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When Buying International Flights Overseas, Always Check the Currency

Photo: Dan Kitwood (Getty Images/Pixabay)

When you’re overseas, paying in local currency is often the best move for your wallet—except when it comes to flights.

While booking travel to Korea from Japan, one passenger paid for six business seats on a flight for his family for 100,000 Korean Won or $85 each—only to discover the purchase was made in Japanese yen and he had actually spent nearly $900 a ticket.

Needless to say, I was not able to enjoy the amazing service or my seat, and since I had been the one doing all of the booking, I didn’t feel I could ask anyone in my family to help offset the big expense. Lesson learned: know which currency you’re using, and if you get a call trying to verify payment, make sure you ask for the total price.

As he explained, Expedia, the site he’d booked through, had also contacted him to verify the payments, which he confirmed without questioning the dollar conversion.

To avoid having a similarly large line item show up on your credit card bill, you should always check a purchase’s currency, particularly if you’re booking travel while overseas; many airline websites will determine the pricing based on your current location.

To change this, you should find the option to switch currencies or find the U.S.’s version of the airline’s website. Through United, you can find this option to change countries or currency at the top of the airline’s website.

Screenshot: Josh Ocampo (United)

Sometimes, buying a flight in another currency is actually cheaper; you might find that paying in the currency of wherever that airline is based is the best deal, for example, Thrillist wrote.

You can easily compare deals by adjusting your currency on sites and searching for a flight on other websites like Google Flights or Skyscanner. But be sure to check if your credit card company charges fees for foreign transactions—you might end up paying more for these transactions than you would otherwise save by booking a flight in another currency.


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