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Do I Get the Full Refund for a Foreign Purchase?

Best to pay in cash for this, folks.

Realistically speaking, most purchases made abroad are kind of a final thing. But shit sometimes happens, and it’s time to ask for your money back. This can be frustrating if the amount was paid in a different currency, and especially if foreign transaction fees were involved.

For cash purchases, if the merchant offers a refund, the refund will also mostly take the form in cash. That means you will receive the same amount in foreign currency back, and can wait to convert it back at an optimum rate. This is the best case scenario if you think something might go awry.

For credit and debit card purchases, the full amount credited back will depend on what the exchange rate is at the time the refund is issued. Basically, the refund amount can be lower or higher than the amount of the original purchase.

For the record, the foreign transaction fees—if any were made—will most likely be refunded in full since the bank is the one that takes this. However, it does require calling in: Chase was great in sorting this out with us.

Here are two purchases (and refunds) recently made through Amazon UK and Airbnb.

In both cases, money was lost due to currency fluctuations. Mileage may vary, but the key takeaway is don’t expect to get the exact amount for an international refund.

VendorForeign AmountAmount DebitedAmount RefundedNet Margin
Amazon UK£11.98$15.25$15.17-$.08
Airbnb£83.55$106.01 $104.78-$1.23
Do I Get the Full Refund for a Foreign Purchase? via @maphappy
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