BUG: currency conversion surcharge issue (not working)

Vik Expensify Customer Posts: 4
edited May 2019 in Day to Day

I am a Canadian (Default currency is CAD) and travel to US for work a lot. Since my card (MBNA Canada) is not supported for automatic feed. I prefer to not manually import card data and just use the receipt with smart scan feature to expense report. Because most of my travel is expensed on my credit card. There is a 2.5% bank fee for foreign transactions.

Now when I scan a USD receipt. I expect the smart scan to capture all the receipt information and most of the time I have to manually update the currency from CAD to USD. Once I do this and add the expense to a report (Default currecry CAD), I expect a the total to add a surcharge of 2.5% on top of the automatic conversion rate for that day. 


April 25th, I spend $100 USD. 

-The report should be 100*1.3495 *1.025 = 138.3238 CAD (Correct)

- But instead the result is 100*1.3495=134.95 CAD (incorrect)

My surcharge is setup correctly in the settings area. I am sure this is a product bug. Any idea on when this will be fixed?

This leaves no option for properly capturing the spend in my report. The only way left to fix this is for me to go into each expense and change the currency to CAD and update the exact spend as it shows on my credit card. This is very labor intensive(defeats the purpose of Expensify) and does not provide accurate currency information to client. All the expenses show up in CAD instead of USD with proper exchange rates.

Please suggest if I am doing anything wrong here in the process. Or a way to get this fixed.


  • Nicole Trepanier
    Nicole Trepanier Expensify Team Posts: 498 Expensify Team

    @Vik I took a look at your account and it does appear to be set up correctly but not applying to your USD expenses. Have you reached out to [email protected] to report this issue? We generally recommend going through that support channel so that we can create an issue and have engineering take a look at it.

  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 359 Expensify Team
    edited March 2020

    Hi @Vik, I'm just coming back to this quickly as I've been working with the team internally on how we'll be approaching "Currency Surcharges" in our product moving forward.

    Earlier this year, we made some significant improvements to our SmartScan feature on the back-end which sped up and increased accuracy for our users. However, in doing so, we realised this got in the way of any Currency Surcharge being added to SmartScanned receipts. Since then, we've been thinking about why this feature even exists at all.

    Currently, the only use case to add a surcharge to your expenses is because this makes reporting foreign expenses incurred on a credit card difficult - there's just no way to be sure that the correct amount is reported or that the correct amount is reimbursed because Expensify set's the conversion based on the rates provided by Open Exchange Rates.

    The problem is, not every bank uses Open Exchange Rates and not every bank uses the same rates and crucially, every bank charges different amounts for incurring expenses abroad (although many are now moving down to 0%).

    So we've built our merging feature to accommodate for this. Any connected card or uploaded CSV will automatically merge with the SmartScanned receipt and crucially, update the amount to match the correct amount from the bank statement. And we're even developing the ability for a Domain Admin to import CSV's of bank statements so we can support every bank without forcing individuals to upload their own statements, along with beefing up our support for banks via the Approved! Banks initiative.

    So for the time being, the Surcharge currently only works with non-smartscanned expenses, and ideally we'll move away from even using this feature (that, candidly, fewer than 0.1% of Expensify accounts even use).

  • Vik
    Vik Expensify Customer Posts: 4

    By removing the surcharge feature from the product expensify has left no easy way for users to update the exchange rates.

    I don't want to upload my card data for many reason. I have multiple cards, they have tons of personal transactions which will case noise in my expensify account and none of the cards are supported by Expensify product for integration. 

    The only way left for me to update the expense report is that i have to change each transaction from USD to CAD and put in actual amount. This is not clean as receipts are in USD and i am not able to clearly identify USD transactions with proper exchange rate.

    I hope expensify provides a solution to this. Either fix surcharge option or provide ability to update FX rate.

  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 359 Expensify Team

    Hi @Vik - would you mind elaborating on how often you're incurring CAD charges but reporting them on a USD policy? It's certainly not expected that this would be the norm, especially across multiple cards which include many different personal transactions.

    Remember that when importing your transactions, if you make these reimbursable, they will never be automatically added to a report (just imported as Unreported transactions). When the imported Unreported transaction finds a matching receipt which you've SmartScanned, it will then be reported meaning you just need to SmartScan the receipts you're submitting throughout the month, then at the end of the month when you submit your report - upload your bank CSV and these should merge with the correct SmartScanned receipts to update to the correct value.

    Finally, I'm intrigued by how you would solve the FX rate option, given the multiple cards you're using. Would you specify this on the individual expenses? If so, do you feel like this would somehow be quicker than updating the amount?

    Or would you like to specify the FX rate in your Individual policy, but somehow change it each time you SmartScan a receipt from a different card? To me, this seems like a lot of work too.

    Let us know what you see as the optimum solution to always make sure the correct amount is claimed for, as we're definitely not looking to fix or reimplement a solution which adds an arbitrary percentage again.

  • Vik
    Vik Expensify Customer Posts: 4

    Thanks for the response Ted.

    My policy is CAD and my travel is to USD. I am based out of Canada and almost most of my travel is USD. Every 2 weeks I have usd spend that needs to be reported to my Canada based client.

    I run a small consulting business and use my personal card for all business travel. I prefer this approach as I get better rebate from my personal cards and better benefits while traveling. On top my personal cards are shared with my family so they can enjoy the same card benefits and we get better rebate on money spent on our cards. This is the reason I don’t want to import the card data. There is just too much non relevant stuff.

    all my cards are 2% foreign transaction cost. So the surcharge feature actually work for my scenario. For most people if they spend on 1 card then they can use that feature successfully and it’s not arbitrary anymore.

    Even if the surcharge feature was to be taken away. I think having a fx overwrite feature by transaction or simply the ability to overwrite the converted rate(CAD) while retaining the original currency amount(USD) will be great.

    The issue is not that I have to update this manually. I am ok with manually updating each transaction. The issue is that I am unable to report both cad and use amount with the correct conversion rate. If I manning change a transaction to cad and update the amount, I loose the USD amount and ability to report fx on the report. So I am manually having to create another spreadsheet to report this.

    i am sure there are others in the same scenario tracing internationally and dealing with multiple currencies. I am sure this will help all others in similar situation.


  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 359 Expensify Team

    No worries @Vik. This is all really great to know.

    I'm still coming back to your query that: "There is just too much non relevant stuff". This non-relevant stuff will always stay Unreported. You'll only ever report transactions which match with a SmartScanned transaction.

    It seems like we support your use-case, but your hesitation is because you'd prefer not to use it this way. There is certainly nothing stopping you from filtering out the transactions you're uploading before you do so - I'm intrigued as to why your bank is unable to provide a spreadsheet without your family's transactions on as well?

    If we had a card connection which directly imported your card transactions, would the hesitation still be there because it would auto-import too much non relevant stuff?

    Secondly, you've said "all my cards are 2% foreign transaction cost. So the surcharge feature actually work for my scenario" but this also isn't the case. As I've explained above, this 2% would always be added above the Open Exchange Rates rate. We have no clue what the exchange rate used by your bank is - in fact, it just adds 2% to our exchange rate which will still, likely never match with what your bank imports.

    This then would require us to build the ability for you to set your own exchange rate, which you would need to check and update each day to match your bank and set an extra surcharge. This is two extra configurations you'd have to set-up when you can again, just as easily import your transactions and have these account for the accurate charge.

    We can't just add an integration to pull your banks exchange rate, because this is actually more complex than building an auto-import feature!

    Finally, I'd love to hear more about why you're required to report both the USD and CAD and FX amount. Could you elaborate on what this is for?

  • Martijn
    Martijn Expensify Customer Posts: 3

    Dear Ted,

    I agree with Vik that the currency surcharge should also work for smart scans. A small difference in the daily exchange rate is for sure acceptable and to do everything manually takes too much time.

    An import would work for me! However when I connect to my American Express account I do see the cards (personal and business), but I do not get a single transaction (the message: You'll need to find another way to import expenses.). When I try another way, the inconvenient CSV route, you count all in thousands (I am in The Netherlands, so we use a , for decimals and not for thousand).

    A solution would be very much appreciated!


  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 359 Expensify Team

    Hi @Martijn - thanks for the follow up questions here. I'm intrigued about how any spreadsheet software deals with these CSV exports from your Dutch bank. Are they also showing the amounts incorrectly, or does say, Excel deal with this natively?

    If you'd like to reach out to [email protected], it seems like something we can troubleshoot there and that shouldn't be impacting your ability to perform a CSV upload to merge in those correct amounts.

    Again, whilst you're happy with an arbitrary surcharge rate, we will not be adding back the ability to change the value to something which isn't accurate to what was charged, and we'll continue to offer the ability to upload a CSV, connect a bank or manually amend the amounts.

    Most of my questions here though center around just how often you're required to make these changes. Are you constantly incurring expenses which are in a different currency to your card? Are these more common that your home-card currency receipts?

    I think we're mostly under the impression that whilst foreign expenses are common, they are never more common than the home currency expenses, but this seems like it mightn't be the case for you.

  • Martijn
    Martijn Expensify Customer Posts: 3

    Thanks Ted for your quick reply!

    Over the year EUR currency is the most common for me. But on a trip outside of the Eurozone you can easily have 10 to 20 expenses to register for a trip of only a couple of days. So for sure there will be months with more foreign currency expenses than EUR.

    Microsoft Excel works fine with the , in Europe. Google Sheets doesn't like it though, however they have a conversion function.

    I can understand your reasoning behind you are not going to be adding back the possibility to change the value to something that isn't accurate. That reasoning does not cover the whole subject though.

    Let me elaborate: In many countries credit cards are not very common, in some countries you will need cash even when you travel. Germany for instance (luckily it i EUR), but also in many taxis in UK you need to pay cash. So the credit card statement does not cover the whole trip, so actually a company (and also taxes) do not care about credit card statements. They care about the receipt and that you used a reasonable exchange rate (covering your expenses for credit card conversion, but also cash withdrawals). So even when it does not match 100%, it doesn't mean anything.

    A second part of this reasoning being incomplete: there will always be some issues with credit card connections. No way you will be able to keep this working ALL the time for ALL the companies in ALL countries. See post from Sheena Trepanier: https://community.expensify.com/discussion/46/when-your-credit-card-import-isnt-working. So why to force your users to use the credit card connection when they have foreign currencies?

    Any idea why I don't see anything (besides that I have 2 cards on this account) with my Amex connection?


  • Martijn
    Martijn Expensify Customer Posts: 3

    I got a reply from the concierge about not being able to connect to Amex:

    Sorry for the trouble with this, internation accounts are not supported with the American Express connection.

    Have you tried uploading an OFX file? That is by far the easiest type of file to upload, nothing needed to format.

    So I can't connect directly, since it is an international account.

    I can't upload a file, since a CSV import doesn't work with the European komma usage, no OFX option, only other option is QIF which is not supported by you.

    And I can't add a surcharge on the conversion rate.

    How should I work like this Ted?


  • Vik
    Vik Expensify Customer Posts: 4
    edited October 2019


    i tried using a credit card csv file and uploaded the transaction to my account. here what my experience was

    • it is a cumbersome process to remove unwanted transactions from the csv and upload only the transactions that i want. its not worth my time. goes against why i use expensify at the first place.
    • the option doesn’t automach all the transaction to receipts. created further work for me to find and match
    • lastly the biggest issue.. if i import my canadian card transactions the transactions don’t retain usd amount and conversion rate. it simply overweights the transaction to show as CAD. this is not what i was expected as outcome. my client want to see usd amount and exchange and then cad amount so the full story is there. i was able to achieve that expected outcome via surcharge feature.

    i hope there is another way to achieve chive the expect outcome, as this doesn’t achieve the same objective as i was expecting


  • Ted Harris
    Ted Harris Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team, Expensify Student Ambassador Posts: 359 Expensify Team

    Hiya @Vik

    to remove unwanted transactions from the csv and upload only the transactions that i want

    Expensify certainly isn't built to require that you do this. As explained previously, any transactions which you're required to report will match with the SmartScanned receipt.

    the option doesn’t automach all the transaction to receipts

    Any receipts which didn't automatically merge with the corresponding card transaction would also not have merged with an automatic card feed. The work you're doing here is no more than anybody with an automatic feed.

    if i import my canadian card transactions the transactions don’t retain usd amount and conversion rate. it simply overweights the transaction to show as CAD. this is not what i was expected as outcome.

    This is expected, yes. But this is only how it shows in the report for now. We do have the ability to show an original amount when importing corporate card feeds and when exporting to NetSuite etc:

    That's certainly something we could look to bring to the CSV as well, but it's not on our roadmap right now.

    my client want to see usd amount and exchange and then cad amount so the full story is there.

    You can still export the original SmartScanned amount and the CSV amount to a spreadsheet via a Custom Export and Custom Formulas

    i was able to achieve that expected outcome via surcharge feature.

    Could you clarify how you were able to report the accurate card purchased amount and FX by instead using an arbitrary percentage added onto a foreign amount and converted by Expensify?

    As a quick aside, @Martijn - we're still looking into making that QIF work for you.

  • mattchester
    mattchester Expensify Customer Posts: 1 Expensify Newcomer
    edited November 2019
    I have the exact same issue as @Vik as well as outlined in his first post.  The default currency is CAD and there are plenty of USD receipts that employees claim while travelling in the US. 

    Issue#1 - The smartscan will rarely identify USD as the currency for the US receipts and will default to CAD.  Receipts that are emailed into [email protected] have a higher chance of the Smartscan identifying the currency as USD and applying the conversion surcharge.  Any receipts in which a photo is taking with the app will never use USD or use the conversion surcharge.

    Issue#2 - Because of Issue #1 you have to manually change the currency to USD and manually apply the conversion surcharge which is very time consuming.

    Issue#1 definitely needs to be fixed but even if it isn't, can't there be a product feature that applies the conversion surcharge automatically if you choose a currency that is not your default currency?  That would solve a lot of headaches and seems relatively straight forward to implement.

  • Kadie Alexander
    Kadie Alexander Expensify Success Coach - Admin, Expensify Team Posts: 113 Expensify Team
    edited March 2020

    Hi @mattchester, welcome to the Community!

    With regards to "Issue #1", we are constantly working to improve our SmartScan feature, so please reach out to Concierge with specific details of the affected expenses if you notice errors. It also helps to have your Location Settings enabled when the photo is taken!

    For "Issue #2", have you tried uploading a bank statement as per @Ted Harris's suggestion above? Expensify automatically matches expenses on your uploaded statement with SmartScanned expenses and will update the Amount accordingly. This is by far the best way to ensure that inaccurate expenses are corrected without too much manual intervention!

    Let us know how you get on!