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Do you charge foreign customers in their currency, or yours?
Thread poster: philgoddard
philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Jul 22, 2016

Until recently, I've always charged them in their currency as a goodwill gesture, so I take all the exchange-rate risk. I live in the US, but have many clients in my native UK who pay me in pounds, and my income has fallen sharply since Brexit.

The obvious solution to this problem is to deal only with American customers, so all my income is in dollars. But in my experience, Europe is where the lion's share of the work is if you're translating European languages.

What's your experience? Do you find customers are willing to pay you in your currency?

[Edited at 2016-07-22 16:43 GMT]


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Thomas T. Frost  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
French to Danish
+ ...
Yes Jul 22, 2016

My prices are based on euros, but I allow domestic payments in pound sterling and Danish krone, as I have accounts in these currencies and occasionally shop online in the UK. In that case, I apply the latest ECB reference rate to convert the invoice total to the appropriate currency.

It happens that someone wants to pay in US dollars, and in that case, I use PayPal but keep the dollars in a dollar balance, then use them to pay for services (antivirus, web server …) in dollars directly from PayPal.

Yes, it does mean these currency balances can go up or down in value relative to the euro, but then the value of the things and services I use them to pay for also goes up or down.

In the long term, gains and losses should statistically level out, but the advantage is that it can make things easier and cheaper for the client within significant inconvenience to me.

If you need to get funds from Europe to the US, TransferWise is one of the cheapest ways to do it, but many Continental bank charges for international transfers are reasonable too. The UK is a black sheep what this is concerned, though.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:10
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Current equivalent amount accepted in a couple of currencies Jul 22, 2016

philgoddard wrote:
Until recently, I've always charged them in their currency as a goodwill gesture, so I take all the exchange-rate risk.

So you go for years using the same rate in sterling, even though it fluctuates all the time? That sounds mighty risky for you and for the client too.

I only accept three currencies:
- EUR (my preferred one, of course, and the only one I offer to eurozone clients)
- GBP for clients in the UK as I have a UK sterling bank account, although they often stick with euros
- USD for clients elsewhere in the world if they prefer that, for payment via PayPal as I have a USD stream.

But I always quote in euros and tell clients that the USD or GBP rate will vary in line with major fluctuations - up or down. I don't give details but I do give a warning before I change the price of their work.

I like to accommodate my clients' wishes where possible, but not if it's going to be financially disadvantageous for me.


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:10
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Current equivalent Jul 22, 2016

I always check the current equivalent on the day I send the invoice. Of course there is a risk things may change between that date and the date I get paid but there is not much I can do about that. Some agencies prefer to pay in their currency, which in most cases turns out to my advantage.

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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:10
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
I charge clients in their own currency Jul 22, 2016

philgoddard wrote:
What's your experience?

I charge them in euro, yen, dollars and occasionally even sterling. I lose out sometimes and I benefit sometimes. The events of the past month have really boosted my revenue, for example.

Over the medium to long-term I expect these effects to more or less offset each other. If things were to get really bad I would renegotiate my prices.

Dan


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 16:10
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Usually theirs, but that suits me too Jul 22, 2016

I charge Danish clients in Danish Kroner and UK clients in pounds - and I have an account in each country, which minimises bank charges.

I accept Euros, Norwegian Kroner from one client, or very occasionally US Dollars, if that suits the client best.

With a little judicious planning - like paying for travelling in whichever currency I have most of at the time, I don't pay a lot of bank charges. I also have money in one bank or the other in the currency I want.


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:10
English to German
+ ...
Currently in US dollars Jul 23, 2016

philgoddard wrote:

Until recently, I've always charged them in their currency as a goodwill gesture, so I take all the exchange-rate risk. I live in the US, but have many clients in my native UK who pay me in pounds, and my income has fallen sharply since Brexit.

The obvious solution to this problem is to deal only with American customers, so all my income is in dollars. But in my experience, Europe is where the lion's share of the work is if you're translating European languages.

What's your experience? Do you find customers are willing to pay you in your currency?

[Edited at 2016-07-22 16:43 GMT]


Hi Phil,

I used to charge European clients in euros, but after Brexit, I am quoting in and charging US dollars. They send me the equivalent in their currency or the dollar amount. That might change of course, depending on currency rates.

[Edited at 2016-07-23 05:58 GMT]


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 23:10
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Dollars if possible Jul 23, 2016

I quote dollars in most cases, offer HKD for Hong Kong clients, and accept equivalents in other currencies.

Yes, conversion fees and exchange rates are a real thing, but unless it's Zimbabwe dollars or another currency with serious instability, it's mostly splitting hairs when my time could be used on something more productive.


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Kelly Neudorfer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:10
German to English
Euros Jul 23, 2016

By and large I try to stick to euros. I have one agency client I get very occasional work from who pays in Canadian dollars, and one agency client I no longer work for who was located in Europe but paid in US dollars. Otherwise, though, all my clients are in the eurozone anyway or my British clients are willing to pay euros.

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:10
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Only accepting 2 currencies Jul 23, 2016

For those clients within the Euro zone, I charge Euros. All other clients have to pay in US Dollars. The fluctuating exchange rates don't really affect me much, since both currencies remain as received and are only exchanged when the rate is in my favor.

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sailingshoes
Local time: 16:10
Spanish to English
Part of business Jul 23, 2016

Exchange rates are just a normal part of selling good and services.

I live in the Eurozone and get quite a bit of business from the UK. Ive just become less competitive thanks to Brexit. On the other hand, when Draghi started QE, I became amazingly cheap! The current EUR/GBP rate is not far off what it was from 2012 through to 2015.

For me it's more a translation rate question than an FX rate question.


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Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:10
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
I charge my clients in their currency Jul 23, 2016

I see it as one of my goals as a service provider to make working with me as easy as possible. One of the ways I do this is by charging my clients in their currency. To manage the exchange rate risks that come with that, I keep two currency accounts for the business: one in GBP and one in EUR. GBP is my "home" currency, so I use the EUR account as a sort of interim storage. If the exchange rate is unfavourable, I keep the euros in that account until the rate stabilises again, and then withdraw the euros to convert into GBP when the rate is more favourable. At the moment, the pound sterling is so weak that I am withdrawing all the euros pretty much immediately in order to take advantage of the unusually favourable rate.

I don't work with US-based companies and all of my clients who are based outside of the EU pay in GBP -- they were the ones to suggest that currency (probably assuming that I don't accept other currencies because of where I am based) and so I've never been in a situation where I have felt it necessary to consider accepting USD.

If having an alternative currency account isn't an option for you, Phil, perhaps your best option is what Dan suggested: renegotiating rates. But of course with the British economy taking a swift nose-dive at the moment and with no clear idea of when things might improve, this might not be looked upon favourably by your UK clients. That said, being based in the UK myself I would say I have not noticed a decline in translation requests (in fact this month is one of my busiest ever in my life), so it may also be the case that your UK clients, if they are LSPs, are doing just fine and won't balk at a price renegotiation.

As another alternative, you could look into other types of payment services which would allow you to "store up" GBP until the rate improves (and only withdraw what you need while the exchange rate is poor, so you at least minimise your losses). I supposed PayPal does this to an extent, but I dislike the fees they charge and don't use them for that reason, so I wouldn't be able to recommend that particular service myself.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 20:40
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
US dollar Jul 24, 2016

I have pegged all my rates to the US dollar and have been sticking with it, even during the 2008 financial meltdown in the US when the dollar crashed visavis the other currencies.

I however accept payments in all currencies, and allow my clients to convert my invoiced amount in dollars to the equivalents in their currencies.

My bank or paypal reconverts them into Indian rupees at the final cycle of the payment. I lose some money in the process (in currency conversion charges), but on the whole have done reasonably well.

Some agencies have some kind of arrangements with their banks and they pay directly the rupee equivalent of my dollar rates into my bank.


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:10
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
I only have the option Jul 24, 2016

to charge in mine with local clients, as I live in a little country that has its own currency. I use Euro for all European clients outside my own country (whether they are in the Euro-zone or even in the EU or not) and USD in the US and Canada, which is what clients generally propose. I have never worked elsewhere so far (except for subsidiaries of worldwide agencies where the payment came from the headquarters anyway). I adapt my rates in other currencies to the market concerned, not to the current exchange rates.
As to the exchange risk - it exists only if you spend the money in your own currency, which is not true in my case, at least for euros - I spend it when travelling.

[Edited at 2016-07-24 07:21 GMT]


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:10
French to German
+ ...
My currency Jul 24, 2016

I only charge in my currency, in €.

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