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What happens when you don’t use a Forex

October 10th, 2023

The most common question I get asked regarding Photo tours is… “why do I need to pay with that currency (whichever “that” one is)?” This question I have answered more fully on an earlier post that you can find HERE>>

A recent question was more interesting… “Why don’t you use PayPal? (or stripe etc…), they accept multiple currencies…” Yes, they do but… I have extensively researched PayPal, Stripe and a bunch of other gateways…

Bhutan Photo Tour Thimphu Festival

PayPal and other Gateways

The problem is that no matter what currency you pay with, PayPal et al, converts it to my home currency (AU$) at their terrible exchange rate which is just like the bank rate, plus their fees of 3.5% (remember you don’t see this fee, but you do pay it).  I am yet to find a way that I can keep multi currencies with any of the providers I tried.  I even tried to register multi currency bank accounts in JPY or US$ as the “pay to” account.  Fail.

The “Help Desk”

I spent lots of time emailing the “help desk”  (what should be called the “No Help desk”) but kept running up against a brick wall.  Which is why I use the extremely annoying method I use now. That is, to charge you in the currency that I have to pay my suppliers in (See the link above for more on this)… JPY for Japan, EUR for Europe and US$ for Bhutan (the only currency you can EFT into Bhutan).

That way you know the actual cost and I don’t have to pad out the price just in case the exchange rate should vary wildly, like it is currently (Ukraine War, interest rate hikes, worries about recession and now the Israel conflict exploding again). I don’t know which way the exchange rate is going one day to the next.

Why not Credit Cards?

Then there are the credit card payments. Bear in mind that the points you get from using credit cards, you pay for, at an extortionate premium.  If I accept credit cards the banks charge me a fee of about 3.5%, which I then have to pass on to you (which in turn attracts a fee…), so you end up paying lots of $$$ for your points, far more than they are actually worth.  Then once again they automatically exchange the currency to AU$ at the usual crappy bank rate… Just another way the big fin techs help themselves to your money while pretending to be nice. These are all hidden costs, that you end up paying.

Forex Account

As annoying as it sounds, the best way is to open a Forex account and do the international transfers that way.  Really, I have run the numbers multiple times, it will save you heaps.

Does it make that much difference?

A recent example of how much difference it makes.  I have bank accounts here in Australia in multiple currencies.   When I invoice I have invoice templates (in Xero) for the different currencies with the bank details for each already set out.

I recently did the final invoices for my Bhutan photo tour for this year and sent them out.  But I made one mistake on one invoice, I selected the wrong invoice template…  So I sent an invoice for US$10,000, but it included the bank details for the AU$ account. 

The money was paid in US$, arrived in Australia as US$ then the bank, instead of notifying me about the account discrepancy, converted it to AU$… at the usual bank rate.  On that day the crappy bank conversion rate Vs the standard Forex rate cost me AU$800…

This is what happens to you when you use your normal bank to pay in a different currency!

The simple question

So why don’t I just charge in local currency? Well,  since I am in Australia, my clients are in Canada, America, Europe, Asia and Australia, and say my Japan photo tour expenses have to be paid in JPY, what currency do you think I should be charging in?

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