Since our wedding is in the United States, we have been having to pay for a lot of things in US Dollars, or with my Chase Marriott Visa credit card (which does not charge the additional 2.5% of foreign currency exchange fee on top of the purchase), and it got me thinking about US Dollar credit cards. Thankfully my partner has a US Dollar account which has helped decrease the cost of our wedding because of the better exchange rate used when originally obtaining US Dollars (remember the good ol' days a few years ago when the Canadian dollar was at par with the US Dollar?).
As many of you know, I'm not a big fan of paying for credit cards especially if there are not perks or benefits. With the US Dollar credit cards available at the Canadian banks, many of them are pretty bare bones and do not offer $300 cash back or 25,000 Aeroplan points like many other non-US Dollar credit cards in Canada.
Here are some of the options for US Dollar credit cards on both sides of the border.
US Department Store Cards
One option (though it's a bit of a hassle) is to apply for a US Department store card. There are certain retailers in the United States who have no troubles issuing at US Dollar card to Canadians. One of them is Macy's, the department store. Macy's has an agreement with Canada and can pull your Canadian credit bureau report rating to gauge how good your credit is. Apparently, according to Credit Cards Canada all you need is your Canadian passport and your Social Insurance Number. I actually have a Macy's card from many years ago (I think I might have cancelled it after I made my purchase and got the 10% off of a pair of jeans while shopping in Hawaii). JC Penney is another department store that issues credit cards based in the United States.
One of my friends suggested I get a US Dollar department store card, however, I discovered that these cannot simply be paid by a US Dollar account while in Canada, but you actually have to get a money order and issue payment through that process. You can't simply transfer money from a US Dollar account (in Canada) to a bill payment. You could get a US Dollar account in the United States but then again, you would have to be approved for this. Another option is to pay the bill at the Macy's or JC Penney before you come back to Canada.
Get a US Dollar Credit Card
The Canadian big banks offer a US Dollar Credit Card. This of course works best if you have a US Dollar chequing or savings account that you can use for your bill payment when the credit card bill arrives. That way you can control when you exchange your USD and Canadian dollars in hopes of a more favourable rate. Thankfully most of the credit card fees for US Dollar credit cards are reasonable and nominal. However the annual fee is in US Dollars, so given the poor exchange rate we have right now, the annual fee is more expensive.
- TD Canada Trust US Dollar Visa Card
- This is only $39 USD per year
- BMO US Dollar Credit Card
- It is $35 USD per year
- If you spend more than $1000, you will get an annual rebate of the $35 USD (for next year)
- RBC US Dollar credit Visa Gold
- It is $65 USD for the primary card and an additional $35 for a supplementary card
- CIBC US Dollar Visa Card
- It is $35 USD and you can get 3 free supplementary cards
Get a Credit Card Without the Foreign Currency Conversion Charge
Of course, you could get a credit card without the foreign currency conversion charge. the main downside to this is that you will be paying the USD/CAD conversion rate at the current amount, which at present is not very pleasant. The upside is that you don't get dinged 2.5% on top of the exchange rate, and the rate that is used is usually more favourable than the usual exchange rate.
Some credit cards that come to mind are the:
- Chase Amazon Visa
- Chase Marriott Visa- this is the one I have, it is first year free
- Rogers First MasterCard
Readers, what do you usually do when you shop in the United States?
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