ATM, Debt Card or Traveler's Check

Old Jun 5th, 2004, 06:59 AM
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ATM, Debt Card or Traveler's Check

We are planning a trip to Calgary/Banff/Kootenay in the middle of June. We are confused about what we should use. Do most places take Traveler's Checks from the US or should we just do the debt card/ATM thing? I really do not want to carry a lot of money around as it is not safe. Anyone that can help would be great.
spazkatt is offline  
Old Jun 5th, 2004, 07:32 AM
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Mosat travellers think bankmachines, automatic tellers, and debit card machines are the best system, plus regular credit cards (Visa, astercard, American Express, but DISCOVER is rare)

Most Canadian automatic teller machines are on the Cirrus and Plus networks.
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Old Jun 5th, 2004, 08:15 AM
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I agree with most of what BAK has said.

Something to be aware of, though, is that the businesses in Lake Louise, Alberta and Field, British Columbia that accept debit cards are on the Cirrus system. Hence they don't accept debit cards that belong to the Plus system.

I didn't even know about this till Bob Brown, a regular traveller to the area, mentioned it here at Fodors.

Banff and Jasper are larger than the small village of Lake Louise. I'm sure they have enough of a cross section of facilities that they cater to both Cirrus and Plus debit cards. I know for certain that many businesses in Calgary accept Cirrus and Plus debit cards.

In addition to using debit cards to withdraw cash for smaller purchases, many travellers find it convenient to use credit cards for their larger purchases (accommodation, rental car, etc.)

The human beings in this part of the world usually are pretty safe. My main concern about carrying a great deal of money in my purse is that I will lose it. I'm not afraid that someone will snatch my purse or hit me over the head to get my money. I routinely catch the train on my own at night. Actually one cannot avoid that in winter, since it's already dark when most office workers leave downtown around 5 pm.

But, beyond that, I occasionally stay downtown till late (say 10 pm) to complete a project, and I feel no discomfort about making my way home on the train at that time.

If Calgary is pretty safe, the smaller towns in the Canadian Rockies are even more so.
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Old Jun 5th, 2004, 11:11 AM
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My impression of Calgarians, Judy, is that if you threw your money at them they would probably give it back!

In my case, I walked off the LRT and foolishly left my purse on the seat - my purse with a few hundred dollars cash, credit cards, bank card, birth certificate and car keys inside, and a rather rough-looking young man ran down the ramp and handed it to me! I still shudder to think what a disaster our trip would have been if it wasn't for his quick-thinking and honesty. (And I wish I had not been so stunned and given him $50 or $100 before he leapt back on the train and disappeared out of sight.) So, I'll always have a soft spot for Calgary and its down-to-earth friendly people.
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Old Jun 6th, 2004, 06:18 AM
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With few exceptions, travelers checks are mostly a thing of the past and not worth the hassle or up-front cost, now that ATMs are virtually everywhere The ATMs found at major banks in Canada(not the ones you'll encounter in retail shops for instance), offer the best exchange rates. Also be advised that your credit cards will charge a surcharge for foreign account activities, some as much as 3%. I'd recommend calling your credit card companys' customer service and inquire as to their foreign surcharge to see which company charges the least and primarily use that card.
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Old Jun 6th, 2004, 07:14 AM
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Why not exchange your money for Canadian currency?
I generally carry cash when travelling but have a money belt that goes unde my clothing and that is where my passport and money and cards go. I only carry a small amount of cash, one debit card and one credit card in a small purse or fanny pack.
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Old Jun 6th, 2004, 07:30 PM
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I would like to clarify a little of what Judy said about the ATM machines around Lake Louise village and the Ice Fields Parkway

I was trying to obtain currency from the ATM machines in Field, BC, Lake Louise Village and the store at the Crossing north of LL on the parkway. All of these machines last July refused to process my ATM cards and my Debit cards (2 bank cards). Both banks were on Plus; these machines were on Cirrus only.

Had I gone to a gas station or a restaurant and bought gas or food with a credit card, I would have been fine.

My problem arose when I went to a franchised ATM in a small retail store for some Canadian folding money.

Later I went to a regular bank in Frenie, BC, and there was no trouble.

I an positive that a bank in Canmore or Banff would have had the necessary services. Of course there was no trouble Calgary.

And the story about the return of the money. That hits me as typical of Calgary. It is a city I have learned to like because of the people who live there. I remember we were trying to find a styrofoam ice chest. We went to one big store and it had none. The young man in the sporting goods department went to great length to draw us a map by hand to find a branch of Canadian Tire so we could find it.

That was not just an isolated incident, either. I have found people in southern Alberta, particularly in the small towns, to be equally helpful and courteous. (I have not been in northern Alberta, so I cannot speak from experience.)

The other problem I ran into years ago that caused me to quit using travelers' checks was a flat $3.50 C fee to cash a check. I had $50 checks denomintated in Canadian dollars, and the fee was applied to each check. Some places would accept the TCs and some would not.
Motels usually would take them.

But credit cards are not so commonly accepted, that I carry a few travelers' checks as a reserve. Some of the checks have made about 4 trans Atlantic crossings as well as trips to Canada.
I just don't need them much. I may have to cash them because they are getting dog eared from being carried so much.
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Old Jun 7th, 2004, 04:11 PM
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Did you spell "debit card" as "debt card" on purpose? It's usually a credit card that turns into "debt"
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