Canadian Money - How Much and Why?

Jul 8th, 2003, 03:37 AM
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Canadian Money - How Much and Why?

How much Canadian money should we carry and where should we get it? Where would be the best exchange rates? I have no idea about these things so any help would be great!

DandD is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 05:00 AM
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How much depends on where you're travelling to and for how long. As far as where to find the best exchange rate, your best bet is to use a credit card for major items (i.e. hotels, rental cars, etc.) and then an ATM machine in Canada for cash. Believe it or not these will give you a better rate than purchasing travellers cheques before coming to Canada. You don't say where you're coming from but no matter if its the States or Europe your dollar will go a lot farther in Canada.
Cruiseryyc is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 06:59 AM
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If the 'why?' part of your question means 'why use Canadian money in Canada as opposed to say US$ then the answer is twofold.

First Canadians are fairly sensitive about people assumiong that because Canada is so close to the US and so much smaller, (in population), that we somehow - like much of Latin America and the Carribean - lust after the 'Yankee Dollah' and even prefer it to our own. Some Americans even feel that their postage stamps should be accepted here. The fact is that rightly or wrongly we are insulted by that assumption.

But from the users point of view using US$ to pay for things in Canada almost always cost the user because, resentment aside, the merchants have to take the additional measures of seperating the US money for bank deposits and given the volatiolity of the exchange rate lately can never be quite sure what the rate will be from day to day. And it's the rare merchant who's not going to cover his rear by shaving a few cents off the going rate to cover his cost and risk.

So as Cruiseryyc has said it's very much in your interest financially as well as diplomatically to use Canadian money and or Credit Cards when in Canada.
GaryA is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 08:46 AM
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Let's say you ran a retail business in the middle of the USA. A Canadian comes in, buys a few items, and hands you Canadian dollars to pay for them Do you accept the Canadian currency?

Some merchants in popular areas like Banff will accept US dollars, but that is usually because they do a big volume of business in dollars and know that the practice boosts sales.

But that does not mean that US dollars are commonly accepted.

Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam is the only place I have been where any major currency was accepted. The cash registers were programmed to respond to exchange rate inquires and prices were instantly quoted.

Many passengers from all over go through there each day, and, at the exchange rates available, the merchants not only make money on what they sell; they also clean up on the exchange rate.

The old standby is ATM card and credit card. You get the best exchange rates that way.

There is one vital caveat to the statement about using credit cards.
You pay a basic 1% fee to Visa or Master Card when you purchase outside of the US. Some banks add on 2% more for NO value added.

I know from experience that Bank of America charges the extra 2%; MBNA does not. As a result the MBNA card goes with me overseas; the BOA card stays home.
The total amount of money charged as a result of the fee is not much, but I am not going to give the bank money for nothing when I don't need to.

Travelers checks are not widely accepted unless they are Canadian dollar form. But then you have to worry about who will accept them and who will not.

As for how much, good question.
As a British immigration officer told me once Harwich as I was landing, "It's you who is having the holiday."
bob_brown is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 11:59 AM
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When going on a trip your hotel and airfare are usually prepaid or you'll pay with a credit card. It leaves food, attractions, transportation, souveniers, tips. I like to have as much cash as I'd spend in USA on a similar trip. Would you eat at expensive restaurants or chinese take-out? Will you take buses or taxis? Will you buy souveniers at a pharmacy or in overpriced tourist shops? How much you need depends on your personal preferences.
FainaAgain is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 06:11 PM
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I couldn't believe it when I just read "some Americans believe their postage stamps should be accepted" HOW IGNORANT!! It just made me laugh.

I will be in Canada in September and I decided NOT to deal with travelers checks (I've used them in Europe-but probably will never use them again. More trouble than worth!!) I am also going to use the ATM for cash and my visa check card. Because I will be using taxis and public transportation etc. I will probably take out $500 from the ATM (for 2 weeks)
FromAtlanta is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 04:21 AM
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Gary & Bob, you are both answering a question that DandD never asked.

Keith is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 04:38 AM
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Even though this wasn't asked also, remember to save your receipts. Visitors to Canada are entitled to a refund of GST paid on certain purchases.

The forms and information are on the website. It can save you quite a lot.
2jacks is offline  
Jul 10th, 2003, 11:33 AM
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Also, not all ATMs are created equal. Restrict your usage to ATMs at banks or large hotels. If you use the ATMs at small stores, esp. in tourist areas, you will probably not get the official exchange rate and you'll end up paying a rather large ATM fee for these "private" machines.
waltd is offline  
Jul 10th, 2003, 03:22 PM
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What are your thoughts on converting US currency to CAD prior to leaving? My friend and I are visiting Banff area in September and she wants to purchase CAD at local bank so she will have spending money as soon as she steps off plane. Please let me know. Thanks.
cavcmy is offline  
Jul 10th, 2003, 05:03 PM
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BAD idea!(I have heard this so many times from experts like Rick Steves, so it is eched in my brain. However, I can't seem to recall why it is a bad idea. Maybe someone else on here can let us know why) Your friend is much better off just using the ATM in the airport.
FromAtlanta is offline  
Jul 10th, 2003, 05:12 PM
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In response to cavcmy, I would advise against purchasing Canadian currency at your local bank. Many banks offer this service but charge transaction fees and incorporate a buy-sell spread. Add it all up and you often end up with a comparatively costly trade. There are ATMs all over the place in Canada. If you are flying in, you will most certainly find them in the airport. If you are driving in, you won't have to look long. (On one occasion when I was driving in, I offered to purchase Canadian currency from a small business on the U.S. side of the border and he was happy to trade for the going rate.)

As for how much to carry, I've always gotten by on a few hundred. A lot of business can be transacted with credit cards.
Flyboy is offline  
Jul 11th, 2003, 07:02 AM
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I agree about waiting until you get to Canada to change money. In addition to getting a better exchange rate, it just isn;t worth the hastle of changing it here.

It is easy to change money in Canada, most of the folks speak the same language and in a pinch, even if you have a problem getting to an ATM, most tourist related businesses would take US dollars at a rate that is probably as good as you would get on the transaction at a US bank.

I change some money before traveling to Europe, but it isn't worth the effort for travel to Canada. Even the ATMS are less likely to have trouble (in Europe sometimes they are unable to connect with the US banks for several hours)

Keith is offline  
Jul 14th, 2003, 08:00 PM
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Just returned from 7 nights in Alberta- used ATM immediately on arrival and got $200 CAD- it was more than enough- used MasterCard to pay for almost everything- yes, MBNA is a good choice for no fees. Spent cash the last 2 days to use it up. Just filed for reimbursement on GST taxes- don't know how long it will take to get money back.
rsfred is offline  
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