Whine Wednesday: Crazy ATM Currency Conversion!

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We have warned our readers about Dynamic Currency Conversions (DCC) that are often presented at the credit card reader when the charge currency is different than that of your card (always a bad deal).

We have covered the same issue with the ATMs when you are withdrawing cash, but I just had one quite unbelievable experience last week at the Johannesburg Airport in South Africa.

As I was going to be in South Africa for close to two weeks, I decided to get some cash at the airport. I was looking for an ATM at the arrivals hall and found one from the Bidvest.

Not only is the fee to get cash ridiculous (75/3,000 = 2.5%), but they were also offering to do the conversion of ZAR to USD with an undisclosed markup.

Here’s what posted to my USD account:

The difference in the conversion amount that Bidvest offered ($229.46) and what was posted to my account when I declined it ($209.04) is $20.42. The bank markups the conversion by 9.8%.

Conclusion

Not only is Bidvest here taking 2.5% as a fee for using their ATM but tries undisclosed to charge another 9.8% as a conversion fee, which is misleading and borderline fraud. The correct way would have been for the Bidvest to adequately disclose their ATM FX fee (close to 10%) rather than trying to hide it.

This is a reminder for our readers ALWAYS to decline these conversions and let your bank to do it. My card issuer also reimburses the 75 ZAR fee.

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