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Currency Exchange - Canada
Old 07-17-2012, 06:40 PM   #1
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Currency Exchange - Canada

We'll be visiting Canada for the first time in about ten days, and I was wondering the best way to exchange U.S. dollars for Canadian dollars. Should we do this before we leave, at the airport in Vancouver, or at a bank/currency exchange in Vancouver when we arrive? How much deviation from the published exchange rate should I expect?
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Old 07-17-2012, 06:44 PM   #2
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I usually just went to an ATM once I arrived and used credit cards for bigger purchases. Or you could get Canadian funds from your local bank before you depart.
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Old 07-17-2012, 06:44 PM   #3
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Usually you get the best exchange rate by using your bank card to withdraw cash from bank ATMs at your destination.
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Old 07-17-2012, 07:05 PM   #4
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I think I've answered my own question. My bank charges $5 for an ATM withdrawal outside of the U.S. If I go to my branch here, there is no fee, and the rate seems to be about a cent or so off of the newspaper rate. I'll buy the Canadian dollars here.
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Old 07-17-2012, 09:23 PM   #5
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While you will need some cash, I suggest doing as many transactions as possible on your credit card. Welcome, and have a great vacation!

Helpful discussion here:

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/canad...ee-canada.html
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Old 07-17-2012, 09:40 PM   #6
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While you will need some cash, I suggest doing as many transactions as possible on your credit card.
Just make sure you have a credit card that doesn't charge a service fee for foreign transactions. Here is a list of cards that don't. No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards
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Old 07-18-2012, 08:30 AM   #7
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I think I've answered my own question. My bank charges $5 for an ATM withdrawal outside of the U.S. If I go to my branch here, there is no fee, and the rate seems to be about a cent or so off of the newspaper rate. I'll buy the Canadian dollars here.
Just beware that they may do the exchange at the newspaper rate and then add a fee for their service in doing the exchange so the net effect will probably not be exchanging at the newspaper rate.
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Old 07-18-2012, 09:11 AM   #8
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If you want cash in hand, exchanging at govt. facilities [eg ferries, liquor stores or whatever] usually gives the closest to published rate of exchange. But unless you plan to make large purchases, the currencies are pretty close to par anyway at the moment.
Credit cards without foreign exchange fees have been the best , IMO.
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Old 07-18-2012, 11:31 AM   #9
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If you want cash in hand, exchanging at govt. facilities [eg ferries, liquor stores or whatever] usually gives the closest to published rate of exchange. But unless you plan to make large purchases, the currencies are pretty close to par anyway at the moment.
Credit cards without foreign exchange fees have been the best , IMO.
Does that mean that U.S. dollars are pretty much universally accepted in Canada?

We're leaving on the 29th and probably don't have time to obtain a Capital One credit card in advance of our trip, though we are savings customers though the about-to-Sunset Costco deal.
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Old 07-18-2012, 11:42 AM   #10
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Some American banks have understanding with certain foreign banks to wave or discount their ATM fees. IIRC, BofA has/had a deal with the BNP Paribus bank in France. You might find your bank has a deal with a Canadian bank.
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Old 07-18-2012, 11:57 AM   #11
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Having recently been in Canada I just used USD (which I brought with me) as the exchange rate is about equal right now. Sometimes I got Canadian change and sometimes USD change. I planned my purchases to get rid of the Canadian money before I got home. I always bought a sandwich or snack in the airport which helped.
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Old 07-18-2012, 10:39 PM   #12
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"Does that mean that U.S. dollars are pretty much universally accepted in Canada?"

Near the border, merchants cannot grouse about dollars, and welcome them. As you move into the hinterlands, they seem to savor dinging you and pocketing the difference. Just natural commercial behavior, and when the currencies are in flux, they don't know how the banks will treat them.

You can exchange at Canadian banks, and the Gov't runs exchange stations at bigger border crossings, ask the customs people where they are when you cross.

Fee-less credit cards do solve a raft of issues vs. currency.
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Old 07-19-2012, 08:31 AM   #13
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You should consider notifying your credit card provider that you may be making purchases in Canada so they do not put your card on hold believing they are preventing fraud or protecting you from suspected card theft.
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Old 07-19-2012, 02:32 PM   #14
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You should consider notifying your credit card provider that you may be making purchases in Canada so they do not put your card on hold believing they are preventing fraud or protecting you from suspected card theft.

This is a good idea. I don't generally do it for my short trips to Montreal (just across the border from VT) but when I do most foreign travel I notify the card companies in advance. I've never had a problem once I get to the destination.
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Old 07-19-2012, 04:07 PM   #15
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When I travel in the US I certainly don't try to use CDN dollars. Likewise, I wouldn't try to use US Dollars in Canada. They may be accepted but there is often an exchange component that will not be in your favour. Credit cards usually charge an exchange fee of about 2.5% on foreign purchases. Probably your best bet is to bring some CDN dollars with you, then withdraw any more if required from an ATM. There will be a small fee but the exchange rate will likely be better than a credit card and offset this. Have a great time in Canada.
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Old 08-20-2012, 09:34 PM   #16
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I was visiting in July and these are my currency exchange experiences:
Drummond, QC - I thought that Walmart would be a good place to start. I learned that what is a bank debit card - Visa in the US is considered a credit card in Canada. If it has Visa or MC on it, it is a credit card and therefore, no cash back with the purchase of a small item. Walmart ATM would not take my debit card. Crossed the street to a bank and used my debit card in their ATM and got Canada cash out. This turned out to be the best way to go because there was no charge for me to do this. Good exchange rate, too. Not even an ATM fee.
Credit Card Visa charged me 5% on all purchases. Even charged me 5% when I made reservations in Canada from my home in the US.
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Old 08-20-2012, 09:38 PM   #17
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I asked about getting Canadian currency at several local banks in the US. This turned out to be a hugh hassle and very expensive so I skipped it.
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Old 08-22-2012, 03:28 PM   #18
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1) ABSOLUTELY Call your card issuer.
2) Your PIN must be four digits for Europe (Dunno about America's Hat) - so CHECK
3) If you are paying $5 per for foreign - FIRE THAT BANK and check out a smaller, local bank and /or Credit Union.
4) Once you do step 3, ATM is best / cheapest.

Tho we have not been north of the border (yet), Europe - incl former Soviet Block nations & Middle East - ATM is the way to go.

Enjoy
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Old 08-22-2012, 04:50 PM   #19
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2) Your PIN must be four digits for Europe (Dunno about America's Hat) - so CHECK
Uhhhh....yeah. Don't hurry north......
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:33 PM   #20
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@Koogie....

come on... thought we (Yanks and Canuks) were buds... growing up we were taught in school that we shared "the longest unfortified border in the world" - and PROUD of that special relationship. Including the Canadian Frenchies.
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