W​hether you’re a snowbird planning your annual trip to the warmth of the American South or a short trip to one of the US coasts when the land borders open to Canadians, you’ll need to ensure you can access money. Most of the time, travelling through the US for Canadians isn’t challenging, but it does require a bit of pre-planning to ensure you’ve covered your bases, especially when it comes to money. Here are some basic tips to help you stay on top of your finances.

Technology has made it far easier to manage your money across borders. There are also more cross-border banking options available for Canadians in the US. How do you do that?

Consider Banking with Canadian Banks with US Based Affiliates

Many Canadian financial institutions are associated with US affiliates. By determining if your existing bank offers this type of affiliation, you’ll be one step ahead of others. There are a few reasons for this:

  • It’s convenient for you. You’ll be able to avoid the hassles of opening secondary banks or managing more than one online portal.
  • It saves you money. By bundling your accounts like this, you’ll save money on transaction fees and bank membership fees.
  • It’s timely. There are no delays. There’s no need to waste your time on setting up secondary accounts. It’s rather straightforward and simple for most users.

What Types of Cross Border Banking Services Are Available to You?

There are several ways to set up cross-border banking services like this. Learn how to access a bank account in the US and other needs. Here are some of the most straightforward options.

  • Utilize credit cards: Look for those that have no foreign transaction fee (read the terms and conditions to verify this) and those that are US dollar credit cards. Choose either one of these options instead of using traditional Canadian cards. Doing so may save you as much as 5% on your purchases.
  • US dollar bank accounts: Your Canadian financial institution likely offers an option to open a dollar bank account in the US. Most do this. That way, you can transfer funds between both banks, in US and Canadian dollars, with ease. This helps to reduce the costs overall, including reducing foreign exchange transaction fees. This also enables you to gain access to cash through ATMs and to make debit payments. They may also then enable you to use deposits in the US, writing cheques, paying bills, and transferring money quickly and efficiently.
  • Currency exchange: Another option for getting cash is to use a currency exchange. This is best for small amounts. To facilitate this, use your Canadian bank or financial institution. This is the best way to convert between dollars. It’s also the most convenient way and uses the best foreign rates available. If you need to exchange large amounts of cash, the best option is to turn to a boutique currency exchange company.

Other Options to Consider

There may be other ways to access cash while on the road. For example, the Canadian Snowbird Association offers a currency exchange opportunity that may be ideal for snowbirds’ banking needs. It allows you to transfer your Canadian dollars from your Canadian bank account on the first day of the month. The funds are pooled together to reduce costs and then exchanged for US dollars. Then, those US funds are deposited into your US bank account. This is done by the 5th of the month. This Canadian exchange to US money is fast and easy to do.

It is also possible to set up a new bank account in the US. Though this option takes a bit more effort to set up, it may be beneficial to those who plan to be in the US for longer periods of time or on a routine basis.

Are There Benefits to Exchanging Cash Before You Cross the Border?

Quite often, it is best to exchange currencies prior to entering the US. By doing this prior to arrival at your destination, you’ll likely get the best rate possible. There’s no restriction on how much cash you can carry over the border, but there are always security risks to having a large amount of money, no matter where you are. Most find it beneficial to have some US funds on hand when entering the country, but always make sure you check border restrictions before heading out.

Where Can You Find Locations to Withdraw from Canadian Banks?

Where to exchange money in the US depends on your needs. It’s often best to ask your financial institution about their affiliated banks in the US before travelling. Simply contact your branch office and inquire if the location has US-affiliated branches. Many large banks do, including NatBank by National Bank, Chase, TD Bank, RBC Georgia, BMO Harris, and many others. If that’s the case, use their ATM finders on their website to track down area banks to withdraw cash from in the US based on where you’re travelling.

Are There Temporary Cards Available to Use Without Starting a Whole New Account?

Some banks may offer cards that you can use while in the US. This is typically available from Canadian banks with US affiliates. Yet, you can contact your bank to inquire about availability.

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