The global business landscape is booming. From small Etsy shops to multinational corporations, companies reach customers and suppliers across borders. This international trade thrives on the exchange of currencies, also known as foreign exchange (FX). 

However, when a company conducts a transaction in a different currency, it needs to convert its money. This process often comes with fees, and these fees can significantly reduce a company's profits.

This article will discuss currency conversion fees and their impact and learn some mitigation strategies!

So, what’s the wait for? Let’s get in! 

Understanding Currency Conversion Fees

Don't confuse currency conversion fees with exchange rates. The exchange rate simply tells you how much one currency is worth in another. For example, an exchange rate of 1 USD to 1.25 CAD means 1 US dollar can be exchanged for 1.25 Canadian dollars. However, when you actually make the conversion, most banks and money transfer services add a fee on top of the exchange rate.

These fees can vary depending on who you use (your bank, a money transfer service, a payment processor) and the type of transaction. Here's a breakdown of the three main types of conversion fees:

  • Fixed fees: A flat fee charged per transaction, regardless of the amount being converted. Think of it like a service charge for handling the conversion.
  • Percentage-based fees: A fee calculated as a percentage of the amount being converted. This fee can add up quickly for more significant transactions.
  • Hidden fees: These fees can be tricky to spot. They might be hidden in markups on exchange rates or sneaky intermediary bank charges. Be sure to read the fine print!

However, these days, businesses are shifting to payment gateways to do these transactions. They check payment gateway pricing and choose the one that offers the most competitive deal for them. For example, tazapay is becoming a popular platform for international transactions. It provides up to five transaction methods that allow businesses to choose the preferred one based on their requirements. 

Negative Impacts of Conversion Fees on Profits

Conversion fees can erode international business profits in several ways:

  • Reduced Profit Margins: When a company exports goods or services, it receives foreign currency payments. Conversion fees reduce the amount it actually receives, shrinking its profit margin. Imagine selling a product for $100 but only receiving $95 after conversion fees. Ouch! The same goes for imports. Conversion fees increase the cost of buying goods or services from overseas, squeezing profit margins even further.
  • Unpredictable Costs: Conversion fees can fluctuate based on market conditions and the entity handling the transaction. This makes it difficult for businesses to forecast their profits accurately. If you don't know exactly how much a conversion will cost, it's hard to plan your finances effectively, especially when dealing with frequent international transactions.
  • Cash Flow Issues: Converting currencies can take time, especially for large sums or when going through multiple banks. These delays can impact a company's cash flow. Imagine needing to pay a supplier overseas, but your funds are stuck in limbo due to conversion processing. This can disrupt your business operations and create unnecessary stress.

Strategies to Mitigate Conversion Fees

Below, we mention a few strategies that you can use to mitigate the risks: 

  • Payment Getaway Options

As mentioned above, businesses now prefer online payment getaways for international transactions, so you should also try this.  Apart from offering competitive conversion prices, it also boasts no daily transaction limit. However, there may be some changes based on the method and country of use. The good thing is international payment getaways like Tazapay provide services in more than 173 countries. You can be sure to find a good deal in their product line.

  • Negotiate with Banks/Services

Businesses with regular international transactions can leverage their volume for better deals. Talk to your bank and negotiate lower conversion fees. Research competitor rates and use them as bargaining chips. Be prepared to switch providers if negotiations don't yield favorable results.

  • Bulk Currency Conversion

Converting larger amounts of currency at once can sometimes reduce the per-transaction fee. This strategy works best for companies with predictable international payment needs. For example, if you know you'll be paying a supplier in Euros every month, converting a larger sum at the beginning of the month might be more cost-effective than converting smaller amounts each time.

  • Hedging Strategies

Hedging involves using financial instruments to manage foreign exchange risk. This can help businesses lock in a specific exchange rate, protecting them from fluctuations that could erode profits. Think of it like an insurance policy against unexpected changes in currency values.

Final Thoughts 

Conversion fees are a fact of international trade but not a roadblock. Businesses can negotiate better rates, convert in bulk, hedge against fluctuations, and explore new payment methods. By managing these fees, companies unlock the vast potential of global markets, boosting revenue and reaching new customers.