Travel

How are Canadians getting money when traveling?

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  • Dec 17th, 2020 9:20 pm
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How are Canadians getting money when traveling?

I don't suppose traveler's cheques are used much. So its ATM's. Do most people let the bank do the conversion (is it usually the local bank or traveler's Canadian bank?) or do they opt for Canadian or US cash then shop around for the best cash conversion rate? I found when traveling long ago that in most countries it was unwise to use Canadian cash as it get a much worse conversion rate than the comparative American. It was hugely different, sometimes over 10%. So say they were trading at par, both worth the same, they may give only 90% for the Canadian. It was surprising to see but that's just the problem when you're in an area without a lot of Canadians so they don't want the currency.

A lot of Americans enjoy using a strong, popular currency and many US banks don't charge ATM fees for international withdrawals.

But here in Canada our US$ bank accounts usually are strangled with restrictions. It would be nice to find one that didn't charge for foreign US$ withdrawals. Wondering if anyone has found one? Its nice to be able to get cash just when you need it so you never have much on you in case its stolen.

And what about crypto? Can you convert it at good rates in less widely traded currencies? Like Nicaragua, Costa Rica or Colombia? The Mexican Peso should have reasonably good volume.
Last edited by MichaelZZZ on Nov 23rd, 2020 1:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ATM when travelling. If possible I try to find an ATM thats part of the global network (i.e. Scotia) to avoid additional fees.
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We just exchange CAD to local currency and get the local daily rate. Plenty of demand for “dollar” there. Just that try to take the $100 bill as those money changers prefer big bills rather than 20’s.....
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Foreign ATM withdrawals are rarely free. It doesn't matter if it's USA, CAD or any other currency or bank. What we also sometimes have to deal with are some additional conversion fees as those ATMs or Banks first exchange to US $ and then to $cad. ATM withdrawals often come at a cost too, especially if it's outside of your bank's network. Many USA banks do charge for foreign ATM withdrawals.
What can help a bit is a credit card that offers free currency conversion. You are saving 2.5% there. However, credit cards are not great for ATM withdrawals as they hit you with fees right away.
I've traveled a bit and in my experience, using Canadian currency is fine. Certainly, countries like South Africa are an exception as it's cheaper to just use a credit card. Currency exchange in S.A. is one of the most expensive in the world.
ATM fees can easily add to 10% or more in some countries. As you are paying your own bank's 2.5% conversion, then various ATM and local bank fees that are often around 3-5% of the withdrawal amount. So, while you may be right and some USA banks don't charge foreign ATM fees, foreign ATMs and foreign banks still do charge you.
Our Canadian banks also have international network of ATMs where you can withdraw without any charges. In my experience, it never worked for some reason. For example, Tangerine claims to have a network of banks and ATMS, but a dozen attempts to use those ATMs resulted in various errors and failed withdrawals.
Personally, it's always good to have cash. These days, credit cards are widely accepted and as mentioned before, you can look into a card with no exchange fees.
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[OP]
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apnayloags wrote: We just exchange CAD to local currency and get the local daily rate. Plenty of demand for “dollar” there. Just that try to take the $100 bill as those money changers prefer big bills rather than 20’s.....
What area/country gives a good exchange rate for CAD$?
[OP]
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Ever see traveler's cheques being accepted anywhere anymore? They sure seemed more feeless than today.

Its unbelievable how much one can get fleeced when you're so vulnerable in a foreign country and they know you have little choice.
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I've had heck of a time getting money from ScotiaBank ATMs in Mexico and Chile, with a Cdn ScotiaBank ATM card. If you go to these places with ScotiaBanks, get an ATM card with your name on it. The tellers can help you if so.
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It depends on the location. I have two typical scenarios.

First, if the trip was to the US, UK or Europe, I would purchase US dollars, euros or pound sterling in advance and rely on either an ATM or visa to supplement.

Secondly, if the trip was elsewhere, it would likely mean an ATM stop shortly after arrival using a machine that has the best arrangement with my Canadian bank. I would normally also carry euros or US dollars as a bit of a back up.

I have taken to using my visa more, partially out of necessity - e.g. recent Peru trip this past winter just before covid I used my Visa for ubers, Air BnBs, rail/bus tickets, etc. In the past I relied far more on cash.
[OP]
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thriftshopper wrote: I've had heck of a time getting money from ScotiaBank ATMs in Mexico and Chile, with a Cdn ScotiaBank ATM card. If you go to these places with ScotiaBanks, get an ATM card with your name on it. The tellers can help you if so.
A bank CSR just suggested using a teller when possible but warned that we need to check for extra fees when doing so. Were you charged for using the teller? Also its much safer for the bank when you can bring in your passport so they have confidence in who you are. You'd think they would charge for ATM use and not charge for teller use!
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dolfan1980 wrote: It depends on the location. I have two typical scenarios.

First, if the trip was to the US, UK or Europe, I would purchase US dollars, euros or pound sterling in advance and rely on either an ATM or visa to supplement.

Secondly, if the trip was elsewhere, it would likely mean an ATM stop shortly after arrival using a machine that has the best arrangement with my Canadian bank. I would normally also carry euros or US dollars as a bit of a back up.

I have taken to using my visa more, partially out of necessity - e.g. recent Peru trip this past winter just before covid I used my Visa for ubers, Air BnBs, rail/bus tickets, etc. In the past I relied far more on cash.
How do you know what kind of exchange rate you'll get? I suppose once you've done one transaction you know and can count on it being close to that from then on. I travel off the beaten path and most places wouldn't even have their businesses online let alone take plastic.
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MichaelZZZ wrote: I don't suppose traveler's cheques are used much. So its ATM's. Do most people let the bank do the conversion (is it usually the local bank or traveler's Canadian bank?) or do they opt for Canadian or US cash then shop around for the best cash conversion rate? I found when traveling long ago that in most countries it was unwise to use Canadian cash as it get a much worse conversion rate than the comparative American. It was hugely different, sometimes over 10%. So say they were trading at par, both worth the same, they may give only 90% for the Canadian. It was surprising to see but that's just the problem when you're in an area without a lot of Canadians so they don't want the currency.

A lot of Americans enjoy using a strong, popular currency and many US banks don't charge ATM fees for international withdrawals.

But here in Canada our US$ bank accounts usually are strangled with restrictions. It would be nice to find one that didn't charge for foreign US$ withdrawals. Wondering if anyone has found one? Its nice to be able to get cash just when you need it so you never have much on you in case its stolen.

And what about crypto? Can you convert it at good rates in less widely traded currencies? Like Nicaragua, Costa Rica or Colombia? The Mexican Peso should have reasonably good volume.
cdn dollar is pretty strong last few years and i use mostly credit cards for bigger items anyways. cash is just for the local spending that doesnt take cc (use ones with no fx fees), so i just use ATM or exchange some at currency exchange and that's it.

you can load money on stack prepaid M/C and withdraw from it and protect against scams/compromised machines and no f/x fees
[OP]
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Yeah, I think I'm a little different than most. I choose my accommodations when I arrive and they are pretty basic, usually just taking cash. Most people are going all inclusive, prepaying everything. They could go for a week and incur almost no cash outlays at all!
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In advanced countries (which Canada isn't one of), you can deposit funds straight into cell phones (very secure and widely-accepted, it seems). Remember flying into DPS a few years ago and finding all the (4-5 different banks) ATMs in the baggage hall had options to deposit withdrawn funds into cell phones.
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DPS being the airport in Bali?
But how was the exchange rate for that crypto to local currency? Isn't the spread pretty wide in some cryptos most of the time?
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MichaelZZZ wrote: How do you know what kind of exchange rate you'll get? I suppose once you've done one transaction you know and can count on it being close to that from then on. I travel off the beaten path and most places wouldn't even have their businesses online let alone take plastic.
I bank with Scotia and if using an ATM they partner with I find I get a generally fair rate. Often I find I can pay with euros or US dollars depending where I am. I do try to only as a last resort exchange money at hotels or change booths.

Most places seem to take visa now though online bookings. Throughout Peru I was able to book cheap accommodations (~$15-25/night double) the day before online.

Visa doesn’t give an awesome exchange rate, but also not unfair either IMO.
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It isn't crypto. Just IDR (or currency of whatever country you're in) deposited onto your phone (no sure who holds the funds per se.
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[OP]
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Jan 26, 2020
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dolfan1980 wrote: I bank with Scotia and if using an ATM they partner with I find I get a generally fair rate. Often I find I can pay with euros or US dollars depending where I am. I do try to only as a last resort exchange money at hotels or change booths.

Most places seem to take visa now though online bookings. Throughout Peru I was able to book cheap accommodations (~$15-25/night double) the day before online.

Visa doesn’t give an awesome exchange rate, but also not unfair either IMO.
I was really curious how the bank's exchange rate compared to the local cash exchange rate? Were you always converting CAD$ to local or did you ever compare the USD$ rate?
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thriftshopper wrote: It isn't crypto. Just IDR (or currency of whatever country you're in) deposited onto your phone (no sure who holds the funds per se.
But how many tiny businesses in 3rd world countries could accept a payment on their phone? Hopefully more and more but what about now?
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Aug 3, 2017
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MichaelZZZ wrote: I was really curious how the bank's exchange rate compared to the local cash exchange rate? Were you always converting CAD$ to local or did you ever compare the USD$ rate?
I don’t travel with CAD$ other than may $100 for emergencies. The CAD rate is often ok if you can find someone who will take it, but that risk is usually to high for me so I default to US$ or Euros.

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