A Review of US Dollar Credit Cards

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.

Best Credit Cards Canada


review of usd credit cardsGet 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.

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?

8 Comments

  1. joe jones on July 7, 2016 at 4:25 pm

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



  2. Cheryl on July 10, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    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.



  3. Kyle on July 11, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Thanks for the firsthand update Cheryl!



  4. Jon on July 13, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    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.



  5. Carolyn on July 28, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    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.



  6. Jan Anderson on September 25, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    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 😉



  7. Kyle on September 26, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    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.



  8. Craig McAllister on November 17, 2016 at 1:21 pm

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



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