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Can I pay in local currency for flights?

Hi there,

I have never flown abroad and this is my first experience of anything like this and could use all the help I can get!

I'm looking to book a flight from Los Angeles, to London-Gatwick (one-way) using Norwegian Airlines because they have the best rates.

Currently, the fare I'm looking at is €210, and when asked to quote in USD, it is about $300.

Being from the US, I was thinking of paying in Euros (on purpose) using my Wellsfargo Credit Card. I think I read somewhere of people doing this, but it isn't thoroughly explored and so it might be a risk.

In doing so, the anticipated charges are as follows:

  • Euro cost when converted to USD: Example: €210 = $250 (rounded up) I assume my card will be charged $250 for the ticket itself

  • I cannot get a travel card with no foreign transaction fees, so Wellsfargo will charge me 3% (I assume of the $250) to use my current credit card.

  • According to this Norwegian info page, I think I will be charged an addition 1.99% http://norwegian.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/489/kw/credit%20card

This could add up to $13 to my $250 making it $263 (estimate). This is still cheaper than paying in USD from the start which is currently quoted at $300.

Having never done this before, am I correct? Does anyone have experience in this? I'm afraid of getting some unexpected charges when I think I'm potentially being thrifty. Thoughts, please? I don't know who else to chat with about these little work arounds.

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
6 posts

As an update, I also explored paying in NOK, which looks even cheaper by the same method. 1,838krones currently equals about $240 (rounded up). If I pay in Krones, would I still be charged for paying in their local currency?

-Erica

Posted by
8889 posts

Most airline websites, if you book a ticket from A to B, will charge you in the currency of A. If you book a return ticket, it will still charge the ticket (both ways) in the currency of A.
Some sites will allow you the option of charging in another currency. It is in most cases cheaper to pay in the currency the site first offers. If they convert to the currency of your credit card, that is usually at a worse rate than your own credit card company would give you. And, even of you select to pay in the currency of your credit card, your credit card company could still add a 'foreign use surcharge', so you would be no better off.

CONCLUSION: You are basically correct. Pay in the currency the website first offers. Pay with a debit card if possible, and your bank will probably make the conversion at a better rate than the airline.

Posted by
6 posts

With Norwegian being a foreign budget airline, I figure paying in their local currency is best (in the same theory of using local currency at shops and restaurants over seas).

My credit card will charge 3% for foreign transaction but shouldn't be any more than that.

It's the airline's side I'm curious about. They automatically put it in USD because it is my departing country. But if I put the same search using different currencies, I see that USD is easily $50 more than the same flights listed in other currencies like euros or krones. If I pay in krones, I figure the charges won't be more than the $50 I'm saving by purchasing in their currency.

I only want to purchase the first ticket to experiment this method but not if I'm gonna be hit with charges over $50 that I don't understand.

Posted by
16771 posts

I think you have a good understanding of the fees, so there should be no big surprises. If you have not yet told Wells Fargo that you're traveling to Europe, then you may get an enquiry from them to be sure you made the purchase.

Posted by
2046 posts

Just to throw some additional thoughts in:

Why can't you 1) Open a Cap One or Schwab account online, which you can feed from your Wells Account electronically, and not have the fees. And the ATM card they give you is the best for withdrawing cash abroad.

2) How about opening a CapOne Mastercard, which has no foreign transaction fees.

We are unfortunately married to Wells, against our wills as they were the latest bank to acquire the account we opened in 1979 when we married. We don't want to be there, but have to stay for a few more years for some local financial entanglements. But their cards are not in our wallets when we travel.

Posted by
6810 posts

Up until now it hasn't been financially interesting for us, so this is new. Please let us know your experience.

Posted by
2081 posts

erica,

i for one says to do what you thinking of doing and report back with your results.

what do you have to loose - paying more than 300 USD!

The best case is that you pay less.

Happy trails.

Posted by
10837 posts

I don't guess you will know until you try. I assume you checked the exchange rate that your card will actually give you and didn't just google the rate. MC gives a very, very good rate which is why using a card when you travel isn't a bad idea. The next question I would ask I guess is how much are you planning on spending on this trip? Lets say $3,600 total. The $36 you will save means you reduced the cost of the trip by 1%, if it all works as expected. Then again on the day the payment is processed the market might tank and the rate might be somewhat different costing you $36. Too much for me. Gives me a headache. A better cost savings ploy is to purchase RT tickets for one way trips. That will get you real savings.

Posted by
6810 posts

She's not going to find anything less expensive than this.

Posted by
6 posts

Hi,

The update is, it worked! Its hard to figure exact pricing, but it was worth saving $20-50 dollars. With exchange rates constantly changing, it isn't worth the hassle or thought if its just to save a $1-10 (depending on how expensive the price is to begin with of course), but otherwise, it all went as predicted.

2% charge from Norwegian, & 3% charge from my credit company (maybe none for yours) on top of an estimated price depending on exchange rates for that day/minute.

Posted by
4078 posts

I use my US credit card all the time to buy tickets priced in Euros. It is like making any purchase in Europe with a US credit card in that you will get a good rate. Of course, each credit card comes with its own rules about foreign transactions, but in my experience, using a credit card is always a good idea.

Posted by
20634 posts

You are charged in whatever currency the vendor decides to use.

Posted by
6 posts

Purchasing through Norwegian might make a difference? I made a profile. And where our asks which currency you'd like to be charged in, I put NOK. (Note: this is in my profile, not just when shopping by currency)

Hard to remember now, but I believe my first ticket was listed as like somewhere between $265-285 (usd). Through my process & after the fees, I was charged $232.
* the other ticket was listed at $400 (usd) & I was eventually charged $361. These purchases were weeks apart btw.

It's not an exact, but regardless, it absolutely saved me money.

Posted by
507 posts

Ericalynn012,

For the heck of it I tried the Air France website. I needed to change part of the address from US to FR to obtain the price in euros. Just playing around I believe the FR price was about $15 cheaper than the US price.

My travel card will not charge transaction fees. So that is one fee I need not worry about. Until your post, I never thought to purchase my tickets with anything other than USD. Thanks for the tip! :-)

Posted by
2762 posts

But what happens when you enter the billing address for your credit card and it is a US address? Won't it change back to dollars?

My experience is that the $/€/£ thing is driven by the country where the flight originates. When I book a BritishAirwYs flight originating in the UK, the price is quoted in £ even though BA knows I live in the US. If I look up EasyJet flights from Barcelona to someplace like Paris, the price is quoted in €. when we were thinking of a tour in Turkey and Imlooked upmthenprice of an internal flight within Turkey, it was quoted in Turkish money. And whenI looked up flights from LondonntomIstanbul and back ( RT)'the price was in £, even on Turkish Air.

Posted by
6 posts

That's why I said, flying NORWEGIAN airlines must be the difference. Proof is there. It worked with them.