Manifesto Multilinko
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Friday, March 09, 2007
cheapest options for foreign currency for Canadians?

I used to think the best way to manage money when travelling internationally was just to take your credit and debit cards, that's mostly what I have done in the past.

But they all now seem to be tacking on an extra 2.5% or more.
Anyone have recommendations for good options? There's lots of info for US banks but I couldn't find much for Canada.

If your option is to just bring cash, are there any major differences in the foreign exchange places in Ottawa? I usually use the one in Rideau Centre, it's a Calforex (formerly Currencies International).

Canadian Foreign Currency Banking Fees

TD Canada Trust
* PLUS System ABM Foreign Exchange Fee 2.5%
* $5 per "Foreign currency sale/purchase" (US$ exempt)

CIBC Aerogold
* "You are charged the same conversion rate CIBC must pay, plus an administration fee of 2.5% of the converted amount, on both debits and credits."

UPDATE 2007-03-12: ING Direct

This is what they told me

The exchange rate will be determined by the financial institution that owns and operates the machine you are using. Although there are no service charges or transaction fees from ING DIRECT, the other financial institution may charge you a convenience charge for using their machine. ING DIRECT does not cover this. ING DIRECT does not charge any additional fees for conversion, the exchanged rate is charged by the financial institution at which you are using your card.

The networks on my card are "Time" and Maestro.


I will add to this posting as I get more info.

UPDATE 2007-11-11: You can now use your Canadian debit card (well, TD at least, but presumably any bank) at US vendors who are on the NYCE (not to be confused with the NYSE) network.

However, TD will also ding you 2.5% on top of the exchange rate, as much as they would like to obscure it by saying (in a footnote, no less)

included in the currency exchange cost will be a conversion fee which is calculated by adding an additional 250 basis points to the interbank U.S. dollar exchange rate.
See and for more info.


There's a good table for Americans about US banks at

You can find 4 years worth of discussions on how Americans can minimize foreign currency fees using debit and credit cards at

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