Airbnb Charging in Wrong Currency with Excess Fees

I was trying to pay my host, but the Airbnb system kept rejecting payment saying ‘server error, please retry’. I kept retrying and eventually selected PayPal as the payment mechanism.

I am booking an Italian property, with charges in EURs, and have a EUR credit card (despite living in the UK). My PayPal account has default currency of EUR and the EUR card was linked to it. However, when submitting payment via PayPal Airbnb kept changing the payment currency back to GBP. Airbnb then charged my credit card several times for this rental despite not finalising payment via PayPal, with automated email confirmations they have refunded it.

I opened the support message, which closed with no action. I phoned and was called back by people who have not bothered to read my support chat, saying I needed to ‘verify’ my identity. I did not need to do as I had already completed my account setup. Airbnb support are simply responding to the common issues people phone with, but absolutely not my issue. I was promised they would investigate and call me back. They didn’t.

It’s simple. I had a booking in EUR and I wanted to pay for it using EUR. I sent a message saying if I paid in GBP then they would need to refund me the 6% charge (3% Airbnb charge from EUR to GBP, and then 3% my bank charge converting GBP back to EUR). There was no response.

As the deadline for making the payment approached (on the special offer price) I needed to confirm everything, so I contacted my bank and transferred EUR into my GBP account, and then changed my payment method to use this account. However, now the system actually charges me in EUR from my GBP account. So, I now face bank charges from my bank converting EUR into GBP. This does not need to be this difficult. I simply wanted to be able to select a payment mechanism and select the currency.

I contacted Airbnb to refund this transaction and allow the correct payment to complete, but no response. I am sure as a UK consumer I am allowed to request a refund when the vendor misleads the consumer. All of this is documented on Airbnb message centre with screenshots, but I see this morning the case has just been closed with no comment. All of this is simply because Airbnb is trying to force payment in certain currencies so they can charge exchange rate fees. Their systems simply did not work as they should, and customer services are not empowered to resolve. I simply want these fees I have been charges refunded due to their system issues.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , .


  1. According to Visa’s and Mastercard’s terms, the merchant has to offer you a choice. If no choice was offered, then you can have the amount reversed by complaining to your card company. If the price was 100 euros, but the merchant forced you to pay 100 pounds, then your card company would undo the charge for 100 pounds and replace it with a charge for 100 euros. In other words, the merchant is then forced to refund the difference between 100 pounds and 100 euros. The merchant is also hit by a high chargeback handling fee. This fee is meant to cover the card company’s costs for investigating your complaint. If Airbnb is hit with lots of these complaints, then they might eventually start complying with the rules.

  2. Well I have just booked a place from the Air B&B NZ site, for a property in NZ, with a NZ debit/visa. After giving me a final price in NZD, the checkout defaulted to RAND. As the hotels are selling out that weekend (it’s a popular annual event) and it was my first Air B&B booking I just hit confirm assuming it was just a site glitch. I’m now hit up for currency conversion into South African RAND when there is absolutely NO South African connection – it’s a 3 hour drive from home!!! It’ll be my last Air BnB Booking, I’ll stick to book a bach in future.

  3. We have just had the same experience. The accommodation was in France, so obviously in Euros and our account is in Euros, but the bank is based in the UK (an international account). We, however, live in NZ and booked from there so John’s comment about IP addresses seems to be incorrect, although he’s on the right track. Airbnb say that they can charge us in £s because of our bank’s address, without giving us a choice.
    Can you tell us if your bank is located in the UK? It appears that Airbnb will use any excuse to charge in £s to gain the DCC charges and subject the payer to a poor exchange rate in their favour.

  4. Currency is based on the country in which you reside……. maybe you need an elementary banking course for numpties?

    • No, airbnb currency is set by the country your IP is from. So if you reside in the UK, but for some reason are in, let’s say France, your currency will be euro, not pounds. That is stupid, because it is not what your bank account currency is, nor it is what you should be legally charged according your residency. I know because I live in czech republic, but reside in slovakia. I always get the price and charge in czech crowns although my address is slovak and bank accound in EUR.

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