowd would appreciate my thoughts:

Just got back from New Zealand where I did a pretty substantial test of the no-foreign transaction fee claims of Amex/Mastercard/Visa.

This needs to be shouted from the rooftops: DO NOT USE A VISA WHEN TRAVELING ABROAD. USE A MASTERCARD.

Then this needs to be whispered: or, maybe, an Amex.

To start, I love my Chase Sapphire Preferred. I bought into the blog hype. I love transferring points to partners. I love that it gives double points. I love that it has no foreign transaction fees.

After this trip, I love it a LOT less.

On 9.16.15, I made two 36 NZD purchases, one with a Barclay Arrival Plus Mastercard and one with a Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa. Both claim to have "no foreign transaction fees." The MC posted as 22.66 USD; the CSP posted as 22.98 USD. That's a 1.41% spread. I like Ultimate Rewards points, but I don't like having to pay for them!

On 9.17.15, concerned about what I was seeing, I tested my CSP against my Amex Platinum. I spent 10.25 NZD on each one. The Amex came back at 6.52 USD; the CSP came back at 6.61 USD. That's a 1.38% spread.

On 9.18.15, I decided to compare the "good guys." I did 22 NZD on the Mastercard and 22 NZD on the Amex Platinum. The Mastercard came back 14.04 USD and the Amex came back at 14.00 USD. That's a 0.29% spread.

Of course, I would put Amex acceptance in NZ at about 60% that of the big two.

At a restaurant on 9.19.15, I again compared the CSP and the A+MC to confirm what I was seeing. I spent 15.50 NZD on two different cards, splitting the check in half. The CSP came to 10.01 USD, and the MC came to 9.90 USD. That's a 1.11% spread. With one card giving 2.22% cashback and the other giving two Ultimate Rewards points, I'd have to value an Ultimate Rewards point at more than 1.67 cents to like what was happening to me. That's a bit of a stretch.

On 9.21.15, at another restaurant, I again put the MC and the Amex head to head, splitting the check and putting 25 NZD on each card. The MC came back as 15.96 USD and the Amex posted at 15.92 USD. That's a 0.25% spread.

Finally, on 9.21.15, I checked out of the Crowne Plaza Queenstown and split the bill halfway between the CSP and the A+MC. Each card took a 189.50 NZD charge. The CSP came back as 122.39 USD and the MC came back as 120.98 USD. That's a 1.17% spread. Now I'm buying UR points at 1.7 cents each!

If you spent 5,000 USD on a nice vacation in a foreign country, here is how each card would shake out on average:

Amex 5,000 USD
Mastercard 5,014 USD
Visa 5,070 USD

I make no money from this endorsement, but if you like foreign travel, a great card is looking to be the Citi ThankYou Premier MasterCard. You get 3x on travel, 2x on dining, and each point is worth at least 1.3 cents each in some shape or form. Meanwhile, MasterCard is only shaving off 0.25 cents relative to Amex. That's a much, much, MUCH higher return than a Chase Sapphire Preferred. Put another way

$1,000 USD restaurant bill in a foreign country can be either:
2,000 ThankYou Points plus $2.80 in foreign transaction costs above and beyond Amex
2,000 Ultimate Rewards Points plus $14.00 in foreign transaction costs above and beyond Amex

Would you really pay ~$11 to have 2,000 Chase points over 2,000 Citibank points? Can you wring $140 more value out of a 25K United redemption over a 25K Singapore redemption?

to Chase Sapphire Preferred
^ to any and all MasterCard products

PS: I would love someone to run a similar test with Discover Card!

Last edited by stvr; Sep 23, 15 at 10:01 pm
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Old Sep 23, 15, 9:27 pm
  #102  
 
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Dude you are just awesome.

I used to think that small charges won't bring out the differences. But I'm glad your tests with small charges really shows what everything actually is.

Kudos!
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Old Sep 23, 15, 11:37 pm
  #103  
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Originally Posted by stvr View Post
PS: I would love someone to run a similar test with Discover Card!
Why? Discover is basically accepted nowhere, so it doesn't matter. (It's accepted by merchants which accept Diners, which is basically just major hotels.)

Your test of Amex is probably insufficiently substantial. Amex is extremely variable in my experience, possibly due to their stated policy of using "The highest interbank rate we identify from customary banking sources, on the conversion date or the prior business day." That leaves a lot of wiggle room if the currency happens to be moving about on the day prior to and day of your transaction being posted.
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Old Sep 24, 15, 2:27 am
  #104  
 
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Originally Posted by Kremmen View Post
Why? Discover is basically accepted nowhere, so it doesn't matter. (It's accepted by merchants which accept Diners, which is basically just major hotels.)

Your test of Amex is probably insufficiently substantial. Amex is extremely variable in my experience, possibly due to their stated policy of using "The highest interbank rate we identify from customary banking sources, on the conversion date or the prior business day." That leaves a lot of wiggle room if the currency happens to be moving about on the day prior to and day of your transaction being posted.
Re: Discover I find that any place that does volume with Asian tourists and therefore accepts JCB and UnionPay has a good chance of accepting Discover as well.

Re: Amex would love some more experiments!
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Old Sep 24, 15, 11:22 pm
  #105  
 
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Originally Posted by stvr View Post
Re: Discover I find that any place that does volume with Asian tourists and therefore accepts JCB and UnionPay has a good chance of accepting Discover as well.

Re: Amex would love some more experiments!
I had been using Discover in China for over half a year until I figured out the 1% rewards wasn't worth the hassle.

Basically, Discover in China uses UnionPay rates, which are much more terrible than Visa/MC rates (which tend to be much closer to market rates), but slightly better than the rates offered by banks in China (but sometimes worse, there is no guarantee, like margins of errors). This is quite confirmed.

Also, basically you have to buy some UnionPay stickers or print some by yourself, and stick the stickers to the cards, or literally nobody in China would take your Discover, even though technically they are the same thing in China. These guys are trained to only look for the logos, so they fear financial punishment by their employers if they accept some weird forms of payment, since electronic financial fraud in this country is crazy prevalent.

I don't know about using Discover in Japan or on JCB networks. Didn't have the incentive to try since it only offers 1%, and Arrival+ offers 2%, and DCC in Japan is so non-existing (whereas in China, forced DCC is everywhere, be aware!).

So the best way to go in China is to use a no-FTF Amex, and fall back to cash if not accepted. Discover can only be accepted in high-end places if you don't want to spend half an hour explaining why it is equivalent to UnionPay. Only use Visa/MC if you are familiar with the POS machine, and you yourself personally know how to disable DCC on that machine (99% of the people working even in Western hotel chains don't know anything about DCC or how to defeat it).
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