I'm in Japan for the next couple of months and making good use of Amazon.co.jp for many of my purchases, including camera equipment. Many people don't know, but Amazon's foreign subsidiaries have the Amazon Currency Converter feature where you can make the purchase either in the local currency (Japanese yen, in my case) or in US Dollars. This can be handy for credit cards that charge a currency conversion fee -- or for invoicing one's university in US dollars (in my case).
Will buying from Amazon.co.jp using my local currency make my purchase less expensive? When you buy in Japanese Yen (JPY) at Amazon.co.jp with a card denominated in a supported currency other than JPY (for example, a Euro-denominated card), the payment is converted from JPY to your local currency by your card company. In addition to the exchange rate, you may be charged additional foreign conversion charges and fees, which may increase the overall cost of your purchase.
With Amazon Currency Converter, your purchase total will be converted into your local currency while you're placing your order. In many cases, your purchase will be less expensive than using your card to make the purchase in Japanese Yen (JPY), as we offer a competitive exchange rate that includes any charges or fees related to the conversion.
But I was curious just how good of a rate Amazon was giving me. So on a recent JPY8225 purchase, I got the Amazon.co.jp foreign conversion quote and then went ahead and made the purchase anyway using Japanese yen on an American credit card that doesn't charge a foreign conversion fee (CapitalOne):
Local price: JP Y8225
Amazon.co.jp - foreign conversion into USD: $111.19
CapitalOne credit card: $107.24
Amazon's rate: 73.97247954 y/$
CapitalOne rate: 76.697127937
XE.com listed rated: 76.7014
Conclusion: If you have a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card, then it's about 3% cheaper to use your own card than to use Amazon's Currency Converter feature.
p.s. Today's date 2011.09.19 21:24 JST.
Purchase #2 on 2011.09.20 10:43 JST
Local price: JP Y1050
Amazon.co.jp - foreign conversion into USD: $14.24
CapitalOne credit card: $13.75
Amazon's rate: 73.735955056 y/$
CapitalOne rate: 76.363636364
XE.com listed rated: 76.5367