GETTING CASH ON THE ROAD

There are numerous ways to obtain necessary cash while on the road.  However, we are interested in doing this as cost-effectively as possible.

Almost all CREDIT cards now charge a fee and/or interest for receiving a cash advance, even when making a purchase.  Discover card recently implemented this change in 4Q99.  However, if you use a DEBIT card, most grocery stores and Wal Mart will allow you to withdraw cash - and there are NO FEES or interest charges.  Just be sure that your debit card has the Visa or Mastercharge logo so that you will be afforded all of the protection of a regular credit card if it is lost or stolen.  This is the only method that I use to get cash on the road.

ATM cards.....Most ATM cards charge an fee unless you use them at one of the branch offices.  To make matters worse, you will most likely be charged a fee at both ends.  This can get mighty expensive.  However, some of the new electronic banks will issue you an ATM card and reimburse your ATM fees up to four or five transactions a month.  As an added advantage, you may get a substantially higher interest rate on your checking account and CD's.

Last, there are Traveller's Checks.  This is an expensive option, as sometimes there is a purchase charge, and, of course, you do not earn any interest on your funds.

Recently, stores in Canada have changed their policy regarding debit cards that US citizens need to know about.  Most US debit cards also have a Visa or Mastercard logo.  In Canada, you can use these cards as a credit card only - not a debit card...and most merchants will not let you get "cash back" on a credit card. Canadian merchants even have seperate card machines for credit and debit cards, and you Visa- or MC-logo debit card will NOT work in the debit machine. See if your bank will issue you a true debit card as this is the only way to get cash back without any surcharges.

Also, if you plan on using a credit card in Canada, check with the bank that issued the card to see if they charge a service fee for use in Canada.  This can easily amount to a 2% surcharge.  Also, check with your financial institution where you have your checking account regarding their policy on cashing a check that you write in "Canadian Funds".  Some financial institutions will only cash a check for US funds.

Submitted by Bob Cook