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Foreign currency options for Canadians while travelling

Vancouver, Canada
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Foreign currency options for Canadians while travelling

There have been a number of threads posting information useful to our U.S. travelling friends but none lately specific to the situation for Canadian travellers. In this thread could we collect information relevant to Canucks?

Credit Cards With No Foreign Currency Transaction Fees


Most Canadian credit cards charge a 2.5% currency conversion fee on top of the foreign exchange rate, for each transaction. JP Morgan Chase (Canada) provides a few cards which feature zero (0%) foreign exchange transaction fees. The currency rate used is set by Visa International and in my test transactions done this past week (* so far only with US currency, will do a Euro transaction soon) I've found it to be very close to the prevailing forex market rates - with tenths of a percentage point.


Note the Amazon.ca card and Marriott and Sears cards all specifically mention no foreign currency transaction fees; the others do not. Be sure to inquire if the other cards tickle your fancy.

If you sign up for an Amazon.ca branded Chase card via Amazon.ca on-line, you'll get a $20 credit to your Amazon account. The card also offers what amounts to a 1% cash-back reward, paid out via $20 credits every 2,000 "points" at 1 point per dollar.

This isn't an advert for Chase... I simply could not find any other Canadian cards without foreign currency transaction fees.

Debit cards / banking next... all input on your own experiences welcome please!

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Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Foreign currency options for Canadians while travelling

Re the Amazon/Chase card, wanted to also add that the sign-up via Amazon is entirely on-line and is approved instantly, assuming one is approve-able. You can use the "card" immediately for Amazon.ca purchases but must wait for the real card to arrive in the mail to activate and use for any other purchases, on-line or otherwise. Delivery took about a week. When it arrived I called to get the initial credit limit raised to something more appropriate for travel, which they did immediately with no fuss.

Using the card a $25 US purchase on Mar 29, posted on Mar 30 (not sure which date they use for the conversion) cost me $27.70 CAD or 1.108.

In comparison buying USD at my bank would have cost me approximately 28.40 (roughly 1.130 rate).

England, United...
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2. Re: Foreign currency options for Canadians while travelling

Does Canada have anything similar to a Cash Passport Card? When we visited Canada from the UK, we pre-loaded the card with Canadian Dollars (purchased in the UK when the rates were favourable) and used it to make purchases from a simple cup of coffee to more expensive items.

This worked out cheaper per transaction than using our normal credit card.

You might lose a bit when you come to cash in any surplus on the card, but we knew we would be returning to Canada and so "parked" the money for a future trip.

Vancouver, Canada
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3. Re: Foreign currency options for Canadians while travelling

I had run into the Cash Passport VISA Card and noted this on the home web site:

>>> June 15, 2013 – your Cash Passport Visa TravelMoney Card is no longer in operation.


(They issued a refund for balances)

It looks like Cash Passport discontinued its relationship with VISA in favour of MasterCard.

Mastercard.ca has a link to a Euro denominated Cash Passport card but the link goes nowhere on the Cash Passport site, not very good marketing. http://www.mastercard.ca/prepaid-card.html

I noted in their FAQ the following:

>>> A Cash Passport purchased in Canada can only be loaded with Canadian Dollars (CAD). If you have a foreign currency Cash Passport, the amount loaded will be converted to the currency of your Card.

But then it continues:

>>> Cash Passport is available in four currencies, all of which may not be available at some purchase locations: British Pounds, Euros, US Dollars and Canadian Dollars.

In the end I didn't pursue this further because of the sketchy information, and the need to load up the card in advance. Rightly or wrongly I've assumed that I won't get a very favourable exchange rate conversion. Pre-buying currency may work out in ones favour if you happen to be on the right side of a FOREX trend, but it may also work against you too.

4. Re: Foreign currency options for Canadians while travelling

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