Dynamic currency conversion
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Dynamic currency conversion (DCC) or cardholder preferred currency (CPC) is a financial service in which credit card holders, when making a payment in a foreign country, have the cost of a transaction converted to their home currency at the point of sale. DCC allows customers to see the amount their card will be charged, expressed in their home currency. DCC services are generally provided by third party operators in association with the merchant, and not by a credit card company. (There is no technological reason for credit card companies not to give cardholders a DCC option at the point of sale.) The exchange rate used by DCC operators is generally less favorable than that offered through their credit card company. The DCC exchange rate would incorporate the foreign exchange rate charged by the credit card company, in addition to a fee paid to the merchant and that retained by the DCC operator. Furthermore, the credit card company may charge an additional fee for charges made outside the card holder's home country, though the charge appears to have been made in the home currency under DCC.
The currency conversion is done by the merchant or his representative card processor at the point of sale instead of by the credit card company when the account is charged. The financial benefit to the merchant or their provider may be an incentive for the merchant to use DCC even when it would be disadvantageous to the customer. The merchant is now obliged to ask the customer if they want to use DCC but sometimes false information is given by the merchant to persuade customers to use DCC, such as that "DCC bypasses foreign transaction fees" or that "their machines automatically convert purchases to the home currency at the point of sale", which are both not true. Most credit card companies and advisers recommend that consumers not use DCC when it is offered to them. Credit card companies claim that they are required by law to permit DCC operators access to their platforms.
Many sources report that customers do not understand DCC, are not properly informed of the terms, and are not able to make an informed decision whether to elect to pay in the local currency or in their home currency. Proponents of this service suggest that the benefit to travelers is that it allows them to view and therefore understand prices in foreign countries in their home currency and for business travelers making it easier to enter expenses.
Prior to the card schemes (Visa and MasterCard) imposing rules relating to DCC, cardholder transactions were converted without the need to disclose that the transaction was being converted into a customer's home currency, in a process known as "back office DCC". Visa and MasterCard now prohibit this practice and require the customer's consent for DCC, although many travelers have reported that this is not universally followed.
Visa Chargeback reason code 76 explicitly covers situations where the "Cardholder was not advised that Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) would occur" or "Cardholder was refused the choice of paying in the merchant’s local currency". Customers have a strong chance of successfully disputing such transactions, especially in situations where they pay with a credit card and where Verified by Visa or Securecode is not involved.
How it works
When a customer wants to pay for a transaction using a credit card, the payment device will detect whether the base currency of the card is different of the local currency. With a customer-facing payment device, the cardholder will be prompted with the option of paying in their own currency. The payment device will display the exchange rate used and the amount in the cardholder's currency. The cardholder must then select the currency they want the transaction to be processed in.
If the cardholder elects to pay in their own currency, the transaction will be converted into the cardholder's currency using an exchange rate which includes the margin for providing the service. The exchange rate and the margin must be disclosed to the cardholder to be deemed a compliant solution.
The DCC provider guarantees that the amount in the cardholder's currency will be debited to the cardholder's account, and that the merchant's account will be credited with the amount in the local currency. The exchange rate risk is borne by the DCC provider. The cardholder's credit card issuer may choose to impose an additional foreign transaction fee on the transaction, which appears on the statement, but typically they will not charge this fee when not providing a service.
DCC operates similarly with Internet transactions. When credit card information is entered to finalize payment, the system can detect the home country of the cardholder and offer the cardholder the option of paying in their currency. DCC is also available for cash withdrawals at ATMs.
An example can be seen in the following image, where the same GBP purchase is made twice just after each other: one with DCC and one without DCC. In both cases, the original amount is GBP 6.90 and is paid with a Visa card denominated in EUR. When applying DCC (left part of the image), the amount becomes EUR 8.20. This will also be the amount on the credit card statement. Without DCC, the amount is GBP 6.90 and the resulting EUR charge can be found only at the credit card statement, and can vary with any fluctuations between the GBP and EUR currencies.
On the card statement, the difference in charges can be seen: the DCC transaction is correctly charged at EUR 8.20 while the non-DCC is charged at EUR 8.04 - a difference of almost 2%. While this may seem a small amount for the customer, it can mean a big income stream for the DCC operator and merchant.
DCC has proved popular with merchants because it enables them to profit from the foreign exchange conversion that occurs during the payment process for a foreign denominated Visa or MasterCard.
Credit card acquirers and payment gateways will also take a profit on the foreign exchange conversion that occurs during the payment process for foreign denominated Visa and Master cards when DCC is used. DCC revenue has been important for them because it offsets increasing international interchange fees.
The main advantage of DCC is that for a non-DCC transaction the customer does not know exactly the exchange rate that the credit card company will apply (and the final cost) until the transaction is cleared, so the actual rate is not known to the customer until it appears on a monthly statement.
Other advantages to customers, according to proponents, are:
- the ability to view and therefore understand prices in foreign countries in their home currency,
- the ability to enter expenses more easily and promptly, especially for business travellers, and
- EU regulation 2560/2001 could make non-eurozone cash withdrawals within the European Economic Area cheaper for eurozone customers, because euro cash withdrawals are regulated. A Swedish law (SFS 2002:598) combined with the EU resolution does the same thing for Swedish cards if the transaction is in SEK or EUR. Generally, Eurozone banks charge a fixed fee for foreign cash withdrawals while domestic withdrawals are free of charge. Because of the EU regulation, this makes EEA withdrawals in euros free of charge. For example, let's say that a eurozone card is used for a withdrawal in the UK. With DCC there are two options: processing the transaction in pounds (good exchange rate but a fixed cash withdrawal fee) or processing the transaction in euros (bad exchange rate but no fixed cash withdrawal fee). For small amounts, the latter option may turn out cheaper.
For the merchant which normally accepts credit cards, DCC offers an opportunity to earn a margin on the transaction with no exchange rate risk, which is borne by the DCC operator.
The main objection to DCC is the unfavorable exchange rates and fees being applied on the transaction, resulting in a higher charge on their credit card, and that in many cases the customer is not aware of the additional and often unnecessary cost of the DCC transaction.
The size of the foreign exchange margin added using DCC varies depending on the DCC operator, card acquirer or payment gateway and merchant. This margin is in addition to any charges levied by the customer's bank or credit card company for a foreign purchase. In most cases, customers are charged more using DCC than they would have been if they had simply paid in the foreign currency. This is not necessarily the case however because the issuers also apply a spread when converting transactions from a foreign currency to the statement's currency.
- Customer should check the spread their issuer charge for their transaction in a foreign currency and confront it with the base rate and spread declared by the DCC terminal and chose the best option.
- Customers may find DCC to be forced upon them, without a clear choice, as merchants falsely claim their machines automatically convert purchases to home currency at the point of sale
- Credit card disputes can be lengthy or impossible if a customer signs the receipt with / without a clear choice.
- Customers should be advised of the choice open to them to select the local currency, shouldn't this happen they may report the case to the payment scheme customer service.
The main DCC providers are:
- Alliex Co.,Ltd based in South Korea
- ConCardis based in Germany
- Euronet Worldwide based in the United States
- First Data based in the United States
- FEXCO Merchant Services based in Ireland
- Global Blue based in Switzerland
- Monex Financial Services  based in Ireland
- Planet Payment based in the United States
- Premier Tax Free, part of the Fintrax Group based in Ireland
- Six Payment Services based in Switzerland
- Travelex based in Australia
- Worldline based in the United States
- The Age, 30 March 2015: Dynamic currency conversion - robbery by choice
- Forbes, 30 July 2014: Pay in Local or Home Currency?
- U.S. News & World Report, 15 June 2015: The Strong Dollar Is Causing Travelers to Make a Big Credit Card Mistake
- atoztalk, March 2015: Watch Out When Using Your Credit Card Abroad
- "Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC)". FEXCO. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
- Collinson, Patrick (12 July 2008). "Going to Spain? Just say no". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- "Dynamic currency exchange". FlyerTalk. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Yang, Maximilian, 'Dynamic Currency Conversion – ein grenzüberschreitendes verbraucherpolitisches Problem' (Dynamic Currency Conversion – a cross-border consumer policy problem),  BKR 407, 408 (in German), with further references.
- Keck, Gayle (31 July 2005). "Charge It . . . but Check the Math". Washington Post. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Steele, Jason. "The Foreign Conversion Scam". Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Dynamic Currency Conversion: Still A Scam". 9 March 2008. courant.com. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Pure Commerce
- GlobalChoice Currency Conversion
- FEXCO Merchant Services
- Global Blue
- "Dynamic Currency Conversion DCC Monex". Dynamic Currency Conversion - DCC - Monex. Retrieved 2016-06-22.
- Planet Payment
- Fintrax Group
- Six Payment Services
- Travelex Currency Select