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Be smart! Do what Rick says! Pay in Euros!!

Just returned from a 3 week trip to France and made a dumb mistake at Hôtel Des Grandes Ecoles in Paris. This was the only time in our trip where the choice was given to me to pay in dollars or Euros and without thinking I clicked Dollars. Big mistake!!!! Cost myself over $25.00. Listen to Rick.

Posted by
5957 posts

Sorry that you got caught by dynamic currency conversion. It is an easy mistake to make when you are distracted or in a hurry. I'm glad it didn't cost you more than that.

Posted by
5303 posts

We stayed there in April and were given the same choice. I was alert enough to choose euros, though. (Thank you, Rick and Forum friends.)

In Sorrento a month or so later, an ATM at a bank kicked my card out when I turned down the dynamic currency conversion option. That's the first time that has ever happened to me.

Posted by
10589 posts

Wow, Jane, that is good to know. I would have thought I'd punched a wrong button and tried it over....and over....and over....lol!!

Posted by
5480 posts

I encountered DCC way out on the Aran Islands off the Irish coast, some poor guy ahead of me was buying several big sweaters in dollars. Hope they were the real thing. I had no illusions about my t-shirt but at least I paid euros for it.

Posted by
241 posts

Any place offering that option is of course complicit. It is unfortunate that a hotel like that would do such a thing because the money they make is so insignificant to such a place.

Posted by
20 posts

To the managers credit, when I showed her what the difference was between my credit card exchange rate and the hotel’s dollar rate, she comped us a free breakfast. She seemed genuinely shocked that the commissions were that high. So I would still recommend this beautiful Parisian hotel.

Posted by
5303 posts

Vmorton, we would, too. It's lovely and quiet, with a great staff.

Posted by
19 posts

What happened to Jane (Sapulpa) happened to us in Gdansk, Poland, 3 years ago: after refusing DCC, card got kicked out. Cannot remember with certainty which bank, but it might have been BNP (Banque Nationale de Paris). Another DCC problem to deal with!

Posted by
11925 posts

Don't always blame the merchant. Whoever supplies their machines set them up and they may come with dynamic CC. The merchants get paid in local currency and are told it helps the customer pay in their own currency. The bank is making the extra money. Not everyone is up to date on currency exchange.

I had an ATM card spit out at me for refusing DCC in Lecce.

Posted by
20 posts

Yes, that is what manager told me. That their provider of the credit card machines was what determined the exchange. I also asked immediately for a refund and to do the transaction over. But of course the refund could only be done in Euros not dollars which actually magnified the problem!!! Won’t make the mistake again. So stay alert, don’t get in a hurry, don’t get flustered, know your credit card exchange rate, and DO THE MATH before pushing the button!!!

Posted by
241 posts

Why would the machines be set up for dollars DCC?I don’t understand that at all. There must always be a choice for the merchant or else everyone using the machine would be charged in USD. What about the Europeans themselves? What about other currencies?
Somewhere there is a choice and the merchant can make that choice or at least offer it.

Posted by
442 posts

The machines aren’t set up for dollars DCC, they are set up to only accept DCC if someone tries to pay with a credit/debitcard tied to an account in a foreign currency. So if in France, a European with a European credit card wants to make a payment, the payment terminal will show the amount in Euros. There is no DCC because there is nothing to convert.
In this case, DCC only comes into play when someone with a non-Euro bank account wants to buy something and pay by card.
In many cases with mandatory DCC, the extra profit is split between the vendor and the payment terminal provider. So the shop/restaurant/hotel owner actually profits from his payment terminal only applying DCC.
The Wiki on DCC provides some very insightful info about this topic; https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_currency_conversion

Posted by
1429 posts

The other nice thing about Contactless Pay is that DCC doesn't show in the transaction payment choices, because without dipping the CC, the POS device doesn't know the "home" currency, so there's nothing to agree to or not agree to.

Posted by
273 posts

I discovered just yesterday that AMEX doesn't allow DCC. I was pleased since it's our preferred card. Of course acceptance isn't quite as wide as Visa and MasterCard so we always have a backup.

Posted by
21918 posts

In 2018 two ATMs in Prague (don't remember whether they belonged to the same bank) suddenly decided they couldn't process my paltry withdrawal request when I declined DCC. No explanation was given, but I assumed they didn't care to provide the service without compensation. That's the only country where I've had that experience.

Posted by
1745 posts

I was at the Hotel Bellevue in Boppard, Germany and when checking out, paid with a credit card. It gave the option of dollars or Euros but before I could hit Euros, the desk clerk said, "I'm sure you want dollars" and tapped the dollars option.

I told her that I did not want that and asked her to void the transaction and restart a new one. She apologized and that's what we did.

Posted by
20 posts

I did try to reverse mine as well, but they couldn’t reverse it in dollars. Only in Euros. Which made a bad problem Even worse!

Posted by
7139 posts

I understand that the same thing happens at US ATMs to foreign card users.

I dont like it, but I dont consider it a scam. We're all savvy travelers here, but there are people for whom the convenience in knowing what things cost "in real money" makes sense.

But noting this thread, I will make a point of saying something to the hotel or restaurant next time it comes up. I just assumed they were "in on it".

Posted by
1429 posts

"I just assumed they were "in on it".

Do you believe that that was the 1st time the DCC was brought to the hotel's attention, or was it nothing more than a well-rehearsed "well I'll be, I never knew that."

Posted by
7139 posts

whether they are aware or not, my goal would be getting them to hesitate before pushing it on the next person.

Posted by
21918 posts

I'm with Stan. I normally clear my hotel bill the night before departure so I'm not under any rush-to-the-train-station time pressure if something goes wrong. If there's a DCC problem, I am (barely) polite but insistent. I can, and will, absolutely outwait the deskperson, and any other guest coming into the lobby will hear what is going on. I am not subtle; I will not move away from the desk until the charge is corrected. I figure my persistence is a pain in the neck for the hotel (or restaurant) staff and may reduce their willingness to continue pushing DCC on future customers. That said, the new credit-card-terminal procedures make stealthy invocation of DCC much less likely. I don't believe I've had to go through my anti-DCC performance since 2018.

I am very happy to report that as of Day 25 of my current trip to Norway and now Sweden, no hotel, restaurant, store or transportation provider has suggested dollars as an option. I don't know whether this difference from previous trips is due to geography, the tap-to-pay software or recognition that informed customers don't like DCC, but it's a welcome change. On the other hand, both ATMs I used did offer DCC (but did not charge a fee).

I encountered, but did not use, a wildcard ATM that offered to dispense Norwegian kroner, Swedish kronor, euros, British pounds or (I think) US dollars. The machine was in Fredrikstad, Norway, not too far from the Swedish border. It didn't look like a tourist-trap ATM, but it wasn't a bank machine. I was dying to know what sort of exchange rates it was going to use and whether there would be a dispensing fee, but it was evening when I saw the machine and I had a 7:10 train departure the next morning, so no way to recover my ATM card if the machine malfunctioned. Sorry not to have been able to report on what would have been, for me, a unique experience. (And I would have liked to get a few Swedish kronor.)

Posted by
1415 posts

Definitely look at your bill before you sign it. Twice in Europe, I had specified Euros but the hotel worker put in dollars. Luckily I caught them both but the hotel worker was very pushy and kept saying paying in dollars was better. Sometime I think it's a racket to get more money for the hotel.

Just a warning.

Posted by
21918 posts

There's no "sometimes" about. It's definitely a cash grab by the hotel/restaurant/shop/etc. In some cases the clerks may not understand what's going on; they may be as financially unsophisticated as the travelers who are willing to pay 7% extra to see prices in dollars. The owners/managers of the businesses know precisely what they are doing; they're the ones who--in some cases--direct their employers to pre-select something other than the local currency as the form of payment.

Posted by
20 posts

I do believe the hotel manager was unaware, simply because she was so very insistent I show her my credit card information after I returned to The USA. My credit card invoice clearly showed the exchange rate for the Euros, and she was shocked at the difference, which as I said before was approximately $25.00 US. I emailed her the comparison after returning home.

Posted by
135 posts

When I purchased my airline tickets on Vuelling,LOT and Condor I booked directly and chose Euros!

Posted by
1429 posts

When you were booking with LOT directly, why wouldn't you have chosen Polish Zloty as the currency ?

Posted by
13351 posts

When researching on booking.com checking out availability and rates, regardless of the country in Europe, I always use Euros, not US dollars or any other currency, say if checking out a place in Sweden, I use the Euro, likewise in Hungary and Poland.

Admittedly, I almost fell victim the first time to thinking in US dollars but luckily didn't, seemed fishy, too good to be true. I picked the Euro option. This was in Vienna in 2010.

Posted by
18524 posts

None of this will happen to you if you pay in the local currency, euro from the ATM.

But, you do have to be careful when withdrawing cash from an ATM. Once, in Würzburg, I made an ATM withdrawal from Reisebank. It looked like a normal transaction until I got to the final page. It looked like a summary of the transaction, but it included the amount that would be debited from my US card, in US $$. But wait a minute, the bank doesn't know the specifics of my bank agreement. Seems they were trying to sneak DCC into the ATM agreement. The page appeared to be just a summary, and you click accept to go on. I pushed "reject" (or something like that) and it reverted to a normal, non-DCC, transaction. So, beware.

Posted by
1429 posts

"None of this will happen to you if you pay in the local currency, euro from the ATM."

It's archaic to scramble around looking for an ATM to withdraw 500€ + to settle a hotel bill, when that's why you carry a Credit Card to begin with.

Posted by
18524 posts

If it's archaic to save money, then call me archaic. I discovered years ago, that in Germany, you could get a better cultural experience and save money in the process by staying in the small Mom & Pop places, and they generally only want cash. So I go to the ATM, withdraw cash and pay them in cash. They're happy, and I save money, so I'm happy.

when that's why you carry a Credit Card to begin with

I do carry a credit card, but I only use it for purchases in stores where the price is the same, with or without a credit card. The rest of the time I leverage cash in order to pay less.

Posted by
13351 posts

In my Pension in Savignyplatz /Berlin every guest withdraws a lump of cash, be it 100 Euro or more since the proprietor refuses payment by credit card, even though my 1st time there in 2009, the Visa logo was still decaled on the entrance door window. I naturally expected that payment by credit would be accepted. When I pulled my MC , she asked me if I had the cash for the multi-night stay. I did but thought isn't this "bait and switch.?"

Of course, I didn't protest, let alone argue, which is just bad manners, and gave her the cash. Since then I always paid in cash. Paying this lump of cash must not be objectionable to other guests either, almost exclusively German since the Pension is always full in the summer. The proprietor was certainly not lacking in business. This was pre-pandemic.

Just good to know that such cash only Pensionen and small hotels do still exist in Germany in the big cities. I know of another such place in Hamburg.

Posted by
135 posts

I.am in Europe now and always chose the local currency . I have known about DCC ever since I was 13 reading about it online. A lot of Americans cannot do simple math. A lot of them are so quick and cannot read the machine. The left button is generally the local currency on the credit card machine.

I always say charge me in local currency. I also heard that businesses pay less when you as the customer chose that option.

When I booked our flights I chose the local currency and saved $30.

Posted by
442 posts

“ I also heard that businesses pay less when you as the customer chose that option.”
It’s the opposite actually. Businesses actually profit when DCC is applied, because they receive part of the revenue from the DCC transaction. If DCC was the cheapest option for both business and customer, no business would offer DCC and they would all help their customers avoid DCC.

Posted by
604 posts

In Sorrento a month or so later, an ATM at a bank kicked my card out when I turned down the dynamic currency conversion option. That's the first time that has ever happened to me.

Happened to me in Prague. Fortunately, there were numerous other banks in the area to pickup some “coin of the realm”.

Posted by
1429 posts

Just good to know that such cash only Pensionen and small hotels do still exist in Germany in the big cities

There's nothing romantic about physical cash, or staying in rooms without ensuite bathrooms.

Posted by
2264 posts

For all of us who know to watch out for DCC, we might also need to be aware of making all our comments on the topic related to “euros”, which not all countries in this thread-reply relate to (even though the country the OP referred to uses the euro). I have online had opportunities to use euros, even when my purchase was in another currency. Euros would not have solved the issue.

But to illustrate and emphasize the main point of this post, yesterday I purchased online tickets for a couple of places in Barcelona for a friend. In each case, the website defaulted (twice each time) to dollars and I had to be firm I wanted to pay in euros. It did show me the dollar amount I would pay, which I noted (out of curiosity) and then proceeded with euros. In comparing it to my actual card charge, there was $1.40 difference on a €40 purchase and $4.60 difference on a €100 purchase. No huge amounts but they can add up.

But for new and inexperienced travelers, we should probably (as some did) be clear in our replies to state “local currency” - and not simply refer to “euros” for ease. I am now paying for a few things online for both Poland and Hungary, neither of which use the euro but I have come across euros as an option. I haven’t done the math to see if that would be better or worse than the zloty and forint.

Posted by
18524 posts

was at the Hotel Bellevue in Boppard, Germany and when checking out, paid with a credit
card. It gave the option of dollars or Euros but before I could hit Euros,
the desk clerk said, "I'm sure you want dollars" and tapped the dollars option.

Can only happen if you pay with a card, not if you pay with cash.

Posted by
13351 posts

Luckily, I have never encountered that from any hotel clerk assuming I wanted to pay in $. That just tells me how much he knows or rather how little he knows. I would have pre-empted that clerk first by saying that payment is to be done in Euro and here is the cash.

Posted by
8820 posts

I did it yesterday LOL. Sitting in my living room, buying five tickets for Casa Batalló next week, using a US card, and at check out, I had the choice. Dollar was the default. I didn't pay attention until I had clicked continue. $1.60 extra, just enough to be a warning.
So pay attention to online purchases too.

Posted by
2264 posts

Bets, I found that on several websites for Barcelona this week. For Parc Guell, at least, I even had to make that change twice for the same purchase. :)

Posted by
133 posts

Now that the US dollar is so strong wouldn't it currently make sense to choose US dollar??

Posted by
7139 posts

No Karen, thats not the way it works. The provider of the service at point of purchase can still use their own exchange rate the is favorable to them. Yes the dollar is strong and you'll get more for it, but its a function of using credit cards, that a charge in local currency at the point of purchase, will be converted at a more favorable (to you) rate by your credit card provider, than if converted at the point of sale. Put it another way, when they show you the cost in USD at the point of sale, it has already been converted at a rate of the sellers choice. The published interbank rate is irrelevant. They are counting on you assuming the rate they are using is fair.

Posted by
8820 posts

I just spent three nights in Barcelona where DCC came up in every transaction that wasn't a tap.

Withdrawing money from the Caixa bank machine was like running a gauntlet with traps on every screen. It wasn't a simple "no" turning down their Dollar exchange "service we are offering you" but three screens waiting for me to touch the wrong answer, and finally a hidden "no" to get through safely to the other side. Using Caixa is for people who have time and love Escape Rooms.

This was in addition to the 7-euro service charge for using their "service." The exchange Caixa offered as a service was 91-euro cents per $1 on a day the exchange rate was 1-1. My bank rate is probably 1.01.
So it would probably be an 8-cent difference per dollar, or $8 per $100, plus the 7-euro fee. Beware. What a way to waste money.

PS: Friends from the US I had gone to meet but who are not do-it-yourself travelers thought that this was a service to make withdrawing money easier for Americans.

Posted by
18524 posts

There's nothing romantic about physical cash, or staying in rooms
without ensuite bathrooms.

I've stayed in a lot of cash only accommodations in over 5 month in Europe, but most of them have had ensuite bathrooms.

Actually, one of the places I stayed in with a shared bathroom was because the local Austrian Tourist Office told me the accommodations came with a private bathroom. Well, the bathroom was shared with one other room, which was unoccuppied at the time,so I did have my own bathroom, although not ensuite.

Posted by
13351 posts

The Pensionen where I always stay in Berlin and Munich do not have en suite WC. I asked the proprietor in the Berlin Pension about that, ie why no WC in the room, she wasn't interested plus it's complicated.

Posted by
1415 posts

Unfortunately, some European hotels do try to charge Americans in dollars especially if the the conversion rate is high.I had a hotel in London once try to charge me in dollars even after I told them I wanted to pay in pounds. It took me refusing to sign the slip and having reception call a manager before they were willing to fix it. Sad thing was I had a wonderful stay but the attitude and nastiness I received after I wouldn't sign the incorrect slip meant I never recommend that hotel.

Posted by
8820 posts

Good reminder to reserve and pay in the currency of the country. Today, I priced a Danish hotel room on the hotel's Danish website and their English website. The 1,400 Kroners charged equaled $188 on a currency transfer website. However, the same hotel priced the room at $215, so yes, buy in the local currency and let your bank deal with it.