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$$ exchange?

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$$ exchange?

When I go to Calgary and other places in Canada, do I need to exchange US$ for their $$ ?

Toronto, Canada
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1. Re: $$ exchange?

Thanks for asking about this. Many Canadian merchants will take US dollars -- the rate is set by the individual merchant and will vary from very good (for a merchant who's essentially giving US visitors an extra discount) to very poor (for a merchant who's happy to take advantage of people unfamiliar with exchanging money). In all cases you'd get any change in Canadian currency.

But aside from the deal you get, spending US cash at stores and restaurants in Canada can be perceived as disrespectful by some people. Unlike developing countries where US dollars are sometimes preferred to local currency, here getting receiving US cash is a burden for merchants: they have to track US currency separately and ultimately pay the costs of exchanging it. That's why most on this forum will encourage you, if paying in cash, to use only Canadian dollars as a gesture of respect when visiting a foreign country with its own currency.

There are several different ways to convert your money. The simple rule on exchanging money is that it's never free, but some ways are better than others.

Your credit card gives you access to an extremely good exchange rate, so even factoring in the foreign transaction fee (1%-3%, depending on the card) it's typically the best deal. Similarly, the best way to get Canadian cash is to withdraw directly from your US account using your bank card in an ATM at any major Canadian bank. (Just don't make a lot of small withdrawals, because the ATM fees add up that way. Get a few hundred dollars at a time.) flyerguide.com/wiki/index.php/Credit/Debit/A… has fee details for many popular cards.

Getting Canadian cash before you leave home sounds like a good idea, but most US banks offer poor exchange rates to their customers with a 5%-8% markup being typical. Changing US cash into Canadian cash at a currency exchange kiosk is a bit risky unless you have a local recommendation or know the current rate -- some kiosks give excellent rates (a 2%-4% markup) but others are tourist traps that take a 10% cut or more. Canadian banks are a safer bet: some will exchange US cash with a 3%-5% markup, though others have restrictions or fees if you don't have an account.

Destination Expert
for Seattle
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2. Re: $$ exchange?

I spend a lot of time in Calgary so if I can suggest you use an ATM right away. The airport exchange is one of the worst I've seen. Check out the real rate on oanda.com or similar before you leave so you know the actual rate. If your going onto to Banff then there are several currency exchanges that charge minimal $$. The one at the clocktower mall is really fair.

3. Re: $$ exchange?

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