Places and Tips to Exchange Foreign Currency in Canada
Understand Options Before Traveling to Canada to Ensure Best Exchange Rates
While knowing where to obtain the best exchange rate makes the most sense before traveling, you may need to exchange money during a trip. If you are a business or leisure traveler embarking on a trip to Canada, know where to purchase the US dollar for a Canadian dollar, also called the Loonie, during all phases of your trip.
Typically, you will need the Canadian dollar to purchase goods and services. However, exceptions exist. Popular tourist attractions, duty-free shops and border towns likely accept USD too.
Traditional Places to Exchange Currency
Travelers and tourists will usually find the best exchange rate at a bank, though check if your chosen financial institution charges a fee per transaction. When going to a bank, even if you do exchange your money for the Canadian dollar there, a banker should always give you an exchange rate that closely matches the current one.
Busier commuter areas usually assess higher fees because of the convenience of their locations. Those include currency exchange kiosks at:
Airports — if you suddenly had to travel and need to use an airport kiosk, consider exchanging the lowest amount you need until you can get to, or research, a more affordable option.
Train stations — while traveling via train offers a less-expensive option compared to flying, you will likely find the opposite exists when buying Canadian dollars. Because of the high concentration of travelers, and the ease of finding a kiosk, expect to find higher fees or commissions.
Tourist attractions — the same logic exists here too. At popular sites, expect to pay more. However, a loophole exists. There are cases where you may use the currency you came with like the US dollar.
If you cannot get to a bank and want to avoid increased fees, consider:
Using credit cards — check with your bank or other financial institution about using your credit card for most purchases, especially if your card offers travel perks.
Withdrawing money from an ATM — some ATMs may offer no free-withdrawals to US visitors, which should cut down on other fees and commissions.
Hotels — resorts and hotels cater to out-of-town guests. Many offer rates similar to the post office or American Express. The hotel concierge can let you know if the hotel rate competitively matches other places.
Online Currency Exchanges Provide Alternative to Traditional Options
Those looking for more competitive rates — or prefer to conduct transactions through mobile means — may find online currency exchanges like KnightsbridgeFX more convenient and less expensive. Online exchanges often have the ability to provide lower rates and fees.
Make sure your chosen agency has relationships with major Canadian banks like KnightsbridgeFX before conducting any transaction.
If you decide to use KnightsbridgeFX, an agency that offers a guarantee to beat bank rates, follow the below steps to buy your needed currency:
Call or fill out the online form to receive a free, no-obligation quote. Once you agree on a rate, the company emails a receipt. This also provides a way for you to easily retain all your exchange rate receipts. Choose how to have the funds sent — either by bank transfer or online bill pay. In many cases, you receive the money the same day.
Tips to Get the Best Rate
No matter where you decide to exchange USD to CAD, remember to:
Research options when possible to find who offers the lowest fees.
Read the fine print to ensure you understand all charges. Some agencies charge per transaction while other institutions charge a percentage.
Understand the buy rate — the net rate after a commission. If you do not see the rate posted or have questions, always ask for the buy rate.
Read the posted rate and ensure it matches what you hear when applicable. When looking at the rate, make sure you see the words “buy rate.” Some places post the sell rate instead.
Use online currency exchange calculators to find the current exchange rate before buying CAD. This provides a baseline, so you get the best possible rate based on your needs and location.
Many options exist for purchasing CAD. Follow best practices like knowing the current exchange rate and when and where to find the best one. Avoid places that use ambiguous language and fail to disclose the buy rate.