Exchanging Money

Old May 18th, 2005, 07:25 PM
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Exchanging Money

Hi everyone.

I'm Canadian and will be traveling to New Orleans on Friday. I'd like to take American money so my question is does anyone know the best way to exchange Canadian dollars to American without getting severely penalized? What I mean is, the banks usually charge an extra fee for currency exchanges or Traveller's Cheques so was wondering if maybe the airport or something like that would be better.

Please help, we're leaving in a day!

Thanks.
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Old May 18th, 2005, 08:11 PM
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When I've gone to Europe I could just withdraw cash from the ATM in local currency. I'm fairly sure you could just do the same thing. I also bet there are a trillion threads on this on the Europe board, so check those out for more info.

Have a great trip!
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Old May 19th, 2005, 04:18 AM
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Use the ATM.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 04:32 AM
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I'll 3rd the ATM suggestion.

Any place that you change money you will have to pay a fee. You are buying a service from them and can't expect them to provide it for free.

Airport exchanges are usually pretty poor. Many smaller banks don't do currency exchanges. The fee/conversion rate combo you get at an ATM is pretty much the best you'll do. Using your credit card for purchases when you can is also going to give you a decent rate.

If your bank has a reciprocal agreement with any banks in the US, try to use them and avoid the US bank charging you additional fees. You'd have to call your bank to check this, but it's also a good idea to call them and let them know you'll be using your card in another country.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 04:35 AM
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There;s no reason to change any money in advance or use Trav Checks. Just use your credit card for major expenses (hotel, car, meals etc) and pull cash from the ATM for walking around money. there are ATMs everywhere (you can find one almost as soon as you get off the plane).

This is by far the easiest and cheapest way to go. (If you MUST have some US $ in your pocket change $25 or $50 cash in the bureau de change in the airport. You'll get a bad rate - but on only a small amount of money - and it's simple.)
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Old May 19th, 2005, 05:41 AM
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Certainly ATM is the best way to go.

However, I will warn you that NO has some of the highest ATM fees I've ever encountered (unless something's changed). A few years ago we wandered through the quarter and financial district stopping by ATMs as we came across them and the cheapest fee we could find was $3.50. Perhaps they are more reasonable at the airport.

Certainly you can minimize this problem by using credit cards everywhere and making one big ATM withdrawl when you arrive.
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Old May 19th, 2005, 05:48 AM
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I have done this going the other way (into Canada) several times. Oddly enough the best rates that I experienced were at the airport or right at the border welcome centers.

This may not apply to you if you are flying directly to New Orleans. Perhaps at your originating airport.

Have a great time at any rate (no pun intended).
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Old May 19th, 2005, 09:03 AM
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Thanks to everyone for the great advice.

We decided to get some American spending money at the bank and since it's cash, there's no extra fees. The only drawback is that our Canadian dollar is pretty low at the moment.

If we need additional cash then we'll most likely withdraw at an ATM.

Can't wait to get there!
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Old May 19th, 2005, 09:58 AM
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It isn't fees at the bank, it is the exchange rate. You are probably paying a large penalty in exchange rate by getting the money at the bank.

Keith
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Old May 19th, 2005, 01:54 PM
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What do you mean, Keith? Don't all banks and places that exchange money go by what the daily rate is? For example, if the official rate of exchange is 1.26, published that day, then don't places go according to that rate?
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Old May 19th, 2005, 04:13 PM
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<Don't all banks and places that exchange money go by what the daily rate is?>

No. Most places that deal with currency exchange have their own "buy" and "sell" rate. If the official rate (interbank rate) is $1.26 for a Euro, an airport exchange booth might charge you $1.35, a bank $1.31, a hotel $1.40, and/or whatever they can get away with. Additionally, the rate will be different if you are using $$$ vs. travelers checks. And then, some will charge you a "commission" on top of all that.

Bottom line -- get your money out of an ATM and use your $$$ for emergencies only.
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