Shopping Discussion

Thumbs down on Amazon currency conversion

  • Last Updated:
  • Feb 14th, 2019 7:59 am
[OP]
Member
Jun 11, 2015
238 posts
182 upvotes
Vancouver, BC

Thumbs down on Amazon currency conversion

Amazon (both .com and .ca) have launched a new "feature" that charges you in the currency of your card, by default.

Banks pay less than 0.01% to convert currency and then charge consumers 2.5% to convert. Then the banks charge that 2.5% again on a return.

Amazon pays less than 0.01% to convert currency. It could have offered its customers access to that same value - saving customers 2.5% and gaining goodwill.

Except Amazon decided to charge 4% on the currency conversion. That's even worse than the ripoff the banks and Paypal are charging. Amazon is ripping off customers for an extra 1.5%, because it thinks its customers are too dumb to notice or care.

What's more, you have to opt out of this everytime you make a foreign currency purchase. You can set a card's default currency - but since that is synced across Amazon.ca and Amazon.com, you can either set it to process everything in CAD (and pay 4% on a USD purchase when you forget to opt out) or everything in USD (and pay 4% on a CAD purchase when you forget to opt out). This is extremely annoying for someone using the Rogers card and making Amazon.com purchases, where I'll pay 4% more if I forget to uncheck the box.

Disappointed, and annoyed with Amazon.
28 replies
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Dec 28, 2007
5198 posts
1576 upvotes
Alberta
Thanks for the heads up. One more reason not to buy anything on the Amazon.com website.
Deal Fanatic
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Feb 11, 2007
9162 posts
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Oakville
Yea, sleezy by amazon. Kinda the same with paypal, they seem to randomly change my currency choice back sometimes, but I prefer USD on my no fee BRIM card.
I use separate accounts for Amazon.com and .ca, so saving preferences isn't a problem for me (also use a USD Amazon rewards card on .com).
Deal Expert
Jan 17, 2009
15634 posts
20848 upvotes
ONTARIO
Kiraly wrote:
Feb 11th, 2019 3:39 pm
Thanks for the heads up. Will remember to double check this next time I buy something on .com.
I posted about this in an older thread. At least for now it seems pretty obvious when it's being used so you're unlikely to not realize unless you're checking out with your eyes closed lol.
Images
  • amazoncad.png
Deal Addict
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Jan 9, 2011
3742 posts
3421 upvotes
Vancouver
How does Amazon.com know to bill you in CAD? Is it using your account's ship-to address, or your geolocation, or is it pulling this from the credit card's IIN?
18% = GTA residents as a proportion of Canada's total population
97% = chance that an RFDer lives in the GTA when he posts something location specific, without giving a location

Were you hit with surprise customs/import fees on an Amazon.ca purchase?
Deal Addict
Jan 12, 2015
3883 posts
27209 upvotes
In the image posted above it asks you to select currency.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
19248 posts
5516 upvotes
I swear I did the math on this and it was pretty close to 2.5 or 3% and not 4% on the last thread that brought this up.
Let's see if I can dig up that thread.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
19248 posts
5516 upvotes
I was thinking of something else, but here's some numbers that I just pulled:

Amazon:
1.3776643591

RBC USA:
1.3601

VBCE:
1.34259


On the face of it, yes, Amazon is more.
But I'm pretty sure that RBC rate doesn't include the 2.5%/3% FX fee because that's for a cash to cash transfer.
Not everyone has an FX free card (I don't, but I do have a USD based credit card) so Amazon would still be cheaper if you don't.
But if you want to actually save money, sign up at VBCE.

Thumbs up for Amazon Currenty conversion.
Deal Addict
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Oct 13, 2007
2166 posts
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Edmonton
This is why Bezos keeps getting richer.
Deal Addict
Dec 22, 2008
1993 posts
788 upvotes
Victoria
TWELVES wrote:
Feb 11th, 2019 3:23 pm
Amazon (both .com and .ca) have launched a new "feature" that charges you in the currency of your card, by default.

Banks pay less than 0.01% to convert currency and then charge consumers 2.5% to convert. Then the banks charge that 2.5% again on a return.

Amazon pays less than 0.01% to convert currency. It could have offered its customers access to that same value - saving customers 2.5% and gaining goodwill.

Except Amazon decided to charge 4% on the currency conversion. That's even worse than the ripoff the banks and Paypal are charging. Amazon is ripping off customers for an extra 1.5%, because it thinks its customers are too dumb to notice or care.

What's more, you have to opt out of this everytime you make a foreign currency purchase. You can set a card's default currency - but since that is synced across Amazon.ca and Amazon.com, you can either set it to process everything in CAD (and pay 4% on a USD purchase when you forget to opt out) or everything in USD (and pay 4% on a CAD purchase when you forget to opt out). This is extremely annoying for someone using the Rogers card and making Amazon.com purchases, where I'll pay 4% more if I forget to uncheck the box.

Disappointed, and annoyed with Amazon.
Thanks for the head's up. I hope you're taking your business elsewhere. I gave up on Amazon years ago and have no regrets.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 27, 2006
9866 posts
3710 upvotes
Vancouver, BC
I don't understand why this is a shock to anyone... Companies are out to maximize gains for their shareholders NOT their customers. As Amazon is a company, why should Amazon be any different? Why should Amazon be given a blank cheque in terms of customer goodwill?

As a solution, get use two different credit cards - one for US purchases and set the default to USD and one for Canadian purchases and set that default to CDN.
Deal Guru
Jan 7, 2002
14631 posts
7031 upvotes
Waterloo, ON
starchoice wrote:
Feb 11th, 2019 5:35 pm
This is why Bezos keeps getting richer.
1. He's in the midst of a divorce. His ex was instrumental in helping him launch Amazon so she's entitled to 50% of ~$100B. That means he needs to generate several $10Bs in order to keep up with the Buffetts and Gates, let alone regaining his title as world's richest person.

2. This is yet another reason for having a US$ credit card and either a source of $US income or an inexpensive means of converting loonies into greenbacks.

3. People think the domain name is amazon.com. In reality it's amazon.con.
veni, vidi, Visa
Deal Expert
User avatar
Aug 18, 2005
18264 posts
2939 upvotes
GTA West
This thing is even on amazon.ca now. I was placing an order today (using the mobile app) and it came up trying to default to charging in USD. (My billing address and credit cards are Canadian.)
At least the app was clear and unambiguous that it would bill in USD, and gave me an option to pick CAD.

As if Amazon hasn't made itself skety enough with all the shady 3rd party sellers, conterfeit items 'ships from and sold by Amazon,' and sneaky stock co-mingling, now they are trying to charge Canadians in USD?! Amazon is just trampling on its own good name here. Hopefully regular people will pick up on this and switch to other retailers.

Edit - Just tried their live chat and (unfortunately) I got exactly the response I expected:
Live Chat
Me: Can you please fully disable 'Amazon Currency Converter' and ensure all orders on amazon.ca are always billed in Canadian Dollars?
You are now connected to "Amazon CS Person" from Amazon.ca
"Amazon CS Person": Hello, my name is (...). I'm here to help you today.
Me: Hello
"Amazon CS Person": I do understand you.
I understand your suggestion. Since most of the customers having accounts in Amazon.com as well as Amazon.ca that is the reason we have provided the currency converter of US dollars as well as Canadian dollar.
Me: I want to be billed in Canadian dollars on Amazon.ca and US Dollars on Amazon.com.
This is the way it worked for over 10 years, so can't you just keep the normal behaviour?
"Amazon CS Person": Unfortunately we do not have the option for this.We truly value this kind of feedback, as it helps us continue to improve our store and provide better service to our customers. I'll be sure to pass your message on to the appropriate people in our company.
Me: I think the current situation is completely unacceptable. The exchange rates are extremely bad compared to normal banking, so there is no benefit to customers to offer the 'Amazon Currency Converter'.
"Amazon CS Person":: I am sorry currently we don't the option to help our customers currency conversion rate change as the currency conversion rate changing day by day.
:facepalm:
What if there were no hypothetical questions?

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