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I have an online store and I am based in Canada. My site shows prices in CAD, and when people make purchases they are charged in CAD. I want to display prices in USD as well as CAD, to make it more appealing to US customers.

Is it okay to show USD prices even if I'm still charging in CAD? For example, I have a product that costs $100 CAD, which is about $78 USD at the moment. Can I display both $100 CAD and $78 USD at the same time, even if my system is only setup to process transactions in CAD? So I would still be charging $100 CAD, but a US credit card would see a charge of about $78 (plus their credit card fees). But since the currency conversion constantly fluctuates, the base price won't always be $78 USD.

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  • The standard method is to have a "currency picker" so that the customer can choose how they want to see the prices. If you don't want to do that, then of course showing both CAD and USD is ok.
    – RonJohn
    Jan 8, 2021 at 21:42
  • I do have a currency picker, but what I'm concerned about is showing price in one currency but charging in a different one. The api I use to process transactions is only setup to use CAD
    – BushRanger
    Jan 8, 2021 at 21:47
  • Put yourself in the customer's shoes; if you're buying from an American store then -- sooner and later -- you want to see the prices in CAD.
    – RonJohn
    Jan 8, 2021 at 21:51
  • My question is deeper than simply displaying different currencies. I'm also concerned about the charges themselves because they will be inaccurate. If I display $78 USD on my site, but their credit card is charged more or less than $78 USD, is that not problematic?
    – BushRanger
    Jan 8, 2021 at 21:53
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    Add a disclaimer warning that the customer's bank might add currency conversion and international fees.
    – RonJohn
    Jan 8, 2021 at 21:55

3 Answers 3

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The displayed price must be what you actually charge me. This is non-negotiable.

If your website says $78 USD and then I buy the item, and exchange rates have changed and I actually pay $81 USD, that is unacceptable, probably illegal. If I actually pay $75, I won't complain.

If your website says "$100 CAD", or "$100 CAD (about $78 USD)", then I can't complain. I would see the $100 CAD as the actual price, and $78 USD as a favour you are doing me by converting it for me, but I expect to be charged in CAD.

Of course, I am not a lawyer so don't cite me on the full legal ramifications of either option.


Edit because it was unclear to at least one reader: This means you must charge the price you display. If you charge in CAD, you must display the CAD. You can only display USD as the main price if your payment processor will charge the card in USD. However, you can display CAD as the main price, and also display the USD price as a "nice-to-have extra", as long as it's clear that it's not the official price.

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  • Every bank charges a different currency conversion fee, so OP can't know what will show up on your bill.
    – RonJohn
    Jan 8, 2021 at 22:18
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    @RonJohn Exactly the point. They must not show the price in USD, except "as a favour", unless they actually charge my card in USD!
    – user253751
    Jan 8, 2021 at 22:26
  • I'm with you. I would hate to advertise one price but charge another, because that is dishonest. But I'm still wondering if this is technically legal
    – BushRanger
    Jan 8, 2021 at 22:28
  • @BushRanger "Advertising one price but charging another" sounds completely illegal. IANAL so I won't outright say it's illegal. But I'd be extremely surprised if it's ever legal to charge a price higher than the one you advertised (which it will be 50% of the time)
    – user253751
    Jan 8, 2021 at 22:29
  • From a "user experience" perspective, this is the correct answer (and ux.stackexchange.com might be a place to look for questions about how to display things best).
    – TripeHound
    Jan 9, 2021 at 15:42
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I think you've addressed some of the concerns that I would have in the comments:

  • Who would do the conversion from USD to CAD? Or would you just deposit USD payments separately?
  • What rate do you use? Do you try to use a "live" conversion rate or just use a static rate and accept any currency risk?

I definitely think it's disingenuous (maybe even illegal) to advertise prices in USD but then charge them CAD without their knowledge. If you advertise a USD price, you should charge the customer in USD.

What I've seen on sites that sell items in both USD and EUR (as an example) is to publish separate static prices. They may take some currency risk, but probably use a favorable rate to their "home" currency to offset that risk.

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  • I'm using a payment service called Braintree, so I believe that would handle the currency conversion. We are planning on using static rates and accepting the currency risk. I'm concerned that this is illegal too, but you mentioned there are sites that already do this. Do you have any examples?
    – BushRanger
    Jan 8, 2021 at 22:22
  • You can choose your currency on wish.com and see different prices (I have absolutely no idea how they handle currency conversion, though).
    – D Stanley
    Jan 8, 2021 at 22:30
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Seems to me the risk you run is charging prices that differ from what you quote.

Exchange rates are constantly fluctuating. If $100 CAD equals $78 USD at the moment, suppose I see the price in US Dollars, and I agree to pay $78 USD... now suppose an hour later when you process the transaction for $100 CAD, the rate is now $79 USD, and my bank takes $79 USD out of my account.

Havent I just been defrauded? If you quote me $78 but charge me $79 then who is accountable? What are my resources?

You would have to charge me $78 USD no matter when you do it, even if that equates to $98 CAD for you, a loss you may not be willing to afford if your profit margins are too small.

Otherwise youre cheating me... not only is that a bad business practice, but youd be ending your reputation with Americans, causing legal issues, etc.

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