Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Going Abroad? You Could Be Hit With A Double Whammy Hangover Of Currency Fees And Sales Taxes

Mr. and Mrs. Edge just came back from an awesome trip to British Columbia.  It's beautiful, trust me. While I was prepared for the potential currency exchange fees, and used a credit card that does not charge them, I was hit by the sticker shock of Canada's sales taxes: Goods and Services Tax (GST), Provincial Sales Tax (PST), Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), and Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT).  Yikes!  it's a wonder more people don't move, must be the "free" health care.  Worst of all, these sales taxes aren't refundable, according to my chat with the Canada Revenue Service yesterday. Only in certain circumstances, listed on their website, they are at least partially refundable.  But since we weren't exporting pieces of art, we got had  

O' Canada!  OMG taxes!
While you should definitely still travel to Canada, here's what you can do to help lessen some of the other bite that you might experience.  If you don't have one already, apply for a credit card which does not charge currency exchange fees.  What I mean by this is if you use a credit card in a foreign country, and it converts the transaction to the local currency, you might be assessed with a ~2.7% fee.  Think of it as yet another tax.

And, if you don't have a bank that refunds ATM fees, expect to be whacked by those, too.  Canada is pretty advanced when it comes to credit card use.  And, unlike the U.S., expect to be presented with a mobile credit card machine for you to swipe.  Kind of odd, but you get used to it.  But, like the U.S., you will still find the odd Mom and Pop shop that won't take them.  Search for a bank that does not have "foreign" ATM fees here.  This strategy will also work in the U.S., too.

-- The Edge