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Getting Canadian Dollars

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We are spending a day and a half in Vancouver before heading out on an Alaska cruise. We plan to use our credit card as much as we can, but I’d like to have a small amount of Canadian dollars for tipping and small purchases - maybe 50 Canadian dollars?  What’s the best way to get Canadian dollars at a reasonable exchange rate?  ATM?  Thanks!

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We spent several days in Vancouver pre-cruise, and we used our ATM card at the machines in and around Vancouver and had no problems.  We have also pre-purchased Canadian money from AAA for other trips. 

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ATM is pretty much the only way to get as close as possible to Interbank rates (Credit cards too, but since money withdrawal attracts immediate interest even if your issuer refunds ATM fees this would be pricier). If your bank doesn't refund ATM fees from debit card use though, you'll have a fixed sum to pay that makes the effective exchange rate much, much worse on small amounts!  So if you have a nice bank with at least one reciprocal Canadian bank that you can avoid a fixed fee, take cash from an ATM - if not, just break a US$20 bill on a small purchase at any touristy-focused store which takes USD (anything selling souvenirs around Gastown is a safe bet) or even better at Tim Hortons who have one of the best exchange rates for USD. You'll get your change in CAD, and you can request small bills/coins which you cannot with an ATM (ask for $50 and you may get 1 $50 bill, or at best 2x$20 and 1x$10).

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3 hours ago, Wyoming2010 said:

We spent several days in Vancouver pre-cruise, and we used our ATM card at the machines in and around Vancouver and had no problems.  We have also pre-purchased Canadian money from AAA for other trips. 

 

Did you fly into Vancouver...?  If so, did you see any ATMs at the airport...?  🙂 

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7 hours ago, Yo Adrienne said:

Did you fly into Vancouver...?  If so, did you see any ATMs at the airport...?  🙂 

The only ATMs are Royal Bank, on level 3 in both Domestic and International terminals. When arriving, get all the way out into the 'unsecure' part and head up one level if you feel you need cash right away. But all cabs and limos take credit cards (Visa/MC) as does SkyTrain, so you can easily get into town without needing cash - and you'll have all the major banks available in case your home bank only refunds charges with one Canadian bank...

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14 hours ago, Yo Adrienne said:

 

Did you fly into Vancouver...?  If so, did you see any ATMs at the airport...?  🙂 

 

No, we flew into Seattle (much cheaper) and stayed a couple of nights and then took the Amtrak to Vancouver.  An absolutely gorgeous trip. 

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10 hours ago, martincath said:

The only ATMs are Royal Bank, on level 3 in both Domestic and International terminals. When arriving, get all the way out into the 'unsecure' part and head up one level if you feel you need cash right away. But all cabs and limos take credit cards (Visa/MC) as does SkyTrain, so you can easily get into town without needing cash - and you'll have all the major banks available in case your home bank only refunds charges with one Canadian bank...

 

Perfect...!  Thank you for your help...! 🙂 

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On 6/4/2019 at 8:21 AM, Wyoming2010 said:

 

No, we flew into Seattle (much cheaper) and stayed a couple of nights and then took the Amtrak to Vancouver.  An absolutely gorgeous trip. 

We are doing this also. Did you take the morning or afternoon train?  We're taking the morning train in business class and wondering how early we need to be at the station. My plan was 45 min prior, but not sure if that's enough time. 

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2 hours ago, Kelli0927 said:

We are doing this also. Did you take the morning or afternoon train?  We're taking the morning train in business class and wondering how early we need to be at the station. My plan was 45 min prior, but not sure if that's enough time. 

 

I think our train left at 7 a.m. and we got to the train at 6 a.m. (because we were told that's how you get the good seats).  We had second level seats in business class.  

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4 hours ago, Kelli0927 said:

...We're taking the morning train in business class and wondering how early we need to be at the station. My plan was 45 min prior, but not sure if that's enough time. 

Even in Bus Class you need to be at least 45mins early if you want to check any bags. You also have to beat a good chunk of your fellow bus class pax to get the waterside seats, so an hour beforehand is sensible (folks without checked bags can roll in literally up to the last minute - we drive or ride this corridor so often that we no longer bother fighting for the 'good seats' and show up ~15mins before departure, but I've pushed it far enough that the train started moving before I could even sit down!)

 

Sounds like Wyoming2010 traveled on one of the few maintenance weeks each year when regular Amtrak carriages are used, as normally it's the one-level TALGO trainsets that are used on the Cascades.

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51 minutes ago, martincath said:

Even in Bus Class you need to be at least 45mins early if you want to check any bags. You also have to beat a good chunk of your fellow bus class pax to get the waterside seats, so an hour beforehand is sensible (folks without checked bags can roll in literally up to the last minute - we drive or ride this corridor so often that we no longer bother fighting for the 'good seats' and show up ~15mins before departure, but I've pushed it far enough that the train started moving before I could even sit down!)

 

Sounds like Wyoming2010 traveled on one of the few maintenance weeks each year when regular Amtrak carriages are used, as normally it's the one-level TALGO trainsets that are used on the Cascades.

 

Yeah, we expected one level and were surprised when they offered us upper seats.  Yes, get there early for water side seats -- the views are amazing!  And the trip is so relaxing.  Your biggest problem might be staying awake so you don't miss the views  LOL

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On 6/9/2019 at 11:09 AM, Kelli0927 said:

We are doing this also. Did you take the morning or afternoon train?  We're taking the morning train in business class and wondering how early we need to be at the station. My plan was 45 min prior, but not sure if that's enough time. 

 

Check Amtrak reservations to see how full the train is. I just checked my train (June 19) and biz class is sold out. I'm planning to arrive at least 1 hour prior to check my bags and get in the seat assignment line. I wish King Street had a Dunkin or Timmy or some source of coffee in the station.

 

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Speaking to the original question.  If you have time I would go to your bank/credit union and buy the currency there. The rate should be good and it's one less thing to worry about when you arrive.

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