Money Exchange

Old Jul 18th, 2002, 08:09 PM
Bob Brown
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Money Exchange

I just returned from Canada where I relied exclusively on my ATM card for Canadian currency. I just checked my bank statement to see what rates I actually paid.
As near as I can tell, there was a 1% fee for using my ATM. My bank allows me two off net transactions a month for free, and the bank where I used the ATM did not charge me anything.

I concluded that the fee was 1% by dividing what I was charged in US dollars for withdrawing x amount of Canadian dollars.
I then calculated the rate per dollar and compared it with the rate in effect on July 5th, the date of the transaction.
The bank wholesale rate that day was $1.5283, or .65475, although I do not know the rate at the exact hour of the exchange.

I made the transaction as 1.514 or .6605.
You can play whatever games with my figures you wish.

I noticed several stores advertising currency exchange rates at $1.44 C on $1.00 US. That figures out to a premium of
That figures out to about 4.64% less for your US dollar. The best one though was at a shop in the airport. My wife wanted something, but was out of Canadian money.
The amount was too small to charge, so she gave the clerk 50 cents US for a 49 cent Canadian item. That is pretty close to an even par transaction!!

Another point of frustration arose around Lake Louise and along the Icefields Parkway.
I wanted more Canadian money to pay my room rent so the landlady would not have to pay that fee to Visa.

The ATM machine in the postal center in Lake Louise Village and at machines in stores elsewhere in the area turned out to be Master Card connections only. That meant that my Plus card ATM would not work. Only Cirrus would do. So I was unable to use my ATM card. Once I got to a real bank, there was no problem, but I was not going to drive from Lake Louise to Banff to find one!!
So, my Visa card was forced into action.
I could have used my Master Card credit card for a cash advance, but I was not going to do that at those usurous cash advance rates!!!
And I was not going to convert travelers checks at $1.44 C for $1.00 US!!!

Old Jul 18th, 2002, 08:38 PM
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Generally though, American change (quaters, dimes, etc), are taken at par.
Old Jul 19th, 2002, 01:10 AM
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I'd say you're quite strange. Nit-picking over insignifant rates here and there, but concerned with paying your room rate in cash so the landlady would not have to pay the VISA fee. Too odd! All in all, none of your "experiences" was worth getting "frustrated" over while on vacation. Whats your point?
Old Jul 19th, 2002, 01:12 AM
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I'd say you're quite strange. Nit-picking over insignifant rate differences here and there, and with one method of paying versus another, but concerned with paying your room rate in cash so the landlady would not have to pay the VISA fee. Too odd! All in all, none of your "experiences" was worth getting "frustrated" over while on vacation. What's your point? When you add up the "differences", was it worth obsessing over???
Old Jul 19th, 2002, 06:25 AM
Bob Brown
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First Nancy, let me suggest that you not butt into situations about which you have no knowledge. If it is any of your business, which it isn't, I wanted to pay cash in this case because Visa charges small operations 4% per transaction. On a $400 charge, the fee is about $16. If you were offered the choice between charge and cash, which would you take? Given your somewhat irrational stance am I correct in assuming you would take the charge and pay the Visa collectors the $16.00?
(I will admit that this fact probably had no direct bearing on the discussion but it is illustrative of the rates people have to pay!! Often I can negotiate a slight discount because of it -- meet the small business proprietor halfway on the charge.)

Secondly, as for the exchange rate, I withdrew close to $1,000. Had I gone with "store rates" at $1.44 C per $1.00 US, I would have spent about $50.00 for nothing. Am I to presume that you are so affluent that $50.00 is trivial and that you would pass up $50.00 if you saw it lying on the street? Or that you would pay any rate that was asked? Also, to pursue the issue, am I to conclude that you would just grin and go on if you were robbed of $50.00?
(Essentially I see no difference. You lose $50.00 in either case. One method is legal; the other is not, but the money is gone with nothing in return.)

To satisfy your curiosity, the main reason I posted the information is that questions frequently arise on this forum about the best way to the best way to exchange money. I shared my experiences, with a few hard facts, in hopes that the information would help others who have similar questions.

In the past, forum questions have ranged from using traveler's checks, to converting cash, to using ATM cards. Had you read earlier discussions on this topic posted on this forum, you would have known this was a popular issue. And thus your question should have been precluded.

I gave only facts, sans recommendations, because I am not so presumptive to presume that I am empowered to tell others how to conduct their business. I provided facts from actual experience, and others can make their own decisions about what is best for them.

I am not obsessing over the money, but I am not going to throw it away needlessly. And I see no reason for you to offer half baked criticisms of the posting of facts that pertain to a specific, and recurring travel issue.

If my facts were not helpful to you, then too bad. If no one finds them helpful than I wasted my time.

Old Jul 19th, 2002, 07:58 AM
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Bob it's all right. Don't get upset over Nancy's critique. You know when you post on this line you always take the chance that someone is going to take what you say the wrong way.

In my opinion your comments - especially on border procedures and the Rockies have always been very helpful and informative as was this post whichas you may know focuses on one of my pet peeves.
Old Jul 19th, 2002, 11:45 AM
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I agree with Gary, Bob. Your posts are always informative.

I am surprised at the $1.44. Here is So. Alberta many of the stores are posting $1.50 in exchange. I thought this was a pretty good deal as most store owners have to then convert, it costs them more in accounting fees and they also pay at the bank. Hence the lower rate. The best bet is always via credit card or through an ATM where you get the actual exchange rate rather than the reduced rate which allows the banks to make their cash.

I generally don't pay much attention but I did notice these rates the last time I was in the Crowsnest, a couple of weeks ago. "Silver" is always accepted at par. Vendors do not receive the exchange at a bank on US silver. The banks accept silver at face value only.
Old Jul 19th, 2002, 01:05 PM
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Very interesting. How do you find out what the "going" rate of conversion was for past days?
Old Jul 19th, 2002, 01:17 PM
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Just do a search on yahoo for conversion rates. There are a number of sites where you can find the current rate.
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