Foreign Credit Card Use in Taiwan

Long time lurker, first time posting. Allow me to say thank you for the many healthful posts in this forum, it has made the past few months much easier to navigate Taipei. I’m originally from TW and have lived in the US for the majority of my life, and recently returned to TW (partly due to the virus) and have decided to return full time.

My question is the use of foreign credit cards here. I recall using foreign credit cards (Visa and Mastercards) here without extra fees, but the other day a restaurant charged me a 12% convenience fee, which was wrapped inside the Dynamic Currency Conversion amount on the receipt. Maybe I didn’t notice until now, but 12% is very steep.

Can someone help me understand the issues surrounding using foreign credit cards in TW? Do all places charge a steep fee, or is it some places? I have only used US Visa and Mastercards that do not charge foreign transaction fees. Thanks for your input.

I’ve used a few of my American cards here before and don’t believe I ever got a convenience fee added on, but it has also been about a year since I used them here.

What currency did the restaurant charge you in? Some places will give you a choice between NTD and USD if you use an American credit card. If they charged you in USD then I suspect it was a currency conversion fee from the restaurant or their credit card processing bank.

When paying by card, some establishments ask if you’d like to be charged in “local currency”(=TWD) our your card’s native currency (=USD or whatever it is). If you choose local currency then there is no add-on fee and you only pay any extra that your bank charges for foreign currency transactions. However, if you go for the card’s native currency (=USD or whatever it is) then they charge you a currency conversion fee. Most places don’t go too crazy and charge you anything around 2-5% but, as in your case, sometimes they charge much more.

Whenever they ask you, you should always ask them to charge in the local currency so they can’t apply any currency exchange fee.

If they didn’t ask you… well, then… they’re trying to make some extra money. Not nice.

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12% convenience fee is absurd. Only place I know of which charges anything close is KTV (10%) and in that case it doesn’t matter if it’s a foreign or local card

I use my US-based credit cards in Taiwan every time I visit and never had a convenience fee charged for using a foreign card. Just make sure that your card doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, and when you pay for items in Taiwan, choose to have your card charged in TWD if given the option. This ensures that you get your bank’s conversion rate and not another poor exchange rate, with possible fees built in.

Thanks for the replies so far. This was a mid-tier Japanese restaurant over in Xinyi Breeze and the meal happened a few weeks ago. I am familiar with the Dynamic Currency choice but in this case the USD was pre-selected for me. I didn’t complain at the time, but it has caused me to use cash more often. My guess is that the restaurant may be hurting for money given virus impact.

You can call your credit card company to dispute the charge if you weren’t given a choice of currencies. I’ve done this multiple times.

That’s usually the case all over the world. They want you to pay in your „home currency“ (which will most of the time be more expensive - even if your credit card has high foreign transaction fees).

Some terminals are also designed in a way that they ask you „Pay in USD. Ok?“ - you then need to press „Cancel“ to go back to the local currency. Many people won’t do that though, because they associate the cancel button with aborting the translation and thus take the „safe“ route which involves paying a high fee.

This is also common in European countries (not all have the Euro) - and it seems to be common that stores or ATM owners get paid a commission on the „convenience fee“ by the payment provider to encourage people to fall for this trap.

Some restaurants or business even go so far of making the choice for you after entering the amount and inserting your card (which violates the ToS of most credit cards…). Some might ask before - but usually in a way like „That would be 30 USD, okay?“ - correct response would be „I‘d like to pay in the local currency“.

I‘ve had more than one of these discussions (not sure if also in Taiwan or not…) where the clerk was really trying to convince me that this „service“ is more convenient because I would immediately know the amount in my home currency…

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I was going through my receipts and found the one in question: the original TWD amount was NT$1170, but the US dollar amount was $44.70. Right under the USD amount shows “12.5% Fee Included”. As I mentioned the USD was preselected for me with a paper receipt, the restaurant didn’t give me a chance to select the local currency, which I would do, every time. In the big scheme of things it is no big deal, but a case of keeping an eye out for this kind of abuse with foreign credit cards.

When paying with a US Citi credit card, I always ask them to charge in NTD (刷台幣). The rate conversion is close to spot and no hidden charges.