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Currency Exchange – Getting the Best Deal

With the Canadian dollar (CAD) again making an aggressive move towards parity with the U.S Dollar (USD), deal seeking Canadians are probably looking to pick up some of the cheap greenback.  One hurdle though when purchasing USD are the fees involved.

As someone who likes to minimize fees, I went on the search for some low cost ways to exchange currency.

Interactive Brokers

As I have an account with IB, I can attest for their extremely low prices for both stock trading and currency exchange.  While most discount brokers charge 1%-1.5% per exchange, Interactive Brokers charges:

1 basis point (0.01%) + $2.50 USD.

However, there are some drawbacks of using IB as your primary currency conversion tool.  First, you need an account with them which costs a minimum of $120/year (USD).  Secondly, if you want the money in a reasonable amount of time, the money must be first “wired” to IB ($30 charge at most banks).  After that, you can do the currency exchange, then EFT the money back to your USD bank account.

Otherwise, if you EFT the money from a CAD bank account into the IB account, since it will be withdrawn into a different account (USD bank account), they will hold the money for 60 days.

I can see this option being a great solution for existing IB account holders AND if you are exchanging fairly large quantities to make up for the $30 wire transfer fee.

To put this in perspective, here is the cost of exchanging various amounts of Canadian Dollars:

  • $500: $33.05 (assume $2.50 USD = $3 CAD)
  • $1,000: $33.10
  • $2,000: $33.20
  • $4,000: $33.40
  • $5,000: $33.50
  • $10,000: $34.00

Other Discount Brokerages

Discount brokers typically charge 1%-1.5% on currency exchanges (one way) on top of the spot rate.  In order for this to work, you’ll need a non-registered CAD and USD trading account with a discount brokerage of your choice. In addition you’ll need a Canadian and USD currency bank account attached to the trading account.

From there, to take advantage of the relatively low currency exchange fees, simply:

  1. EFT CAD from your bank account to your non-registered discount brokerage CAD account
  2. Convert the CAD to your USD trading account.
  3. From there, request a withdrawal/cash transfer from your USD trading account to your USD bank account.

This process will take approximately 4-5 business days depending on how long the EFT transfers take.

Here is the cost of exchanging various amounts of Canadian Dollars assuming the surcharge is 1.5% (not counting any USD account withdrawal fees):

  • $500: $7.50
  • $1,000: $15
  • $2,000: $30
  • $4,000: $60
  • $5,000: $75
  • $10,000: $150

Local Bank Teller

I phoned a my bank for the rates when purchasing USD through a teller and they charge a hefty premium for purchasing USD.  At my bank (CIBC), they don’t have any fees for the exchange, but they charge 3.3% above spot rate.  I expected it to be a little more expensive, but 3.3% is a bit much.

However, this is one method of getting USD if you are in a hurry.  Otherwise, there are cheaper options.

Here is the cost of exchanging various amounts of Canadian Dollars assuming the surcharge is 3.3%

  • $500: $16.50
  • $1,000: $33
  • $2,000: $66
  • $4,000: $132
  • $5,000: $165
  • $10,000:$230

Credit Card

When I’m traveling in the U.S or any place that accepts USD, the most common method of payment that I use is my credit card.  Even though a credit card typically charges a premium of 2.5%, it’s much more convenient than carrying around U.S Dollars, and apparently cheaper than getting cash from a teller.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a deal in currency exchange, you’ll need to plan ahead a bit.  While Interactive Brokers has great rates, they are not for everyone as they have an annual fee of $120USD.  I think the best all around deal is to have a non-registered low cost discount brokerage account that charges around 1% for currency exchanges (like Questrade).  Otherwise, I simply use my credit card while making small purchases when I’m across the border.

Do you have any tips on how to exchange currency with relatively low fees?

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FT About the author: FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.

{ 54 comments… add one }
  • Four Pillars August 4, 2009, 10:20 am

    I don’t have any suggestions other than to not worry about it. For most people it’s not worth the time or hassle to save a couple of bucks for their annual trip accross the border.

    I just use my credit card for the conversion.

  • Michael - Fat Loss Tips August 4, 2009, 11:00 am

    Damn… I was really hoping to hear a top secret way of minimizing the fees on currency exchanges but unfortunately my credit card looks to be my best bet.

    Not sure what the rest of the country has but here in Ontario we have these Continental Currency exchange booths in the mall.

    I’m sure they’re better then local banks but probably fall short of discount brokerages.

    Can someone include them in the above comparison?

    Thanks in advance…

  • Henry August 4, 2009, 11:40 am

    Some bank owned discount brokerages can let you access their FX desks. I think the minimum amount is 10k and you have to call in. You will be pleasantly surprised how good of a rate you get especially if you exchange for numbers larger than that and the charge is definitely less than 1%.

    Don’t buy US ETF using Canadian dollars. You will be charged very high conversion fees.

  • Daniel Morel August 4, 2009, 11:41 am

    If you are lucky enough to live close to an Ontario casino near the US border you can exchange your money there. I’ve been told they have a slightly better rate than banks.

  • cannon_fodder August 4, 2009, 11:45 am

    FT,

    I have a position in MX at IB. MX pays its dividends in USD rather than CDN. If I had a USD account I wonder if I can simply withdraw the money into my USD account and avoid the exchange fees altogether.

    Michael – I don’t know about USD, but when I travel internationally I’ve found that it is cheaper just to withdraw money from an ATM to get local currency than use the foreign exchange kiosks. Perhaps because of the ones I’ve tested (at the airport with a captive market) they don’t have to be very competitive. Plus, my banks don’t carry some of the unusual currency I’ve needed.

  • DG August 4, 2009, 12:58 pm

    I’ve found that ING Direct exchange rates are better than most banks. Also, xe.com is better than ING Direct most of the time.

    I get paid in USD so conversion is a monthly problem for me.

    I will have to try the discount brokerage approach, thanks for the tip.

    Dan.

  • Paramedic August 4, 2009, 1:05 pm

    I have found the best rates to be with http://www.xe.com/fx I have paid some foreign bills and they issue the payment directly in the foreign currency, US or otherwise. There is no fee and the rate seems to be the best I’ve ever gotten. They will send you cash for a fee, although I have never done this and the rate is not as good, but super convenient. They process online and courier you cash.

    What I like is I can pay for the exchange through internet banking as a bill payment and avoid the $30 fee from a bank for the EFT. The payment goes through even faster than a bill payment. I think you could use the system to send yourself a USD cheque and deposit into your USD bank account and withdraw the cash. I’m just not sure what the delay of the hold is at that point. Probably only worth it in excess of $1000 USD.

    Otherwise for small amounts credit cards seem to be the best.

  • DG August 4, 2009, 1:17 pm

    Paramedic: If you set up EFT through xe.com the transfers are free. I use xe.com to pull money from my USD account and push to my CAD account; EFT both ways. Getting issued a cheque will incur a hold, which is typically 3 weeks if its drawn on a US bank.

    I’ve also used xe.com to EFT from my US USD account; no fees, no problems at all.

    Dan.

  • Steve August 4, 2009, 1:55 pm

    You will find the best rates in some of the oddest locations. If you are lucky to live in or near a boarder town you will most likely have some options. For instance in Windor ON, the train station is the best place. Much better than the banks, and unlike casinos they appreciate the business. Casinos will exchange currency if you intend to play a few games, but don’t like it when you are just using them for their nice exchange rate. Go back more than once and you get on their bad list. (don’t ask how I know that). I use to work in the US and live in Canada. So getting the best rate for exchange made a big difference in my over all take home (to Canada) pay.

  • FT FrugalTrader August 4, 2009, 2:21 pm

    For those of you who have used XE.com for currency exchange, what is the spread?

  • Paramedic August 4, 2009, 2:28 pm

    You need an account to get real-time quotes it seems. So in the last 5min. here is the rate for US-CAD.

    1 CAD = 0.9237 USD
    1 USD = 1.0826 CAD

  • Max August 4, 2009, 2:33 pm

    Current BID/ASK on xe.com for USD/CAD:

    xe.com gives you 1.0529CAD for 1USD
    xe.com gives you 1USD for 1.0826CAD

  • FT FrugalTrader August 4, 2009, 2:33 pm

    Looks like the spread is around 1.5%

    Looking at xe.com rates now:

    1 USD = 1.06769
    1 CAD = 0.93660

  • Trevor August 4, 2009, 2:37 pm

    Anyone have any suggestions for getting euros at a decent rate? I’m traveling to Europe in September and I went to a few foreign exchange places and the bank and the spread looks to be about 8bps. More than I want to pay.

  • Paramedic August 4, 2009, 2:48 pm

    Sorry I got it wrong. Max pulled out the right numbers.

    For the euros, I am going to live in Poland for a number of months, so I’m using the xe.com to send myself a cheque which I will deposit in a new bank account I will open when I arrive. However I’m sure that isn’t practical for a shorter trip.

    1 EUR = 1.5633 CAD from CAD to EUR
    1 EUR = 1.5202 CAD from EUR to CAD

  • Peter August 4, 2009, 2:50 pm

    I get pretty good rates through TD Bank with their Borderless Plan, but I also get the preferred rate with their Select Service account which costs money unless you have the min balance.

    I just checked and it was about 1.5 above the XE rate or TD1.085 vs about XE1.069 (approx)

    If you need money in a hurry just do the online transfer and the money is available immediately then go to any branch and withdraw it for free.

    I used my USD Visa card while traveling and it is nice to see that my vacation got a little bit cheaper upon my return :-).

    P

  • Paramedic August 4, 2009, 2:51 pm

    Just be careful not to use the xe.com mid-market exchange rates that get quoted on the homepage. Because you will never actually get these mid-market rates, obviously you get the bid/ask accordingly.

  • FT FrugalTrader August 4, 2009, 2:51 pm

    Peter, do you have access to TD’s currency USD/CAD spread?

  • Elaine August 4, 2009, 2:51 pm

    Euros – just use your bank card at the ATM. This is what I do for vacations outside the US and Canada. You get fairly good rates there (for me it was better than mastercard’s rate) and the transaction fee (for me anyway) is about $3, not a percentage. So I take out a day’s worth of cash at a time.

  • Peter August 4, 2009, 3:00 pm

    FrugalTrader,

    I don’t get the spread just the 1min quote for the current transaction.

    Peter

  • Peter August 4, 2009, 3:12 pm

    FT,

    Maybe this is what you are looking for

    $1.00 USD = $1.0877 CDN – Converting CDN to USD
    $1.00 USD = $1.0577 CDN – Converting USD to CDN

    Using the 1min spot quotes.

    Peter

  • FT FrugalTrader August 4, 2009, 3:27 pm

    Looks like a 1.2% spread with TD borderless plan. Very decent for a bank.

  • Ms Save Money August 4, 2009, 4:53 pm

    Actually at citibank they offer a free currency exchange with their citigold.

  • Ian August 4, 2009, 7:58 pm

    Casino’s are good. I am not sure about other places but in Windsor Ontario (a border city )there is an exchange at the railway station that beats all other rates. He is also a small business which I like to support.

  • John August 4, 2009, 9:20 pm

    I guess there is no other way to exchange $80k from CAD to US other than a bank right? 3.3% spread is A LOT.

  • Charles in Vancouver August 4, 2009, 9:49 pm

    Ms Save Money: Is that Citibank service available to Canadians? I can’t seem to find it on Citibank’s Canadian web site, and Canadian-resident Canadians can’t in general open anything but a basic account at US banks. If not, then your comment is appreciated but not relevant to this blog!

    John: If you have $80K to exchange, XE.com might give you a much better spread than suggested here. Also there is Norbert’s Gambit which is particularly good if you are making the exchange in order to buy investments; for other purposes it may have some drawbacks.
    http://www.financialwebring.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1865

  • phi August 4, 2009, 9:52 pm

    Do you guys think the dollar will recover? Which would you bet on for the long run, the dollar or he Canadian dollar?

  • Antony Pranata August 4, 2009, 9:54 pm

    I’m not so sure how currency exchange works at IB. As far as I know, it is for forex trading. So, if we exchange our money, it will appear as an “open position”. What’s going to happen if we close the account? Don’t we have to close this “open position”?

  • Blogging Banks August 5, 2009, 12:11 pm

    I was also going to suggest Norber’s Gambit as well. It does sound a little risky however as some market news could cause a large moves in stock prices which could make even the biggest commission paltry vs market losses.

    Do airports in Canada offer better exchange rates?

  • Oil Baron August 5, 2009, 12:29 pm

    I’ve had the Bank of Montreal tell me not to use their bank to exchange $3500. They referred me to a cash trading business which gave a better rate and had no fees.

  • Henry August 5, 2009, 1:33 pm

    John: I know most people do not believe me, but from what I seen, going through big 5’s discount brokerage or full service brokerage to access the bank’s FX desk is probably the best way to go. The amount that you are exchanging is large enough that the transaction cost that FX desk charge will seem minimal.

  • YoungEngineer August 5, 2009, 6:41 pm

    Hey, just wanted to let everybody know that using a Custom House is the way to go. My dad was looking to buy a house in Arizona (he’s from Alberta) and he looked around for a way to transfer a large sum of money without the 2-3.5% bank charges. His search lead to a custom house and they charge on the order of 0.2-0.4%. The biggest downside is they only deal with large (~$10k and up) sums of money.

    As my parents have several friends who are starting to winter down south they all are interested in getting similar deals. The one way they do it for smaller sums is to get a group all willing to change smaller amounts and submit it as a collective large amount (for example 5 couples exchange $2k each so it’s still a $10k lot).

    Not sure where he found it, but look for a custom house in your area or on google.

    Oh, one more thing, the one my dad uses is almost like a mortgage broker in that it’s a ‘home based’ business for her and she appreciates the referrals. I’m not sure if that’s how they all work, but it beats the heck out of the money grubbing bank model.

  • Mockingbird August 5, 2009, 8:40 pm

    This is “basically” how trading stocks in various currencies works at IB.

    1) IB has an “Universal Account”

    2) You can open an account either in “CAD Base” or “USD Base” for Canadians.

    3) If you have a CAD Base and trade CAD stocks, then the settlement will be in $CAD. However, if you trade USD stocks and made gains, then it will show up in your account as + $US (credit). If you lost money, then it will show up as – $US (debit).

    Examples: (to simplify, I’ve excluded fees)
    a) Your account is at $10,000 CAD Base. You bought and sold CAD stock and made $200. You will have $10200 CAD in your Base Account.
    b) Your account is at $10,000 CAD Base. You bought and sold USD stock and made $200. You will have $10000 CAD and +$200 USD showing in your currency breakdown. The total in CAD Base would be showing $10216 CAD (if exchange was 1.08). This number will fluctuate with the currency movements on your +$200 USD.
    c) With same CAD Base, you traded USD stock and lost $200 USD. Then the currency breakdown of your account will show $10000 CAD and -$200 USD. The total in your CAD Base Account will show $9784 CAD ($10000 – $212). This is considered borrowing $200 USD from IB. As long as you maintain “negative” USD, you will pay debit fees. Once again this number will fluctuate with the daily currency movements.

    4) Here’s how you convert between CAD and USD Base
    Say you have $10,000 in CAD Base Account and want to change to USD Base. You can easily change it through your Account Management. It takes 24 hours. Once changed, your currency breakdown should show -$10,000 CAD and $0 USD. But the total in your new USD Base Account should show $9259 USD (if $1 USD = $1.08 CAD). In this scenario, you will be charged debit (borrowing) fee for maintaining -$10,000 CAD. Your $9259 USD Base Account would fluctuate daily due to currency movements (on -$CAD) and debit fees. You have changed the “Base”, but you have not converted the currency yet.

    5) Here’s how to eliminate that -$10,000 CAD debit.
    IB provides “IDEAL” platform for currency conversion of smaller amount. The spread is pretty tight (1-2 pips = $0.0001-$0.0002) during open trading hours, but opens up fair amount during nights (30-100 pips). Once you open up CAD/USD Forex symbol then you might see bid and offer prices of something like 0.9325 by 0.9327. This means $1 CAD is currently trading between those 2 quoted USD prices (spread). If this is the case, the major banks might give you $0.9175 USD (1.5% spread) for every $1 CAD you convert. For our -$10,000 CAD example, you would submit a buy order of $10,000 (to offset minus) and you would be purchasing at $0.9327 USD price. Unless in a fast moving market or nights, the slippage is a non-issue in Forex. With this example, you would have received $9327 USD minus $2.50 USD fee. In banks, that would be $9175 USD + fee. Now you actually have a USD in your account.

    6) If you have a USD Account hooked up to this IB account, then you could transfer this amount thru EFT. One transfer a month is free.

  • Greedy August 6, 2009, 1:24 am

    After you do a FX exchange, that exchanged amount is LOCKED for 90 business days, so you CANNOT EFT it back out to a different currency bank account until a quarter later ..

  • Joseph August 7, 2009, 1:46 pm

    Thanks Ms. Save Money for your tip re Citigold. I have an account with Citigold and they just quoted me a rate of 1CAD=.96USD. Awesome!

  • Mockingbird August 7, 2009, 6:13 pm

    “….quoted me a rate of 1CAD=.96USD. Awesome!”

    Doesn’t make sense. CAD’s been trading ~0.9240 most of day (or 1USD=1.0823). If they are selling you 1CAD @ 0.96USD – then NOT a good deal.

  • Sis in Rochester August 7, 2009, 6:18 pm

    My sister lives in Rochester and so I travel from Toronto to Rochester fairly regularly. I have an HSBC account, and if I withdraw cash from an HSBC machine in Rochester (there is one on the way to her house) I seem to get almost a straight exchange rate. It looks to be about 200 bps better than the rate I get if I use my credit card. I also don’t have to pay any fee to use an HSBC machine anywhere in the world. So I make a point of using cash if at all possible.

    I don’t know whether the rate would be as good if I use another company’s machine, but I would pay only $1.50 for a withdrawal in the US (and $3 internationally)

    Exchange rates for Australian dollars also seemed to be pretty good, when I was on vacation in Australia last year.

  • Robin August 7, 2009, 7:30 pm

    In Vancouver Canada, I use the Vancouver Bullion & Currency Exchange. They have always had the currency (& in the amounts) I wanted, so using them is very efficient for me.

  • hlf August 7, 2009, 9:38 pm

    i have found that an american dollar mastercard is the fastest and easiest

    then pay the bill thru the internet with your u.s dollar bank account.
    no exchange fees , no extra percentages charged

    (if one is travelling to the u. s. frequently; one should have monies in a u.s. dollar account)

  • Ernie Fearon August 7, 2009, 10:19 pm

    We have the Select Account at TD, to obtain this you must keep $5000 in your chequing account or pay 25/month, and since we travel six months a year in Florida as Snowbirds it is prudent to keep the $5000 as an Insurance factor.
    With this Select Account you get a complimentary Visa Gold Card, a Complimentary Safety deposit Box & a premium rate on exchanging Cad to US by opening their complimentary “Borderless” Account. This Borderless Account allows one to write checks in US funds so here is what we do in Florida. Simply go on the Internet to your TD Account Chequing Account, transfer what ever you need to the Borderless Account, you will pay whatever rate the dollar is trading at for one minute. The Foreign Exchange Rate will be +1.34 cents on a dollar or 1.34% Than you can write cheques on this account in the US or you can open an account in a local bank in whatever Town/City you are in & if a senior it is usually free, deposit the cheque & write cheques on that bank or go to their ATM to withdraw and in most cases with a senior account there is no ATM charges.
    Anyway I am not advertising for TD just find them quite friendly to do this. The writer of this Globe & Mail column missed one very important point I think, I agree that using a Credit Card is the easiest, most convenient way to go even though you pay another 1% premium from what I described above & we do that a lot but we get a Platinum CIBC Visa (costs $170/year for two cards, one for me, one for wife) & collect the AeroPoints which adds up in a year to about 35,000 points which is almost 1.5 round trips via Air-Canada anywhere in North America. True the nay-sayers will say that Aeroplan will have no seats where you want to go or will say that Aeroplan will say yes 25000 points gives one a roundtrip ticket but since these seats are sold out you will be asked for 35,000 points. If you plan ahead like 6 months to a year you will get the seats you want in most cases for the 25000 points, we have never had to use more than the 25000 points per round trip in any North America destination. Also if you want to go the way I suggested above i.e. TD Select Account, keep a minimum of $5000 in your Chequing account, get the complimentary TD Gold card, charge all your purchases to it you get $75/for each $5000 charged & you can use the money to select any airline to travel on.
    Did not intend to make this so long but hope this helps.

    • FT FrugalTrader August 7, 2009, 11:54 pm

      Ernie, thanks for your input. I have reviewed the TD Select Service account before, and they do have a great offering. Have you considered switching to the TD Infinite Visa instead of their Gold card? Seems that you like to travel, so the 1.5% return on spending towards travel may work well for you.

  • Ernie Fearon August 8, 2009, 10:35 am

    Thanks FrugalTrader, will check that one out.

  • Ernie Fearon August 8, 2009, 10:46 pm

    Reviewed CIBC versus TD Infinite Card
    Despite the advantage that TD has in being able to use the money accumulated for other airlines & for discount airfares I believe that CIBC Platinum Visa is a better deal. Below is a sort of a quick comparison on a trip to Orlando from Victoria, BC Return in prime time (December including Christmas)

    Air Canada
    Below is from AC website tonight.
    Trip from Victoria, BC to Orlando, Florida via AC Dec 15 return Dec 30/2009 $
    $1174.43 CAD

    1174.43-$170 (yearly CIBC charge) = 1004.43
    Costs $170 for two cards
    Spend $2500/Month = 30,000 points
    30,000/25,000X $1004.43 = $1205.42 Value CIBC Aerogold Card

    TD Infinity card
    Costs $170/Year for one card
    Spend $2500/Month = $685 worth of travel (as per TD Site) – $170 = $515 Value TD Infinity Card

    Note
    TD includes welcome bonus of 20,000 one time points.

    • FT FrugalTrader August 8, 2009, 11:27 pm

      Ernie, it doesn’t make a large difference in your case, but with select service, the annual fee for the TD Infinite is waived for you and your spouse. Another card worth considering is the MBNA SPG Credit Card (my fav card with no annual fee).

      Apparently now, you can transfer SPG points to Aeroplan without any trouble. SPG offers a bonus of 5k points for every 20k transferred. With 30k spending, you’ll get 30k spg points, which works out to be 35k aeroplan points.

  • Ben Hebert August 9, 2009, 10:59 pm

    I thought that this article was great extremely informative. Having just spent some time in Mexico I think that I could have greatly benefited from knowing how to get the best deal.

  • cannon_fodder August 10, 2009, 3:51 am

    Ernie,

    If you try and book a flight with those 25,000 Aeroplan points (assuming you can find a seat still available at that level for the times you want) then you still have to cough up the surcharges and taxes. I don’t know what that would be on the flight you mentioned, but it would be hundreds of dollars. You will find a lot of people complaining that the flights aren’t really free and that it is very difficult to find flights at the 25,000 point level. Sometimes they can go ridiculously high for North American economy travel on Air Canada – think over 100,000 points.

    Many people consider the real value of Aeroplan points in the fact that you can use it to book first class travel sometimes far more effectively than something like TD.

    Try that in your comparison and you may see a very large difference.

  • colezy9 September 4, 2009, 1:17 pm

    I am a Canadian resident with a PC Financial free checking account and a Wells Fargo USD free checking account (I setup account while I was in North Dakota). I use XE.com to purcahse USD. Wells Fargo also gave me a Visa so I think I have the ideal situation, especially since changing my Wells Fargo Visa Billing address to a USA address of a friend. Basically I have no limitations on what I can purchase from the USA now and I only live 30 miles from the North Dakota address where I have items shipped to save on shipping.

  • Greg September 4, 2009, 3:30 pm

    As with Robin (above) I use Vancouver Bullion & Currency Exchange (www.vbce.ca). Their website lists the current USD prices as:
    Buy: 1.070000
    Sell: 1.097000
    Their website is not always up to the minute, you need to call them for the latest prices, but these numbers reflect the usual spread.

  • Nabeel Jafferali September 5, 2009, 1:58 pm

    In the GTA, I use a company called The Money Trader in Markham. Great service, great rates.

  • Sandy September 7, 2009, 11:24 am

    Hi Guys,

    I’m a currency trader for the last 4 yrs and I’ve researched a lot on this topic as most of my profits are in USD as most of the brokers only have accounts in USD.

    I’ve Bank of America regular checking account and as they have global ATM alliance you can withdraw money from any Scotiabank account and You won’t believe the exchange rate I get is almost interbank spread. For eg if USD/CAD is at 1.0750 .. they would give me 1.0748-9.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_ATM_Alliance

    Second thing I’ve is HSBC USA Mastercard which charges no exchange rate fee when I use in Canada or anywhere internationally. I use this here in Canada and when I compare the rates it’s almost interbank within points just like BOA.

    http://www.hsbcusa.com/personal/credit_cards/premier_world_mastercard.html

    Another best thing in the world is just like IB in currecy trading there is broker by the name of Oanda. They recently started exchange currency for use rather than only trade. This service can be used to wire money to anyone around the world but comes with wire fee. Might be good for few of you ..if you want money in different currencies like EURO, GBP or AUD.

    http://fxglobaltransfer.oanda.com/

    Now back to Canada. If you want to convert less than 25K than best I found is TD Borderless Plan as some of have mentioned above.

    But there is one hidden Gem with CIBC ( works only if you want to convert more than 25K) You go to teller and ask them to call their Dealer ( I think they are CIBC bank trader at their head office) and book this much amount which usually gives 0.8-1.0% exchange rate.

    Let me know if you have any questions except how to become a currency trader :).

    Sandy

  • FlookiiDuke September 30, 2009, 7:52 pm

    I have used http://www.interchangefinancial.com on a number of occasions. They have been very good, beating the banks rates on CAD/USD transaction by 2 basis points (0.02c) or more (depends on the amount being exchanged). I usually call ahead and book my price (get free streaming rates/charts from http://www.fxstreet.com), we exchange bank drafts and then I deposit my funds back in my USD account.

    Obviously you need to be local to the GTA to do this with InterChange but check your own local currency exchange dealers….this is their core business so they should have very competitive rates, shop around.

  • tumek October 15, 2009, 5:52 pm

    I’ve use OANDA FXGlobalTransfer often. The rates are very close to interbank. You can get a live quote right on the home page without having to sign up or call anyone. ( fxglobaltransfer.com )

    What I do is transfer USD to my OANDA account and leave it there. OANDA gives you a multi-currency account that pays interest. Then when the rate is good I convert USD/CAD and I can hold the money in my CAD sub-account (also interest bearing) or transfer it to my CIBC account for $25.

  • Adam Okhai March 9, 2011, 3:08 pm

    I understand that the London-based bank HKSB’s Ontario branches now facilitate the purchase of foreign stocks , whether US, UK, CH , IN or other major market . I hv heard this from finance and investment types but I have not yet done it. US markets seem fully valued but there some stocks available at good values. If other factors work out, this could possibly be a good time to buy US stocks , taking advantage of the strong C$ .

  • Imran June 20, 2014, 1:36 am

    I’ve used KnightsbridgeFX when I was buying a large sum of US dollars and I got a free wire transfer to the US. I didnt have the time to open a brokerage account and didnt want anything complex. They beat the bank rate by a lot.

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