update: this is no longer working. scroll down to see reader Susan’s comments. looks like Airbnb will now be charging the 3% fee if it needs to convert currency (and it will, not your credit card). see also: why dynamic currency conversion is usually a bad idea.
as many of you know, i’m a big fan of Airbnb, having stayed at over 25 different properties on five continents — and i can’t believe i didn’t figure this out until now (or read about it somewhere else, but then again i’m a bad blog reader).
if the property you’re looking at charges in a different currency than your home one (in my case euros vs. dollars), you will be hit with a 3% currency conversion fee, as per their exchange policy.
but if you have a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees [UPDATE 2015-07-17 — you might not need one, as a commenter below says it does charge in dollars!], you can save that 3% by switching to euros (or whatever currency your property is in) by using the dropdown at the bottom of every page:
once you make the switch, go through the reservation process and you’ll see that you are now no longer hit with the 3% fee! again, just be sure your card doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee (or has one that’s less than 3%).
despite the fact that it says you’re paying in dollars, you are in fact being charged the amount in euros, as confirmed by the confirmation and the credit card hold:
and indeed, if you look it up:
so there you go. save 3% with a couple clicks.
i would be remiss if i didn’t include my referral link — if you are new to Airbnb and sign up using this link, you’ll get $25 credit, as will i, when you book your first stay, and $75 if you host.
Thank you! This is awesome. I just contacted their customer service to see if they can deduct the 3% conversion fee for my reservation. Thankfully I only made my first booking and found this article before I book more.
oh cool deal! good luck and have fun on your trips!
Update for the last comment: the Airbnb Team just emailed back and they will refund me the overpaid amount. Quick service!
I have a correction on your post regarding saving the 3% foreign currency conversion fee on AirBnB. You wrote: despite the fact that it says you’re paying in dollars, you are in fact being charged the amount in euros, as confirmed by the confirmation and the credit card hold” (pic of credit card amount in USD.)
I happened to try this last week before reading your article and thought…great, what I was thinking is true…great find and glad that you documented it. However, I received my credit card statement today and learned that the charge hits my account in USD….AirBnB converts it for you before sending to the credit card company (without the 3% charge….just by hitting the foreign currency button. Easy.)
The important thing to note is that you don’t need a card that waives foreign transaction fees as AirBnB processes the transaction in USD…not the foreign currency….so your credit card company never sees a foreign currency transaction.
ah thanks for the correction!! 3% savings for all!!!
This didn’t seem to work for me. I couldn’t change the payment currency from that of my credit card. I contacted them and they said what you described isn’t possible and said look at this link:
Is there another trick to this?
hi! hmmm i think the trick, at least according to the previous comment, is to change the currency at the bottom of the page to the currency the listing is in (e.g., euros or whatever), and then airbnb will charge your card in dollars (or whatever your home currency is) without the fee. i think? see if that helps? (you should see a slight price decrease if you switch currencies to that of the listing? at least that’s how it has been in the past?). good luck and lemme know how it goes!
That’s is exactly what I meant…and it has worked for me again since my last post. I searched in Euros for a place in Austria….booked it…airbnb charged my US credit card in dollars without the additional 3%. If I had searched in $US for a place that was originally listed in euros, Airbnb would STILL charge me in $US, but WITH an additional 3% tacked on.
Yes I tried it that way. I was paying with an Australian cc for a stay in Euros. Even if I choose euros as my currency it still charges me in $Aus and takes 3%. I asked specifically if I could pay in euros and they were adamant it could not be bypassed. I can print the transcript of our conversation if you like?
Somehow the website ‘knew” I was using an $Aud account. Perhaps This wouldn’t occur with other cards (eg from other currencies or ones that don’t specify their currency origin). Also it could be because I am paying from the UK site and the U.S. Site may be different. Perhaps in some countries they can force you to pay the 3% and others not.
How recently have you done this. Might they have changed the process?
hi jan — i just checked right now and it still seems to work. i have a US account (but currently looking at the site from Brazil, but i don’t think it makes a difference) and when i look at a room whose host currency is Euros (in this case, a room in Paris), there’s a difference when i choose “EUR” at the bottom of the airbnb listing page and when i choose “USD”. see http://imgur.com/a/DYvqu — note that i am always going to be billed in USD, but the amount is cheaper if i book in the currency of the room.
i am not sure why it’s not working right for you. :((
Thanks. I just tried your method on the app and indeed it works the way you describe. I am not sure why it didn’t work for me previously. Most likely scenario is I got confused. But i will check if it is different on the website versus the app.
Current upshot is I can get around the 3% thank you.
Yes it worked on the website too.
I think my confusion was AirBnB stating the exchange rate in both cases. I guess in the case without the 3% fee this is just for illustrative purposes and not what the bank necessarily charges.
It is strange that the guy on the help thread told me you couldn’t. Perhaps they just don’t want you to know you can.
Thanks for your response and for this blog.
No worries!!! I’m just glad it’s working for you!
My experience in the last weeks comparing rates in original currency (C$) and Euros (in my case), is that the gap between the AirBnb rate and that available on Oanda is *at least* 7%, which makes it a very crappy deal for anyone who is not AirBnB. Compared to my credit card, which for the last transaction had a gap of 1%, which, even accounting for a foreign currency fee of 1.75%, makes it very
Oops… makes it very uninteresting to “convert” through AirBnB.
Hey guys, just an update on this, it no longer works. Even if the app and website shows that you are paying in the currency you want to pay in, they automatically calculate it to your credit cards currency if you look at your itinerary. I didn’t notice this until after a few bookings. This time I took screen caps on the amount that was shown when I hit submit and will contact airbnb. Will let you guys know what happens.
thanks susan!!! i’ve noticed this too and have been meaning to update the post. thanks for this comment and bringing it to our attention!
Funny, but I’ve been booking a few places on AirBnB the past few days for an upcoming trip and noticed the exact same thing. I’m booking places that use Euros, and other foreign currencies, and it doesn’t matter….the US$ amount that I’m charged always includes the 3% (in the exchange rate….not listed as a separate charge.)
I just talked to airbnb and it looks like they will reimburse me for 5 of my trips with this problem but I had to provide evidence that the site did not warn me that it would transact in a different currency. Going forward, they said this is their policy and they will always charge the 3% if your credit card transacts in a different currency.
ahhh thanks! (there has never been a warning or a 3% notice that’s readily visible)
i’ll update the post. thanks!
Something even worse has happened to me. They have charged me 6%, for a transaction between to Euro currency countries. There’s clearly an issue with these fees. Will report back later when I have details.
Oh yikes!! Good luck!
From what I can make out Airbnb are now adjusting the exchange rate at source to continue getting this 3% fee even if your card could pay in the currency direct. Effectively they are charging a fee across currencies using the payment method. I should be able to pay in the currency listed using my payment method.