When traveling abroad you’ve got to pay attention to the money. File this “travel tip” under most important.
With our recent trip in Southeast Asia we stayed at many hotels, Airbnb’s and more. We hope to write a few reviews and posts.
However, this travel tip post should not be missed!
Picture it, you’ve just had a fantastic five night stay at a luxurious high end hotel property. It couldn’t have been better! The club lounge, the nightly social hour, the drinks, the conversations and the spa! Ahhhh….Don’t you feel better.
As we know, all good things MUST come to an end. There you are, at the front desk, reviewing your bill, questioning yourself, “how many bottles of wine did I have at dinner?!?” Then, without missing a beat you approve your bill and the question comes,
“Would you like to pay in Thai Baht (local currency) or U.S. Dollars?”
“The proof is in the pudding”
Which brings us to the “travel tip” or our case in point.
Our hotel invoice had a balance due of $7013.68 THB. We handed over our Chase Reserve credit card and then, we were given this receipt to “choose” the currency in which we wanted to pay.
Now, being the “proud American” I am and wanting to show my patronage for the good Ol’ USA AND since I was using my U.S. Chase Reserve credit card, I might be “convinced” to pay in USD, (WOW, that was a lot of “air quotes”).
But, let’s take a closer look.
Thanks to my handy dandy currency app from the app store, it’s telling me that the current exchange rate from the THB to USD is coming in at $33.06 THB per $1 USD, or for my purchase of $7,013.68 THB I should pay $212.11 USD.
Hum, strange!? Something isn’t adding up, but if you look closer at the receipt, you see this:
Seems that SCB Bank, the hotel CC processor, wants to give me a lower exchange rate than my own credit card will convert the charge, or they are basically charging me about $10 U.S. Dollars for my pride of wanting to pay in USD.
I then dig deeper into my credit card statement and find that paying in THB gives me the conversion rate on the day it clears as seen here (the exchange rate ticked up a bit after the charge posted, but only by a few cents):
So, there you have it. The dirty little “secret” and how you should answer when asked,
“Would you like to pay in local currency or USD?”
However, there are a few tips to know before you hit process on that credit card transaction:
- Make SURE that your credit or bank debit card that you are using has a “No International Conversion Fee” charge. Almost all U.S. credit cards offer this as a selling point of their credit card. There are still a few cards that charge around a 3% fee. So you basically need to “do the math” and find out if it might be cheaper to get the conversion from the bank providing you the USD option.
- Download and keep handy the currency app. It can be a lifesaver. A good option is this one on the Apple store.
- If you want to save even more money, you might want to read our post on why Charles Schwab is the PERFECT choice for people who travel internationally and need cash. It’s the closest you can get to FEE FREE conversion cash.
- Finally, don’t feel pressured to be rushed to make a quick decision. If you need to take a moment to do the math, then do it. Personally, a few minutes to save $10 is worth my time.
Hopefully, this post was able to give you a bit more knowledge on some of the things you think you might be aware of but weren’t really paying attention too.
Have you ever noticed the conversion rates offered by banks before?
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