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Until a few weeks ago, you could change the payment currency on Airbnb to the host’s currency. That saved you Airbnb’s ridiculous 3% currency conversion fee. As long as you paid with a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card, you got the conversion done for a 0% fee.

Since I’ve spent most of the year in Airbnb properties, that saves me a lot of money.

Then Airbnb took that option away. It looked like a pure cash grab, and certainly the Airbnb Twitter team had no explanation for why the option to pay in the host’s currency was taken away.

Luckily there is still a way to avoid the 3% junk fee that Twitter user @SterlingTravelr nails.

At the bottom of the Airbnb home page, change the currency to the currency of the host before searching.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 10.40.08 PM

I changed the currency to Brazilian Real and did a search in Brazil. Search results were in Real. When I selected a property and went to the payment screen, I saw a price of 150 Real.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 10.37.32 PM

The fine print clearly says that I’ll actually pay dollars, but no exchange commission is listed. And 150 Real equals $43, what I’ll be charged, so no 3% commission is being charged either.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 10.42.18 PM

By contrast, if I reset the currency on the home page to dollars, the property is going for $48. (The “Coupon,” the low prices, and the fact that $43 and $48 are more than 3% apart are because I have earned some referral credits. If you sign up for Airbnb through my referral link, you’ll get $25 off your first stay, and I’ll get $25 off my next stay. Feel free to leave your referral link in the comments.)
Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 10.39.55 PMThe fine print clearly indicates a 3% conversion fee.

Bottom Line

On the home page, set the currency to your host’s currency. You will still pay in your local currency but avoid the conversion fee.

It’s weird that Airbnb tried to make this cash grab while leaving a backdoor open. This could be shut at any time.

In the meantime, here are Three Ways to Save on Airbnb that are very unlikely to end. Here’s How Airbnb Works.

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