What's the best way to buy over the web in foreign currencies?

(Jon) #1

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.

(Mike Elsmore) #2

I’ve been using Curve (https://www.imaginecurve.com/) & Revolut (https://www.revolut.com/) for. I have my Curve card setup for any repeating non-GBP payments like my Digital Ocean or AWS charges, but for one off or high infrequent stuff (like random Teefury purchases) I’ll use my Revolut card as I have a virtual card that I freeze and unfreeze as purchases happen.

(Jon) #3

Dear me, I have a lot to learn - I had to search for TeeFury as well :blush:

Thanks for the tips - will take a peek.

Do you happen to know if I need to use an Android/iPhone app with either of those? I am still on a steam-powered phone, and would be quite happy to use a web app instead.

(Mike Elsmore) #4

Ah, every solution I know if uses an iOS or Android app. The only thing I’ve been introduced to previously that may work (but I can’t say as I’ve never used it) is https://entropay.com/

(Tom English) #5

For the odd non-GBP payments I make (usually certain VPS offers) I tend to use paypal.

(Jon) #6

A fair point, @Mr_Tom. Do you know if PayPal’s FX rates are reasonable? I’ve used them before for things, but same as with my current account, I don’t check whether I’m getting a good rate for low-value items. I seem to recall they don’t have an additional handling fee, which is a start :slightly_smiling_face:.

(Tom English) #7

To be honest, I’ve really only glanced at what it says is the exchange rate on the page before committing and it usually seems about right.
I don’t think there are extra fees for the conversion and comes out the bank as a GBP transaction.

I have got a large(ish) bill to pay in EUR this week so will have to remember to check what it says is current rate compared with the rest of the internet.

(Tom English) #8

Just paid something via PayPal and on the checkout page PayPal said 1GBP=1.08EUR.

I googled “1gbp to eur” and google is saying 1GBP=1.13EUR.

Not sure if that’s reasonable or not. Worked out about £4 dearer using PayPals rate.

(Alex Russell) #9

Revolut’s rate, right now, is 1.1281.