Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

(LiudmylaSupynska/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(LiudmylaSupynska/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Carrick on money

How snowbirds can buy U.S. dollars on the cheap Add to ...

The Canadian dollar is pretty much where it was a year ago, which is not great news for snowbirds. Our currency is worth about 75 cents U.S. on the wholesale market, which means you might pay $135 or more to buy $100 U.S. dollars. Ouch.

Buying U.S. dollars at your bank is convenient, but expensive. Foreign exchange is one of retail banking’s reliable profit centres. A few options for cheaper rates:

  • The Canadian Snowbird Association’s currency exchange program: The group says members get an “exclusive, preferred exchange rate.”
  • Knightsbridge Foreign Exchange: Budget travel expert Barry Choi says they’re the cheapest option for people who need to exchange large sums of money – above $2,000.
  • Search for independent forex dealers in your city or neighborhood on Google: A lot of these outlets post their conversion rates online.

I invite snowbirds and other regular visitors to the United States to contact me at rcarrick@globeandmail.com to offer their best tips for exchanging Canadian money into U.S. dollars. If I get enough good suggestions, I’ll gather them up in a future edition of this e-mail.

Subscribe to Carrick on Money
Click here to have my newsletter e-mailed to you twice weekly.

Five rules for packing light
You save money on baggage fees and time spent at the luggage carousel when you pack light for a trip. But there’s an art to getting the right mix of clothes into your bag.

Don’t buy an SUV
That’s the first of three suggestions on how to prepare for an increase in gasoline prices as a result of the introduction of a carbon tax. Rising oil prices could also send the cost of gas higher.

Tiny house? Bad idea
The tiny house trend arose as a solution for people desperate to own a house they can actually afford. Here are a bunch of reasons why tiny houses are a mistake. Buying big homes can be problematic, too.

Weirdest gadget ever
Introducing the Banana Surprise Yum Station. Just…bizarre.

Millennials and their money
A persistent narrative about millennials is that they waste money by going to restaurants and bars. That’s the slant of this article about how young adults are eating out and buying food at specialty and convenience stores as opposed to conventional grocery shopping. Now for a millennial’s rebuttal.

Dump your adviser?
It says here that clients tend to leave advisers more because of a lack of a personal connection than because of investment performance.

Today’s featured financial tool
Find cheaper alternatives to expensive brand name products. Headphones, cameras, TVs, blenders, power tools and more.

Ask Rob
The question:
“I am a member of the finance committee of a church. We have many different accounts covering things like organ repair, education, building maintenance, cemetery, contingency etc., all in separate accounts and earning virtually zero interest. They total about $100,000. I have been asked to suggest an alternative investment which is flexible, liquid, "safe" and convenient. Any suggestions you can give me would be greatly appreciated.”

My reply: It sounds like you need a business account, which limits your options. I suggest you start with Tangerine, which pays 0.5 per cent on its Business Savings Account. That’s not much, I know, but it’s better than zero. If any readers know of a better paying business savings account, let me know and I’ll mention it in this space.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

Featured Video
A look at how well the financial industry serves the needs of the LGBT community.

More Carrick and money coverage
For more money stories, follow me on Twitter and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group.

Send us an e-mail to let us know what you think of my newsletter.

Want to subscribe? Click here to sign up.

Report Typo/Error

Follow on Twitter: @rcarrick

Also on The Globe and Mail

What do snowbirds who own U.S. homes need to know about tax? (The Globe and Mail)

Next story




Most popular videos »

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular