Subject: No Dynamic Currency Conversion Please
Greetings to all,

Last year, while in Europe, I noticed on my VISA charge receipt (at an Italian hotel) that the charge was not in Euro but also in USA Dollars. The receipt showed both the Euro amount and a Dollar amount. I questioned it but was told by the hotel manager that the Dollar amount was just for my information. Since many countries in Europe still show the old local currency in addition to the Euro on the receipt, I signed it. Later I learned that this is a way to charge you in your own currency and add an additional fee of 3%. The processing company gets some of the fee and the merchant gets some of it. It's called Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) and for want of a better word, it's a scam.

According to VISA, you are supposed to be given a choice of what currency you want to be billed in but in reality, you will not be given a choice and when the bill comes, your salesperson or clerk, will not know how to change the billing method. What makes this even more costly is that many VISA issuers now charge you an extra 3% for all foreign transactions whether you pay in the foreign currency or your own currency. If you pay in your own currency whether by choice or because the system "sees" your address you will be charged a 3% fee and then when the monthly credit card statement arrives you may be charged another 3% fee by your credit card issuing bank. That could add up to a 6% additional cost.

This year found a credit card issuer in the USA that issued me a VISA card and said they would not charge me the 3% foreign transaction fee so on my last trip I just had to make sure that I asked each time I used my VISA if I would be billed in Euro. I only had one "bad experience" and that was at a Parador in Spain. I asked if I could charge in Euro and they said "of course" but the receipt had the charge in Dollars. It appears that the charge defaults to your home currency and the desk clerks did not know how to change it. They were very nice, even allowing me to write on the receipt that I had not been given a choice and they made a photocopy of the merchant's copy of the receipt for me. They said they had tried to call and change it before with no luck and suggested I complain to VISA.

You can tell that the processing company is aware of the scam because the receipt has printed, "No Refund" or that by signing the receipt you agree to a 3% commission. It also states that this is your choice. Now you may ask why didn't I just tell them to Void the transaction and pay in cash. Well, I didn't think of it.

VISA is going to lose out because I started paying in cash if I wasn't positive how I would be billed. I met several Americans who said they used their American Express Card because they were only billed in the local currency, not dollars. I read on the Internet that American Express controls the processing so there is no way for a third party to add a commission.

I did complain to VISA last year and they credited my account for the 3%.

Years ago I always used my VISA card to make purchases in Europe because I knew I would get a good exchange rate but now I am not so sure.

Has anyone else had any experience with DCC? How have you solved it?

Sincerely, John Vittoe