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Anderson Tour Cost

This is a very naive question, but I need to ask it.

I want to take an Anderson Tour to Canterbury and Dover - in September. The rep said they require payment upfront for the Tour in GBP at a cost of £ 69. Will my credit card be charged for the exchange rate of around $88.00, or something else?

Thank you.

Posted by Jane
Sapulpa, OK, USA
1825 posts

I'd call the credit card company. You may not get the best rate. Also, your card may charge an extra fee for international transactions.

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
6982 posts

It's unlikely that your credit card company will take you to the cleaners on this, but you need to know what its policy on foreign charges is, because you are likely to be using that card during the trip, right? Call the toll-free number on the back of the card and ask:

  • If I use the card in Europe, is there an extra fee charged on each trnsaction? If so, what is that fee?

  • Is there a %-based surchage on foreign charges? If so, what is that percentage?

  • What is the source of the exchange rate that will be used to convert foreign charges into US dollars? (You could try asking what the day's actual conversion rate is for GB pounds, but it's possible that the phone rep won't have access to that information.)

There are cards that assess no foreign-transaction fees and use conversion rates that are within 1% (or less) of the bank rate. Even if you aren't that lucky, you probably won't be paying much extra for your tour ticket. But if you don't like the answers you get, you might want to get a better card for use during your trip.

Similar questions should be asked of the financial institution that issued your ATM card, which you're also likely to be using in Europe. If you're going to be charged a fee every time you use an ATM, you might want to make fewer, but larger, withdrawals.

Posted by petencharlie77 OP
16 posts

Thank you. My credit union has a 1% fee on any charges I make in England. I'm glad I called them.

I thought I saw something on this forum a while back that tourists should ask to be charged in U.S. $ rather than pounds in hotels, restaurants, etc.

Posted by Barbara
Brooklyn, NY
611 posts

We do the opposite. Ask to be charged in the local currency.

Posted by Chris F
Basel, Switzerland
4812 posts

petencharlie, Always, always pay in the local currency. This applies for both credit cards and debit cards getting money out of a cash machine (ATM).
Letting the business convert the currency themselves is the dreaded DCC (details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_currency_conversion ), which means you are giving them permission to convert at whatever rate they want, and keep the profits.
Your own bank / card issuer will always give you a better conversion rate because if not you will take our business elsewhere.

And, tell your bank / card issuer in advance that you are going to foreign parts / doing foreign transactions, as otherwise they may get anally retentive and block it as "suspicious".

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
6982 posts

Barbara's right. You always want to be charged in the local currency. Anyone offering you the option of paying in dollars is doing so because it is worth his while. You can be sure he is using an exchange rate that is very advantageous to him (and definitely not a good deal for you). Also--strange as it seems--being charged in dollars will not avoid whatever foreign fees your credit card assesses; you'll still be charged those fees, on top of getting a bad exchange rate.

If the 1% is the only extra charge you'll be hit with, that's not bad at all. I like having a couple of no-fee cards, but you might decide it's not worth the hassle of applying for a new card. On the other hand, if you just have one credit card, it wouldn't be a bad plan to get a second one, which you would carry separately. It's good to have a back-up in case one card is lost or stolen.

You may encounter ATMs that offer to calculate your withdrawal in dollars. As with credit card transactions, you should always take the local-currency option.

Posted by petencharlie77 OP
16 posts

Thank you, acraven. I find a credit union much better than a bank. Does this same info apply to a debit card, or should I leave that at home?

Posted by Chris F
Basel, Switzerland
4812 posts

Yes, the same info does apply to a debit card.
You will need one to get cash out of an ATM. DO NOT use a credit card in an ATM, because that counts as a cash advance, and you will pay credit card interest from day 1.

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
6982 posts

Yes, it's best to have both a credit card (or 2) and an ATM card (or 2). Without a credit card you'd probably be carrying around a substantial wad of cash, and there are some places that don't take credit cards, so the ATM card is essential for access to at least modest amounts of cash.