Travel

Out of country spending, credit or debit card?

  • Last Updated:
  • Apr 8th, 2019 11:26 am
[OP]
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Jan 10, 2010
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Out of country spending, credit or debit card?

Whenever I go to the US I bring some cash and my credit card for spending. When I was in Florida last month my friend insisted that I should use a debit card for better exchange rate? Wouldn't I be charged transection fees both ways plus exchange rate? How's that better? I asked her but all she said was "I travel abroad a lot and I know it's better" with no further explanation. Maybe she knows something that I don't. I was going to get a Stack prepaid Mastercard but they're very behind on shipping because of their new printing company. I am going to the US again next week. Is there any merit to my friend's belief?
23 replies
Jr. Member
Nov 6, 2011
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Surrey
I exclusively use my cc which has no fx markup on it. Plus I get points. I've only used my debit card once and got dinged on transaction fees lol.
[OP]
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KrazyKleo wrote:
Apr 6th, 2019 9:44 pm
I exclusively use my cc which has no fx markup on it. Plus I get points. I've only used my debit card once and got dinged on transaction fees lol.
Which credit card do you have?
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Aug 18, 2005
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althetrainer wrote:
Apr 6th, 2019 9:38 pm
Whenever I go to the US I bring some cash and my credit card for spending. When I was in Florida last month my friend insisted that I should use a debit card for better exchange rate? Wouldn't I be charged transection fees both ways plus exchange rate? How's that better? I asked her but all she said was "I travel abroad a lot and I know it's better" with no further explanation. Maybe she knows something that I don't. I was going to get a Stack prepaid Mastercard but they're very behind on shipping because of their new printing company. I am going to the US again next week. Is there any merit to my friend's belief?
Assuming your friend is from Canada, they have no idea what they are talking about.
Practically every institution will be charging you a 2.5% forex fee on both credit and debit. There is almost never a difference.
Unless you have a 'specialist Forex card' that has a better rate, you won't see a difference.

Some Canadian exceptions:
Rogers MC
Stack MC (Debit)
Scotia Passport VISA Infinite
Home Trust VISA
Brim MC

Edit: Added Brim.
Last edited by Jucius Maximus on Apr 8th, 2019 10:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
What if there were no hypothetical questions?
[OP]
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Jucius Maximus wrote:
Apr 6th, 2019 11:22 pm
Assuming your friend is from Canada, they have no idea what they are talking about.
Practically every institution will be charging you a 2.5% on both credit and debit. There is almost never a difference.
Unless you have a 'specialist Forex card' that has a better rate, you won't see a difference.

Some Canadian exceptions:
Rogers MC
Stack MC (Debit)
Scotia Passport VISA
Home Trust VISA
She's from the US and she does travel around the world. I honestly have no idea where she got her information from but my understanding is that I'd be charged both ways with the exchange rate on top. In such case, I will bring my credit card as usual. Thanks.
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althetrainer wrote:
Apr 6th, 2019 11:55 pm
She's from the US and she does travel around the world. I honestly have no idea where she got her information from but my understanding is that I'd be charged both ways with the exchange rate on top. In such case, I will bring my credit card as usual. Thanks.
I can't speak for US-based cards. Her info might actually be accurate for the US.
What if there were no hypothetical questions?
Sr. Member
May 11, 2008
678 posts
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Vancouver
I exclusively use no fx credit cards when i'm travelling.
Actually I have all of the cards that @Jucius Maximus mentioned but I would clarify that the Scotia card is the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite.
There's another Scotia card, the ScotiaGold Passport Visa which does charge a fx fee.
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Oct 18, 2014
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US as more competitve products than what we see in Canada. That being said, someone above me summarize it nicely. I used to have the canadian Chase Marriott until they discontinued it.
[OP]
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aznrsx1979 wrote:
Apr 7th, 2019 1:12 am
I exclusively use no fx credit cards when i'm travelling.
Actually I have all of the cards that @Jucius Maximus mentioned but I would clarify that the Scotia card is the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite.
There's another Scotia card, the ScotiaGold Passport Visa which does charge a fx fee.
Don't they all charge an annual fee though? I was going to get the Stack prepaid but they seem to have been tied down by their new printing company. It's too late to get a new card for my next trip which is next Tuesday but I definitely will get one for my trip this summer. Thanks.
McKinsey wrote:
Apr 7th, 2019 1:29 am
US as more competitve products than what we see in Canada. That being said, someone above me summarize it nicely. I used to have the canadian Chase Marriott until they discontinued it.
That's true. I remember when I first graduated college in the US my credit cards all carried car rental discount/free insurance and some other incentives. I haven't seen anything like that in Canada, not the zero annual fee ones anyway.
Sr. Member
May 11, 2008
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Vancouver
althetrainer wrote:
Apr 7th, 2019 2:04 am
Don't they all charge an annual fee though? I was going to get the Stack prepaid but they seem to have been tied down by their new printing company. It's too late to get a new card for my next trip which is next Tuesday but I definitely will get one for my trip this summer. Thanks.
The Rogers Mastercards, Home Trust Visa and Stack Mastercard all don't have annual fees.
The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite does ($139 /yr) but luckily I have a STEP account so the annual fee is $69.
Jr. Member
Nov 6, 2011
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Surrey
althetrainer wrote:
Apr 6th, 2019 9:59 pm
Which credit card do you have?
I have the Scotiabank Passport Infinite Visa and it does have an annual fee of $139 but I'm getting FYF through my line of credit which I had for my pharmD. Its worth the $139 imo.
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Nov 7, 2015
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Jucius Maximus wrote:
Apr 6th, 2019 11:22 pm
Assuming your friend is from Canada, they have no idea what they are talking about.
Practically every institution will be charging you a 2.5% forex fee on both credit and debit. There is almost never a difference.
Unless you have a 'specialist Forex card' that has a better rate, you won't see a difference.

Some Canadian exceptions:
Rogers MC
Stack MC (Debit)
Scotia Passport VISA Infinite
Home Trust VISA
Rogers MC has no FX fees?
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Jul 3, 2017
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Jucius Maximus wrote:
Apr 6th, 2019 11:22 pm
Assuming your friend is from Canada, they have no idea what they are talking about.
Practically every institution will be charging you a 2.5% forex fee on both credit and debit. There is almost never a difference.
Unless you have a 'specialist Forex card' that has a better rate, you won't see a difference.

Some Canadian exceptions:
Rogers MC
Stack MC (Debit)
Scotia Passport VISA Infinite
Home Trust VISA
Exactly, although it's worth mentioning that some major Canadian credit cards have been quietly inching the forex fee up to 3% lately (like TD), so check your latest terms. I recall when it was 1.8% for most of them. The banks are a bunch of sneaky bandits!

In the U.S. I try to use my US$ credit card, and withdraw cash only from the native ATMs of my U.S. bank. It's especially punishing these days to withdraw cash from a Canadian account via a U.S. ATM - you not only get clipped for the forex fee and a cash withdrawal fee, many of them add a special extra foreign ATM fee. You used to be able to avoid some charges by pre-loading your credit card with a positive balance, but the banks added an extra fee to catch that.

In theory my TD bank debit card has no extra fee for using a foreign ATM, but I've never been able to get it work in a foreign ATM.

In other countries overseas I can transfer a cash balance there in advance for about 1.5% using services like Transferwise, but since I get 1.5% cash back on everything with my credit card to offset the 3% forex fee, it's pretty much even.
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Feb 15, 2006
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Toronto
Jucius Maximus wrote:
Apr 6th, 2019 11:22 pm
Assuming your friend is from Canada, they have no idea what they are talking about.
Practically every institution will be charging you a 2.5% forex fee on both credit and debit. There is almost never a difference.
Unless you have a 'specialist Forex card' that has a better rate, you won't see a difference.

Some Canadian exceptions:
Rogers MC
Stack MC (Debit)
Scotia Passport VISA Infinite
Home Trust VISA
Rogers MC does charge the usual 2.5% FX fee. But Rogers WE MC gives you 4% for foreign transactions, so you end up on the plus.

I got the Scotia Passport visa which doesn't charge the 2.5% foreign transaction fee. There is AF, but you get bonus points with this card that's better than the $139 AF. The redemption of the points toward travel is also very easy.

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