Personal Finance

How to get best rate for USD to CAD?

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  • Aug 24th, 2021 9:34 am
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[OP]
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Sep 17, 2016
331 posts
151 upvotes

How to get best rate for USD to CAD?

Looking for recommendations on how to get the best rates converting USD stored in a bank account into CAD? Is the rate given by the bank usually a competitive one? What are the alternatives?
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Deal Addict
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Sep 14, 2012
2373 posts
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Montreal, QC
TitusBobby wrote: Looking for recommendations on how to get the best rates converting USD stored in a bank account into CAD? Is the rate given by the bank usually a competitive one? What are the alternatives?
Bank rates fluctuate but I would say that all of them are NOT competitive. Out of the financial institutions that I deal with (Tangerine, TD Canada Trust, and RBC), Tangerine's rate is better than TD Canada Trust and RBC but I wouldn't say that it is great. Also, don't fall for TD Canada Trust's line that people with a US Borderless Account account package get a better rate... yes, the rate is better than if you don't have this account package but it is like if you wanted to purchase a $0.50 postage stamp from me and I charge you $0.75 and tell you that if you follow me on social media, you get a better rate and you decide to follow me and instead of charging you $0.75, I charge you $0.70 for the $0.50 postage stamp.

How much money are you talking about converting? If you are converting I believe $2k or more, I would recommend opening an account with KnightsbridgeFX.

I would say your best bet is to find a friend or family member who goes to the US regularly or used to go to the US regular and/or spends US funds regularly and wants to buy your US money. I've done this (been on the buying end, not the selling end) with co-workers. For me, I tell them I will pay the rate quoted on the internet (since I'm not desperate to buy their money) so they get a better rate then selling it to the bank and I get a better rate than buying it at the bank.
Member
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Jan 7, 2019
368 posts
373 upvotes
Short answer: It depends.

Long Answer: how much are you looking to convert? Is it an on-going request (work for US Firm, paid in US?) or a one off transaction? Do you have any existing relationships at a bank? Are you heavily invested with that bank (mortgage, investments, CC, etc)?

For myself: Since everything is with RBC, I just email my financial planner and she takes care of the conversion for me at a much better rate than normal retail clients. It's closer to the google USD/CAD rate.
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Deal Fanatic
Jan 21, 2018
7587 posts
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Vancouver
All the Canadian banks have terrible exchange rates, usually about a 1.5% penalty, although you can get a better rate from them if you make a special request for a large amount ($50K+).

There are many foreign exchange services that will do the exchange for about 0.5%, taking it from one bank account and depositing it to another.

Or there's Norbert's Gambit, which costs 0% (+ a small transaction fee usually) if done right, but you need a brokerage account, it's a bit more complex to execute, and there's a small timing risk that it might go awry and cost extra.

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