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Today we were discussing our "credit system" for our website.

At our company, clients can pay us money to get credits. One credit represents one dollar. But what is the best way of represent the money given by our client?

One dollar as 1 credit
or
One dollar as $1.00

The discussion started because we asked ourselves if the client feels that he "lost" his one dollar when it is transformed into a credit. What are your thoughts on this question?

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2  
How about $1.00? :-) –  Danny Varod May 19 at 16:13
6  
FYI regarding the "$1,00" to "$1.00" correction: several countries uses commas for the decimal mark instead of a dot; this wasn't incorrect. (Where some would write a thousand point twelve as "1,000.12" they would write it as "1.000,12") –  doppelgreener May 19 at 22:37
1  
I kind of feel that credits are when companies try to get to to value the points less than actual money. When I see 1 credit, it does not feel as valuable to me as $1.00. –  Quincunx May 20 at 0:38
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There's even an ISO 31 for the comma-dot issue. However, it basically says that both of them are okay (not much thought was put there): the decimal sign is either the comma on the line or the point on the line. –  Francisco Presencia May 20 at 3:19
1  
What about international users? If I pay you GB£1, it would be a little weird for me to end up with US$1.60 of credit on your site, since I don't normally have to worry about the value of the US dollar and I'm not used to thinking in terms of it. Depending on the nature of the site, it might make sense for me to buy one credit for 60p or whatever, or it might make sense for me to have £1 of credit on your site - but I would strongly advise against letting people pay in other currencies and displaying the credit in US$. –  Nathaniel May 20 at 5:08

4 Answers 4

Users will not have as much understanding of what a credit represents as opposed to actual local currency (Dollar in this instance). Even if 1 credit = 1 dollar that is still a mental calculation the user has to do, and there is also the extra consideration they have of "Is my 1 credit still worth 1 dollar...?"

A case in point - Microsoft back in 2013 decided to cease using XBox Live Points (credits) and instead converted everything into local currency. Their reason for doing so was:

This change was a direct result of customer feedback. You told us you want to be able to buy things using money instead of points, and we listened.
...
Making a purchase will be faster and easier than ever. You will see item prices expressed in local currency; no need to calculate what an item costs!

OK, it's only one case-study, and it could be argued that it's a different situation because 1 XBox Point did not equal 1 Dollar, but it does show that users prefer to buy things with actual money.

Initially, Microsoft had an actual business case for using credits (they're a global company and wanted to represent their items at the same 'price' everywhere in the world) but yet they decided to no longer go with that route based on user feedback. No doubt causing them a financial hit not only with the change to how it was displayed and handled electronically, but also changing all their marketing material, print outs, adverts etc to reflect the new pricing. I'm not sure (or at least you've not stated so) that you have an actual quantifiable business benefit for displaying them as credits, so I would stick to currency. People pay for things with currency, not with credits.

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I just learned while reading up on the topic that Facebook dabbled with its own currency as well, that would be another case for your argument. –  Mishax May 19 at 16:12
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"they're a global company and wanted to represent their items at the same 'price' everywhere in the world" -- Also, you had to purchase packs of MS points, but pretty much nothing they had available fit the same pricing scheme, leaving the user with leftover points they couldn't buy anything with... until they bought more MS points. Now, a user can buy something directly with their credit card on file, if they wish. –  Brian S May 19 at 18:05
    
Personally, if 1 credit = 1 dollar, I would have no issue with the conversion, particularly if there will never be fractional credits (cents). As a user, I wouldn't mind that much unless the company is pulling something similar to MS points, where you almost always ended up with extra credits you couldn't use until you bought another pack of credits. It would be an extra step in the purchasing process, but not a burdensome one, and creates an avenue for things like gift cards. Such credits may have tax or liability benefits to the company, too (IANAL, IANACPA). –  Brian S May 19 at 18:07
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@BrianS Of course, elsewhere in the world that would translate to, for example, 1 credit = .73 Euro (at least today, might be different tomorrow!) –  Izkata May 19 at 19:42
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@BrianS It might be easy enough to mentally convert "1 credit = $1" but is that simpler than "$1 = $1"? –  JonW May 19 at 20:17

If you've created your own system of virtual currency, you should refer to dollars only when people are exchanging real dollars to gain your virtual currency. All sites that I use that have virtual currencies and credits (admittedly these are entertainment-oriented sites) follow that system.

Said otherwise, if you want your customers not to keep thinking about the dollars they no longer have, don't talk about dollars. Keep them focused on the credits they do have and the wonderful ways in which they can spend them.

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As a user, I would immensely prefer using my own local currency to purchase items directly, rather than exchange my hard-earned money for your fake "kiddie kredits".

Credit systems are also typically the first step in the much more sinister price comparison prevention schema, and any decision fueled by reasoning involving "trick/confuse/lie to/decieve the customer" as a motive is almost certainly wrong.

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Distinguishing between credits and dollars leaves you free to change the purchase cost of a credit later on, as an alternative to rescaling all the prices in the system. On the other hand, it emphasizes that you can do that, which raises trust questions you may not want users thinking about.

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