Personal Finance

Obtaining cash abroad

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  • Feb 14th, 2018 11:08 am
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[OP]
Member
Jan 5, 2018
207 posts
105 upvotes

Obtaining cash abroad

Before I joined RFD, I would just exchange currency at the bank at whenever rate they gave and accepted that there were fees. Same deal if I needed cash abroad: just use an ATM and accept whatever fees I get charged. But no more of that! With the upcoming trip to Europe, I should be a true RFDer and find a way to save every penny.

So it appears that the major options for obtaining cash abroad are:
1) Overpay credit card, preferably a 0% fx fee card like Hometrust, then withdraw from credit card abroad as a cash advance.
2) Simply withdraw from chequeing account using bank/debit card.

If I don't have a 0% fx fee credit card, then the usual fee for most cards is 2.5%. Is this rate (with 2.5% added) usually more favorable than the big 5 banks conversion rate? (i.e. strictly comparing conversion rate and disregarding any bank/CA/ATM fees, which would be better: credit card + 2.5% or bank?)

Also I've read on another previous thread where someone mentioned to not let the ATM convert currencies for you. I assume this will be an option that pops up on the machine at the time of withdrawal?

Specific scenario: I have the Fido MC, which charges $5 for cash advance abroad. Whereas Scotia credit cards charge $3.50 for CA at Global Alliance and $7.50 for other ATMs, Fido seems to have a flat rate. So does this mean I can withdraw from the Fido MC at any ATM? So the fees I'd pay would be $5 CA to Fido + $X ATM fees if applicable?
9 replies
Deal Addict
Nov 13, 2013
2766 posts
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Ottawa
Yes the usual bank card and usual credit cards will yield about the same rate. The trick with overpaying your credit card is in some countries the ATM limit is very low. At 200 CAD you are still paying 2.5% with a $5 fee. As the amount goes up the savings kick in. Also depending on the country you might need very little cash.

The FIDO MC is perfect for purchases abroad. For cash advances you won't get the 4% back so you are still paying the 2.5% conversion rate. You might as well use your bank card or take some cash (probably USD). I always bring $100 USD in case your bank cards don't work which does happen sometimes.
Deal Addict
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Dec 13, 2016
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It depends on a country.

Most Asian countries will give you the best rate if you bring cash making all this effort with cards useless.
Deal Addict
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Oct 4, 2004
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Vancouver
BiegeToyota wrote: It depends on a country.

Most Asian countries will give you the best rate if you bring cash making all this effort with cards useless.
The only problem with this is if you're making an extended stay, you may be carrying $1000+ in CAD-equivalent on your person. When I was in Thailand, I made regular (every two+ weeks) trips to banks willing to do a cash advance on my Amazon.ca Visa card with just a $5 fee ($500 at a time). The worst way to take out money in Thailand (as an example) is using an ATM.. $8 Thai bank fee, home bank fee + 2.5% fx surcharge... woo-eee.
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Deal Addict
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Dec 13, 2016
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lhsonic wrote: The only problem with this is if you're making an extended stay, you may be carrying $1000+ in CAD-equivalent on your person. When I was in Thailand, I made regular (every two+ weeks) trips to banks willing to do a cash advance on my Amazon.ca Visa card with just a $5 fee ($500 at a time). The worst way to take out money in Thailand (as an example) is using an ATM.. $8 Thai bank fee, home bank fee + 2.5% fx surcharge... woo-eee.
Nowadays, banks will send you to ATM. Also, ATM fee is 10 bucks now.

However, you can also use travelers cheques and will get almost exact rate as cash. With the right credit card/bank account in Canada you can get them free of charge. I know my Visa Infinite gives them away.
Deal Addict
Mar 8, 2013
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Anyone have recent experiences in Dubai, Oman, or Bahrain? 3 different currencies.
[OP]
Member
Jan 5, 2018
207 posts
105 upvotes
So if I have Scotia accounts + credit card and Fido MC, it sounds like the best use would be Scotia chequeing > Scotia credit cards > Fido MC?

Scotia chequeing fees = free if using Global Alliance

Scotia credit card fees = $3.50 CA fee if using Global Alliance

Fido MC fees = $5.00 CA fee + $X ATM fee

Does Fido MC have to be used at a Cirrus ATM or any will do?
[OP]
Member
Jan 5, 2018
207 posts
105 upvotes
Found this on the Mogo Prepaid Card thread if anyone is interested:
ace604 wrote: This came up on another thread recently. Are you actually invited to get a card?
It was something of a wait list last I checked.

For spending it's okay at 0%, but a credit card with 0% FX and earning you rewards would be better.

See: 1% Home Trust Visa, Chase Marriott Visa, grandfathered 1% Chase Amazon Visa, or 4% - 2.5% fee = net 1.5% Rogers or Fido MC.
Threads on RFD CC subforum for all of these. [EDIT: Added links to threads above]

It seems more interesting to me as an ATM card with flat $3 cost (plus local ATM surcharge if any).

In this respect it is better than any of cards above being prepaid to avoid interest but still paying $5 or higher cash advance fees.

If you only want to take out small amounts of cash at a time though, the Tangerine at a Global Alliance ATM is still the cheapest choice for $120 CAD or less for $0 Tangerine fee + $0 Alliance member ATM fee + 2.5% markup on exchange rate = $3.

So even if you took out $100 USD today at 1.26 it would only cost you $3.15.


$400 USD would cost you $12.60 and the Mogo card would could save you a more significant $9.60 [if you find a surcharge-free ATM] ... but perhaps you'd prefer to pay $9.60 in "insurance" anyways by only taking the cash out of the ATM a bit at a time as needed.

All my recent US trips have found me using credit card 99% of the time and never even approaching anywhere near $100 spent in cash ... I suppose it seems like a nice backup option to carry at $0 which you could load up in a pinch.

Oh, and don't forget the local ATM surcharges ... so it's $3 + $2.50-$3.50 surcharge at most locations in US unless you find a surcharge free credit union ATM or likewise.
Deal Addict
Nov 8, 2017
1530 posts
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When I was in Spain @ the end of September, I was charged 3$ to withdrawal $ in Spain
BMO
Member
Oct 12, 2016
309 posts
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Unfortunately I do not find CAD to be the most preferred currency by money exchangers (or at least was not in the countries that I have been to).

I used knightsbridgefx to exchange CAD into USD and their rate was really great vs. banks. Although knightsbridgefx has an extremely annoying identity verification system in place and if they cannot verify your address (in whatever system they use) they wont do business with you.

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