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The stealth way to save on U.S.-dollar purchases

When you shop online, retailers are watching. It’s called traffic-flow analysis. But in brick and mortar stores, it’s a different story. Now, retailers are hoping that the electronic device most of us carry at all times, a mobile phone, will soon change that.


In the Nov. 9 edition of this newsletter, I asked readers to offer their suggestions on how to save money when buying U.S. dollars. Here's an idea that came up a lot and appeals to me because it's so simple: Use a credit card that doesn't charge the usual foreign currency conversion fee of 2.5 to 3 per cent. If you use these cards, you simply pay a competitive wholesale foreign exchange rate on your purchases.

Two credit cards that don't charge the foreign currency conversion fee are Rewards Visa, with no annual fee, and Marriott Rewards Visa, with an annual fee of $120. Both are offered by Chase Canada, which is part of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Another option is Rogers Platinum MasterCard, which offers 4 per cent cashback on foreign purchases. Here's some help in deciding whether these cards might be right for you.

Foreign exchange firms that got shoutouts from readers for competitive rates include XE, CanadianForex and Knightsbridge.

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Ask Rob
The question:
"So how do we go about cutting investment fees when our financial planner insists we are not paying investment fees on our sizable portfolio? Yet I see the investment fees in the quarterly reports we receive."

My reply:
"Your adviser works for free, then? Must be a first. All investors with advisers pay two main layers of fees. One for the investment products you own and one for advice. New securities regulations mean you'll start getting a comprehensive report on fees in January. Read it and schedule a meeting with your adviser to discuss fees.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can't answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

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