Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Exchange rate roulette

Since our trip to Michigan this past weekend, I've converted my leftover US cash back to Canadian dollars, and I'm watching the weekend's transactions post to my credit card account. The various exchange rates we've encountered have been very interesting. Here's a rundown:
  • US cash purchased on Thursday: $1.00 US = $0.9911 Canadian

  • US cash sold on Monday: $1.00 US = $0.9605 Canadian

  • US-dollar transactions on credit card: $1.00 US = $1.0043 Canadian
It's really amazing just how quickly we grow accustomed to favourable circumstances. Even though the last five years have seen the exchange rate drop from a 60% markup to parity and beyond, I still find myself quibbling over a few percentage points. Never has the bank's spread on exchange rates been so obvious: $1.58 and $1.61 feel practically the same, but $0.96 and $0.99 seem much farther apart.

I have to keep reminding myself that these are the best exchange rates I've ever seen, and worry less about small fluctuations in the short term.


four.pillars said...

I didn't go to the US this weekend but if I had I would have been thinking exactly the same thing.

We always want the best deal possible I guess..


p.s. - you should allow anonymous comments

ACC-HE said...

where to exchange for the best rate?

I thought credit cards always give you a worse rate, don't they?

Loonies And Sense said...

Yes, credit cards charge a foreign exchange markup, so their rate tends to be lousy. I use the card for a few reasons:

1) I get rewards, and pay the card in full every month.
2) The CC exchange rate fluctuates from day to day, so I'm not "locked in" to the same rate for all my spending (in case the Canadian dollar gains ground during my trip).
3) I avoid the bank's crappy "buy-back" rate to convert the cash back to Canadian dollars, because I have less "left-over" US cash.

I get a staff rate at my bank, so that's where I go to exchange cash.