need help with exchange of money

Jul 30th, 2002, 03:25 AM
  #1  
lost
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need help with exchange of money

After reading sever posts I am very confused on what to do when we visit Montreal. I know you should exchange your money at at bank to get the best rate right?? I've heard just use your credit card or atm. If I just use my credit card to buy something and its in CAD dollars how will I know they are chargeing me the right price? Also is there fees for credit card or atm card? I have never been to Montreal or out of the US for that matter so I need your advice PLEASE! How do I handle all this money stuff??
 
Jul 30th, 2002, 04:56 AM
  #2  
Pat
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I live in Michigan and vacationed in Canada last month. I took no Canadian money with me and went to the ATM after checking in at my hotel. In Toronto and Ottawa there seemed to be even more ATM's than at home (and we have plenty here). I used 4 different ATM's on the trip. Two of them stated there was a fee and 2 didn't, although a fee never appeared on the receipt, so I'm not sure if I paid one or not. I got $100 CDN each time. When I checked my bank statement, the amount US withdrawn varied from $65 - $67.

I charged most stuff because that gets you the best rate. There is a 1% currency conversion fee involved with credit cards, however some banks are now tacking on an additional 1% or 2%. Depending on how much you plan to spend, this can add up so you might want to check if your bank does this. Before I went to Europe last year, I found out that both my Mastercard and Visa charged this additional fee, so I got a Mastercard from my credit union that didn't. I used that card in Canada to avoid the added fees. When you make the purchase with your credit card in Canada, your receipt will show the amount you paid in CDN. You won't know exactly what you paid in US until you see your monthly statement.
 
Jul 30th, 2002, 06:45 AM
  #3  
Candice
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It's best to use a bank atm, not the freestanding atms that are not in a bank. Those charge a terrible exchange rate. Bank of Nova Scotia is very good and there is no fee to exchange. usually you need cash for some things as it makes it faster than paying by charge card. Remember that if you buy over $200CAN keep the receipt (not including tax), so you can get the tax back. If you are driving you can get the tax back at the border.
 
Jul 30th, 2002, 06:48 AM
  #4  
gary
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Excuse me - I'm confused. What do you mean -"If I just use my credit card to buy something and it's in CAD dollars how will I know they are charging me the right price?" Virtually all prices in Canada are in Canadian Dollars just like virtually all prices in the US are in US dollars. When you charge something in Canada on your credit card it will be charged in Canadian Dollars and will show up on your credit card as $XCAN conv @ .65 = $.65XUS. Does that answer your question?

Credit Card companies charge a certain premium on international exchange as do banks and currency exchange. This can vary from .5-2.5%. Credit cards are usually in the middle of that so in effect there is about a 1% fee for anything you charge in foreign exchange. And even in the very rare cases where a price in Canada is shown in US$ that is for information only. It will be charged on your credit card in the Canadian equivilant and then converted as I showed above.

Now here's some words of advice to not make yourself an ugly American when visiting Canada. Never say "Is that price in US dollars?". If it was it would clearly say so. Don't say "How much is that in US$?" or worse "How much is that in real money?". Canadians tend to be offended by those questions and even if they volunteer the US equivilant youy should learn to do an easy calculation which is just a little less than 2/3. In other words if an item is $15CAN it would be just less than $10US. Carry a calculator with you if you're not good at it. And if you use US cash be prepared to take a big hit in exchange and you will not get US change back so don't expect it. The best advice is to not use US money in Canada and use up your last Canadian dollars at the airport duty free or border duty free as you leave the country.
 
Jul 30th, 2002, 07:03 AM
  #5  
dee
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The store, restaurant, etc. will charge your card in Canadian dollars. The bankcard company will convert that to USD at the current exchane rate and you will be charged USD. Our credit card company does not charge a fee and also gives us the amount in CD.

Also, there is an currency exchange at most boarder crossings which give the best rate. We always change our USD at these. I don't remember getting cash from the ATMs in Canada, although we have in other countries. Thus, don't know how much the ATM's charge.

We charge almost everything and use cash for incidentals.
 
Jul 30th, 2002, 10:34 AM
  #6  
Flynn
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Here's what I do: Before I leave the US, I go to the Citibank currency desk (or Thomas Cook or American Express) and exchange about 200US$ into Canadian dollars which results in my getting about 1/3 more in Canadian $. This gives me enough spending money when arriving in Canada for incidentals like taxicabs and food. If I buy something or eat in restaurants, I charge it. They bill me in Canadian $ and the amount shows exactly on my receipt. When the bill is received, my credit card company converts the charge into US $ for whatever the exchange rate is that day. For example, if the restaurant meal is 100 Canadian dollars, my US charge is usually about 1/3 less or $65.

One can also get Canadian $ at a Canadian ATM bank but you may be charged a $1 or $1.50 service fee. However, if you go to the teller at the Canadian bank, you may not be charged the service fee because you're not using an ATM. I just found out this is how the fee works in New York - no charge to me if I go to the teller for a cash advance. All I do is show photo i.d. If I had known this years ago, I would have saved lots of money in ATM charges!

Also, brings some US money with you for your return back to the States for incidentals.

Hope this answers some of your questions. I agree it can be confusing but you'll get the hang of it quickly. Just don't change US money at a restaurant or store as the exchange rate won't be as good as at a bank.
 
Jul 30th, 2002, 10:51 AM
  #7  
Bob Brown
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Several points here that are worth commenting on. Don't use your CREDIT CARD for money at the ATM. It becomes a cash advance and you pay a considerable interest rate for using your credit card that way!!

There is a whopping big difference between a credit card and a debit or check card!!

Make sure your credit card issuer does not add on a 2% fee to the 1% charged by Visa and Master Card. I have a card from MBNA because it does not tack on the extra 2%. Why pay the extra if you don't have to??

I also used my ATM card for currency several times. But, I use the card at bank machines, not free lance machines often found in retail stores.
As near as I can figure, the charge for ATM money was about 1%. The free lance machines often impose a fee, and all of the ones I found were Cirrus, which is Master Card.

It is almost impossible to learn the exact conversion rate used when you withdraw currency or use your credit card. I did some trial calculations by comparing the US dollar charge on my bank statement and the number of Canadian dollars I got.
(No, my bank did not disclose to me the rate in effect when I made the withdrawal. I looked at my statement and it is not there; only the US dollar equivalent shows up. I looked up the rates for the day, but rates fluctuate by the second. Best I can figure I got the money at less than the high rate, more than the low rate, but not at the average rate. Conclusion: I paid 1% or less for the money. Being satisfied, I quit figuring. )

I tried to find out the exact exchange rate on credit card conversions by asking Visa, but they refused to answer. I got some garbage answer that did not answer the question. Does Visa use the closing rate, the opening rate, or what to convert the invoice to US dollars???

Either the bozo who responded to my email does not know, or Visa is hiding something. Given the recent Enron and QWest experiences, one can easily become suspicious they are hiding something. At any rate, I did not get a straight answer to my question.

Another reason knowing the exchange rate is helpful is because merchants often offer to exchange American dollars for you if you make a purchase. Some even have the rates programmed into the cash register so that the clerks just enter an American dollar amount and the change in Canadian money pops up. I saw one store that offered $1.44 C per US dollar. Is that a good deal?
Many people thought so, and bought away with fistfuls of US green.

I don't think it was a good deal because the bank rate that day was about $1.55 C for $1.00 US.

I have seen retailers in Banff offer better than official rates at the end of the season as a type of sales inducement. I asked how they could do that and the answer did credit to the American book cookers. The merchants' association had set the dates for everybody to reduce prices. Well, it wasn't quite time yet, so to get around the restriction on a weekend when Banff was full of visitors, the retailer whose store I was in just adjusted his exchange rate to be very favorable to American dollar purchases. Nice way to give a 15% discount without changing prices.

But I guess the funniest one was the hardware merchant in Canmore who offered to exchange US dollars at par value, even up. One guy who was a little confused was ready to trade.
I jokingly offered him $1.25 Canadian per dollar, an improvement of 25%.
I even said to him "Walk with me. We will go get some." Finally I realized he though I was dead serious and I told him that if I did that I would have cheated him out of $25C on $100 US.
I think he was more than a little bewildered at this exchange rate stuff. It is complicated; you have to multiply or divide to figure it out.
 
Jul 30th, 2002, 11:06 AM
  #8  
Jack
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Bob, I too just saw something odd this norning. There was a guy in front of me at the cash at a downtown Montreal drugstore. The guy has like CAD 18 worth of knick-knacks. He gives the cashier a USD 20 bill and gets a twoonie and coins change back. He looks at the coins in puzzled way and walks away.

I think you're right. This whole exchange rate concept seems to be beyond the comprehension of some people.
 
Jul 30th, 2002, 11:43 AM
  #9  
Candice
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Well, I still say just go to Bank of Nova Scotia or any bank. Ask if there is an exchange fee, and how much? Then ask the rate of exchange and change money.

Credit cards don't give a great reate of exchange, neither do US Banks when you use a debit card. Debit cards are slightly better. I use a debit card at a bank atm until I can find one that's open. Your hotel desk may give you a good exchange rate just to keep your business. Don't let them refer you to the "atm" in the lobby, if it's not a bank, the rate is terrible.

Border states such as Vermont and New York will take your Canadian dollars by the way. (Places tourists stop). I get rid of a lot of coins that way.
 
Jul 30th, 2002, 08:15 PM
  #10  
Bob Brown
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Sorry Candace, but I have the facts to support my statement that you can do no better than use a credit card for foreign currency purchases. I am assuming that the card issuer does not charge an extra 2%, like some banks do.]
I kept all of my charge receipts from a recent Canadian trip. When I got home I printed my Visa statement, which was in US dollars and did trial conversions on all my charge receipts.

I looked up the daily exchange rates for each transaction, the high, low, average, and closing rates for the dates. Then I applied each exchange rate to my purchases and added 1% for Visa. I was always closer than 1% when using the high rate, and slightly over using the low rate for the day. It is not possible to find out from Visa exactly which rate it uses; I asked and I got a vague answer that did not tell me anything precise.

If you know of a place or a way where I can get better than 1% added on, please tell me.

The same is true of ATM withdrawals. They cost me about 1%. I made 3 currency withdrawals on my trip, all at bank ATMS. I know from prior experience I cannot get better than 1% charges by exchanging US currency or traveler's checks at a bank window.
I can give you the exact amounts if you want them so you can do your own arithmetic. In fact, somewhere on one these posts I have already done so. I just don;t recall which one.
 

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