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Special Reports


Are U.S. dollars working for Canadians? RBC poll asks

Most Canadians ignore possible savings

TORONTO, April 24, 2008 — Nearly half (45 per cent) of all Canadians who travel across the border purchase U.S. dollars whenever they need them, regardless of the exchange rate, according to the 2008 RBC Account Habits Poll.

"With the strong Canadian dollar, people are shopping south of the border, taking more time to travel abroad and not really thinking about the cost of buying foreign currency, especially U.S. dollars," said Max Thompson, head of GICs and Savings. "Instead of planning ahead, many Canadians get caught by fluctuating currency rates and can lose money by exchanging funds at inopportune times."

The RBC poll asked Canadians how they manage their U.S. dollars, and despite the significant number of Canadians who travel abroad and use U.S. dollars, only three in ten Canadians regularly save them in an account for travel purposes. Among those Canadians who do save U.S. funds, 64 per cent keep their U.S. cash at home. In fact, just one in three (32 per cent) Canadians who use U.S. dollars abroad monitor exchange rates and wait to purchase U.S. dollars when it is favourable.

Interestingly, Canadians age 54 and older are more likely to keep their travel funds in a U.S. dollar bank account (43 per cent), compared to those age 35 to 54 (32 per cent and those age 18 to 34 (29 per cent). In addition, men (43 per cent are more likely than women (30 per cent) to keep their money in a U.S. dollar bank account, while women (59 per cent) are more likely than men (45 per cent to keep it at home in cash.

In looking at travel habits and U.S. dollar usage among Canadians, almost 720,000 (three per cent) travel across the border or to another country that accepts U.S. dollars at least once a month, while one fifth (17 per cent) of respondents travel abroad to countries that accept U.S. dollars a few times a year. About 20 per cent of Canadians travel outside of the country about once a year where they accept U.S. dollars. In thinking about the last five places respondents have travelled, two thirds (62 per cent) purchased and used U.S. dollars when they travelled outside of Canada, compared with Euros at six per cent and Pesos at five per cent.

"Considering the number of Canadians who travel abroad and need U.S. dollars, purchasing them when exchange rates are favourable and placing them in an account to capitalize on interest is better than waiting until the last minute or having cash sit in a drawer at home collecting dust or getting lost," said Mr. Thompson.

The poll also looked at what Canadians do with their U.S. dollars once they return home from a trip or vacation abroad. Most Canadians who use U.S. dollars are not putting their leftover cash into their bank accounts when they return home. One half (50 per cent) leave it at home in a safe place, possibly for their next trip while 29 per cent exchange it for Canadian funds and eight per cent make sure to spend it all. Only 16 per cent put the leftover money in their U.S. bank account.

These are some of the findings of an RBC poll conducted by Ipsos Reid between March 13 and March 18, 2008. This online survey of 2,020 adult Canadian bank account holders was conducted via the Ipsos I-Say Online Panel, Ipsos Reid's national online panel. The results are based on a sample where quota sampling and weighting are employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data. With a representative sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ±2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population of bank-account holders been polled.

- 30 -

For more information, contact:
Jackie Braden, RBC, Media Relations, 416-974-2124

For full tabular results, please see the Ipsos Reid website at www.ipsos.ca.


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04/24/2008 08:05:22