Credit Cards in Europe The peril of Plastic

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Much of Europe has implemented a chip-and-PIN system, using credit cards that are embedded with a microchip and require a PIN code for transactions. If you’re bound for Europe, be warned: Your US credit card won’t always work. Thanks to new technological advances, old-fashioned tax evasion, and merchants’ disgust with fees, your US credit card is not nearly as welcome as cash. Much of Europe has started implementing a chip-and-PIN system, using credit cards that are embedded with a microchip and require a Personal Identification Number (PIN code) for transactions. What this means for Americans is that your magnetic-stripe credit card won’t be accepted at some automated payment points, such as ticket machines at train and subway stations, luggage lockers, toll roads, parking garages, and self-serve gas pumps. For example, while driving in rural Switzerland on a weekend, you could discover that your card won’t work at the gas pumps in the few gas stations that are open on Sunday. In Paris, you’ll see bikes in racks all over town for anyone to use for quick trips, but the machines accept only chip-embedded cards, allowing Germans and Brits to cruise the cobblestones — but not Americans. The chip-and-PIN system is most commonly used in the British Isles, Scandinavia, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Most of Western Europe should be converted to chip-and-PIN cards in 2012 (and Canada will complete its conversion in 2015). So far, US banks have not committed to any conversion. Chip-and-PIN cardholders don’t sign a receipt when making a purchase — instead they enter a PIN (similar to using a debit card for a point-of-sale purchase in the US). Europe’s automated machines will sometimes take your US credit card if you know the card’s PIN number. Every card has one; ask your bank for the number before you leave on your trip. Don’t panic if your US card is rejected. There’s usually a solution. Just like at home, cash works. It’s easy to withdraw cash from a nearby ATM (there’s no problem using magnetic-strip debit cards in European ATMs), or simply carry sufficient cash with you (in your money belt for safekeeping). Freeway tollbooths and automated payment machines at parking garages often give you an option to pay cash. At train stations, you can stand in line at the ticket window and buy your ticket with euros, rather than try to charge it at a machine. If a gas station with self-serve pumps is staffed, a cashier may be able to take your credit card, swipe it, and have you sign the receipt the old-fashioned way. Live transactions are easier. For now, most hotels, restaurants, and shops that serve Americans will accept US cards. But change is coming. So far the new chip-and-PIN card processors can still read US cards, but eventually some of these countries could stop accepting magnetic-strip cards. Long before chip-and-PIN came on the scene, European merchants preferred payment in cash to plastic. Businesses pay sky-high commissions to credit-card companies; the fees cut deep into the small profits of small places such as B&Bs and restaurants. Unscrupulous merchants want you to pay cash so they can avoid reporting — and being taxed on — all of their income. Whether avoiding commissions or taxes, vendors might offer you a discount for paying with cash, charge you extra for using your credit card, or refuse to accept credit cards at all. Cash is the way to pay, but there’s no need to exchange your dollars for euros (or pounds or whatever) before leaving on your trip. Throughout Europe, cash machines are the best way for travelers to get local currency. You’ll pay fees, but less than you’d pay to exchange dollars for foreign currency at home. It’s smart to carefully choose and limit how you use your plastic, whether at home or abroad. You can safely use your debit card at ATMs to pull out cash, but using it to routinely pay for purchases at various shops increases the chance that a disgruntled employee could lift your number (which, if abused, draws money directly out of your account). Don’t shop your credit card number around too much, either. For example, as much as the Tyler loves Prague, Tyler wouldn’t pay any restaurant bill with plastic, because the waiters there are notorious for “borrowing” cards’ numbers. In Europe, Tyler user debit card to withdraw money from ATMs, and pay for most of my purchases with cash. Tyler use credit card only sparingly: to hold hotel reservations and to pay pricey bills such as car rentals and plane tickets. Think about it: A dependence on plastic reshapes the Europe you experience. Pedro’s Pension, the friendly guide at the cathedral and most merchants in the market don’t take credit cards. Going through the Back Door — seeing the untouristy side of Europe that many Americans miss — requires hard local cash.

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Exchange Rate

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This lesson explains about exchange rates in the HandWallet Expense Manager app:

When you purchase something in a different currency than the currency of the account HandWallet will automatically download the exchange rates for you and calculate the right amount in your home currency.
However, when you are dealing with foreign currencies things are usually more complicated. There is no “one” global exchange rate and the exact rate depends on many factors: the credit card or bank you are working with, the type and amount involved and so on.
So in the “currency exchange” section you can control how this really works. For example, the exact date used for the currency conversion, the source of the rate or even specify the rate manually.
If the credit card company charge you commission (as they usually do when you purchase abroad) you can use the “discount” section – it is good also for commissions.

Just few more words about “exchange rate sources”. These are usually central banks or known financial organizations like “Yahoo finance” or “Oanda”. HandWallet comes with several build in exchange sources. However you can always add more by pressing the “Data” tab at the top of the screen and then “Financial Data”.

For more information visit the HandWallet Expense Manager site:
or the HandWallet Expense Manager forum:
Also you can find information about managing expenses & budget on ay of theses sites:

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How to Get the Best Foreign Exchange Rates When Traveling Overseas

Research Market Rates Ahead-of-Time

There are many steps to getting the best foreign exchange rates when traveling overseas. It begins by doing your research. Check out online and printed material for foreign exchange, local economic conditions, and travel tips. If a local area is struggling economically, it may offer you better foreign exchange rates. Compare the local currency price over a year to see dramatically the currency exchange rate changes.

Exchange rate research will provide you with a solid reference point. People will be less likely to scam you when they realize that you are knowledgeable about foreign exchange rates. As you travel, continue to check the currency exchange rates in the newspapers or on the Internet.

Airports, ferries and trains

Airports, train stations, and ferries offer convenience, but usually have slightly higher foreign exchange rates. Another option is to check out the airport rates on the Internet; you can order the local currency online for a better rate and pick it up at the airport – combining convenience and price. Train stations and ferries will tend to have more limited hours of operations.


Exchanging your home currency for local currency before you travel is one viable option. In the country you visit, there will also be foreign exchange banks that serve individuals and businesses that need foreign exchange services.

Other Foreign Exchange Options

Some high-traffic tourist areas may have expensive foreign exchange rate services at smaller shops and larger stores.

Sometimes, hotels offer decent foreign exchange rates as a service to their customers. You could receive a money transfer while you are overseas; it is cheap, safe, and fast. The best foreign exchange rates can be found at banks and post offices. Gift cards or travelers checks are also options.

Some local exchange services charge up to 25% for currency exchange. Shop around, compare two to three rates before completing your foreign currency exchange transaction.

Foreign Exchange Brokerage

Foreign exchange brokerage firms buy contracts in large volumes at attractive rates. These highly-trained professionals are experts at trading international institutes. They usually offer better rates than banks, but also have higher fees.

Different Foreign Exchange Rates

You may run into a number of different rates: "official," "local," "market," "buy," and "sell." Be careful, some shops will quote one rate to attract your attention, then they will tell you that you only qualify for the higher rate.

When there is a "local" foreign exchange rate that is different from the government's "official" rate, you can usually get a better deal. Some good rates only apply when large amounts are replaced.

Credit Cards

Going through a bank for the foreign exchange rate can offer the best rates and lowest fees. When consumers use a debit or credit card, their banks will give them the same foreign exchange rate that banks charge each other. Some banks and credit card companies will charge fees of up to 3% on all purchases made with the currency.

Before you travel, do your research into your financial institution's most current policies, rates, and fees for exchanging foreign currency.

Some travelers purchase a debit card, special credit card or cash passport for voyages overseas with low or no fees on foreign exchange. These are safer than cash. Be careful, because these cards have special rules.

You can avoid some ATM fees by using your credit or debit card for large purchases – housing, travel and food.

Additional Fees

Many additional fees could be charged when you use a credit card overseas:

1. Foreign exchange "load" fee (currency conversion fee) 2. Cash withdrawal fee 3. Interest charge on balance 4. Handling fee.

There might be other commissions, surcharges, and fees that may apply. Flat rates and minimum amount restrictions may also apply. Calculate the net foreign exchange rate after all transactions are added. Be careful of "commission-free" offers because they will usually provide a less competitive exchange rate.

Beware of "dynamic currency conversion," promises; venders will offer to charge your fees denominated in your home currency, the AUD, while you are in the in the foreign country. This might sound good, but the fees are usually excessively high. When in a new locale, you should get used to pricing everything in the local currency.


Automated Teller Machine (ATM) networks have grown worldwide. If you have an account with a major bank that is part of an extensive network, then you might be able to withdraw the local currency from the ATM wherever you go. This will allow the bank at home to perform the conversion.

The money you withdrawal will be in the local currency. It is wise to withdraw larger lump sums because there might be 1 to 3% ATM fee charged. There may also be a "daily withdrawal limit."

You could check out ATM, credit card, or airline websites to see if their facilities are available where you go. There are frequently affiliations, combinations and links to large networks of financial services between these groups – for example, the American Express Qantas credit card.

Discuss all relevant rates and policies with your bank before you travel.

Exchange Rate Calculator

The Exchange Rate Calculator will help you calculate the "most competitive market rates" by finding the mid-point between buy and sell rates for large transactions. Exchange rates can change quickly.

Having a small calculator can help you figure the exchange rate; it will also make you look more serious to others. You can also go onto the World Wide Web to find an Exchange Rate Calculator.

Tips for Getting the Best Foreign Exchange Rates When Traveling

Getting a small amount of the local currency before you travel makes sense since the local airport, bank, or exchange service may be closed when you arrive. You may need an emergency cash source for purchasing something en route: a snack, umbrella, or taxi ride.

Plan your budget ahead-of-time. Large cities will offer more options for foreign currency exchange. You will probably need to carry some local currency to smaller towns due to fewer foreign exchange options. Avoid exorbitant fees by planning ahead.

Local taxi drivers and hotel employees may know the best places for foreign exchange. If you must exchange one currency for another overseas, make sure you have a well-known currency that will be accepted in the locality you are visiting. Sometimes, wise locations may prefer to actually hold your well-recognized, "more convertible," AUD rather than less-popular local currencies; they might give you a better rate.

Some treaties are not very valuable compared to your higher denominations of AUD. You might be required to bring a small bag to carry the local currency after exchange. Most countries still permit haggling, so show confidence and be patient.

Trust Your Instincts

Beware of black market moneychangers who might be involved in a number of scams, including counterfeiting, theft and shorting you money. They probably will not expect you to count out large amounts of bills. Also, some local banks are crooked; they might think that you will travel before you realize that they have not exchanged the correct amount of money.

If you feel something is not right, you are probably correct – trust your instincts.


Number of investment cases opened by Canadian Ombudsman rises in Q1 FY19

Sourced from:

FinanceFeeds –

OBSI explained it had received many complaints from investors who used their credit card to buy binary choices. These investors later disputed credit card fees related to these transactions. They thought that because they did not receive the promised services (including the capability to draw their investment capital) the issuing credit card company should enable a chargeback or reversal of the fee. The Ombudsman found that the banks included were not responsible for the collapse of the chargeback request since they followed the standard chargeback policies and procedures.

Apart from common shares, investment products complaints varied only slightly from the typical over the past ten quarters.
Canadian investors are still targeted by binary choices fraudsters at the surface of the ban on the offering and marketing of those products. In a Bulletin published in August 2018, OBSI cautioned that binary options pose a systemic threat.
Suitability stayed the most frequently complained about investment dilemma in the election to end-January 2019, though such complaints dropped to 17 in comparison to this eight-quarter average of 21. The number of incomplete/inaccurate disclosure complaints also dropped, decreasing from an average of 8 complaints within the previous eight quarters to 3 ailments in the 3 months to January 31, 2019. .
Permit ’s recall thatin FY 2018, OBSI enrolled a 5% increase in cases started, from 721 from 2017 to 760 in 2018. Investment complaints dropped from 351 cases started in 2017 to 345 in 2018. Banking cases started continued a trend, rising from 370 in 2017 to 415 in 2018up 12% year over year.

In contrast to 2017, there were declines reported in the very best investment problems in 2018 in most categories except incomplete/inaccurate disclosure, which rose 17%. Cases associated with suitability of gross or leverage decreased 39% compared to 2017.

Resource: OBSI.
The amount of investment cases opened, however, increased over the eight-quarter average, from 87 opened cases into 97.
The sharp fall in bank and total cases started is due to the death of the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) and its subsidiary Tangerine at the conclusion of the 2018 year.

The post Number of investment cases opened by Canadian Ombudsman climbs in Q1 FY19 appeared initially on FinanceFeeds.