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What is a currency conversion fee?

DNBC Team DNBC Team

Mar 13, 2023

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Definition of Currency Conversion Fee

Currency conversion fees are charges that financial institutions impose when converting one currency to another. These fees are often hidden and can significantly increase the cost of a transaction. Understanding how these fees work is essential, especially for those who frequently travel or engage in international transactions.

What is a currency conversion fee?

What is a currency conversion fee?

Types of Currency Conversion Fees

There are two types of currency conversion fees: a percentage of the transaction amount or a flat fee. The amount charged can vary significantly depending on the institution and the transaction’s amount. To calculate currency conversion fees, one must consider the exchange rate being used and the fee percentage or flat fee charged.

How Currency Conversion Fees Work

Currency conversion fees are charged by financial institutions when converting one currency to another. These fees are usually a percentage of the transaction amount or a flat fee, depending on the institution. The fee covers the costs of converting the currency, including the exchange rate spread, which is the difference between the buying and selling rates of a currency. Financial institutions typically use a higher exchange rate than the market rate, which allows them to make a profit from the conversion.

When a transaction is made in a foreign currency, the financial institution converts the transaction amount to the local currency using the exchange rate at the time of the transaction. The converted amount is then charged to the customer’s account, including the currency conversion fee. The exact amount charged varies depending on the financial institution and the transaction’s amount.

Factors that Affect Currency Conversion Fees

Several factors influence currency conversion fees, including the currencies being exchanged, the financial institution’s policies, and the transaction’s amount. For instance, some financial institutions charge a lower fee for higher transactions.

How to Avoid Currency Conversion Fees

Currency conversion fees can add up quickly, especially for those who frequently engage in international transactions. Here are some ways to avoid or minimize currency conversion fees:

  1. Use a Credit Card with No Foreign Transaction Fees: Some credit cards do not charge foreign transaction fees, which means you can make purchases in a foreign currency without incurring additional fees. It’s essential to check with your credit card issuer to see if they offer this benefit.
  2. Use a Debit Card that Offers Free ATM Withdrawals: Some debit cards offer free ATM withdrawals, which can be useful when traveling overseas. Instead of exchanging currency at a bureau or bank, you can withdraw cash from an ATM in the local currency without incurring additional fees.
  3. Exchange Currency at a Local Bank or Currency Exchange Bureau: If you need to exchange currency, it’s best to do so at a local bank or currency exchange bureau instead of a hotel or airport. While some institutions charge a fee for exchanging currency, the fees may be lower than those charged by financial institutions.
  4. Use Peer-to-Peer Payment Services: Peer-to-peer payment services like PayPal allow you to transfer money in different currencies without incurring currency conversion fees. However, some peer-to-peer payment services charge a fee for converting currency, so it’s essential to check the fees before using them.
  5. Use the Local Currency: When traveling overseas, it’s best to use the local currency when making purchases. Using a credit card in a foreign currency may result in additional fees, including currency conversion fees and foreign transaction fees.

By taking these steps, you can avoid or minimize currency conversion fees and save money on international transactions. However, it’s essential to weigh the costs and benefits of each option to determine which one is best for your needs.

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Note: The content in this article is for general informative purposes only. You should conduct your own research or ask for specialist advice before making any financial decisions. All information in this article is current as of the date of publication, and DNBC Financial Group reserves the right to modify, add, or remove any information. We don’t provide any express or implied representations, warranties, or guarantees regarding the accuracy, completeness, or currency of the content within this publication.