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“Exchanging shots about currency exchange”

Tina was planning a trip overseas. As a result, she wanted to put money on a travel card in a number of different currencies. Tina planned to have 5000 in sterling, 2000 in Euros and 5000 in Hong Kong dollars (HKD) for her travels. This would cost her $13,948.57 NZD.

In April 2017, Tina arranged a transfer online with one of the Travel Card’s team who talked Tina through the currency reload exercise. Tina was told of the importance of inputting the correct reference in order to ensure the money was transferred in the desired manner. When Tina made the transfer, she put the relevant reference number in the ‘particulars’ rather than the ‘reference’ section.

Because of this error, the Travel Card did not transfer Tina’s money into sterling, Euros and HKD, but instead transferred the money into the ‘default currency’ they had listed. This was Canadian dollars ($12,544 CND.) Tina was told by the travel card provider that the only way to fix the problem was to transfer the money from Canadian dollars into her desired currencies. When she did so, she received 5000 sterling, 5000 HKD, but only 1147 Euro. Because of the exchange rate, at the time of her transfers, Tina was out of pocket by 853 Euro.

When the travel card provider refused to pay this difference to correct the error, Tina complained to FSCL.

Tina’s view

Tina agreed that she was told of the importance of inputting the correct reference but did not believe, given she could see the reference number on her bank statement that the error should have resulted in such a loss. Tina believed that the travel card provider would have been able to see the reference number on their system, even if it was not in the customary place.

Tina also stated that she was never told of the ‘default currency’ function and, if she had been, she would have set the default currency for one she was likely to need during her travels.  

Tina was also dissatisfied with the manner in which the travel card provider went about responded to her complaint. On 30 April, Tina sent a letter asking for the correct funds to be allocated to her account. Tina exchanged emails with the complaints team at the travel card provider until 8 May when they advised they could not help given the transfer happened erroneously because of Tina’s input.

Tina continued to email the complaints team, but did not receive another response until 3 September when she threatened to make a formal complaint. The following day Tina received a settlement offer of 400 Euro from the travel card provider.

Travel card provider’s view

The travel card provider said that Tina’s error had caused the funds to be loaded into Canadian dollars. Because there was no reference number, the travel card provider’s system was unable to match the payment to the order created online. While they apologised for the loss, and applied a 400 Euro credit for the delays and to recognise Tina’s dissatisfaction with the service, the travel card provider did not believe they were responsible for the remaining 453 Euro loss.


We were able to facilitate an agreement between the parties. After discussing the delays in the Travel Card’s process, the lack of clarity surrounding the inputs necessary for references and the lack of an explanation around the default currency, the travel card provider agreed to pay the remaining 453 Euro in order to put Tina in a position so she no longer suffering a loss.

Key insight for consumers

Although Tina’s error was minor, the ramifications from such an error were severe, especially when dealing with large volumes of money.

Ensure, as far as possible, that your actions comply with the requirements of the financial service provider, even if this means taking more time to take extra care. It could save a lot of time, money, stress and inconvenience in the long run.