Reader Question: How To Avoid Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) Scam In China?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email about a topic that has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time – Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) scam that seems to be spreading like incurable cancer.

Reader Question DCC China

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Here’s the email from the reader:

I know you have done a few articles about DCC and how it is a bad deal. So I have always declined it since I have a CC with no international fees and good FX rate.

So on my trip to China, I did not realize a couple of locations “defaulted” to this option. I though the card holder was given the option, and did not see that the copy I received had it selected.

I did catch one hotel that did this and had them correct it. But upon reviewing my receipts/bill I found it two other times.

We had 2 rooms, and at one hotel one room was correct and the other was DCC (IHG). Another did a consolidated bill (SPG).

For the consolidated one (SPG), I had the local currency selected on the receipt (they provided me a copy via e-mail showing this) but they still did DCC. Their response has been they can only do DCC (no option).

Response from hotel: “and after your email I went to check our CC machines and find out that we don’t have an option to choose DCC payments or not, it is automatically charged, it is not up to us and it is charged from the banks and CC”

I plan to do CC challenges to the one property (SPG where I am Platinum) and the other is IHG (also Platinum). For the SPG it was a difference of $57USD, so I also asked for points. Funny thing is that hotel was a great stay otherwise.

What are your experiences with challenging this after the fact? All my invoices were in local currency, and the receipts on first glance listed the local currency. Can they “legally” force the DCC?

Properties cannot “legally” force the Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) because the cardholder must accept and consent to it. This is, however, often problematic in China where finding a credit card machine that has a non-DCC option is sometimes a challenge and requires Manager on Duty.

For the SPG property, I would open a case with the Corporate Customer Care and request that the property refunds the payment and charges that in local currency. I would also ask nice amount of Starpoints (5k) for the inconvenience.

I would also contact the IHG customer care and open a file with them to see what they can do. Philippines is quite hopeless with issues such as this (where IHG’s customer care center is located unless you manage to get someone in the US).

Personally, I have always been able to catch these scams before they have happened and thus there has been no need to deal with the issues later.

Other option would be to use American Express or UnionPay branded cards when in China. These are excluded from the DCC scams that plague Visa and MasterCard payment systems.

Conclusion

It is just crazy that both Visa and MasterCard allow their merchants and payment processors basically scam cardholders with this DCC.

This DCC is absolutely never ever beneficial for the consumer. The payment processors basically splits the 3% to 5% fee with the merchant that is happy to get additional revenue for doing absolutely nothing.

I had a nice five minute argument with the front desk manager at the Hilton Auckland how this 3.85% scam fee would be in any shape or form beneficial for me. I should have recorded the conversion and put it online.

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