11. Beware of Sneaky Currency Conversion
First, to be clear: Adventures by Disney trip prices are calculated in United States Dollars, so this is not a concern for the trip fare itself. But for everything else surrounding your trip, it’s worth keeping an eye on currency conversion.
Of course there’s always consideration of the relative strength or weakness of the U.S. Dollar versus the local currency of your destination. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.
We’re on the lookout for sneaky currency conversion. It’s not illegal, but it can still hurt your wallet.
A Typical Scenario
You’re looking for a hotel room on your own for the night before your AbD tour begins. You find a charming local hotel and – what luck! – the website even shows the prices in United States Dollars. This is a great convenience to you, an American traveler who is not very accustomed to international currency.
What you don’t notice is that this oh-so-helpful USD amount is actually calculated at a pretty lousy exchange rate – much worse than what you’d get in a typical transaction. In other words, you’re paying a hidden upcharge just to complete the transaction in a familiar, “comfortable” currency.
The good news is that with a little looking, you should be able to find the option on their website to have the prices shown in the local currency instead.
Find those prices, check the real bank-to-bank conversion amount (a simple Google search such as “Convert 350 EUR to USD” will do the trick) and see if it looks like a better deal to purchase in the local currency versus whatever the website originally claimed the USD amount was.
You might still pay a small fee through your bank for an international transaction, but those fees are usually just pennies on the dollar.
Where to Watch Out
I’m always suspicious of the U.S. Dollar prices shown for hotel rooms in another country, flights operated by an overseas-based airline, and flights originating at an overseas airport (even if on a U.S.-based carrier).
But by far, the most notorious offenders are during your trip at ATMs and payment terminals at stores/restaurants.
True story: I wanted 300 Euros from an ATM in Rome. The machine read my debit card, recognized it was American, and cheerfully offered to “report” the transaction back to my bank as $375 instead of €300. I wouldn’t have to worry about fluctuating exchange rates or my bank charging me a foreign transaction fee. How convenient!
The only problem with their brilliant plan was that I knew the real exchange rate at the time was about $1.10 per Euro (meaning €300 was worth $330, not $375). I also knew that the bank fee I was supposedly avoiding was about $3 (which my bank would refund anyway).
I declined the conversion to dollars and felt appropriately smug knowing that I had deprived the ATM owner of an undeserved $45.
The good news is that most places are required to offer credit/debit card transactions in the local currency. If you’re standing in a country that isn’t your own and have the choice of paying in dollars or the local currency, always pick the local option.
12. Get More Time To Pay
This last tip may not directly save you any money on an Adventures by Disney trip, but it still might make it easier to afford.
As previously mentioned, Adventures by Disney allows you to put down an initial deposit (typically 10%-15% of the trip fare) and pay the rest on your own schedule as long as you meet your final payment deadline (usually 90-120 days before the trip starts).
If you want to stretch that payment out a bit further, your Disney Visa may be able to help. One of the long-standing perks for Disney Visa cardholders is 0% financing for six months on Disney vacation purchases.
Depending on your credit limit, paying your balance due with a Disney Visa could give you an additional four months to pay for your vacation without any interest charges, especially handy if you’re trying to cover other big expenses such as airfare in advance of the trip.
And of course, purchases on a Disney Visa also accrue reward dollars that can be used on future Disney purchases.
I’ve never regretted a single penny I’ve spent on travel – I firmly believe in the value of time spent with loved ones, doing amazing things and experiencing the wonders of our world and its people. And the food’s usually pretty darn good, too.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not looking to save whenever I can. My philosophy has always been to scrimp where I can so I can splurge where I want to.
Not every tip I’ve shared here will work for every traveler or every situation, but I hope you’ve found some information in this article that helps you find ways to make your dream trip a reality.