Dollar Exchange Rate

Dec 20th, 2002, 03:03 AM
  #1  
Tom
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Dollar Exchange Rate

HI,
Going to Montreal for a weekend and
just wanted to ask what's the consensus on
the best place to exchange US$ to CAN$.
Get them in the USA at your local bank
before going or wait until you get to
Montreal and exchange your dollars there?
All feedback appreciated. - Tom
 
Dec 20th, 2002, 03:36 AM
  #2  
John K
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Hi Tom,
The best deal is to take your ATM card with you and withdraw CAD from a bank cash machine when you get there. It's quick, easy, you'll get the best exchange rate even with the $ or 2 charge you might get from using another banks ATM. Have fun!
 
Dec 20th, 2002, 06:05 AM
  #3  
Louis
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I agree. Never, ever buy Canadian money in the US. The rates are terrible.
 
Dec 20th, 2002, 06:09 AM
  #4  
kate
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Tom,
We always go to the nearest ATM machine upon arrival in Montreal.
Don't use USD in restaurants or exchange it at the hotel, they charge huge percentages to do it for you!
 
Dec 21st, 2002, 06:23 AM
  #5  
Bob Brown
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Hi Tom, for international travel in general I have followed this strategy:
1. I use my ATM for currency needs.
2. I use my credit card(s) for big purchases.
3. I have an emergency reserve of taveler's checks.

There is however a major caveat to using ATM cards or debit (check) cards for currency needs. Last summer around Lake Louise even the little bank in Lake Louise Village had a franchise ATM machine run by a telecommunicaitons company. It was Master Card cards only! My Visa plastic was useless! Moreover, I would have been charged a fee even if my card had worked.

You will not of course have a problem in a city. But for future reference you might want to keep this fact in mind and not get caught short like I did.

The usual fee is about 1% for using an ATM.

For large purchases I use my credit card. However, you need to find out if the bank that issues the credit card slaps on an extra 2% for conversion to US dollars. I have a card from MNBA because it does not add on ther 2%. Visa and Master Card both add 1% for a conversion fee. The banks that charge extra add their 2% on top of the 1%.
I see no derived service from the 2% charge. I think it is purely added profit.

I carry along a few old fashioned traveler's checks as a reserve. I rarely use them, but every once in a while the need to have one arises.
I think I have used two three of them in the last 5 years. In fact I used one just last week in New York. The situation became unusual to the extent that signing the check and handing it over was the easiest way to pay the bill.

I had one funny incident in Paris where the traveler's checks were useful even though I never signed one of them.
My wife and I had finished eating in a little Paris restaurant. I handed the waiter my Visa card to pay the bill. I speak about as much French as the waiter spoke English. He came back excitedly waving my credit card. I managed to understand that the credit card was not satisfactory for some reason. My wife said "There is a bank across the street with an ATM. You wait here while I get some money." With that she got up from her chair, while I was remained seated. The waiter began making noises like he was going to blow a gasket. I guess he though she was skipping out or something. I had a few traveler's checks with me. So in an attempt to calm the waiter, I laid them out on the table. Fortunately the checks had the desiered effect.
Then I remembered I had a second credit card with me and I handed that one to the waiter. That card worked. He came back all smiles and contentment. So my TC's had a purpose even if they were not signed and delivered.

I never understood why my first card did not work because I had used it several times already that trip, and I continued to use it the remainder of the trip. I guess the credit card reader in the little restaurant had too much cooking grease in it. Actually I think that his bank affiliation for credit card sales was limited to Cirrus while my card was Plus.
So for most trips I carry two cards; one Cirrus and one Plus.
 
Dec 21st, 2002, 06:31 AM
  #6  
Bob Brown
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Hi Tom, for international travel in general I have followed this strategy:
1. I use my ATM for currency needs.
2. I use my credit card(s) for big purchases.
3. I have an emergency reserve of taveler's checks.

There is however a major caveat to using ATM cards or debit (check) cards for currency needs. Last summer around Lake Louise even the little bank in Lake Louise Village had a franchise ATM machine run by a telecommunicaitons company. It was Master Card cards only! My Visa plastic was useless! Moreover, I would have been charged a fee even if my card had worked.

You will not of course have a problem in a city. But for future reference you might want to keep this fact in mind and not get caught short like I did.

The usual fee is about 1% for using an ATM, which is less than you will pay for converting paper money or traveler's checks at a bank on either side of the border.

For large purchases I use my credit card. However, you need to find out if the bank that issues the credit card slaps on an extra 2% for conversion fee. I have a card from MNBA because it does not add on ther 2%. Visa and Master Card both add 1% for a conversion fee. The extra 2% is added on by some banks but not be others.

I see no derived service from the 2% charge. I think it is purely added profit.

In addition to banking plastic, I carry along a few old fashioned traveler's checks as a reserve. I rarely use them, but every once in a while the need to have one arises.
Although I have cashed only two or three of them in the last 5 years, they still have a use. In fact I used one just last week in New York. The situation became unusual to the extent that signing a check and handing it over was the easiest way to pay the bill.

I had one funny incident in Paris where the traveler's checks were useful even though I never signed one of them.
My wife and I had finished eating in a little Paris restaurant. I handed the waiter my Visa card to pay the bill. A few second later the waiter came back waving my credit card excitedly. Although my French is very limited, I understood that the credit card was not acceptable. My wife said "There is a bank across the street with an ATM. You wait here while I get some money." With that she got up from her chair, while I remained seated. The waiter began making noises like he was going to blow a gasket. I guess he though she was skipping out or something. I had a few traveler's checks with me. So in an attempt to calm the waiter, I laid them out on the table. Fortunately the checks had the desiered effect.
Then I remembered I had a second credit card with me and I handed that one to the waiter. That card worked. He came back all smiles and contentment. So my TC's had a purpose even if they were not signed and delivered.

I never understood why my first card did not work because I had used it several times already that trip, and I continued to use it. I guess the credit card reader in the little restaurant had too much cooking grease in it.

Actually I think that the restaurant's bank affiliation for credit card sales was limited to Cirrus while my card was Plus.
So for most trips I now carry two cards; one Cirrus and one Plus.
 
Dec 22nd, 2002, 08:50 PM
  #7  
Susan
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I use only my ATM card and credit cards when traveling - whether to Canada or to most other countries. I left on a 6 month trip around the world with $1000 in cash and my ATM card and that worked fine.

am not charged a fee for withdrawel from a foreign location (although I am charged if I use a bank other than my own in the US!) so I can be very flexible - take out only as much as I might need and not get stuck w/ extra cash b/c I can keep going back w/o charges. You should check w/ your bank re the type of account you have. However I agree w/ earlier comments - still worth the fee. And ask what the fee is at non bank ATMS - if it is an additional fee then avoid, if it is only one then it will probably be lower.
 
Dec 23rd, 2002, 12:27 PM
  #8  
CSO
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I always exchange my money right at the border after crossing into Canada. There is a currency exchange place (usually located in the building with the duty free shop). Also, I use credit cards and gas credit cards.
 
Dec 23rd, 2002, 04:36 PM
  #9  
Celine
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I agree with everyone else, use an ATM at the airport or anyone else.

But if you want to reduce costs, don't use the ATM too often, because you get charged by the ATM and by your US bank account, and that can add up after a while.

Oh, and make sure you have deep pockets to carry the pounds of toonies and loonies you'll end up getting with change.
 

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