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Banff questions !!! - Page 2

post #31 of 49
When you change your money to CDN, you'll have so much you'll be throwing it around like it was nothing! You can buy us all drinks with the extra!
post #32 of 49
You don't have a credit card?

In my experience, the credit card companies don't give you a great rate on the exchange, but it's not terrible. Certainly not like a $2 charge on a drink at the ski hill (for example.)

Last time I went to the States, I think I brought $40 cash. Everything just goes on the credit card - can't beat the convenience.
post #33 of 49

To get cash, you should be able to use most ATMs. The big banks ATMs are set up with the Visa network, and plus and cirrus, so I would think they should be okay.


I agree with Alpha, credit cards are often the simplest solution. Otherwise, depending on the cost to purchase cash, there is will be a threshold where cash is a better deal than debit, probably more than $50, but obviously your rate will vary with the different institutions. 


And it would be worth checking the rate your bank gives you on the transaction. 

post #34 of 49
Don't you have a credit card? When I was there over the summer they didn't charge any transaction fee. With every transaction I kept thinking, "yahoo, 30% discount!"
post #35 of 49
Originally Posted by manchester81 View Post

To get cash, you should be able to use most ATMs. The big banks ATMs are set up with the Visa network, and plus and cirrus, so I would think they should be okay.

Check this out very carefully and don't rely on it unless you are certain.  I have not been able to use an ATM with a Visa backed debit card from my credit union in Canada.  It just has not worked.  I only use my Credit card and it works fine, but don't expect to get cash from an ATM without confirming that you can do it.  You can pull into a bank and get cash if you need it, I suppose, but I've found that I've not needed anything but plastic (the credit type) on any of my recent Canadian trips.


However, for the Whistler Gathering I've scored an nice, crisp $5 CDN bill, so I'm set.

post #36 of 49

Credit card is the simplest and probably cheapest way to go, unless some currency exchange is going to give you a really strong USDCAD rate. The credit card will probably charge you a ~2% spread on the FX rate but will not charge a per transaction fee. You might be able to beat 2% at a cash currency exchange but personally I do not like carrying large amounts of cash on me and 2% is good enough.

post #37 of 49
I used a couple of ATMs while there last week - one at the Calgary airport and one somewhere else. I don't know what exchange rate I got. I used a debit/ATM card. When I get back to a trusted computer/location, I'll try to look up the rate.
post #38 of 49
Thread Starter 
I don't have a credit card, only debit. So I'm thinking maybe get 2-300 for small spending then for anyone over $20 or so, I could use my card and pay the $2. I'm assuming the exchange rate at that point would be fair, im guessing it's my bank who would set the exchange rate?
Can anyone just walk into a bank and exchange money?
post #39 of 49
Originally Posted by RC1090nc View Post
Can anyone just walk into a bank and exchange money?

Yes, you can, make sure you bring your passport to the bank.  

That's what I did when I visited banff 2 years ago.  I stopped in Calgary and exchanged some CDN money before heading out to Banff.  

However, I believe there is a daily limit in how much you can exchange per person, I think it is $500 USD?  Since I needed to exchange > $500 USD, I went to 2 different banks in Calgary (The strip mall I went to, there are 2 banks next to each other, so it was convenient). 


Did not read the entire thread, not sure if you will get a rental?  If no car rental, you can do the same in Banff.  I exchanged in Calgary because I was told it has better exchange rate than Banff. 

post #40 of 49

I've gone to both Canada and Mexico a few times the last couple of years. After arrival, I try to get enough local cash using ATM at a bank to make it through the trip and don't mind having a little left over for the next trip. I use a Schwab Bank ATM which does not charge any foreign currency fee and also refunds any ATM fees. If you already have a Schwab brokerage account, it is easy to add a bank account with them. You also should let your bank know you are traveling, especially if going somewhere new or they may block withdrawals.


I also use a Capitol One VISA that does not charge foreign currency fee and gives me 1.5% back on all purchases. My experience using credit card or ATM is that you get a very good exchange rate.


And while some people think that with the strong US$ that everything is on sale, my experience is that Canadian prices are higher so most things cost a little more than in US. Ski tickets at Canadian resorts are less expensive than US, especially at top resorts.

post #41 of 49
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info. This time next week, I'll be on a plane heading toward my Denver then on to Calgary!! Man I can't wait to get there!

post #42 of 49

post #43 of 49
Thread Starter 

Nice pic, where exactly is that?


One side note.. On Monday my friend and I will be taking a first tracks lessons at LL (access 30 min early) just for a few general form tips hopefully as neither of us have ever taken a lesson and both started skiing at the same time. This is our third season and while he's a little more daring than myself, I'm sure both of our techniques look rather amateurish. Anyway, it's a 90 min lessons, it will just be the two of us, how much is a normal tip for something like that? The cost is $110. 


Also, any other restaurant recommendations would be appreciated, we won't be looking for anything too fancy, cheap and good is good for us. (I know cheap and ski areas don't go hand and hand, but you get the point!)  Thanks!

post #44 of 49
Originally Posted by RC1090nc View Post

Nice pic, where exactly is that?

That's Banff from the road to Mt. Norquay.

post #45 of 49
Originally Posted by RC1090nc View Post will just be the two of us, how much is a normal tip for something like that? The cost is $110. 


There is no "normal" and there are some looonnngggg threads on here talking about whether or not to tip and how much. It can be a pretty personal thing.


That said... for me, personally, if I was happy with the lesson I'd do about 20%.

post #46 of 49

You could use a credit card.  Most charge a competitive exchange but some have a 2.5% surcharge.  For future IIRC Amazon and maybe Cap One have a visa that does not charge the 2.5%.  This would work out to less than the 2.00 fee per transaction.


Or you could just go to a bank machine and make a withdrawal say of 200.00.  That way the 2.00 fee is a pretty small percentage.  The exchange is more competitive normally on an withdrawal of this sort.  Buy a cheâp wallet or get a money pouch that hangs around your neck and under your shirt - should only cost you a few bucks at Walmart.


In terms of skiing, both LL and Sunshine have snow hosts or Ski friends who do tours each day for different levels.  They usually run at 10.30 and 1:30 for 2 hours each.  Check the website.  You can do these every day if you like.  There will be different hosts each day.


They will take you on skill appropriate runs and show you the hill.

post #47 of 49

A lot of travel credit cards also advertise no additional foreign exchange fees-e.g. the ones from the airlines.  

Call your credit card company first to let them know of your travel plans.  It's a good idea to have a backup card in case you do get blocked out.



As far as cash, I also vote for ATM over exchanging paper.  

If your ATM/debit card doesn't work on a smaller, it's likely they set it up to be more restricted.  

Just go to a different ATM, especially one connected to a bigger bank (e.g. a big TD bank) and you'll have better chance of it working. .

Airport ATMs usually will not be as restricted as they know there's lots of foreign travelers.  Be sure though it's really an ATM from a bank though, and not just a machine from a foreign exchange.



I think you can go cashless on your trip in canada and use cc for everything even for small purchases, canada is close to cashless heck they successfully got rid of the penny.  So don't change too much money.  if you are going with a group, coordinate your foreign dollars and be each other's bank if one person ends up with too much or too little.


Finally if you're just looking at cash just as tip money, you can still tip in USD if you run out of CAD, those in the tourist areas will be fine with that (especially if you're equivilantly tipping  more) and it's technically an optional gratuity.

Edited by raytseng - 1/17/17 at 3:56pm
post #48 of 49

I travel to Canada fairly regularly so here's a couple of financial tips:


  • Some credit cards have foreign transaction fees, some don't.  All Capital One cards don't have them.  Not sure about other companies, but you should be able to get a no annual fee card from them and use it while abroad.
  • Credit cards tend to have competitive exchange rates - you can probably find a better deal if you look hard enough, but you can't beat the convenience.  They are definitely better than the kiosk at the airport or anywhere else that handles paper currency.
  • Your non-Canadian debit card may not work at all ATMs.  I've found that my debit card works at "real" banks but not at your basic roadside ATM.  Go into town and find a bank and you should be fine.
  • Everywhere in the civilized world expects your card to have a chip in it.  If you don't have a chip in your card, get one.
  • Everywhere in the civilized world also expects you to have a chip-and-PIN card, instead of the chip-and-signature cards that are becoming standard in the US.  You can get a chip-and-PIN card if you work at it.  Recommended if you travel abroad a lot, but probably overkill for a week long trip to Canada.
  • Get a Global Entry card if you travel abroad more than once a year, or if you fly domestically more than a couple times a year.  Best $100 I ever spent on travel.  Skip the TSA lines at the airport, keep your shoes and belt on, expedited re-entry to the US (my last border crossing took less than one minute).


Have fun.  I'll be in Banff in early February. Looking forward to it.

post #49 of 49
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the tips and info!
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