By Patrick Clarke
Airbnb is taking heat from some frustrated travelers over a 3 percent foreign transaction fee that’s being described as “sneaky.”
In a recent message thread on FlyerTalk.com, one user called out the home-sharing platform for making its conversion fee unavoidable.
“It used to be that you could change the currency at the bottom of the page to the host’s currency and avoid Airbnb’s stupid 3 percent ‘convenience’ fee for currency conversion (they marked up the exchange rate),” writes user abcx. “I now see that there is no way to avoid this — even if I change the currency at the bottom of the page and the country of my residence and the billing country of my card, it still wants to charge me in USD instead of EUR for a booking in Europe and mark up the interbank USD/EUR exchange rate that I would get through my card.”
“Frankly this is deceitful and infuriating,” the user added. “Every other OTA manages to handle multiple currencies without stealing 3 percent from me.”
The user goes on to call the fee a “money grab.”
Even if it offers little consolation, Airbnb does explains the fee on its website:
“If you’re paying in a currency different from the default currency of the country where the listing is located, we also charge a 3 percent conversion fee on your total cost; the conversion fee accounts for Airbnb’s holding costs and foreign currency risks.”
Airbnb also states that guests can’t choose which currency they pay in. “The currency you pay in is controlled by your payment method and, in some cases, by your country,” the company says. “It’s not possible to manually choose what currency you’ll use to pay.”
Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean travelers can’t and aren’t fighting the fee.
Another user on FlyerTalk.com, littlewinglet, says they received a $25 coupon from Airbnb after complaining about it “really loudly.”
While that’s unlikely to work for everyone considering Airbnb breaks down the fee on its website, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try.
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