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How does foreign currency conversion work for credit cards?

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Last updated 26 August 2016

When you make or authorise a purchase in a foreign currency or obtain a cash advance in a foreign currency, the amount needs to be converted into Australian dollars. Foreign currency conversions work differently depending on the card scheme involved (MasterCard, VISA or American Express) and if it is chosen to convert at point of sale.

If you choose to pay in the foreign currency, then the transaction amount is converted using the applicable rate on the date that transaction is debited to your account. Exchange rates are typically set by the card schemes and can fluctuate from the time your purchase is authorised until the time we debit your card account.

For MasterCard and American Express:

A transaction that is made in a foreign currency other than United States dollars is converted into United States dollars before being converted into Australian dollars.


A charge that is made in United States dollars, Canadian dollars, New Zealand dollars, Singapore dollars, pounds sterling, euros and Japanese yen is converted directly into Australian dollars. A charge that is made in any other foreign currency is converted into United States dollars before being converted into Australian dollars.

You can view online conversion rate calculators set by the MasterCard and Visa card schemes.

While American Express does not publish an online calculator, rates for transactions in major currencies are comparable with other rates in the market. Cross rates can be provided for transactions.  Please email American Express at providing the date of transaction and the currency that the transaction was made in and American Express will respond within 2 business days.  

If you choose to pay in Australian dollars at the point of sale or online when the merchant, or the financial institution or entity processing the transaction, is located overseas, the transaction amount is converted by the merchant through Dynamic Currency Conversion*. Although this method may provide you with the peace of mind and convenience of exchange rate certainty, you’ll often end up paying more for the transaction. Dynamic Currency Conversion is dependent on the currency conversion rate and any additional fees charged by the overseas merchant. Any additional costs imposed by merchants are charged on top of any standard international transaction fees charged by CommBank.

*Dynamic Currency Conversion is a financial service that allows the merchant to convert the transaction amount into AUD at the time of the transaction. The conversion rate is determined by the merchant and not by the card schemes.

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