Jamaicans have been shopping online for some time now and this has given birth to various shipping companies. These companies will give you a US address that you can ship your items to once purchased. Some companies may even allow you to use their card (at a higher rate) to buy your things online. This information applies specifically to Jamaicans but may also be used for other countries.
Visa Debit cards are becoming the norm with various banks and this means everyone can shop online. That’s good, but the bad is the exchange rate. Unless you have a USD account your price for USD$1 may range from JMD$127-JMD$135. I kid you not. The exchange rate is set by the vendor – not the bank and their daily exchange rate – and you will then also have to pay the bank a conversion fee. This makes no sense if you use your card locally as you’ll have to pay the conversion fee for local purchases, and some banks don’t allow you to have an additional card.
THE SOLUTION (PART A)
Use a second bank with a USD account and card strictly for online purchases. This allows you to buy USD at a lower rate from the bank and do your purchases in USD. But – there’s another problem. If you only use your card then that’s great! But sometimes vendors or services (like Amazon and PayPal) may detect that your account / card is located in another country and attempt to help you by offering to convert the USD to your home currency. This brings us to:
THE SOLUTION (PART B)
First you need to get to the checkout section of your purchase. For this we will be using eBay and PayPal since Amazon is somewhat more straightforward. For Amazon just tell it to bill you in USD and not in JMD.
So – for eBay/PayPal you first need to get to the point where you’re going to checkout.
You’ll get your total in USD and then the highlighted section will show you your total according to their conversion rate in your local currency. You don’t want this. You want it in USD to avoid additional fees of converting to JMD. So. There’s a small X in the right corner of the highlighted area. Click it or click on the little balloon icon in the bottom left of the highlighted area to show the next section.
Once done you will notice that the total is displayed in USD only and there is no JMD (local currency) listed anymore. This will allow the transaction to take place in USD which will not incur any additional fees for conversion.
If you don’t do this process you’ll end up paying more as the currency will be converted from USD to JMD then back to USD and you’ll be billed for each conversion plus have to pay at a higher rate when going back to USD.
Hopefully this will help when making your purchase online.