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Carrick on Money -

June 27, 2016

What the low dollar means for your summer vacation
Plus the best credit card for Canadians and 10 investing truths

by Rob Carrick

Has currency killed U.S.-bound vacations this summer? My wife and are finally going to Newfoundland in August and currency is one of the reasons. By one exchange dealer’s calculation at mid-week, $1,000 Canadian bought you $783.90 in U.S. dollars. There’s an expectation that many other Canadians will vacation domestically this summer, but now I’m starting to wonder.


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In a new poll from the Royal Bank of Canada, half of participants said the low dollar won’t stop them from travelling to the United States, and just 13 per cent said they have decided to cancel plans entirely because of the low dollar. Honestly, I’ve hardly visited a U.S. city I didn’t love. But if you’re trying to vacation economically this summer, stay in Canada and avoid the cost of U.S. dollars.

Lots won’t listen, so here’s some supplementary advice. RBC says you get a better exchange rate if you convert a big whack of Canadian dollars at once rather than buying bits here and there. RBC also suggests a U.S.-dollar credit card, which according to the bank will allow you to avoid foreign transaction fees in the United States. If you use your regular credit card, you’ll typically pay a 2.5 to 3 per cent fee when buying things in foreign currencies. Note: RBC’s U.S. Dollar Visa Gold costs $65 (U.S.) per year – there are cheaper options. Also, there are a few Canadian credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees.

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Cars, Part Two: Help for getting the best deals

Are you a Consumer Reports subscriber? If so, you can now use the magazine’s car buying service in Canada. Tell CR what you want to buy and it will direct you to a dealer where you can get a good price. I pay for access to CR’s website and consult it on major purchases like cars and appliances.

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Watch out for those supposedly safe stocks

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Ask Rob

The question: “With the cost of car insurance going up in Alberta, many companies are offering one no-fault claim that isn’t supposed to affect your premiums. Is this really the case, or will that one “no fault” claim be reflected on your next renewal?”

My reply: This feature is sometimes called accident forgiveness and I make sure we have it on our car insurance policy. I have never heard of a complaint where an insurer reneged on this feature, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. I invite anyone who has a story about this to contact me at rcarrick@globeandmail.com.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Questions and answers are edited for length.

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