Until COVID-19, I had a system for moving money from Canada to the USA based on my expectations of income and expenditures in each place each month. Then the pandemic hit and I suddenly found that my plans and expectations were dust in the wind. Now I have a balance on my US credit card that I would like to pay down as quickly as possible.
The Canadian Snowbirds Association has a very good system for regular transfers of money between countries and it charges the lowest fees that I have found. It also has a decent exchange rate so I have been using their program for years.
Occasionally I have tried using PayPal to move money outside of that system, but it costs more and the exchange rate isn’t quite so good. Also, it takes a week or more, so I need to plan ahead if I’m going to use that.
Today I wanted to move some money from Canada to the US without going through the paperwork that the Canadian Snowbirds Association asks for and looked into some of the other alternatives.
First, I thought I would use my Canadian line of credit to pay off the credit card since its interest charges are much lower. I could move money from the line of credit to my chequing account and transfer it from there directly to my US bank account. Moving money between accounts in Canada is easy, but when I tried to open an external account with my bank, none of the US numbers for transit, bank, and account fit into their online form. When I asked the chatbot if I could add a US bank account it didn’t understand the question.
Then I thought of Venmo because I have used it in the past with international transfers from the UK, but The Street told me that it is best used for small amounts such as repaying a friend for the cost of a dinner, but not for larger transfers.
I spent a little while trying to calculate and compare how much my two banks charge me for credit card balances and how much various transfer arrangements charge for moving my money electronically, and they are all higher than I think is warranted. Banks and financial transfer agencies all charge a fee for the privilege of typing a few computer keys to make a transfer happen, and I want to keep their percentage as low as possible.
After trying to figure out the relative costs and grinding my teeth at the current exchange rate ($1 Cdn = $0.70 US), I decided that the interest rate on my credit card for a few months would cost less than the cost of transfer fees and the now reduced exchange value.
I have spent a lifetime avoiding debt, and my inclination is to pay it off sooner, so I might fill out the necessary form for a temporary change in my regular payment schedule. Then I would have to print out the form, fill it out, scan it, and email it back to the Snowbirds money transfer program. Even though it is a clunky process, that would probably be the smart thing to do.
Anyway, all of that made me look like a financial peasant when I read in Pro Publica that President Trump has been making a mockery of all the rules of finance his entire life. While I agonize over a few thousand dollars, he has been playing fast and loose with millions of dollars and ignoring all the rules for decades.
Maybe the rules don’t matter. I should email Trump and ask him what accounting tricks he uses to avoid paying bank fees. I’m sure he’ll get back to me right away on that, right after he finishes making America great again.