✈️ Should you pay in local currency or USD?

✈️ Should you pay in local currency or USD?

Estimated read time: 4 minutes and 52 seconds

The Naga Tribe in Northeast India has a particularly rich history. Do you know what makes them famous?

Good morning and welcome back to Daily Drop, the Surströmming of newsletters. The first time you experience it, you may feel overwhelmed. But try it five days a week, and suddenly you’re hooked.

I’ve got some fun stuff cooking today (don’t worry, none of it is fermented herring):

  • 💳 Should you pay in local currency or USD?

  • ✈️ The most badass airline CEO in the world

  • 🤓 Travel Trivia Tuesday

💳 Should you pay in local currency or USD?

Let me paint a picture of a scenario many of you have probably been in:

You’re traveling abroad. Let’s say… Italy. You’ve just ordered a fat gelato and can’t wait to shove it down your face hole.

The cashier rings it up and asks if you want to pay with cash or a card. 

Being a Daily Drop reader, you know that you should pay for everything with a card so you earn those sweet points, so you say, “Pagherò con una carta, per favore!” (You also speak perfect Italian in this scenario).

The machine pops up with a little screen that looks like this…

Now what do you do?

You may think, “Well, my card is from the U.S., so I should choose USD, so I’m not paying in a foreign currency.”

Then I run into the cafe out of nowhere and smack your hand before you can press that button. Because this is the wrong choice. 

You’re welcome, by the way.

You see, when you choose this option, you’re relying on the business or the bank they use to decide how to convert the currency from local to USD.

And I’m going to let you in on a little secret - they’re not going to choose the ideal conversion rate… They’re going to choose a rate that makes them a nice little cut.

For example, today’s exchange rate is roughly 1 Euro to 1.09 USD. This Gelateria would likely charge you something to the tune of 1 Euro to 1.15 USD, sometimes even worse.

When you’re dealing with a €5 gelato, the difference is only 30 cents.

If this happens at a $500 hotel, however, this is a difference of $30. Add this up over the course of a trip, and you’re wasting a lot of money.

To make matters worse, not all credit cards charge fees based on currency. Most of the time, they charge “foreign transaction fees.” The key word there is “transaction.”

So the fact that the transaction is happening abroad means you’ll be charged a fee, even if the charge is in USD… In this case, you’re getting charged twice - once by the business and once by your bank.

This is why you should do two things:

  1. Always ensure you have at least one credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees

  2. Always charge your card in the local currency.

By doing these two things, you won’t be charged any unnecessary fees.

The only thing that may affect how much you pay is if the currency exchange rate changes from day to day, which is negligible (unless the entire economy crashes overnight, in which case you probably have bigger problems to deal with).

One more quick thing to be aware of: sometimes, businesses will default to charging you in USD, because the upcharge will make them more money.

So always be aware of which currency you’re being charged in, especially when traveling in touristy places and hotels.

Most of our favorite travel credit cards don’t have any foreign transaction fees. If you don’t currently have one, think about adding one to your wallet. And always charge in local currency.

✈️ The most badass airline CEO in the world

We love to talk about point and miles, travel hacking, etc. here at Daily Drop. But sometimes, I gotta get my fix of aviation nerding out.

And today, I want to tell you about someone REALLY cool in the airline world.

I’m talking about Chang Kuo-wei. Technically, he’s not the CEO, but rather the Chairman and Founder of Starlux Airlines.

But this guy isn’t like any other corporate bigwig…

Let me tell you why:

A few weeks ago, a Starlux flight from Tokyo to Taipei was delayed due to mechanical issues. Because of the delay, the crew timed out and the flight was canceled.

But here’s where things get very bad…

At the point the flight was canceled, it was quite late in Tokyo, and all of the airport immigration staff had gone home. As a result, passengers were forced to sleep in the airport in sleeping bags.

Normally in these situations, the airline will give passengers a voucher, and maybe send a copy-and-paste apology email…

But not Starlux.

The chairman of the airline, Chang Kuo-wei, flew up to Tokyo from Taipei in the middle of the night after hearing about this problem so he could personally explain what happened, apologize in person, and even offer a full refund to all of the affected passengers.

That’s going the extra mile… But here’s where it gets cool…

After this, Chang Kuo-wei personally flew back to Taipei on the Airbus A350 with all of the passengers.

No, I mean he literally flew the plane… as a pilot.

That’s because in addition to being the Chairman, he is a certified pilot who is rated to fly on every plane in their fleet.

You may remember a couple of weeks ago when I told you that Starlux had launched flights to the U.S.

He also piloted that inaugural flight from LAX to Taipei.

I mean, how cool is that??

It makes sense that Starlux is doing so much cool stuff in the airline space. After all, when you have an aviation nerd and legit pilot running an airline, this is what happens.

Overall, I just think this is wicked cool. Thanks for letting me nerd out. 🤘🏼

🤓 Travel Trivia Tuesday

Answer: Headhunting 

In the remote villages of Nagaland, some of these "headhunters" are still alive today, but their practices were halted by the Indian government in 1960.

These headhunters were known to protect their tribes and villages by attacking enemies and using extreme methods in battle.

Although their headhunting skills are no longer in use, ancient knives have been passed down through generations and still appear at various dances and festivals.

Much of what they are famous for is ceremonial, including iconic tattooed faces and large ear piercings.

You can read more about the last headhunters of Nagaland here.

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That’s all for today, mina vänner.

I’m very much enjoying my time here in Scandinavia - I don’t know if it’s the calm vibes, the IKEA-esque designs, or the incredible coffee, but it just feels like home.

If so, where?

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Take care and see you first thing tomorrow,

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

55.6050° N, 13.0038° E

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