Credit and debit card use has continued to increase, fuelled very much by the growth of contactless and mobile payments and the arrival of online-only banks such a Monzo. Consumers today more than ever, want simplicity, clarity and efficiency, so it's little wonder that completing a purchase with the tap of a card or push of a button has become the preferable option to cash for many.
This behaviour is no longer restricted to home, either. Whilst going abroad would have once involved the inevitable queue for exchanging currency, organising travellers' cheques and concerns over carrying cash, cards are increasingly prevalent when making payments internationally. For merchants with international customers, the growth of credit and debit card use abroad presents a significant opportunity to not only meet expectations where convenience is concerned, but also provide a useful service through offering a choice in how customers make the card payment.
Many cardholders will be unaware of this until presented with the options at point of purchase, when they will be asked to select between completing the payment in the local currency or in their home currency. If the choice is made to pay in the local currency, the currency conversion will be made later by the bank or card provider.
Additional fees and charges will usually also be added later on, although this varies between providers. Alternatively, the payment can be made in the cardholder's home currency via the dynamic currency conversion (DCC) service, at which point charges and fees are added at the point of transaction.
Merchants, be they a large hotel chains or a small retailer, should be prepared to explain the choice available and the differences between both to their customers. Every customer is different and will have varied needs. While some will appreciate the ability to pay in their home currency because of transparency and familiarity, others might prefer to pay in the local currency. Ultimately, it's their decision, but what is important is that merchants lay out the options and are able to offer a clear explanation on both. With card payments expected to continue growing, providing this choice to customers to help improve their experience can only be a good thing.