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  1. Default What is the best way to exchange Currency for Canada trip?

    I am traveling to Vancouver Canada from California. Should I exchange currency in US or Canada, or should I just use US Currency, or should I use my credit card. My vacation is for 10 days.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

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    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You will typically get your best exchange rate by using your Credit/Debit card. You do have to check with your bank to see what kind of fees they charge - it may be a percentage, a per transaction fee, or a combination. Overall, you'll probably get the best value by using an ATM in Canada and take out as much money as you are comfortable carrying, but not so much that you'll have a lot left over that you'll need to change back.

    Do not try to use US Cash if you can avoid it. Places that allow you to use it will be giving you a horrible exchange rate.

    Also note that if you have a debit card, you will have to use it as a credit card in Canada - and even there it may not work in places like pay at the pump (but it should work inside the station). Debit Cards in Canada run on a different system that the US debit cards paid with a PIN number.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

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    If you are going to be staying in the Vancouver area, you might as well just use US currency and your credit card. You will probably be given Canadian change when you pay with cash. Just ask beforehand what they will give you for exchange rate. I don't see a need to actually change money unless you will be heading out away from the border cities.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

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    You can typically use US Cash in border areas, but it will almost always cost you significantly.

    The current exchange rate is pretty close to US$1=CAN$1, and I'd bet most stores will give you about 70 cents for the US dollar. Its always been my experience that even with the fees that go along with the money exchange places, that you'll still do much better trading money and trading back than paying in US Dollars.

    Considering how much more expensive things already are in Canada because of the exchange rate, I wouldn't want to take the extra 25%-30% hit you'll almost certainly take by using US money.

  5. Default More Complicated Than Visiting A Neighbor Should Be

    My wife is Canadian and we drive up there every year. For cash, we use a debit card linked to our US bank account. The exchange rates are generally better than what you would get at a Canadian bank teller window, and much more convenient. You *don't* want to use a credit card, because it will be treated as a cash loan, and you'll pay exorbitant credit card interest rates.

    For most purchases, we use a credit card that does NOT charge an international transaction fee. Most bank cards pick your pocket for 3% of every transaction, but not all. I have a Bank of America Cash Rewards Visa and a Chase Ink Bold that do not. Check with your credit card companies.

    A couple of other little tips. Gas pumps will not accept your US cards. Just go inside before you try to fill up. They will probably want to hang on to your card, which can be a little nerve-wracking, although we've never had a problem. If you're not comfortable with that, ask if you can leave your ID instead. Either way, don't forget to go back in!!! More than once, I've driven away without my credit card then had to turn around and go back. We get so used to pay-at-the-pump that it's automatic. Ask your copilot to help you remember.

    Another issue is cellular phone service. If you just use your phone up there and pay the roaming charges, you'll probably pay around 70 cents per minute. But if you call your carrier before you leave (I have Verizon), you may be able to temporarily subscribe to an international plan that includes calls placed while in Canada. It is a little more expensive than your domestic plan but easily pays for itself if you use your phone more than a few times while in Canada. Make sure they understand you will be traveling in Canada and placing calls from within Canada to both Canadian and US numbers, not just calling Canada from here. Say it twice, or they may not get it. Trust me. They can even put a terminate date on the order, so that you don't have to call back to reinstate your normal plan.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

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    Welcome to the RTA Forum 0502!

    Thanks for stopping by to share those very useful tips. The Cell Phone reminder, especially is one that can easily be overlooked.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

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    Don't forget to call your bank and let them know you'll be traveling, and where you plan to go. That way they won't cancel your card.


    Donna

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

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    I'd bet most stores will give you about 70 cents for the US dollar.
    Are they THAT bad these days?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    777

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    Here's a tip for those heading for the San Juan Islands in Washington State. From the northern shore of San Juan (the Roche Harbor area), you can easily inadvertantly pick up a Canadian cell site on Vancouver Island and end up paying international roaming charges on calls back home in the US.

    Happened to my son. LOOOOOOONG call to his girlfriend. HUUUUUUUGE bill for dad.

    And oh yeah... use ATMs to get foreign cash on arrival. Live off greenbacks until you can.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

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    I had that happen to me on I-8 last month - I picked up a Mexican cell site and got nailed 2 bucks for DATA roaming just by having my smartphone on - I didn't even use it! Turn off your data roaming if you are going to be anywhere near the Canadian or Mexican border.

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