August 07, 2007
Charging Credit Cards in Dollars Rather than Euros
Posted by Gordon Smith

When I rented my automobile in Germany last week, the Avis representative noted that he was charging my credit card in dollars rather than Euros.

"Why are you doing that?"

Blank stare. He was a trainee, and apparently, he had been told to do this.

The office manager, perceiving the standstill, rushed to his aid. "Because some credit cards charge a currency conversion fee. This will avoid that."

"My card doesn't charge that fee. I would like to pay in Euros."

I blogged about such charges after an earlier trip to Germany, after which I acquired a Capital One No Hassle cash Rewards Card. As noted in my prior posts, Capital One not only does not charge a foreign transaction fee, but it also absorbs the fee charged by Visa and MasterCard. (I love it!)

Even if you ignore the fees, it appears that Avis was trying to pull a fast one. After the foregoing exchange, I decided to keep the initial receipt (which showed the charges in dollars) so that I could compare it with the final bill. The actual cost of my one-week rental, including insurance, was $515.26. The cost in dollars would have been $577.39. The primary difference was the result of the poor exchange rate Avis had used to calculate the dollar charge. (Not as bad as exchanging cash in a train station, mind you. That is the traveler's equivalent of a payday loan.)

By the way, the car was the new Ford Mondeo, which got up to 200 km/hr on the Autobahn without any trouble ... other than the fact that it freaked me out to drive that fast. Of course, the German cars were still flying past us.

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