Payment Methods

We accept payment by any of the following methods:

Follow the links (or scroll down the page) for details.

For legal, tax, and currency market fluctuation reasons, your country of residency determines the currency of your invoice:  US or Canadian dollars for residents of the US or Canada, €uros for the rest of the world.  

All prices are set to be equal at the start of the year, and they are episodically adjusted in one currency or another during the course of the year to maintain these rough parities.

If you need to sign up in a currency other than your own (for example, you are paid in $US even though you live in Canada), contact us and explain your situation.   We may be able to help.   But this is not an invitation to currency arbitrage:   it typically requires some complex financial / tax filings on our part, and carries a cost to you.

If, after your initial payment, you need to pay the balance of your invoice in a different currency, we will convert the amount due on your invoice into your new currency, and add a 2% currency conversion charge.  We cannot recalculate your invoice, in whole or in part, in your new currency.   The only way to accomplish that would to be to cancel the services / trips initially subscribed (accepting the attendant cancellation penalties), and to re-subscribe in your new currency.

Check / Cheque

Our North American office accepts check / cheque payments in $ (US or C), and our European office accepts cheques in €uros.  Addresses are here.  Cheques must be drawn on banks domiciled in the country of that currency.  Any euro-zone bank works for payments in €.  Checks / cheques should be made payable to Blue Marble Travel.

If you have an account in one of these countries, this is the least expensive way to settle an invoice. 

If the good or service for which you are paying is invoiced in another currency than your check / cheque (for instance, a € apartment rental for which you are paying with a $ check), a 2% currency conversion charge will apply.  This is generally less than your credit card company will charge to convert a € payment into dollars, so you are typically still ahead of the game.  Currency exchange rates can be checked here:  the rate used will be the rate in effect on the date on which the check / cheque is posted to us (postmark on the envelope determines this date).

Payments originating in other countries must generally be made in euros, by credit card or by bank transfer.  If you wish to pay with a dollar- or euro-denominated cheque originated by a bank not in the corresponding currency zone, consult us for applicable banking charges.  But they tend to be high, and we are not able to do anything about that, since the banksters are bigger than we are, and not typically nice.

Credit Card (Visa or Mastercard)

Before you pay us by credit card, please be sure to see below, “What Can I Pay By Credit Card?” as 3rd party services may be subject to a surcharge.  If you are interested (and we trouble to understand why you would be), you may also consult the long “These People Have Too Much Time on Their Hands” Explanation of Credit Card Acceptance.

To make a payment by credit card, please go to our secure, on-line payment page
Alternatively, you may complete a €uro authorization, and mail or fax it to any of our offices, or scan it and send it as a pdf. 

Even if your account statement is in dollars, payments by credit card (Visa or MasterCard) are always debited in €, unless the bulk of the purchase being made is a railpass issued in the U.S.  If you are a resident of the U.S. or Canada, and are making a payment towards a $ invoice, use this converter to calculate the €uro amount to authorize.

Example:  if you wish to pay $1,300 C, convert that to €uros.  If, still for example, the conversion rate is $1.3 C to the €uro, $1,300 C would equal 1,000€.  You would thus authorize 1,000€ to be charged.  A payment of $1,300 C would be credited to your account statement (the 1,000€ that was debited to your card will also be shown, for your information).

Use this $US authorization form, instead, if you are buying a European rail pass, and not more than $100 US worth of related train reservations and / or agency charges per pass.  For these purchases, we can “flow your card through” to Rail Europe, who will charge your card directly in US dollars..  The “merchant” will appear as Rail Europe on your credit card statement.  You must scan and e.mail, fax, or post the authorization to one of our offices.

Paying by credit card does not change the currency of your account statement.  If you are on one of our bicycle trips, your statement will be in $US for US residents, $C for Canadian residents, and €uros for residents of all other countries.  It will always be in €uros if you are only subscribing to local, Paris-offered services or trips.

If your account statement is in $ (US or C), and you pay by credit card a corresponding euro amount, we do not charge any commission or fee to convert the euro amount of your payment into $.  However, your banksters credit card issuer will add a foreign currency processing charge.  Writing a cheque / check (or making a bank transfer, but which incurs other banking costs) avoids this bank charge.

If your funds are in a currency in which we do not invoice (rand, Hungarian pengos, trading cards), credit cards may nonetheless be the least expensive way to pay for your trip.  The banking costs involved in ordering a euro wire transfer may be higher than the credit card issuer’s foreign exchange commission.

What Can I Pay by Credit Card?
Cards (Visa or Mastercard) can be used to pay for any services we ourselves provide, without surcharge, provided that the total due is at least 20€.  These include our cycle trips, our baggage transfer services, luggage storage, apartment rentals....

They may also be used to pay for things we buy on your account, such as hotel rooms or train tickets.  However, since we ourselves must pay for these things with company cheques, a 2% charge applies, roughly corresponding to the amount charged by the credit card company to process the charge.

Our debiting of credit cards in €uros only, regardless of the currency of your invoice, often provokes surprise, and sometimes consternation.  But it actually saves our clients’ money, even those in $ countries.  If you would like to see why, jump to the “‘These People Have Too Much Time on Their Hands’ Explanation” at the bottom of this page.  Synopsis:  credit cards are issued by banks

Bank Transfer

We accept bank (a.k.a. “wire”) transfers in €uros only, sent to our French account.  Contact us for banking information.  This is an economical payment alternative for €uro zone guests.  It also works for travellers from Africa, Asia, Oceania, or South America, who do not wish to pay by credit card.  Banking costs are borne by the payee.

Our bank charges 20€ per incoming transfer from outside the euro zone, even if the sender explicitly assumes all charges.  It only charges 1€ for transfers denominated in euros, from within the euro zone.  We’ll treat you to the euro....

“These People Have Too Much Time on Their Hands” Explanation of Credit Card Acceptance

Why We Debit Credit Cards in €uros
Accepting credit cards is a difficult process for a travel company working in several currencies, and especially for one with North American or Oceanic travellers.  Once upon a time, we accepted credit cards for debits in $US.  We were in the process of setting up to do the same in Canadian and Australian dollars.  But, on a certain infamous day in a certain infamous September, this suddenly became a very expensive exercise.  And you, our guests, were the ones asked to pay for it.  So we stopped.  Does this mean that the terrorists have won?  Yes.  Can we all go home now?

It would seem that a lot of people suddenly decided not to travel in the months immediately following 9/11/01.  And they expected the credit card people to cover the cancellation costs of all those “non-refundable” tickets they didn’t use.  Somewhat remarkably, and no doubt reacting in shock, the card people pretty much did that, at least in the US.  But now they are a tad jumpy about the whole travel industry.  Thus it is that North American and Oceanic “discount rates” (credit card company commissions) of 5 - 7% are typical for trip outfitters such as we.  Even at that rate, it’s hard to find banks to take the business!

Further, accepting credit cards other than in person makes the card issuers nervous when the product being sold is as “intangible” as travel.  They are afraid we won’t be careful enough in identifying our guests, and will allow purchases on stolen cards.  And no one can repossess your trip....

Finally, card issuers do not allow us to pass this cost on by surcharging credit card payments.  And, in the absence of a surcharge, everyone would pay by card, because most of us don’t even know where our checks / cheques are any more.  So accepting cards for debits in any sort of dollar would imply that we raise the price of our trips by 5 - 7%.  Currency conversion fees would then come on top of that (we can, of course, pass currency conversion costs on, but that would raise the prices even more).  In sum, whenever you see a Trip Outfitter who accepts credit card payments in $, it should worry you.  You are paying dearly for those unusable miles....

Obviously, we are perfectly happy to have you pay by check / cheque.  Or, send us large wads of cash in unmarked envelopes. 

But checks / cheques don’t give you points, or, as Bostonians call them, “jimmies.”  And they mean you actually have to have the money, rather than just knowing you are going to at some point in the future.  And maybe you don't have a bank account in any of our three currencies....  For all of these reasons, paying by credit card is something many of you want to do.

Our Attempt to Save You Money
We have managed to avoid the high commissions discussed above by arranging to accept credit cards for debits in €uros.  Europeans are less jumpy at this moment in history, banking regulations and consumer protection laws are stronger, and the phenomena described above are not in play.  

So, you can charge all or part of any of our services to your credit card.  If your statement is in dollars, simply convert the amount you wish to charge to €uros on the day you authorize us to process the charge, using the “mid-market” (commission-free) rate, which you can get from a link on our secure on-line payment page.

Most credit card companies charge a foreign currency transaction fee, typically around 3%
.  These fees vary bank to bank by enough to make it worthwhile to read the fine print in your cardmember agreements (or to call customer service), to find out what they are.  Then choose the card you use accordingly.  But the card issuer’s fee is always lower than the 6% our prices would have to climb to take cards in dollars, so you are still ahead of the game.

Example:  if your card bills in $US, and you make a purchase in euros worth the euro equivalent of $10, your card issuer will bill you anything from $10.10 to $10.50.  If you use your card for a trip deposit in the euro equivalent of $1,000, your card issuer will bill you for $1,010 - $1,050.  Our understanding is that Capital One only bills 1% (and so would bill $1,010 in this example).  If this is true, it makes Capital One cards the best to use.  But if you call Capital One and ask for confirmation of this, you get an endless voicemail loop.  Or a variety of confused and contradictory responses.  Or an endless voicemail loop with recorded confused and contradictory responses.   All in an accent that you will have some trouble understanding unless you have travelled extensively in India, or live in South London.

We hope you had better things to do than to read this far.  Otherwise, please accept our expression of sympathy.

Ready to Sign Up?

Commitment Issues:
The “Contract”