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Thread: Currency exchange: US$ to/from CAN$

  1. #1

    Currency exchange: US$ to/from CAN$

    I am planning to visit Montreal soon to tour the city and enjoy the wonderful SP scene that I have read about on MERB and in the Montreal spreadsheet.

    What is the best way to exhange currency? Banks? Hotels? ... Is it worthwhile to get a canandian currency credit card or just use a US currency card?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Fuck Models Love Stripper Uncle Kracker's Avatar
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    May 2003
    My experience, whaich has provided the least hassle... I've change $500 US in VT and never had a problem crossing with it.

    If I ever needed more I'd use a ATM in the hotel... But it's been very rare.
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  3. #3

    Lightbulb Credit cards changing rules on currency conversions

    I have always used my Credit card for as much as possible because it always gave me the best exchange rate. I recently received a letter from the card issuer saying however that they would henceforth be charging 2% of the total transaction amount when performing currency conversions on items in my bill.

    That being said I still think it's the best way to pay for whatever you can while in a foreign country as banks and money conversion places charge a fee or give you a lousy exchange rate which in my experience costs around 5% of the total conversion either way.

    Its not always an option to use a credit card however as sometimes it either isn't feasible, to pay for a single beer/drink, buy a pack of cigarettes, a taxi cab fare, tipping a valet/skycap/hotel doorman etc...or you may not want to use a credit card because you don't want a certain transaction to show up on your bill (like a couple hours with your favorite SP). Some places might not accept credit cards or certain kinds of cards for payment either if they have an exclusive agreement with a certain card company.

    It would be great if fellow Merbites could help each other out in this regard by meeting up over a beer when in Montreal and exchanging money so Canadian members could get U.S. dollars and U.S. members could get Canadian dollars at the actual exchange rate and use that money for trips they plan to each others countries during the year. I always try to cut out the middle man whenever I get the chance, sorry to all you middle men, no offense. Bank of MERB open for business.

  4. #4
    Check the rules on your credit card or atm card. My preference is to withdraw money from my bank account using my atm card at a Canadian BANK's atm machine (stay away from the no brand atm in bars and stores). Most of the canadian banks do not charge extra for the service, although a few do. Your own bank probably will add a service charge, but it seems to still be better than that charged by the foreign exchange places in Montreal.

    Try the Scotia Bank, Bank of Montreal, TD, or Desjardins machines, they are easy to find, and do not add service fees.

    Credit cards work good too (for purchases, not cash advances), and usually give good exchange rates, but make sure your issuer is not adding extra fees. Of course, there are the usual downfalls of using credit cards: easy to spend the money like you actually have it!
    In my experience the Canadian banks downtown will not give you a better exchange rate than many of the currency exchange places in the area. And do not rely on the rates posted on the boards in the window, as they do not reflect the added service charge, which will vary from place to place. All of them have them, including banks. So it makes sense to exchange all you need in one transaction,(and pool together with your friends) to minimize the fees.
    Last edited by chowhound; 07-24-2005 at 11:05 AM.

  5. #5

    Exclamation Typo?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anachronism
    The currency exchange shops typically charge a small fee (<$5).

    I'm assuming you meant 5% not $5. If not please tell where this place is as 5% of $2,000 means a $100 fee.

  6. #6
    I always leave my US dollars at home and get cash at an ATM with my debit card. Whatever is left, I hold until the next trip.

    On every trip for the last several months, they have asked at the border how much money I am carrying across. They didn't used to do that with such frequency, but they also don't get excited about the small amounts I carry.

  7. #7
    Thanks to everyone who responded to my original post. I've found the information to be very helpful. I continue to be impressed with the expertise of MERB participants on a wide variety of topics.

  8. #8
    I have found it easier to use my credit cards and mac cards.
    I've with cash before ATM and Credit cards were more popular. I've found that bringing cash can be stressful and demanding especially if you bring a descent sum. you try to look out for places with the best rates...if you're new to the town and do not have much time it can become confusing and time consuming. And then you have to worry about the cash, should you use the safe in the room? Or carry the whole sum with? And then you have to much sure you have enough of the local currency. And if your short of the currency past in the evening you have less choices and have to deal with places which can charge an arm and a leg...
    On the hand Credit and ATM are easy to use and much more convenient. It's like you're at home, but a different currency. Using the cards put me at ease.
    that's my 2 cents

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2003
    How difficult is it for an American to open a Canadian dollar bank account in Canada? Won't that avoid the various fluctuations in the exchange rates?

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by Ministry
    How difficult is it for an American to open a Canadian dollar bank account in Canada? Won't that avoid the various fluctuations in the exchange rates?
    Wow! I never about that one!!! i wonder what would happen...has anyone done so before???
    I love Montreal

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Montreal, Qc

    currency exchange

    Ministry, I think you should ask directly at the bank of your interest in Canada. I don't think there should be a problem. Think of the rich people having bank accounts all over the world.

    As for my preference I like the traditional cash carrying method. I don't like neither banks nor credit cards as they all give me inconvenient exchange rates. I usually bring an estimated sum of money to the country of my visit and a credit card to be on a safe side. I exchange money in exchange bureaus and their rates are usually much better than anywhere else. I prefer the less formal bureaus [without the fancy display boards] because they don't charge any fees and you can even negotiate your rate. Most of them are desperate and will adjust their rate if you tell them that you saw a better rate around the corner. If you are an enthusiast you can go from bureau to bureau and each will lower their rate after the previous one and at the end you will get the best possible rate.

    In Montreal, since I'm lazy I prefer a bureau near my place on Sherbrooke between du Parc and Hutchison. They usually immediately give me a very good rate but if you're not happy you can negotiate. And there is no charges and no receipts. Last time they even gave me extra money, I think by mistake!


  12. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2005

    openning bank account in canada

    For a canadian opening a bank account in US can be done in almost all bank but need to show up in person with passport in most of case...

    For a us resident its a bit more difficult.... I would suggest to open a bank account in US with rbc centura (division of rbc canada) etablish a minimal relationship with them and then you may ask to open a bank account in canada by them.... but you gonna need to provide a certain reason.... I did the opposite and told them that im doing business with company who required direct deposit.... one your bank account is open usually canadian bank dont really bother what you do with unless you have <non regular transactions>...


  13. #13

    Minimizing currency conversion costs

    I just returned from Montreal and want to share some information about currency conversion.

    I have Visa debit card linked to my Schwab One brokerage account with Charles Schwab & Co. I used the card for every purchase that didn't require cash, or for obtaining cash from an ATM. (Most of the cash I needed was for SPs.) There were two advantages. First, there was no currency conversion surcharge with this card. (Many Visa credit card issuers charge 3%; I can't remember what American Express charges.) Second, when I use the card in an ATM, any ATM fees charged by the vendor are rebated to my account by Schwab. Schwab charges no fees at all.

    Also, I stayed at the Hyatt Regency and found that the exchange rate in the Desjardins mall at the lineup of about a dozen ATM's on level three was the most favorable. Again, the ATM fee charges were rebated to me.

    I charged the hotel bill to DiscoverCard because it does not add a surcharge and I get a 1% rewards rebate. (Few merchants and restaurants in Canada accept Discover, but many large hotels do).
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  14. #14
    ‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› Special K's Avatar
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    Red Sox Nation
    Quote Originally Posted by Casanova
    I just returned from Montreal and want to share some information about currency conversion.

    Thanks for the heads up on the currency conversions, do you have any experiences to share? Would be appreciated I'm sure.


  15. #15
    If you see an SP who travels to the US - you may be able to pay her in US funds (I like this because I won't spend that money in Canada), also, I found a place on Sherbrooke (right near the Loto-Quebec building) that has offered the best exchange rate to date with no transaction fees. As well, many restaurants, bars and more accept US dollars and many are a bit slow in changing their rates (one place I went gave me 30% on US money! They had changed it to 10% the next time I went by )


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