Best way to exchange money?

Sep 18th, 2006, 03:46 PM
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Best way to exchange money?


My husband and I are leaving for Vancouver/Whistler in a few days and this board has been invaluable in our planning. We are inexperienced travelers and I had a quick question about exchanging the best place to do this at bank ATM's when we arrive in Canada? Are traveler's checks necessary? We are planning to take the airporter to our hotel in Vancouver..will they accept American dollars as we wouldn't have had a chance to exchange money yet?

Thanks for your help,

JanSLP is offline  
Sep 18th, 2006, 04:37 PM
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I just did what I should've done in the first place...searched the forums. Question has been answered
JanSLP is offline  
Sep 18th, 2006, 05:24 PM
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Let me add one little tidbit. Some US banks have a correspondent bank in Canada. For example, I learned that Scotia Bank and Bank of America have an agreement.
ATM transactions at Scotia Bank with BoA cards are the equal of an "on net" transaction.

YOu should get the wholesale bank rate of exchange plus 1% added by Visa.

Hard to beat that rate.

Travelers' checks are usually subject to a flat fee per check. The last time I was in Banff, I noticed that Canadian denominated checks had the lowest fee, then US dollar checks, and then "foreign checks". I am not sure what a foreign check is, but I presumed it to be one in a currency like pounds sterling, yen, or euro.

Often near the border you can pay in US dollars, but the exchange rate is normally not quite as good.

However, in some cases, particularly when a store is promoting a sale, it will offer a better than average exchange rate for people who pay in US dollars. That aspect of exchanging is not as common now as it was when the US dollar was much stronger.

bob_brown is offline  
Sep 19th, 2006, 08:09 AM
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I would recommend you have minimum cash on hand - change over $300 to Canadian money - this can be used for small purchases and taxis, buses, etc. Use your VISA for remainder of purchases.
Tanya is offline  
Sep 20th, 2006, 08:17 AM
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In August I took a 4 day trip from Sault Ste. Marie, through Ottawa to Montreal. Past years I have driven around Lake Superior. I never take Traveler's checks and never had any trouble at all. Almost everywhere will take a charge card. The credit card companies give a good exchange rate.

I use ATM's to get a little Canadian spending money. The only difficulty I had was the ATM's at the gas stations used Master Card--- my VISA issued Cash Card wouldn't work. So I had to use the ATM at a bank.

Don't worry, in a pinch I found that places will even take American money. My last morning there I had no Canadian money left and stopped at a Tim Horton's for a bagel- they were happy to take American money. The exchange rate is not as good but when you are hungry--- I don't mind paying a little more!
Wilbur is offline  
Sep 20th, 2006, 05:12 PM
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We always use the ATMs as you get the most current rate at the time you use the ATM. No need for travelers checques.
ShelleyWilma is offline  
Sep 21st, 2006, 04:13 PM
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JanSLP & others- Can you clue me in to what you found in your Fodor's search?

My question is very simple and for a co-worker:

Coming from Seattle to Vancouver for only the weekend... do places accept USD or should they plan to change to Canadian currency?

Thanks for letting me tag along.
suze is offline  
Sep 21st, 2006, 09:20 PM
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suze - I wouldn't recommend only relying on American dollars. It would be easier to, once in Canada, go to a bank machine and withdraw a little bit of Canadian dollars. The bank machines automatically do the exchange for you, so with an American bank card, it will only ever withdraw Canadian dollars in Canadian bank machines.

If you were to pay for items in American currency in Canada, you will always get Canadian change back. It's the law, as there's only one official currency in Canada: the Canadian dollar. Realistically, Canadians don't use American dollars to make purchases, only a few American tourists do. This is why you'll find that most shops and services that cater to tourists will accept American dollars. It's done so as a courtesy - it's not mandetory. However, in general, Vancouver's infrastructure is set up to accept Canadian currency only. What I mean by this is, if you wanted to purchase a bus ticket from a ticket machine, or if you wanted to put money in a parking meter, make a phone call on a public pay phone, or if you wanetd to purchase a can of Coke from a vending machine... they only accept Canadian coins/money. Not that this would affect most people, but I think it's worth knowing.
Carmanah is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2006, 06:54 AM
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I would like to point out one aspect of using credit cards that gets kicked around frequently on the European section of this forum.

Some credit card issuers, Bank of America among them, add 3% onto the value of each foreign currency conversion. Canadian dollars are treated just like any other non US dollar transaction.

I carry a Capital One card with me when I leave the US just because it irks me to pay 3% for no value added.

Just yesterday I looked at my charge statements from Germany and found that Capital One charge me just about what the purchase in euro equalled in dollars. There definitely was no 3% add-on.

I also have a AAA Visa card. When I looked at my statement, each transaction in Europe had a 1% fee added on as a line item entry on my statement.

Until I find a better option, Capital One will be my credit card of choice.
My Bank of America credit card stays buried in my passport carrier for use only in case of a doomsday type of emergency.

I do, however, use my B of A ATM card at Scotia Bank ATMs because on my last trips to Canada, I figured that the transactions were charged like a regular on-net usage.
bob_brown is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2006, 11:24 AM
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Thank you Carmanah, very helpful, I'll pass the information along. kindly, Suze
suze is offline  
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