Travel

Help! Where to exchange CAD in Toronto for ISK, Euro, GBP

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 7th, 2018 11:20 am
Deal Addict
Feb 4, 2010
1064 posts
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In all m travels over the years, I have never gotten local currency beforehand. I have always waited until I arrive and take out money from the ATM at the airport...never had a problem. I always have US cash though for emergencies. For my upcoming trip to Iceland I will not even bother doing that - plan to use credit card. I recently got a card with no foreign transaction fees so I would save some of the bank fees.
Deal Fanatic
Feb 15, 2006
7521 posts
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Toronto
hierophant wrote:
Dec 4th, 2018 7:51 pm
In all m travels over the years, I have never gotten local currency beforehand. I have always waited until I arrive and take out money from the ATM at the airport...never had a problem. I always have US cash though for emergencies. For my upcoming trip to Iceland I will not even bother doing that - plan to use credit card. I recently got a card with no foreign transaction fees so I would save some of the bank fees.
You have not traveled enough. Don't count on every place to have ATMs working 24/7 for your CCs, sometimes some ATMs break, some don't accept your CCs, or don't have English displays for you to know what to press, or have enough local currencies to dispense. Not all airports have currency exchange places open 24/7, waiting for your arrival.

A couple of years ago when we arrived IST, we wanted get some more euros at the airport ATM. There was network problems and none of the ATMs world work with our Canadian CCs. Fortunately we did already have both Euros and Turkish Liras, and we were able to later get more from ATMs near the Grand Bazzar.

Even in a well developed country like Japan, many tourist attractions or shops don't accept CC's and only cash - Japanese yens.

It's better to be prepared than be sorry.
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Nov 3, 2006
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Mississauga
Don't buy ISK in Canada, even you find an exchange office that carries it. The rates are atrocious here.
Since you'll be carrying EUR, just exchange some of your EUR at a bank once you get to Iceland if needed. Many service industries esp taxis and hotels will also accept Euros anyway, if you're not paying by card.
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Feb 4, 2010
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Smiling Face With Open Mouth
Arrgh wrote:
Dec 4th, 2018 10:00 pm
You have not traveled enough. Don't count on every place to have ATMs working 24/7 for your CCs, sometimes some ATMs break, some don't accept your CCs, or don't have English displays for you to know what to press, or have enough local currencies to dispense. Not all airports have currency exchange places open 24/7, waiting for your arrival.

A couple of years ago when we arrived IST, we wanted get some more euros at the airport ATM. There was network problems and none of the ATMs world work with our Canadian CCs. Fortunately we did already have both Euros and Turkish Liras, and we were able to later get more from ATMs near the Grand Bazzar.

Even in a well developed country like Japan, many tourist attractions or shops don't accept CC's and only cash - Japanese yens.

It's better to be prepared than be sorry.
I've travelled to 60+ countries, many in the developing world ...but thanks for judging and assuming. Almost everyone will take US$ in case there are any problems with ATMs or CC or you can't exchange US$ - I've yet to encounter a problem taking out local currencies upon arrival. As backup I always take extra CC, debit card and US$. I also use common sense and do some research especially if I'm arriving late at night.
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Feb 15, 2006
7521 posts
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Toronto
hierophant wrote:
Dec 5th, 2018 10:42 am
Smiling Face With Open Mouth
I've travelled to 60+ countries, many in the developing world ...but thanks for judging and assuming. Almost everyone will take US$ in case there are any problems with ATMs or CC or you can't exchange US$ - I've yet to encounter a problem taking out local currencies upon arrival. As backup I always take extra CC, debit card and US$. I also use common sense and do some research especially if I'm arriving late at night.
Many places in the world don't take US$. You haven't traveled enough. After you do, you'll learn.
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Feb 4, 2010
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Arrgh wrote:
Dec 5th, 2018 12:52 pm
Many places in the world don't take US$. You haven't traveled enough. After you do, you'll learn.
If it makes you feel more superior to be condescending and think/say that...sure. Smiling Face With Open Mouth
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Aug 18, 2005
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hierophant wrote:
Dec 5th, 2018 1:18 pm
If it makes you feel more superior to be condescending and think/say that...sure. Smiling Face With Open Mouth
Some countries have strict currency controls. For example, China requires by law for all transactions to be in RMB. Most local places, taxis, etc., would have no way of converting USD cash into RMB.

Even if you, as a foreigner, exchange USD cash for RMB at the airport, you cannot covert it back to USD in China unless you have the original receipt from when you bought RMB and the same passport.
Tuition to the School of Life is not tax deductible.
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Mar 23, 2009
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Toronto
FWIW, it seems some of the smaller independent forex shops can offer much better rates than the bigger chains.

People in other threads were recommending Continental for good rates and service. However, I thought I’d check out a shop in the Persian area of North York. I had been there before on the recommendation of others at RFD IIRC. I’m pretty sure the shop - Mesghal - wouldn’t have ISK but they do deal with Euros etc. I only needed US dollars though. Continental wanted CAD$1.371 per US$1 but I got it from Mesghal for 1.34. Continental is already better than the banks yet Mesghal still beat them by a big margin, so even for just a US$1000 exchange for a trip that’s over CAD$30 saved. No extra transactions fees either.

What’s the catch? The catch is you needed to pay in cash, and if you wanted an actual receipt you’d have to wait a few minutes. When they do their transactions it seems all their documentation is in Persian. So to make an English receipt takes little bit of extra work for them. I was happy to wait 5 minutes to save double digit bucks. However, it just so happens I was in the area (Yonge and Steeles) that day. I wouldn't make a trip from downtown to go there unless I was changing a few thousand bucks.

I then spent my money saved on Persian takeout at the grocery next door. Smiling Face With Open Mouth This is one of the dishes I got:

https://www.thepersianfusion.com/persia ... mb-shanks/

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