Please sign in to post.

Credit & Debit Card Scams - Have You Experienced These

Airfare watchdog just posted an article about a new credit card scam and debit card scam.

The first has to do credit card charges. It's called 'dynamic conversion' - when you agree that you want to be charged in US dollars you essentially authorize them to charge you a very high exchange rate, as high as 9%. The solution is to always say NO to having your charge converted to US$

The second has to do with using your debit card (specifically at airports.) Oftentimes now exchange outfits such as 'Travelex' provide exclusive service and while they claim no fees, they convert at retail exchange rates which can be more than 1-% in some locations. The solution is NOT to use airport ATMS and wait until you can go to a bank.

Has anyone experienced this? Here's the link to the article
http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/blog/34837179/beware-two-new-foreign-currency-scams/?source=45568&nltv=&nl_cs=34932557%3A%3A%3A%3A%3A%3A

Posted by
9363 posts

These are not new. You must not have been around the helpline much. Both of these are constant topics around here. Generally, any time someone mentions using foreign ATMs or charging things abroad, both of these are mentioned. But the airport ATM thing isn't always true. Many still have regular, bank-associated ATMs. There has been talk going around here that ATMs were getting involved in DCC at some banks, too, but I have used several diferent banks here in Spain and have not encountered it anywhere.

Posted by
4474 posts

The charges at Travelex ATMs are either as a result of DCC, or from selling a currency not of the country it is based in, eg euro in the UK. Using them for the home currency and serving DCC if offered is the answer.

Consumer law in various countries claim that allowing the network to fix the conversion fee is the scam and DCC is the customer choice ...

Posted by
11576 posts

Right. Neither of these examples are anything new, and are regularly discussed in forum threads. Rick covers the DCC issue on these pages of the website:

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money/card-fees#dcc

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money/cash-machine-atm-tips

As Marco has said, it's not a scam if you're given the choice of local currency or U.S. dollars or whatever your home currency is. We've also used bank-associated ATMs at airports although we try not to only because if there's a problem with the card (e.g. it gets eaten), it's best if that happens AT a bank itself for assistance.

Posted by
2814 posts

it's not a scam if you're given the choice of local currency or U.S. dollars or whatever your home currency is.

Although maybe "scam" is too strong a word, it basically is that. DCC is aimed at snaring people such as infrequent travelers who are not familiar with it, and tries to convince users that it is providing a great, convenient service.

Posted by
329 posts

not a scam .. Florida merchants have offered Canadians dynamic conversion for years now.

Posted by
17659 posts

It's not a scam if a business does it. Then it is called "Free market".

Posted by
3322 posts

Dynamic currency conversion is offered to people from all over the world where they are offered to be billed in their home currency, it is not limited to those with US issued cards. It is never a good option in Europe because the rate for the Euro doesn't change that drastically or that often. Sometimes in other places it can work in your favor if the local currency spikes and the DCC rate is not updated fast enough. But betting on that is like playing the currency FX markets -- people like us never win!

It has been reported often here that the Travelex ATMs in Heathrow specifically work just like bank ATMs meaning no significant upcharge as long as you decline the DCC offer. I still have not checked that out, but will get an oportunity later this year.

But overall this is good advice from the OP.

Posted by
20638 posts

While Airefare watchdog may think this is a new "scam" or potential problems. Both situations have been known about and discussed on this site forever. Really nothing new BUT it may becoming more wide spread as newer travelers hit the market. Everyone needs to be aware and an occasional reminder is helpful but the sky is not falling.

Posted by
2047 posts

Re Travelex ATMs at Heathrow: As I have previously reported, I was charged the normal Interbank rate at a Travelex ATM at Heathrow two years ago (T2, I believe). And, it did not even try for DCC.

Posted by
6811 posts

Thank you for posting this. Maybe someone who didn't know about this will see your post, even if most of us who've been here a while (too long in my case) know about it.

Posted by
4500 posts

Technically neither is a scam as both are legitimate business practices. But DCC certainly isn't needed by most people and is really a way for merchants and/or banks to get a higher exchange rate.

DCC is not widespread across the continent but is spreading. It is very common in Spain for sure. And it can come from either an ATM or a merchant.

Posted by
2814 posts

DCC is not widespread across the continent but is spreading.

While I won't say it hasn't reached France (I assume it has), I still haven't experienced it there yet, either at ATMs or merchants. The only times I've been given the option on my France trips were at a couple of food stands at connecting airports - Amsterdam and Dublin.

Posted by
404 posts

Although this is not new it's good that this information pops up every so often. There are still a lot of people that don't know about. Last trip the hotel clerk asked my husband if he would like to be charged in dollars. He said it so casually as if in passing. My husband said yes. I immediately said "No, no, no!" If you don't know about it, it seems sensible.

I think it's fair to call it a scam or ripoff.

Posted by
16858 posts

Update from France: A casual restaurant in Avignon charged me in dollars rather than euros without asking which I preferred, so I guess that ploy (which I experienced multiple times in Spain last year) is spreading. Gotta always check the unit of currency as well as the numeric amount on those receipts before signing.

Posted by
17659 posts

One solution is don't use your credit card for POS transactions (merchandise, meals, etc). Just use cash (euro most places on the continent).

Posted by
2740 posts

I think scam is entirely the correct word, for a legal practice that is dishonest and deceives.

Also, I've seen DCC offered at well over 10% loss, so there's no apparent upper limit.

I've never really figured out the "honest" side of DCC, the justification side, for a cash withdrawal. You aren't really converting anything to dollars at an ATM, you are merely agreeing to a terrible rate. At least in a shop you get the trivial benefit of a receipt in dollars.

Posted by
5035 posts

There are a lot of US travelers who are unable or unwilling to think in terms of any money other than US dollars. I know I've seen people overpay, overtip to get rid of funny money, or just not understand that the prices of things are not directly comparable. Those people may actually see DCC as a convenience even if they understand they're paying for it.

We had DCC offered at many restaurants in the UK recently, while paying at the table. It is interesting to hear that visitors to the US are confronted with the same "opportunity".