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I want to buy somethings from an English brand, and I noticed that the prices varied by currency. By this I mean that the exchange rates aren't what they should be and prices are cheaper in certain currencies.

(The brand is olive clothing if you want to look at this.)

Will it be cheaper to buy in certain currencies, or will the exchange fees equalize the difference?

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  • This is a good question. I wish the down-voter left a comment.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 23:25
  • thank you so much for saying this i was going insane
    – sebastian
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 23:26
  • I am confused by your question "By this I mean that the exchange rates aren't what they should be and prices are cheaper in certain currencies." and "Will it be cheaper to buy in certain currencies, or will the exchange fees equalize the difference?" You say you found that X is true when you looked at exchange rates, and then you are asking us if the opposite of X is true if you factor in exchange rates. Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 10:16
  • Exchanges rates aren't fixed. Maybe 1 ABC is worth 2 XYZ today, but only 1.5 XYZ tomorrow. If you want to pay me in XYZ, I can dictate what exchange rate I'll accept, either to cover my costs in converting the XYZ into ABC that I can use, or to encourage you to convert your XYZ to ABC yourself before purchasing.
    – chepner
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 19:08
  • (On my honeymoon in Stockholm, my wife and I went to a cafe late one night, whose card reader was broken so they were only accepting cash. We had run out of kronor by that time. I don't remember exactly how the conversation went, but our waiter humorously said something along the lines of "Dollars, euros, we'll take whatever". As I recall, I think we decided to pay in euros, and I'm pretty sure he made up a price in euros on the spot, but it was close enough to the exchange rates at the moment that I don't think we were cheated out of anything.)
    – chepner
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 19:17

2 Answers 2

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or will the exchange fees equalize the difference?

That can only be truly determined when you determine what your debit/credit card's foreign exchange fees are.

(Also, the web site might use geo-location to force a certain currency on your transaction.)

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  • i figured but the difference in price is like 50 dollars so i just can't imagine how it would be the same price.
    – sebastian
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 1:30
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    It’s also possible that tax or other fees are included in the price in one currency and not in the other.
    – Vicky
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 11:04
  • @Vicky I would be shocked if that were the case; taxes should be based on country of shipment/destination, unrelated to currency in any case I'm aware of. Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 14:14
  • I've definitely seen websites advertising US$ prices including applicable US sales taxes, and GBP prices quoted tax free (tax will then either be calculated / added at checkout, or not in which case it will get stopped and charged for at the border). The assumption being that if you're buying in US$ you'll be shipping to a US destination, but I suspect on those sites if you set the currency to US$ and chose a British destination it would calculate things appropriately. I sometimes do this as the exchange rates / fees on my credit card are better than most shops would give me.
    – Vicky
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 14:29
  • Anything based on Fastspring looks like it could do this for example: fastspring.com/docs/currencies-conversions-and-taxes
    – Vicky
    Commented Aug 17, 2021 at 14:30
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Pricing often includes an element of psychology. For example, having something priced at $5.99 leaves the dollar part at $5 rather than $6. High-end restaurants sometimes price in whole dollars and avoid printing a 'long' price: $37 instead of $36.99.

There is also the matter of having some price stability - the price quoted at the time the user clicked on the 'buy now' button should be the same as the price quoted in the shopping cart and on the invoice, and the price eventually charged to the customer.

Some companies employ an internal exchange rate. Some banks use daily carded rate for in-person currency exchange, but other businesses might have a longer-term rate of exchange, particularly for non-volatile currency pairs. The buy/sell rates don't need to be the same, and there is often a larger spread in carded rates than you can get on the spot market.

Nevertheless, currencies fluctuate moment by moment in the spot market. Even if most of these fluctuations are small, it may still be in the seller's business interests to smoothen out these fluctuations.

Businesses can also quote live FX prices as merely a courtesy to the purchaser, reserving the right to do business solely in one currency.

All this is to say that there can be pricing inefficiencies that you can exploit, but which currency pair (and which direction of conversion) will depend on the individual case. Even if the business quotes a live FX price, you might find that your credit card uses a different exchange rate to that used by the business, so the amount you pay might be different on the same currency pair, depending on whether you executed the currency exchange on your side or the seller's.

The seller will need to work out their financials in a fixed currency, so it makes sense that the cheapest currency will be whatever that fixed currency is. (Though sense and cents don't always move in the same direction.)

You ask:

Will it be cheaper to buy in certain currencies, or will the exchange fees equalize the difference?

Yes, it can be cheaper to buy in certain currencies, and fees can favour the seller's currency of record but the fees charged to your method of purchase might swing the balance the other way if you don't hold that currency (and often, even if you do). So you will need to work it out each time.

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