The Fixer: Using cards overseas


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Dear Fixer,
I am going on holiday with my family to Gran Canaria in a couple of weeks. We are on quite a tight budget this year, so I want to make sure that I don't overspend.

Last time I was abroad, I noticed that I was often offered the choice of paying in pounds or euros when I used my debit card in a shop or restaurant.

I chose to pay in pounds as that seemed the more sensible option, but a friend told me recently that I should choose to pay in euros instead. Is he right?

M Upton, Chester

Dear Mr Upton,

As you say, the card machine will often ask you whether you would like to pay in pounds, or in the local currency, when you use a credit or debit card to make a purchase overseas.

Choosing to pay in pounds means that you are using what is known as dynamic currency conversion, and will be able to see exactly how much will be charged to your account for that particular transaction.

However, your friend is right that it is generally better to choose to pay in the local currency, as it should cost you less overall.

This is because the exchange rate provided by the retailer if you opt to pay in pounds is usually much poorer than the one you would receive from your bank.

The Fixer

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