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Forums » Poland » Credit card charges automatically in USD

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mquartz

Credit card charges automatically in USD

by mquartz »

This was an attempt to add to the discussion by the gentleman who plans on going to Poland in ancestry research matters, but the website wouldn't let me POST the reply, so here it is as a new post.

When you get there, consider paying in cash (Zlotys) rather than by credit card. Why? There is a system in place that is new to me - what we used to call "dynamic conversion" option or similar, where we could deny the offer of having the charge put through as dollars, is now not an option any longer, your credit card charge is automatically converted from Zlotys into US dollars, and you have no choice in the matter.

I bought a ticket for the train from Krakow to Warsaw, at the main station in Krakow ("Glowny"), at the official ticket counter, and because us Americans atill have to deal with the chip-and-signature cards (any chip-and-pin transaction is automatically treated as a cash advance and incurs finance charges from the moment of the transaction! - call your credit-card issuer if you don't believe it!), I signed the receipt. Only after did I see the wording, in tiny print, that says something to the effect that I had been offered a conversion option and chosen it by signing. So the amount was charged in US dollars at an exchange rate over which I had no control.

Now yesterday, meanwhile in Warsaw, the same thing happened at a drugstore. I would have had to stop a long line of customers from moving forward if I had protested, and the poor cash register attendant would certainly not have understood my reasons for withholding the signature, so I signed - it was a triflling amount and wouldn't have made much difference.

But for larger amounts it can make a difference, and the conversion rate that gets automatically applied is sure to be worse than what your bank at home gives you when you withdraw cash from ATM (called bancomat) machines with your debit card that draws on a checking account at home.

I don't know where this all leads in the long run - I hope the people at VISA will step in and put and end to this. It is one thing to be asked before paying, with a chance to accept or refuse, but to have the system be programmed to do the conversion automatically and then, on the receipt stub, state that the customer signed to the fact that he had been offered and had agreed to accept the conversion, that is tantamount to fraud in my view 

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billiv

RE: Credit card charges automatically in USD

by billiv »

We used our USAA chip and pin card extensively in Europe and our charges were never treated as cash advances.  Is it only in Poland that they are treated as cash advances?

Or do you  mean if you have a chip and signature card and choose to use a pin, then you are charged as a cash advance?

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mquartz

RE: Credit card charges automatically in USD

by mquartz »

I have a chip-and-pin card that I can use to charge. It's a VISA from Andrews, with a PIN. I choose not to use it because it yields me no miles.

When Chase and Citi rolled out the cards with chips in them, the hoopla in the press was such that you could have been forgiven for thinking we had joined the rest of the world.

When I called Chase and City before my latest trip, to let them know about the dates etc so no charges from overseas would be denied as "unusual", I asked about the PIN, was it still valid, and got the answer that said "Yes, but if you use it on a purchase, that will turn the purchase into a cash advance".

So you are right - our cards now are mostly "chip-and-sign", still not "chip-and-PIN", and for those who are not aware of the difference, it means that we cannot use our cards in unattended situations, like getting out of a parking garage where there is no attendant to be found (I speak from highly unpleasant experience).

Whether you swipe it or stick it into the front end of a reader machine is of no consequence. It's the full use of the card with a PIN that will make it into a fully-functional charge card, and we're not there yet.

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