Booking travel online direct with vendors means you will often pay in a foreign currency. This is a relatively new phenomenon as previously you would have paid your local travel agent in your local currency.
A recent trend is for web sites to present the option for you to pay in your local currency rather than the currency of the place you’re booking. You also get this option on some point of sale machines when abroad. What should you do?
A Recent Example
Qatar Airways discounted flights from Stockholm in a recent sale and the service to Auckland was particularly well priced. I decided to go ahead and make a booking. The price came to 18,247 Swedish Krona which the currency conversion web sites said was about €1,920.
The amounts presented on these sites are always slightly less than what you will actually be charged. This is because they take an average exchange rate and don’t factor in any fees your bank may charge.
At the payment stage I had the option of paying in Swedish Krona or Euro with the Euro price displayed as €1,972.77. Someone once gave me the advice never to pay in your home currency in a situation like this as you would ultimately pay more.
I have always found this to be true. In this case, I paid in Swedish Krona and the amount that hit my credit card was €1,950.42. This is €22.35 less than the price offered at the booking stage. While it does not seem much in the overall scheme of things, I would rather spend it on something else rather than hand it to a credit card company for no reason at all.
Finding out how much things are in your own money is relatively easy thanks to online currency conversion web sites. These will give you a general idea about how much will actually be debited from your credit card. Whether you will save money by paying the foreign amount or the amount presented in your home currency will depend on the fee structure at your local bank.
In my case, the option to pay in my home currency is always a higher amount than what has appeared on my card after paying in a foreign currency. I would suggest investigating it yourself as the money is certainly better in your own pocket than some financial institutions!
Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.