Hilton Helsinki Strand
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Warning: Dynamic Currency Conversion With Elite Benefits?

This may affect your appetite.

Some merchants and operators of automated teller machines of banks engage in a practice called dynamic currency conversion in which they offer you the opportunity to pay for a product or service in the currency of your home country with the illusion that it is being done for your convenience — usually at a significantly increased cost which translates into pure profit for the seller — but are some hotel and resort properties of one particular multinational lodging company allegedly engaging in dynamic currency conversion with elite benefits?

Warning: Dynamic Currency Conversion With Elite Benefits?

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Members of the Marriott Bonvoy membership program who have earned elite status get to enjoy benefits — but one of those benefits may be eroding; and some members may not even realize it.

“For the Platinum and above breakfast benefit at brands like the Moxy, where we get $10 USD equivalent in local currency, are hotels allowed to just make up an exchange rate 20-30% lower than the mid market rate?” asked FlyerTalk member mtxing. “I was at the Moxy in Tokyo last week and their breakfast is 1300 yen a person — a few pennies under $10 USD — yet they only gave me 1050 yen off the bill saying that their definition of $10 USD equivalent is 1050 yen. With the difference being only $2 I didn’t care enough to press it at the time but now I’m curious as to how Bonvoy defines ‘equivalent.’ I’m looking at the history of the USD to yen conversion and 1 to 105 hasn’t been the case for over two years (I see Feb 2021 hovering near that value). If hotels can use whatever exchange rate they want, what’s stopping a hotel just deciding that $10 is actually only 760 yen (from 2012), for example?”

That difference of two dollars may be of minimal cost to mtxing — but that does represent 20 percent of the benefit of the food and beverage credit of ten dollars for that day, which is actually significant. If management of that hotel property engages in this practice regularly, every two dollars adds up; and every day that happens adds up. Just ten people per day for 365 days amounts to $7,300.00 in profit for the year.

Other members of FlyerTalk recall having an experience similar to mtxing.

Final Boarding Call

Review: Hilton Garden Inn Krakow Airport
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The currency exchange rates of hotel and resort properties have traditionally been known to be abysmal. Guests are better off heading to the nearest bank or automated teller machine to exchange currency at better rates…

…but is implementing dynamic currency conversion when a guest tries to take advantage of a benefit which he or she has earned different in any way than simply exchanging currency? Is it fair? Unless he or she finds a different hotel or resort property at the same destination which is part of the portfolio of the same multinational lodging company, the credit of ten dollars towards food and beverages becomes worth less — or perhaps becomes worthless.

Members of Hilton Honors who have earned Diamond or Gold elite status are limited to a daily credit for food and beverages at all luxury hotel and resort properties, full-service hotel and resort properties, lifestyle hotel and resort properties, and Hilton Garden Inn hotel properties in the United States — although this benefit has been extended to Motto by Hilton hotel properties worldwide and not solely in the United States:

As part of your MyWay benefits, you’ll receive a Daily Food & Beverage Credit at select brands in the U.S., and Motto by Hilton globally, and complimentary Continental Breakfast at select brands outside the U.S. (excluding Motto by Hilton). Either the Credit or Continental Breakfast will be given to you and up to one additional guest registered to the same room each night of your stay. Diamond and Gold members provided breakfast in the Executive Lounge will not receive the Daily F&B Credit.

Does this mean that the daily credit for food and beverages become diminished by Motto by Hilton hotel properties in Mexico and the Netherlands? Will the hotel and resort properties of other lodging companies follow suit?

I not only personally believe that the practice is unfair; but it should be eliminated. The credit of ten dollars towards food and beverages should be exactly that: the equivalent of ten United States dollars — no matter the country or its currency.

Travelers seem to be slammed with a plethora of other unfair fees over the years — such as mandatory resort fees and fuel surcharges with airlines. You and I really do not need to be concerned about yet another unfair financial practice or policy.

All photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

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