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I'm from the U.S., but I'm living in Canada and all my income is in Canadian dollars.

What good options do I have for paying my American bills?

Currently, the best option that's been presented to me is a $40 bank draft. It seems a bit silly to make a $40 bank draft to pay a $50 student loan payment!! But I can't imagine I'm the first to have been in this boat before.

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I'm currently planning a long trip and this is a very real issue to tackle. It is also very different when traveling vs being an expat, as in the latter case you usually have an address where you can receive (dead-tree-format) mail. –  Jacco Jul 20 '12 at 7:46
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migrated from travel.stackexchange.com Jul 20 '12 at 15:08

This question came from our site for road warriors and seasoned travelers.

6 Answers

The simple answer is to not close your American bank accounts - or if you have already done so, open one. Make sure it allows for internet banking, and use it to pay all your bills. Periodically move some money from your Canadian account to your US account to cover the bills. I have done this between Canada and the UK for fifteen years now. An alternative is to set up a USD account at your Canadian bank.

Most organizations will happily mail your bills abroad, unless the bills are actually associated with an address, like a utility - in which case you should get the person living there to take care of them. Much better is to use electronic billing for everything.

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I do still have my US accounts. By what method do you transfer funds across the border, and what fees does it incur? –  corsiKa Jul 20 '12 at 16:06
    
Your Canadian bank will let you know the different methods, depending on the speed you need and the amounts. The cheapest ways are a few dollars for small amounts. My preferred method is to get a bank draft in GBP (USD in your case) from my Canadian bank and mail it to my British bank. –  DJClayworth Jul 20 '12 at 16:11
    
So I can just mail it to my bank and they'll deposit it? I don't have to, say, deposit it in person? That's good to know! –  corsiKa Jul 20 '12 at 16:14
    
Looking at some of the linked questions here, I see a site, xe.com, that appears to allow you to debit from Canada and deposit in the US for free. (Their fee is baked into the exchange rate, I'm sure.) –  corsiKa Jul 20 '12 at 16:32
    
@Corsika, many US banks have a "mail-in" deposit system. I've used it with Washington Mutual (Chase now) a while ago, and it works fine. Also, many banks allow depositing checks through your smart phone now, so you don't even need to mail anything. –  littleadv Jul 20 '12 at 17:29
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From personal experience of having been abroad for a while for work, I found the simplest method to be to Paypal it to myself from one country to the other.

Yes, you incur a transaction fee - but it was always less expensive than "real" bank fees for me.

Also - if you use a bank that has offices in both countries, adding an authorized user with a debit card and having them visit the bank every X often and making a withdrawal is a viable route.

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For transactions from Germany to the US I've heard that PayPal is about the most cost effective way to transfer money. –  monksy Jul 24 '12 at 19:23
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TD now has crossborder banking so you can set up a no-fee no-interest USD account with Tdbank.com and transfer money and pay bills in the US. You just need a minimum balance of $100. I might try Paypal before going that route though.

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Maintain your U.S. bank accounts.

Use xe.com to transfer money back and forth.

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Lived in same situation for 8 years. I walked into a BMO - told them what I needed to do and they set me right up - no U.S. accounts necessary. My account allowed me to pay bills in USD or CDN. Doesn't get any simpler than that.

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You mean the Bank of Monteral? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_of_Montreal? –  MrChrister Sep 8 '12 at 16:25
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Get a BMO US Mastercard and pay everything using that Mastercard? Unless you really have to pay using Chequing and Savings account.

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