Best US Credit Card for Canadians

Credit CardsMany Canadians shop south of the border either online or physically. With all your transactions, there is an exchange rate applied whether you pay with a Canadian credit cards or cash. Banks will rob you if you exchange your money at their counter – be warned. I have found that VISA has a decent exchange rate but nothing beats a good Forex.

When the Canadian dollar was at par with the greenback, you probably did not worry much but as the US dollar gains momentum against our Loonie, you can start to feel it. You start to include the exchange rate in your cost and compare more.

With a US credit card, you can ignore the rate when you purchase and establish a different strategy where you have control. You can keep US cash around and purchase it when you feel the rate is good or you can make your lump sum payment after using your favorite foreign exchange institution.

US Credit Card Options

Below are 4 US Credit Cards options. From my research, that’s pretty much all your options unless you have an ‘official’ account with a bank in the US. Your local options happen to provide you with the choice between VISA or Master Card. I have kept each option simple for the purpose of comparing them.

It’s all about the convenience of purchasing in US currency and avoiding the ding in my account. To that extent, I am only focusing on the cost of taking one of those credit cards and will ignore all the other potential benefits which are minimal.

Each of these cards pretty much have the standard exuberant interest rates. I pay my bills on time so I don’t really care about those rates. I hope it’s not of concern for you either …

1. BMO U.S. Dollar MasterCard®

  • Annual Fee: $35 – if you spend more than $1,000, your card is going to be free with a $35 rebate.
  • Additional Cards: Free
  • You can get more information over at BMO.

2. TD U.S. Dollar Visa Card

  • Annual Fee: $39
  • Additional Cards: Free
  • You can get more information over at TD.

3. CIBC U.S. Dollar Visa

  • Annual Fee: $35
  • Additional Cards: Free
  • You can get more information over at CIBC.

4. RBC Royal Bank® U.S. Dollar Visa Gold

  • Annual Fee: $65
  • Additional Cards: $30
  • You can get more information over at RBC.

Currency Exchange – a.k.a. FOREX

To manage your payments, you can benefit from the best foreign exchange counters with the lowest fees. For the record, exchanging your money at the bank is convenient but the most expensive. I tried using and I did not like the spread I got compared with Vancouver Bullion and Currency Exchange (VBCE). VBCE now does business online.

THE BEST currency exchange is using your discount broker and selling DLR for DLR.U and vice versa.

Related: Currency Exchange with DLR

Readers: What’s your pick? How do you pay for your US purchases?

Image courtesy of ddpavumba /

5 Responses to "Best US Credit Card for Canadians"

  1. Have the BMO US card and it’s made it much easier when we’re in the states. Set up a US saving account as well and have the card pymts made automatically each month.

  2. After setting up a BMO US $ MasterCard, found out it is very difficult to pay.
    Although the statement indicates, you have many convenient ways to pay: “Pre-authorized debit, telephone, internet…” yet they aren’t set up to accept payment by any of these methods from any other bank or credit union in Canada.
    So far, at least 5 people at BMO tell me that the Canadian banking system can’t handle Pre-authorized debit of US funds within Canada.
    But TD, CIBC and RBC all confirmed that pre-authorized payment or online payment of their US Dollar MasterCard and Visas can be made online from any bank or credit union.
    Shouldn’t have to buy and mail cheques to BMO to pay my credit card bill. This is old-fashioned, very inconvenient, expensive, and increases the chance of lost or delayed payment.
    Hope to hear back from BMO that it is possible to set up pre-authorized payment or online payment, otherwise will need to leave BMO and switch to another US $ credit card provider such as TD, CIBC or RBC.

    1. @KW

      I found that out too after trying to make my first payment. I simply stop by the BMO on my way to work and make the payment cash. Let me know how it goes. I am not using it very often but if TD supports online payment, I could see myself switching too.

  3. Just got the BMO card as well, all looked great until I tried to schedule a payment or even pre-pay an amount on the card. If you don’t have an account with BMO and have to transfer from another institution then the only choices are 1) Pay min.monthly amount(great for banks to rack up the interest). or 2) Pay the full monthly balance. Great if you’re rich and very disciplined.

    Stopping at the bank to give checks/cash defeats the whole purpose in this day and age. Big banks have it set-up so it’s convenient for them to use their products only.
    Result; BMO card cancelled before it was even used.


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