When we first wrote this post the US dollar and the Canadian dollar were at par or very close to it. Many people on both sides of the border are planning trips across to the other country to shop and visit places that interest them. However it is not so attractive now for Canadians any longer. Canadians are paying a premium to visit and shop in the states. Still Canadians by the thousands still visit the US for a day of shopping or spend their vacation dollars there. It is now even more important to Maximize Your Budget.
Maximize Your Budget – Where can you Get the best Value
A dollar at par is very attractive, but lets include the fact that most states charge in the range of 8% sales tax, (some none at all) while the Ontario government charges 13% sales tax. There is a savings right there of 5%. Next you have the price of gasoline. Recently it was $1.08 per liter, which translates approximately to $4.08 a US gallon. Gas at US stations currently sells for around $2.50 a gallon or less. The biggest savings of all if that were not enough, are the sales and the lower prices. We shopped recently in the US at one of the outlet malls and the prices were phenomenal!
Many banks forecasts the Canadian dollar to remain where it is through the end of 2018. While some of its strength may ease slightly over the second half of next year, they expects the Canadian dollar to finish 2017 at 78.00 U.S. cents. So a lot of Canadians are going to be heading south ( unless you are in Windsor, you head north) to spend vacation time and purchase their groceries, clothes and much more. We found that even at Lowes, there were better deals than we could get at our Canadian counterparts.
Whether you go for a single day shopping trip or are planning to spend your vacation in the US there are a few things to consider to make sure your trip is a success and that there are no issues while you are in the US. If you want an example of a driving trip to the US with a vacation, click on the following link. Driving the USA
Remember to pack travel insurance, this could be the most important tip of all – Don’t forget about travel insurance when planning short cross-border trips. Regardless of the length or type of trip, it’s important to consider emergency travel medical insurance as medical treatments in the U.S. can be very expensive. Frequent travelers should consider a multi-trip annual plan to save both time and money.
Develop a Travel Plan
Always have a plan of were you are going to go, make reservations and bring your itinerary with you, especially if you are spending a long time in the US. You will need to convince the US customs that you have a plan and will be returning to Canada at some point. You will also need your passport . Tell someone were you are going and what your plans are so that they can get in touch with you if there is an emergency at home.
Open a US Savings Account
Open a U.S. savings account – A U.S. savings account is an option to consider if you are planning a U.S. vacation or shopping trip or if you have money left over from your holiday. Look for an account with low or no fees that enables you to take advantage of exchange rates when they are favorable and gain interest. Some will also allow you to purchase U.S. dollars through online banking at a preferential rate by simply making a direct transfer from your Canadian dollar bank account to your U.S. savings account from anywhere.
A US Dollar Credit Card
Use a U.S. dollar credit card – Frequent U.S. travelers may want to consider a U.S. dollar denominated credit card, which gives cardholders the flexibility to make transactions in U.S. funds and avoid the hassles of exchange rates or daily currency fluctuations. Coupled with a U.S. savings account, it also allows holders to take advantage of favorable exchange rates over time using dollar cost averaging and then pay off their card balance using U.S. funds directly from their savings account.
Bring Debit and Credit Cards Along
Consider cash alternatives – Debit or credit cards along with U.S. travelers cheques are easy and secure alternatives to carrying large amounts of cash when shopping or traveling. Credit cards are hassle-free and accepted virtually everywhere and many come with purchase protection and extended warranties. Cross-border debit service only requires your bank card and Personal Identification Number (PIN) for ATM withdrawals or purchases at any of the 1,000,000 merchants in the U.S. that use the NYCE network. Travelers cheques are easy to cash and come in many denominations.
Cross Border Banking
Make cross-border banking work for you – If you often travel to the U.S. or are one of thousands of Canadian snowbirds who head to the U.S. over the winter, consider a cross-border banking arrangement that provides access to your banking services on both sides of the border including U.S. mortgages.
Look for easier financing options if buying property in the U.S. – If you are thinking about buying U.S. real estate and you have sufficient equity in your current home, consider a loan or line of credit secured against your Canadian home to buy your U.S. property. This will avoid the need for a U.S. mortgage approval and property appraisal.
In Case of Emergencies
Tell someone were you are going and have in your wallet or purse who should be called in case you are unable to for some medical reason. It makes it much easier for the authorities to deal with getting in touch with your family.