I was at the airport- about to board a flight to the US when I spied an ATM machine for US dollars. This is great- I thought- this way I don’t have to look for a machine when I land. Also, the transaction fee was $3.50 which is a lot for a regular withdrawal but I have found that banks can charge up to five dollars when you use ATM machines in another country.
What I should have noticed was that this was a standalone ATM- not affiliated with any bank- only a company called Direct Cash.
What was the problem? Firstly the machine didn’t say what exhange rate was used until you actually received the money. When I checked my receipt I was astonished to find out that I got charged a ridiculous rate of 1.12 Cdn to 1 US- when in the real world the canadian dollar is the same value as the US dollar (today the Cdn is actually worth MORE than USD). I think they make more by giving you a crappy exchange rate than they do with the transaction fees.
In all I ended up paying $115 Canadian dollars for $100 US which at my bank would have only been $100. Even at an exchange booth I would have payed around $105.
The moral is to be very careful where you exchange money- and be sure to check the rates.
Too add insult to injury the ATM only gave me $60 instead of $100 so now I have to run after the banks to get back the rest of my money…