Imagine my surprise when I found out Airbnb charges a foreign transaction fee on top of listings booked outside the country.
One of our readers Ted pointed this fact out a little while ago when we originally posted on the fact that it’s sometimes possible to save money on airfare by paying in a different currency. Turns out, by using the same tactics, it’s also possible to save an easy three percent on Airbnb bookings through this method.
Airbnb charges an automatic 3% on top of the base rate, usually in the local currency. I surmise this is supposed to account for the conversion fees Airbnb has to pay. (It’s important that you need a credit or debit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees for this to work or otherwise…. you pay end up exactly the same amount you originally would.)
I was reminded of this when my current man friend—who happens to be Australian—booked our accommodation for a road trip up the Californian coast. Out of curiosity, I compared the booking totals with the prices I was getting in American dollars.
|Property Location||Total Cost (AUD)||Converted Price* (USD)||Original Price (USD)||Difference|
|Paso Robles Airbnb||$338.00||$253.77||$246.00||$7.77|
|San Francisco Airbnb||$309.00||$233.63||$229.00||$4.63|
Foreign transaction fee existence confirmed. If I had booked it, we would have saved a total of $22.46 off all our bookings which totaled $831.46.
Now onto the good part. The quickest way to avoid the fee is to go to the dead bottom of each individual listing. In the lower-left hand corner, there’s an option to change language and currency. Do not go to profile country (the point of sale) in your account because it just messes things up. Also, the footer settings seemed to override those preferences. That’s all there is to it.
But I wanted to see how different currencies compare across the board, so we tested four different Airbnb properties in different countries around the world with five different currencies. The majority of the time, the local currency yielded the cheapest price, with the glaring exception of Rio de Janeiro. (Note: it did come dangerously close, though. The Australian dollar and Swedish krona were used as controls.)
The cheapest currencies are bolded for easy reference.
|San Francisco, CA||$315||$436 |
|2749 kr |
|Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||$34||$48 |
|298 kr |
|Hong Kong, China||$78||$105 |
|666 kr |
|Paris, France||$70||$94 |
|596 kr |
One interesting thing to note is Ted pointed out that:
But perhaps the biggest sticking point here is that this hack only works if you have a credit or debit card that’s travel-friendly and doesn’t charge these fees, otherwise the savings are nonexistent. Disregarding that, it’s a no-brainer thing to tweak one setting.
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