Converting $Cdn to Euro

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Arby
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Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by Arby » 06 Aug 2017 19:07

I'll need Euros to pay for a European trip next spring. I'm looking for the cheapest method for obtaining Euros. Any suggestions? Is there an equivalent of Norberts Gambit for Euros, and if so, how does the process work?

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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by AltaRed » 06 Aug 2017 19:24

Arby wrote:
06 Aug 2017 19:07
I'll need Euros to pay for a European trip next spring. I'm looking for the cheapest method for obtaining Euros. Any suggestions? Is there an equivalent of Norberts Gambit for Euros, and if so, how does the process work?
I assume you will use a 'limited' amount of cash, relying mostly on credit cards, no? If so, then I don't think there are any material savings trying to jump through hoops for perhaps 500 Euros or so in small purchases and tips. Just use ATMs associated with the alliance your bank is part of, e.g. Global ATM Alliance. That is all that I am doing when we land in France within a week's time. I've got maybe 200 Euros to start with, that I kept from my last vist a few years ago.
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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by Arby » 06 Aug 2017 19:56

We'll be booking a bike-barge trip from a European tour operator, so we need Euros to pay the tour operator for the trip, as well as for spending money while in Europe. The tour operator charges a 2.5% surcharge to pay via credit card (in addition to the fees from the credit card company). So I'm wondering if there is a method to buy Euros and then do a wire transfer (in Euros) to the tour operator.

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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by kcowan » 06 Aug 2017 20:01

We get an initial stash of 1000 euros at the local currency exchange shop. They are very competitive because they are always changing for the Iranian and Chinese residents here. Then we use our no-FX credit card while there. And when we finally need more Euros, we put a positive balance on the CC and pay .5% to withdraw from ATMs (or C$5 which is greater). The 1% cashback does not apply to ATM withdrawals.

We are going for a month in September and we find each time we go that PIN POS machines are more common, especially with WiFi for tableside. If I were getting a card today it would the the Rogers because the 4% cashback more than covers the 2.5% vig.
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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by AltaRed » 06 Aug 2017 20:52

Arby wrote:
06 Aug 2017 19:56
We'll be booking a bike-barge trip from a European tour operator, so we need Euros to pay the tour operator for the trip, as well as for spending money while in Europe. The tour operator charges a 2.5% surcharge to pay via credit card (in addition to the fees from the credit card company). So I'm wondering if there is a method to buy Euros and then do a wire transfer (in Euros) to the tour operator.
Can't help you. There will be charges and fees for all the things you wish to do anyway, e.g. wire transfer fee. Granted not nearly on the same order as a 2.5% surcharge but I ask you this... Should you really care? Presumably the package you have chosen is 'competitive and 'value for your money'. Would you go elsewhere, or not go, for 2.5% additional cost? At what point is this a matter of 'principle' rather than material? FWIW, I've not heard of CC surcharges on tour packages before. This sounds a little too Dutch for me..... :wink:
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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by OhGreatGuru » 06 Aug 2017 21:40

Your bank can send wire transfers in Euros. 3 years ago the service charge at RBC was $45/transaction for a wire transfer. (They will of course charge you their daily exchange rate.) Since then, they have introduced do-it-yourself wire transfers for about 1/3 of the cost in their on-line banking. But you have to figure out how to route it correctly yourself; and the amount is limited to your daily withdrawal limit. If this is a 1-time transaction I would have the bank clerk do it to make sure it's done right, and eat the cost.

In addition, be aware that the receiving bank normally charges the recipient a fee. 3 years ago the person I was sending money to was charged 15 Swiss francs per transaction; and RBC charged me $15 for the return of my damage deposit by wire transfer. So you have to work out if you would be money ahead. If this is typical of transaction fees, it's probably so small in comparison to the tour cost that they won't worry about it.

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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by peter » 06 Aug 2017 22:18

In your case I'd just pay the 2.5% with a Chase Amazon visa or similar card with no additional obvious forex markup. I've paid for travel where credit cards are not easy or have significant surcharges before and was forced to wire, but from Canada wiring is very primitive and generally quite expensive. Last few times took 30+ minutes at CIBC with a teller who didn't seem to recognize Zurich as a city and was very confused about a bank account in Switzerland for someone with an address in Singapore and wiring from HSBC at a branch to myself wasn't much better.

In the case of a trip in euros however I do have a cheaper way given the accounts I already have. Convert at spot at Interactive Brokers, transfer (free or $2) to my HSBC Canada euro account from IB, wire online from that account for a reasonable online fee to Europe. But that requires two less common accounts, neither of which is worth opening just for paying for a trip.

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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by freedom_2008 » 07 Aug 2017 02:22

CIBC offers a prepaid euro (visa) debit card that you can load (i.e. CAD to EURO) the card from your CIBC account. You can use it online or on site for euro based purchases. You can ask the tour company if they accept debit card without the surcharge? Actually two of our neighbours just went for a bike + barge trip in Holland back in May and they used this card for all they needs.
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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by OhGreatGuru » 07 Aug 2017 09:03

AltaRed wrote:
06 Aug 2017 20:52
... FWIW, I've not heard of CC surcharges on tour packages before. This sounds a little too Dutch for me..... :wink:
All credit card companies charge retailers a fee for their use - the rates can vary from 2% to 4% depending on the type of card. According to this site https://www.thestar.com/business/person ... _work.html both the the banks and the CC companies get a piece of it - with the banks getting the most, surprisingly enough. On this side of the pond the fees are hidden because their contracts don't allow retailers to pass the cost directly onto purchasers as a "surcharge" - they have to work it into their overhead and pricing. It means the cash customers are subsidizing all the credit customers. Car dealers won't accept credit cards for payment, other than for deposits, because of the amount the goes to the CC company/banks.

Overseas, it can be a different story. Retailers don't like the fees that CC companies charge, especially on large ticket items like tour packages, and I don't blame them. Some countries (like Australia) have legislation that limits fees to 1%. So when foreigners come with cards that have higher fees they happily apply a surcharge.
Last edited by OhGreatGuru on 07 Aug 2017 09:20, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by OhGreatGuru » 07 Aug 2017 09:04

freedom_2008 wrote:
07 Aug 2017 02:22
CIBC offers a prepaid euro (visa) debit card that you can load (i.e. CAD to EURO) the card from your CIBC account. You can use it online or on site for euro based purchases. ...
That's interesting to know. I wonder if VISA still charges a ridiculous fee for the use of what is effectively a debit card?

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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by AltaRed » 07 Aug 2017 09:26

OhGreatGuru wrote:
07 Aug 2017 09:03
All credit card companies charge retailers a fee for their use - the rates can vary from 2% to 4% depending on the type of card.
I am aware of that. That is not what my post was about. I have never experienced (except in a few small shops in Europe) a visible surcharge being added as a result of wanting to pay via CC. It seems an oxymoron that a tour operator advertising globally would indicate an added surcharge for CC purchases. That tour operator won't (shouldn't) get much North American business vis-a-vis his competitors.
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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by Arby » 07 Aug 2017 11:04

AltaRed wrote:
07 Aug 2017 09:26
It seems an oxymoron that a tour operator advertising globally would indicate an added surcharge for CC purchases. That tour operator won't (shouldn't) get much North American business vis-a-vis his competitors.
A credit card surcharge seems to be common among the European tour operators that I researched. A Canadian travel company resells the same European tour and doesn't have a credit card surcharge, but their price is about $500 per person higher than the same tour purchased from directly from the European operator. The European operator with the credit card surcharge will get my business. I can pay them in Euros via wire transfer to avoid the credit card surcharge.

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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by Arby » 07 Aug 2017 11:24

freedom_2008 wrote:
07 Aug 2017 02:22
CIBC offers a prepaid euro (visa) debit card that you can load (i.e. CAD to EURO) the card from your CIBC account. You can use it online or on site for euro based purchases. You can ask the tour company if they accept debit card without the surcharge? Actually two of our neighbours just went for a bike + barge trip in Holland back in May and they used this card for all they needs.
CIBC charges a 2.5% surcharge for currency conversion when loading the debit card with a foreign currency.

I found another option on the CIBC website called CIBC Global Money Transfer. According to the description, it allows a CIBC bank customer to send foreign currency to a recipient's foreign bank account with no transfer fee. CIBC takes the $Cdn currency from your CIBC bank account and converts to Euros using the standard exchange rate with no surcharge. The maximum transfer amount is $10K per transaction, which will satisfy my requirements.

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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by pmj » 07 Aug 2017 11:33

Not only tour operators. Also at EU discount airlines, and ISTR that the fees apply to all customers, not just North Americans. I've seen surcharges online elsewhere, but don't immediately recall the details.
And - in the interests of transparency, it's probably about time. I can't imagine that European or other merchants, typically covering CC fees in the 1% to 2% range, are too excited about getting stiffed by fees up to 4% from NA CCs. (Guilty as charged :oops:).
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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by pmj » 07 Aug 2017 11:40

Arby wrote:
07 Aug 2017 11:24
I found another option on the CIBC website called CIBC Global Money Transfer. According to the description, it allows a CIBC bank customer to send foreign currency to a recipient's foreign bank account with no transfer fee. CIBC takes the $Cdn currency from your CIBC bank account and converts to Euros using the standard exchange rate with no surcharge. The maximum transfer amount is $10K per transaction, which will satisfy my requirements.
Interesting - here's the T&C re the exchange rates:
We derive income from the difference (the spread) between the prices we bid to buy and offer to sell foreign currency. Our spreads may differ from time to time across currencies and can widen (without prior notice) due to volatile market conditions for example. The spread is reflected in the price we quote for the Requested Currency of the GMT you request.
https://www.cibc.com/content/dam/person ... -en_TM.pdf
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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by AltaRed » 07 Aug 2017 11:41

Arby wrote:
07 Aug 2017 11:04
A credit card surcharge seems to be common among the European tour operators that I researched. A Canadian travel company resells the same European tour and doesn't have a credit card surcharge, but their price is about $500 per person higher than the same tour purchased from directly from the European operator. The European operator with the credit card surcharge will get my business. I can pay them in Euros via wire transfer to avoid the credit card surcharge.
Fair enough. Obviously, y'all go directly to country sites. I don't go to European sites from this side of the pond to see the difference you see. If I buy a river cruise package, for example, I simply go to the operator's site which shows prices in CAD, USD, etc. That said, I have yet to see surcharges added when I pay with CC when I am physically in Europe.

FWIW, I do agree merchants need to push back on CC companies for their exorbitant fees, but for that to change (be reduced substantially), affinity and cash back cards will have to disappear, and merchants will need to drop their prices accordingly. I don't hold out much hope.
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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by freedom_2008 » 07 Aug 2017 13:49

Arby wrote:
07 Aug 2017 11:24
freedom_2008 wrote:
07 Aug 2017 02:22
CIBC offers a prepaid euro (visa) debit card that you can load (i.e. CAD to EURO) the card from your CIBC account. You can use it online or on site for euro based purchases. You can ask the tour company if they accept debit card without the surcharge? Actually two of our neighbours just went for a bike + barge trip in Holland back in May and they used this card for all they needs.
CIBC charges a 2.5% surcharge for currency conversion when loading the debit card with a foreign currency.

No, there is no loading surcharge from either CIBC account (our transaction record here: "Internet Banking INTERNET PREPAID FEE $0.00 xxxxxx2069 128.86 EUR @ 1.5521"), nor from the prepaid visa card. I also just called them at 1-855-887-3888 and confirmed that.

You may be confused with the 2.5% they charge if use euro card for non-euro based transactions. Loading between CIBC internal accounts is treated as a different activity than normal transactions, at least for now.

Added: You probably don't get the best exchange rate (loading into the prepaid euro card) compare to, say Amazon Visa, but the upside is that you can choose when to load (when $CAD is high).
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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by pmj » 07 Aug 2017 15:19

I'm not convinced that when a bank phone-in rep says there are no other fees/costs/whatever that they actually understand the question ...
Checking the actual exchange rate applied to a CC or other transaction is difficult cos you don't know exactly when the exchange was made.
Having said that, I've had some success using Yahoo Financial graphs cos it shows rates minute by minute.
It's also easier to check if the transaction was made during business hours, and you know when it was.
I'm pretty certain that Amazon VISA is instantaneous. I've several times seen different rates during the course of a day.
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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by Arby » 07 Aug 2017 15:21

The 2.5% currency exchange fee for loading the CIBC Prepaid Travel Visa is described in the Terms and Conditions. See here near the bottom of the page under Terms and Conditions:
"CIBC foreign exchange rates apply when you purchase foreign currency to load onto a CIBC Smart Prepaid Travel Visa Card. Transactions (debits and credits) not in the currency of your card are converted into the currency of your card no later than the transaction posting date at an exchange rate that is 2.5% over the rate CIBC must pay."

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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by freedom_2008 » 07 Aug 2017 16:22

Arby wrote:
07 Aug 2017 15:21
The 2.5% currency exchange fee for loading the CIBC Prepaid Travel Visa is described in the Terms and Conditions. See here near the bottom of the page under Terms and Conditions:
"CIBC foreign exchange rates apply when you purchase foreign currency to load onto a CIBC Smart Prepaid Travel Visa Card. Transactions (debits and credits) not in the currency of your card are converted into the currency of your card no later than the transaction posting date at an exchange rate that is 2.5% over the rate CIBC must pay."
I would think the wording "CIBC foreign exchange rates apply when you purchase foreign currency to load onto a CIBC Smart Prepaid Travel Visa Card." means that when you load the card, the exchange rate (between CAD and EURO) they use is the foreign exchange rate set by CIBC at the time. The "2.5% surcharge over CIBC rate" is separate wording for transactions, not part of the loading.

We have the card and have done loading. Our records of loading on both CIBC account and prepaid visa show no surcharge fee, just the exchange rate at the time (see my last post). Again, CIBC foreign exchange rate is not the best, but you can control when to exchange, and can see their rate at that time, and compare it with Yahoo before pulling the trigger.
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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by Arby » 08 Aug 2017 10:19

freedom_2008 wrote:
07 Aug 2017 16:22
Our records of loading on both CIBC account and prepaid visa show no surcharge fee, just the exchange rate at the time (see my last post).
I expect the 2.5% currency exchange surcharge would not be broken out as a separate fee, rather the 2.5% would be embedded in the exchange rate. That's what happens with foreign currency charges on my credit cards.

Also, wouldn't loading the CIBC Prepaid card be considered as a debit transaction?

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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by kcowan » 08 Aug 2017 11:53

Yes all side-by-side TX show the 2.5% uplift is buried in the rate.
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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by freedom_2008 » 09 Aug 2017 15:27

I am sure that banks all have their tricks to make money, but we were told explicitly there is NO surcharge on loading the card, as it is a cibc internal account transaction, not a regular debit transaction from a third party.

Just curious, I just check rates online and also called the CIBC branch to see how much Euro $1000 CAD can get via different ways (all within minutes), to see if there is 2.5% buried anywhere.

In CIBC, $1000 CAD to EURO (around 12.10pm PST, Aug 9, 2017)
- online order EURO: 640
- Load prepaid EURO visa card: 641.97,
- Global money transfer: 650.36
- Teller: 636.xx

As I said before that CIBC doesn't have the best rate, but I just don't see the extra 2.5% visa surcharge on loading the prepaid card, on bank side or on visa side.
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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by pmj » 09 Aug 2017 16:02

Here's Yahoo's graph. Best viewed within 24 hours.
https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/quote/CADEUR=X
To complicate life it displays (at least here) in British Summer Time - so it's 8 hours ahead of BC.

Mostly around 0.670 - ie €670 for $1000, better earlier in the day.
Yesterday (possibly the base for today's set-once-a-day rates) $1000 would have delivered mid to high €660's.
Checking €642 vs say €668 ... 642/668 = 0.961 - almost 4%.

The oft-quoted 2.5% is the surcharge levied on market-neutral rates - which are what Yahoo, etc, provide.
Several posters, myself included, have demonstrated that Amazon VISA, and Rogers MC before it changed, charge 0% on market-neutral rates.
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Re: Converting $Cdn to Euro

Post by freedom_2008 » 09 Aug 2017 17:31

pmj wrote:
09 Aug 2017 16:02
Here's Yahoo's graph. Best viewed within 24 hours.
https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/quote/CADEUR=X
To complicate life it displays (at least here) in British Summer Time - so it's 8 hours ahead of BC.

Mostly around 0.670 - ie €670 for $1000, better earlier in the day.
Yesterday (possibly the base for today's set-once-a-day rates) $1000 would have delivered mid to high €660's.
Checking €642 vs say €668 ... 642/668 = 0.961 - almost 4%.

The oft-quoted 2.5% is the surcharge levied on market-neutral rates - which are what Yahoo, etc, provide.
Several posters, myself included, have demonstrated that Amazon VISA, and Rogers MC before it changed, charge 0% on market-neutral rates.
Understand what you are saying. But we are not talking about regular credit cards transactions here, it is about loading the prepaid visa card, when you buy foreign money using CIBC foreign exchange rate (i.e. loading rate).

The loading rate is bad comparing to Yahoo/others, as I said before and also pointed out by you (close to 4%, probably similar as buy money from other banks). I am just saying that "CIBC charges a 2.5% surcharge for currency conversion when loading the debit card with a foreign currency" is not true.

p.s. Note we only do the loading when CAD is higher.
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