How do the hotels in non-USD $ countries, e.g., Spain, handle settling a guest’s bill when the guest is using Gift Cards that are issued in US dollars?
According to the T&C for Gift Cheques, “This Cheque Award will be converted into local currency value at the hotel's current exchange rate.”
However, there is no similar T&C under Gift Cards.
Its a seamless process where the system converts the amount on the Gift Card to the local currency using the daily currency conversion rate at the hotel and presents that value to the front desk agent. The amount in the local currency is then redeemed and taken off the gift card and will be posted to the customers folio. Hope this helps - safe travels!
Thanks very much for the info, everyone.
Is this similiar to a dynamic currency converstion where the exchange rate is selected by the merchant and is usually less favorable? How do the hotels set their conversion rates, please?
At least, there is not a bank involved to incur additional fees, I assume.
I have used the old gift cards in the past which worked like visa cards where you received the wholesale forex rate less c. 3%. This was fair and reasonable.
The current gift cards seem to work in a different way.
The community manager does not make clear how bad the "daily currency conversion rate at the hotel" actually is.
For an uptodate example. If the $US gift card was used in London yesterday the hotel exchange rate was $1.8713.
So a £500 bill would result in a debit of $935.65 from the gift card.
The wholesale exchange rate yesterday was about $1.60.
Using a credit card with a 2.9% forex fee the debit would be only $823.20.
The new Gift Card is therefore a really bad deal if used outside the US.
Checking the balance of a gift card on line there is an option to display the value in various currencies. Checking the balance in GB£ today the calculated exchange rate is $1.6061, so the market wholesale rate is being used by the on line tool.
I think all this is grossly misleading.
Marriott should make it more clear in its marketing that gift cards used outside the US will NOT use normal market forex rates.
Most informative. I purchased a Marriott gift card for the first time ever this January past, with the intention of using it in Europe this summer. Since January, I have run into one road block, the gift card cannot be used to complete an online reservation on the Marriott website for an advance purchase/no refund rate. This was disappointing, as this rate is discounted by (not exactly certain, but) at least 20% off the regular rate. Then I have read a number of posts where members have run into some difficulties with using the cards here in the U.S. (minor difficulty involving hotel staff not knowing how to accept the cards for payment), and then there are others who have run into more solid difficulties when attempting to use their gift cards abroad (Europe). Now I am reading your post, which sounds reasonably correct, and... more red flags. Because I went ahead and purchased most of my upcoming Marriott stay in France with a credit card for the advanced purchase rate (was pretty pleased with that...no foreign transaction fee and the exchange rate was $1.29/1€), I will be certain to ask upon check out what the hotel exchange rate is for use with the gift card for the other yet unpaid nights. If it is not fair, I'll just use my credit card and save the gift card for travel within the U.S. another time, so all is not lost.
It is important to go forward in these endeavors with one's eyes wide open, and why it's good to read the fine print and be critical and questioning of offer and program restrictions, which I now am. So what I'm finding is that - the gift cards aren't bad; they have their usefulness - it's just important to be completely aware of their restrictions, so that one doesn't come across these sort of roadblocks which can cause travel related financial expectations to crash and burn. We cannot be informed enough as consumers.
Thanks for posting, and welcome to Insiders. Posts like yours are what makes Insiders such a valuable forum. Hope to read more from you!