Increasingly I find myself wanting to buy things on the web that are only priced in non-GBP currencies (mainly US dollars and Euros). Thus far, I have just used my debit card, but I am aware that my bank probably doesn’t offer a competitive conversion rate. I am with Lloyds (not enthusiastic about them, I’ve just never bothered to switch).
For example, in December I bought something for EUR 54, at a rate of 1.13136. I tend not to check the rate at the time, I just run with whatever they are offering (I just looked this up from my internet bank statement). This cost me £47, and Lloyds additionally charged me a Non-Sterling Transaction Fee of £1.42 (marked as “2.99%”, presumably of the purchase amount) and a Non-Sterling Purchase Fee of £0.50.
I can write off poor rates infrequently, but in the future I may make foreign currency purchases on a recurring basis (e.g. renting a server priced in USD on a monthly basis). Is there a better payment system for this? How can I determine what the rate is prior to making a purchase, and how can I tell if the rate is competitive?
I shredded whatever credit cards I had ten years ago, but am willing to get one again, or a payment card of some kind, if that helps.