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If you're a Canadian who spends or shops a lot in the United States, you may want to consider getting a US dollar credit card. Here are the best US dollar credit cards in Canada.

If you’re a Canadian who spends time in the United States, you already understand the hassle and cost of dealing with foreign currencies. Exchanging cash can be expensive—and carrying it insecure. Although Canadian credit cards are accepted in the United States, there’s almost always a pricey foreign currency conversion fee tacked onto your purchases. Routinely coming in at 2.5% of your purchase value, this means you’re paying $51.25 for a $50.00 meal. This might not seem significant, but it can add up quickly. That $1,000 you spent in the States costs you an extra $25.00 right off the bat. Luckily, there’s one way to get around this extra cost: apply for a U.S. dollar credit card.

The Best U.S. Dollar Credit Cards for Canadians

Credit Card Annual Fee Special FeatureMore Info
BMO® U.S. Dollar Mastercard®*$35 USDSpend $1,000 USD in one year, and the annual fee for the following year is freeLearn More
Scotiabank ® U.S. Dollar VISA* Card$35 CADPurchase security and extended warranty protectionLearn More

BMO® U.S. Dollar Mastercard®*

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The BMO® U.S. Dollar Mastercard®* from the Bank of Montreal features a low annual fee of $35 USD, plus an incentive that if you spend $1,000 USD on the card in a year, the following year’s annual fee is waived. Additional perks are aimed at the consumer/traveller—perfect for your cross-border shopping journeys:

  • Free extended warranty and purchase protection
  • Zero Dollar Liability which protects you from unauthorized use of your credit card
  • 24-hour, out-of-country emergency assistance with GlobalAssist

These perks combined with an accessible $15,000 minimum income put this card near the top of our list for low-barrier U.S. dollar cards.

Learn more about the BMO® U.S. Dollar Mastercard®*.


Scotiabank ® U.S. Dollar VISA* Card

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Similar to the BMO card above, the Scotiabank ® U.S. Dollar VISA* Card combines a low $35 CAD annual fee with standard perks for a basic U.S. dollar card:

  • No U.S. dollar currency conversion fee
  • Purchase security and extended warranty protection
  • Free supplementary cards
  • Up to 20% off base rates at participating AVIS car rentals

Plus, if you’re a cross-border shopper who uses a car rental service, the partnership with AVIS could make this a winning combination.

Learn more about the Scotiabank ® U.S. Dollar VISA* Card.

Why Get a U.S. Dollar Credit Card?

Several banks in Canada offer U.S. dollar credit cards, and the benefit is clear. With frequent purchases and payments done in U.S. dollars, you’re able to avoid exchange rate surprises and skirt the costly conversion fees altogether. They’re aimed at Canadians who spend a lot of time south of the border, or who spend a lot of time shopping online at U.S. retailers.

It’s geared for people who are regularly making purchases in the United States. This can include:

  • Canadians who travel frequently to the U.S. (whether it’s 3 times a year or weekly)
  • Canadians who charge work-related or personal purchases from U.S. retailers and vendors
  • Canadians who also have a U.S. dollar bank account
  • Canadians who live in the States for more than a quarter of the year

Getting a US dollar makes good financial sense if you have a US dollar bank account and have the money to pay off your credit card in US dollars without converting currency. For example, if you have a steady source of US clients that pay you in USD, you can just make a payment to your US credit card and avoid converting the currency (which often means losing some money during the process) and incurring fees. Just remember: having a stream of USD dollars is important because otherwise, you’ll need to constantly convert Canadian dollars to US dollars – which will end up costing you in foreign transaction fees.

US Dollar Credit Cards vs No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards

Although both are geared towards making foreign purchases, US dollar credit cards and no foreign transaction fee credit cards are quite different.

When you make a purchase using your US dollar credit cards, the charge appears in US dollars and you pay the balance in US dollars. US dollar credit cards are perfect for Canadians who are frequent travellers or shoppers in the US and/or get paid in US dollars.

In contrast, no foreign transaction fee credit cards charge your non-Canadian purchases (whether from the US or abroad) in Canadian dollars, and you pay off the balance with Canadian dollars. The benefit is that they don’t charge a foreign transaction fee to make the currency conversion, whereas other credit cards will often ding you a certain percentage (usually 2.5%) for non-Canadian charges to your card. Using a no foreign transaction fee credit card in Canada won’t cost you a dime, so it’s totally worth having one in your wallet.

How to Get a U.S. Dollar Credit Card

Applying for a U.S. dollar credit card issued by a Canadian bank is a cinch. It’s the same process as applying for a Canadian credit card: complete an online credit card application or go into a local bank.

However, if you’re applying for a credit card issued by American banks, you may need to have a U.S. address to get approved.

The Verdict: Should You Get a U.S. Credit Card?

It really depends on your circumstances. You may need to do a little math to figure out if it’s worth it for you to get a U.S. credit card. One thing to notice here is that almost all of the cards on our list have an annual fee, so it’s wise to compare your spending habits against the cost of using a U.S. dollar card. Crunching the numbers, it may also make more sense to get one of the best travel rewards credit cards in Canada instead.

As a general rule, there’s a benefit to using a U.S. dollar card once your spending reaches around $3,000 USD annually. The quick math on this: at a 2.5% currency conversion rate, you’re paying $75 yearly —just a bit more than the annual fee of most of these cards. If you’re spending more than that (and remember: this includes online shopping), it may be worth adding a U.S. dollar card to your wallet.

The Best Credit Cards by Category:

Article comments

11 comments
Kristin says:

This is true. I have done this dozens of times.

Gary Hudson says:

Beware using Canadian US$ credit cards in the USA, especially for gas. VERY often they’ll ask for your zip code. No Zip–no gas. You used to be able to create a zip code using US$ Mastercard , but this feature no longer works.

Joe says:

Just use the three numbers from your postal code and two zeroes to create a five digit zip code. It works almost all the time. (eg. A2A 3B4 –> 23400)

Craig McAllister says:

I have a Scotia Bank USD Visa and it has no annual fee.

Jan Anderson says:

Desjardins (caisse populaire) offers members a US credit card for $30 US a year plus 3 day free travel insurance. You still have to go into the bank to pay off the bill or mail them a cheque …. they need to work on this aspect of their service but it’s the best deal I’ve found so far 😉

Kyle says:

I grew up with Caisse Jan! They are updating at a pretty good rate over the last few years, so I have hope they’ll come along on this as well.

Carolyn says:

Why would they need my SIN? I don’t want to give it to them because I don’t think it should be shared, especially with a department store.

Jon says:

Actually TD now allows you to make bills payments in USD. It was a change recently so you dont have to make a draft anymore.

Cheryl says:

We use the Rogers bank credit card. They don’t charge the additional 2.5% fee. There is an annual fee, but if you put your rogers mobile to auto bill they waive the fee.

We use to have the Sears credit card, but chase america didn’t renew the contract with them, so they were no longer offering the free exchange rate fee with the new provider.

Kyle says:

Thanks for the firsthand update Cheryl!

joe jones says:

If you have a TD borderless acct ($4.95 monthly fee), TD will waive the annual fee for the USD credit card.