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Which exchange rate do you use when paying (zar to US $)?

Which exchange rate do you use when paying (zar to US $)?

Old May 3rd, 2007, 01:48 PM
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Patty - Your point is well taken. I believe a lot depends on the "type" of customer you are with any particular credit card/financial institution. And, as in your case there was no Foreign Currency Exchange fee with Amex on a foreign charge even if in USD.

My experience, which was a hoot, some years back before Europe went to the Euro, a friend and I, both with the same credit card, withdrew from the same ATM about 2/seconds apart, the same amount of French Francs. When our bills came in, she had a more favorable rate than moi. So we inquired, why? Well, knowing my friend, with lots and lots of $$$$ in her account, and poor me... very simple, she got the better rate. It didn't amount to a great difference, but gave pause to be on top of this.

Similarly, it can depend on the type of card you hold with a financial institution when it comes to fees (or not) - whether the basic, platinum, gold, black (oh, just pick a color ) card, there will be differences. It's just not the same for everyone.

We all have the responsibility to check for our specific needs, type of card and whatever criteria used when it comes to using credit cards.

As far as vendors/suppliers who accept credit cards (whether a shop, restaurant, tour operator, etc.), their fee for providing client the convenience, is included in their price to said client. That's just the way it is... no one gives anything away for free. But, we all know that!
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Old May 4th, 2007, 01:06 AM
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Pula, you're a good sport with a sense of humor!

Akr, some great info there, thx.

Sandi, funny story about your different charges. Generally, in the US, I can use my AE card many places and there is no additional charge. But some small shops, (and this is rare), will say they will have to charge an additional 5% because that's what the card charges them.

In the case of my SA outfitter/TA, I have the choice of submitting the money via a bank transfer or the same amount via a charge card. She is distinctly waiving the usual 5% charge for us to use a credit card. So she is absorbing that cost. This is after the fact that she has given us discounts on camps and it's not like she can reconfigure our costs to reclaim it. Am I missing something here? I don't see where she is charging me for that 5%, as you suggest.

I double-checked and Patty is right, AE Plat will charge a 2% conversion fee when it's charged in rand. The exchange rate he said will be whatever the commercial banks are quoting at the time of processing. So knowing that a bank transfer is also costly, thanks to AKR, in my particular case I would rather use the cc and get my ff membership reward points for this purchase, as well as the airline insurance, and also not have to go to the bank.
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Old May 4th, 2007, 04:03 AM
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Clem - As you indicated, you've used this agent previously, and referred others them, so it's most likely they have chosen to not charge the 5%. I've had that happen, when usin the same agent for a third or fourth trip; not a percentage, just given a lumpsum discount. Hey, go for it! The agent will make it up elsewhere.

Yup, that was oh so interesting with those French Francs ATM withdrawals. Though after-the-fact, told my friend that next time, we'd have her withdraw funds and then we'd split them. I'd pay her back in USD. Gotta find what works best.

What surprised me - your statement that a US shop that accepts Amex wanted to charge you 5% for use of your card to pay for your purchases. Believe it is illegal for a vendor/shop/restaurant, etc. doing business in the States... against the rules of their contract with Amex, Visa, MC. Naughty vendor!

Patty - The incident with Amex using a less favorable exchange over Visa, happened quite a number of years before those Foreign Currency Exchange fees and conversion fees were pretty much the same for Amex, Visa, MC... about 8/yrs ago. In that case, the Amex exchange was close to $200 more than the that of Visa. If it has been only $20 my friend would have ignorned it - in the scheme of the total trip this would be the price of a mid-day snake at a bistro (no big deal) - but $200 is a lot of money. You know Amex was read the riot act; the difference eing credited to his account.
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Old May 4th, 2007, 07:46 AM
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Sandi,
I would've certainly contacted them too if the difference was that great. Sounds like an error may have been made since a few percent difference wouldn't have accounted for that much (unless your friend's half of the hotel bill was in the 5 figures ).

Clem,
If you have to send the wire transfer in ZAR, your bank's markup may be even higher than Amex. I had to send a EUR transfer last year through Wamu and they're mark up was about 3%.
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Old May 4th, 2007, 03:23 PM
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Thx, Patty. Sandi, maybe I'm hallucinating about it being an American vendor. It was a long time ago.
Since we are talking about Africa, I had to read this a couple times before I figured out it wasn't some expression!

"in the scheme of the total trip this would be the price of a mid-day snake at a bistro (no big deal)"
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Old May 4th, 2007, 09:44 PM
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Patty, it occurred to me why my TA put the exchange rate. She has been quoting us in US dollars for each piece of our trip, so we can relate to it. So now we have a grand total in dollars. She then is using her 1:7 exchange rate to get an amount in rand. And that rand sum is what we will have credited to our credit card.
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