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Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Tap to Pay Abroad: Beware of DCC

DCC is part of The Adios Puerto Rico, Hola España Trip Report. Read TPOL in Madrid: Why A Second Residency?


I once wrote an article about Hertz’s Dynamic Currency Conversion tactic (see Dynamic Currency Conversion – A Euphemism for Highway Robbery). The takeaway from that article is to always select the local currency when using your credit card and let your bank convert the foreign currency into dollars. This is preferable to allowing the foreign bank to set the exchange rate.

The problem I have encountered with DCC in Madrid is when I use Tap to Pay. Here’s what happens: The waiter says the bar tab is 23.5 euros. He brings over the credit card machine. I see 23.5 euros on the screen. I tap my card or my phone. The next step in the transaction is to select euros or dollars. Typically, the waiter hits enter which, by default, selects euros. Sometimes, the waiter takes it upon himself to choose dollars, resulting in the dynamic currency conversion.

I’m sure that the waiter isn’t doing this to scam me. I assume he thinks he is doing it for my own convenience. Without the machine in my hand, I have no way of ensuring that this does not happen. Because the transaction is so quick, I forget to remind the merchant to select euros. When I do remember, I sometimes take it upon myself to select euros myself. This overreach isn’t appreciated by the merchant.

I don’t have a solution for preventing dynamic currency conversion besides being hyper vigilant. That’s easier said than done when you’re at the fifth tapas bar of the evening (see Best Tapas Madrid: No Budget Cuts Here).

a screenshot of a phone
What would it have been if I was charged in euros by BOA?
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