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'Using plastic overseas? Always PAY IN EUROS...' blog discussion

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'Using plastic overseas? Always PAY IN EUROS...' blog discussion

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This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.




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  • I live in Spain now and am amazed how many tourists fall for this as they seem to think it's a better option to pay in their home country's exchange rate. It's becoming more and more common for shops and restaurants here to either offer you the option or paying in £ or euros, OR - and this is even worse - they just ASSUME you'll want to pay in your home currency and select that for you! Have been caught out with latter a few times when paying with my Santander Zero UK Mastercard so now when paying with that I always make a point of telling them I want to pay in Euros when I hand over the card.
  • :eek:WARNING!! Avoid withdrawing cash from ATMs operated by Sabadell bank in Spain using your UK credit or debit card until I can confirm following issue has been resolved.

    Sabadell bank in Spain has a fault in its ATM network in that when drawing cash from its ATMs using a foreign card even if you select to pay in Euros it still charges you in GB pounds using its own rubbish exchange rate. I became aware of this fault in December after encountering it at 3 different Sabadell ATMs in different areas of central and southern Spain, whereby I had selected to pay in Euros. I and other British users have reported the fault to them and I received an email in January saying they'd investigate. However, despite follow ups to them 3 months later I am still waiting for response from Sabadell to confirm they've corrected this fault. This really is daylight robbery by a bank!
  • patrick1patrick1 Forumite
    63 posts
    Part of the Furniture 10 Posts Combo Breaker
    I've had problems with duty free shops at airports. They are so quick and auto-charge in £ and then claim total ignorance about the issue if you make a fuss about it. have had this issue in Spain, China, Cambodia, etc. Getting a refund involves finding a manager who is unavailable, etc. I agree with prev poster - always tell them beforehand you want to pay in whatever the local currency is.
  • lyster101lyster101 Forumite
    105 posts
    It is not just Sabadell. I was in Seville a fortnight ago and was charged in GBP at the Alcazar palace. This is governmental. I was not offered a choice to pay in EUR or GBP, as sometimes I am. I forget the bank but, as described, it is often too late to reverse once the payment has actually been taken.

    This has also happened on previous trips to Madrid, Barcelona and the Canaries. I've NEVER come across a different country's banks not offering you at least a choice. I'm sure there is a cut (from the bank) for the organisation processing the payment and it is wholly immoral to force a rate of c. 1.1 EUR to GBP on someone without a) telling them before hand (No, a statement on the receipt that I have no recourse with Mastercard does not constitute this) or b) giving them a choice.

    As I wrote, I've only seen this in Spain.
  • benjusbenjus Forumite
    5.4K posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts
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    One (rather niche) situation came up recently where I would actually advise paying in GBP if possible. My OH was travelling on business; her employer doesn't issue corporate cards, so she had to pay for everything on her personal card and claim back. Because she paid for everything in EUR and the receipts were in EUR, she entered them into the computer system in EUR, which converted them back to GBP automatically. However, they didn't use the same exchange rate, and she lost out slightly. No big deal, but if she'd paid in GBP she would have received exactly the right amount (although her employer would have paid slightly more). This situation probably doesn't apply to many people though - other employers may have more flexible computer systems to handle this.
    Let's settle this like gentlemen: armed with heavy sticks
    On a rotating plate, with spikes like Flash Gordon
    And you're Peter Duncan; I gave you fair warning
  • I recently purchased my ski pass in France using my Lloyds Bank credit card (don't have a better one). I paid in Euros and got a reasonable rate but the Bank charged me £2.00 (on an £86.00 transaction) for a 'non sterling' transaction! They make money however that are able.:mad:
  • mehermeher
    15.9K posts
    10,000 Posts Combo Breaker
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    I confess all this is slightly too complicated to understand. However i understood the last sentence that the best way to pay is in Euro as opposed to Dollar or Pound. I however don't get it, why not just pay in the local currency? Whenever I pay abroad, I insist that they take it in their local currency. I don't understand why my card should be subject to several conversions. For instance I buy something for $100. The retailer asks me if I would like it charged in dollars or Pounds; why would I want to ask them to pay in Euro when it is best that they charge me $100 and my card would give them £65.93, end of story, instead of it being converted by the retailer at their convenient rate, which might not be the best rate mind you, then my card converts it again to pound to take it off my account? Please excuse my profound ignorance if it is the case but common sense tells me not to trust any retailer's conversion rates and just pay in local currency.
  • meher wrote: »
    I confess all this is slightly too complicated to understand. However i understood the last sentence that the best way to pay is in Euro as opposed to Dollar or Pound. I however don't get it, why not just pay in the local currency? Whenever I pay abroad, I insist that they take it in their local currency. I don't understand why my card should be subject to several conversions. For instance I buy something for $100. The retailer asks me if I would like it charged in dollars or Pounds; why would I want to ask them to pay in Euro when it is best that they charge me $100 and my card would give them £65.93, end of story, instead of it being converted by the retailer at their convenient rate, which might not be the best rate mind you, then my card converts it again to pound to take it off my account? Please excuse my profound ignorance if it is the case but common sense tells me not to trust any retailer's conversion rates and just pay in local currency.

    Exactly you are spot on. Always pay in the LOCAL currency. If you let the retailer (or whoever you are buying from) convert it to another currency you will always get a worse rate than you will from your credit/debit card's bank.
  • A few months ago in two separate transactions using my prepaid already loaded with euros CaxtonFX card I withdrew €150 from two different ATM’s with confusing information on the screen, yet when I got home I found that each withdrawals of €150 from my Caxton FX,Prepaid Euro card was debited €174 what had happened was the machine first converted the €150 to pounds sterling and then back again to Euros! And uponcontacting Caxton they told me there’s nothing they can do about it, this sometime happens it’s a way the Spanish banks get money!
  • edited 28 March 2013 at 1:42AM
    richardsofficerichardsoffice Forumite
    8 posts
    edited 28 March 2013 at 1:42AM
    Another time In Spain I gave my card to the hotel manager to pay my bill
    and I told him I wanted to pay in Euros, I watched the transaction progress on the card readers screen but it was all in Spanish (I can’t read Spanish) the manager quickly pressed a button a couple of times then presented the machine to me to enter my PIN the screen clearly had the amount displayed in Euros and no mention of any conversion, however I didn’t find out till I got home the manager had agreed for me to have the transaction converted to UK pounds at some point but it would have been written in Spanish when he did it.
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