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Unwrapping the different payment options whilst shopping abroad this Christmas

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It's that time of year again. Suddenly Christmas seems to be fast approaching, as Wham's Last Christmas begins to take over the radio and shopping streets around the world light up with increasingly impressive displays. It also means that the time for undertaking the Christmas shopping is rapidly running out.

While most of us will go to our local high streets or head online for our shopping, others will find themselves doing their Christmas shopping while abroad. There are all sorts of reasons why people might shop outside their currency zone this Christmas. They might be making the most of a pre- Christmas getaway to some of the world's famous Christmas markets. They could be visiting family abroad and use the opportunity to pick up gifts along the way. Or they might be business travellers using some of their spare time to get something a little different from their latest destination.

Many people however don't know that there are two different choices when it comes to making payments for these items abroad. While no one option is necessarily right for everyone, it's important to know what the implications are so you don't get any surprises part way through your Christmas shopping.

The first option is to pay in the local currency. In this instance the amount quoted to you on the payment terminal will be in the foreign currency used in the country that you're in. Your bank or card provider will determine any additional fees and costs which might be added on later, as well as the exchange rate that will be applied when the cost is deducted from your account.

Alternatively, you can opt instead to pay using dynamic currency conversion, or DCC. In this case, the payment is quoted in your home currency that you're familiar with, and the exchange rate being applied is flagged before you choose whether or not to accept it.

Shoppers will have different reasons for opting to use DCC or not. In some cases, the transparency and certainty of DCC will be preferred, particularly when trying to make comparisons to paying for similar items at home, or for keeping to a specific budget.

Either way, DCC is there to provide choice so that you can do your Christmas shopping abroad in the way that suits you best this festive season.