Personal Finance

PSA: How to Avoid Excess Fees on Foreign Purchases Through PayPal

  • Last Updated:
  • Feb 25th, 2020 8:59 am
[OP]
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Jul 16, 2019
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PSA: How to Avoid Excess Fees on Foreign Purchases Through PayPal

Update: Unfortunately, this solution no longer works.

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https://www.paypal.com/ca/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_profile-merchant-pull-funding
now redirects to

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https://www.paypal.com/myaccount/autopay/connect/funding-sources
which is quite a useless page. PayPal strikes again.

Original post below.

----

When buying something in a foreign currency with a credit card through PayPal, you should always have the credit card issuer do the currency conversion, not PayPal. Sure, this means you won't know the exact Canadian dollar value of the transaction at the moment of purchase, but it'll cost less than it would with PayPal doing the conversion.

But finding this setting is a giant pain in the ass. There are articles about how to find it, but PayPal has changed their UI since they were written. I still haven't discovered the precise series of clicks and incantations you need to perform to find this page. Thankfully, I found a PayPal community thread with a direct link:

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https://www.paypal.com/ca/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_profile-merchant-pull-funding
1. Log into PayPal.

2. Copy the above link, paste it into your address bar, and hit Enter.

3. Find your credit card in the Available Funding Sources list and click Conversion Options.

4. Select "Bill me in the currency listed on the seller's invoice."

5. Click Submit.

6. Curse PayPal's usury fees and inscrutable UI.

I spent over half an hour searching for this damn setting. Figured I'd share this to spare you the seething frustration I feel right now.
Last edited by someweirdo on Jan 9th, 2020 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
15 replies
Deal Guru
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May 8, 2009
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Not Leask
This had previously been shared on an older thread. But hey, nice and clean tutorial OP!
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Sr. Member
Jul 3, 2019
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That’s what I call a productive morning.
Member
Aug 8, 2019
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Do you mean the new UI changes the setting back on its own?
i.e. If I had already done this 5+ years ago, do I need to do this again?
Sr. Member
Feb 28, 2014
554 posts
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Never had an issue with selecting with my own currency, it's only a radio button for me. It gives me the option to charge with PayPal's currency conversion or the card issuer's currency conversion. That or PayPal just defaults to just using the card issuer to do the conversion.
[OP]
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titaniumtux wrote: This had previously been shared on an older thread. But hey, nice and clean tutorial OP!
I wasn't able to find that old thread. Hopefully this thread will make finding the information easier.
roleless wrote: Do you mean the new UI changes the setting back on its own?
i.e. If I had already done this 5+ years ago, do I need to do this again?
If you changed the setting years ago, it should still be fine. If you want to check, though, you can do that by visiting the url in my op.
deltatux wrote: That or PayPal just defaults to just using the card issuer to do the conversion.
PayPal defaults to doing the currency conversion itself, which is the problem.
Sr. Member
Feb 28, 2014
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someweirdo wrote: PayPal defaults to doing the currency conversion itself, which is the problem.
Well, not on my account it seems, I buy quite a number of things charged in USD, it defaults to charging me to USD, sometimes it asks but I always choose USD, and no, I don't hold any USD credit cards. For CAD items, it will charge as normal as there's no currency conversion required.
Sr. Member
Oct 3, 2011
583 posts
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OTTAWA
always double check.. there's so many different hooks into the UI for paypal from sites now some of them default to paypal FX exchange rather than card issuer. It will do this EVEN IF you have it defaulting to card issuer in the settings.

Automatic payments seem to remember being set to card issuer for me, but any popup payment when I shop is hit or miss and often defaults to paypal exchange rather than card. Always read it because they are sneaky bastards.
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Jun 3, 2005
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PunkeyDoodles Corner…
THIS...THIS right here., is the $16 solution I was looking for.

I am such an infrequent paypal/ebay user. Earlier this week I dropped a couple bills with my Rogers free foreign currency card, only shocked to discover paypal helps themselves to the conversion, undermining my entire strategy. Sigh.

Couple phone calls to them, they ' can't reverse it as it's already been processed '. I tried changing it online, only works for bank-linked currency defaults, not for credit card ones. I called again just now, the guy sympathized & said, he'll put in a ticket to see if they'll refund 'as a gesture of goodwill' the $15 that I paid for the currency exchange that I wouldn't have - had it been charged in the foreign currency of listing. I'm not hopeful, but wow, that prompted the research of how others are doing it. Found the old thread, then instantly found this one.

WHAT A SHMEXY Hack. You Sir/Madam., are a wonderful wonderful person. Happy Holidays!

Now to wait another 6months or more before I decide to buy anything else from Ebay haha. It happens so rarely - but I will sleep soundly knowing I am fully prepared for optimal savings!
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PunkeyDoodles Corner…
LOL! Christmas came early. Paypal already issued the credit. Guess the key was hinting at how disatisfied with how restrictive the currency defaulting was & that I may just cancel my paypal account & find alternate methods of payment. Of course, there isn't any other way lol., but hey! it worked.

The guy said give it 5 business days. Not bad at all.
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Nov 21, 2009
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Conversion options doesn`t seem to be an option anymore for me?
Member
Nov 11, 2006
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Vancouver, BC
They totally removed it. I was looking for it about a month ago and couldn't find it anymore. I had to pay for an Ebay item using the credit card option and then choosing use my bank conversion option.
[OP]
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Jul 16, 2019
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Unfortunately, PayPal seems to have killed this solution. I've updated the op.
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Jul 11, 2007
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Very sketchy from Paypal to remove this option all together.
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Nov 25, 2004
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so how do u change the option now?
[OP]
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aaron158 wrote: so how do u change the option now?
As far as I know, you can't anymore. You'll have to select the option during checkout for every paypal purchase you make in a foreign currency.

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