Personal Finance

What bank usually has the best US $ exchange rate for cash?

  • Last Updated:
  • Feb 15th, 2013 7:15 pm
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jun 27, 2012
913 posts
99 upvotes
Winnipeg, MB

What bank usually has the best US $ exchange rate for cash?

HSBC used to have a rate a little better than the other banks for buying US cash. Wondering if there's a better way? Currency exchange houses sometimes offer good rates too usually. Any recommendations?
21 replies
Member
Oct 20, 2010
416 posts
76 upvotes
TD's preferred rate (i.e. the rate you're given if you have one of their Borderless Plan USD accounts) probably slightly beats the rates from any other major bank. The TD Waterhouse (brokerage) rate is even better and this is given if you're a brokerage client too. Not sure if other banks do something similar.
Newbie
Dec 20, 2011
29 posts
2 upvotes
MISSISSAUGA
notbill wrote: TD's preferred rate (i.e. the rate you're given if you have one of their Borderless Plan USD accounts) probably slightly beats the rates from any other major bank. The TD Waterhouse (brokerage) rate is even better and this is given if you're a brokerage client too. Not sure if other banks do something similar.
Does the TD Waterhouse rate apply when you use the account (deposit/withdraw) or is that rate quoted any time you want to exchange the money?
Member
Oct 20, 2010
416 posts
76 upvotes
Ivolus wrote: Does the TD Waterhouse rate apply when you use the account (deposit/withdraw) or is that rate quoted any time you want to exchange the money?
I believe it applies to your client profile with TD, so it doesn't have to be a transaction on your Waterhouse account. I've got a USD money order from my Canadian chequing account and they mentioned I was given the Waterhouse rate for the exchange. I'm not sure if it applies in every situation, such as using foreign bank machines, but seems to apply in branch anyway.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jun 27, 2012
913 posts
99 upvotes
Winnipeg, MB
For changing smaller amounts ($100). I included the Questrade one for reference. ING and XE both require several days. TD Waterhouse should be instant - just take out the US cash at an ATM that dispenses US cash. The lowest rate is the best of course.
101.53 Questrade (for $10,000 up)
101.70 ING
101.94 XE.com
101.95 TD Waterhouse
102.46 HSBC
102.87 RBC
102.95 TD
103.25 BMO

NOTE: If you are using a US $ credit card to buy online (BMO is free with 0.5% cash back and no annual fee if you spend over $1000 annually) you can pay for that with your US $ bank account with the same institution. Use XE to send Can $ from a Can $ bank account to your US $ bank account which will pay your credit card bill every month. Moving US $ around electronically in Canada is a pain - usually its impossible.
Member
Feb 4, 2012
310 posts
121 upvotes
Ottawa
...to add to the above, if you use, say, a BMO USD MasterCard, use XE Trade to get the funds to pay your statement in USD. But rather than paying fees on a USD account you can have XE Trade make a draft in USD out to BMO, then just go to a BMO branch and pay the MasterCard bill. I paid mine today.

You just need to get right on ordering the draft from XE within a few days (no more than a week) of receiving your credit card statement, so you have enough time for the draft to make it to you.
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Apr 26, 2010
893 posts
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Richmond Hill
If anyone is interested in getting a BMO USD mastercard PM me, I work at a branch and can get the annual fee waived. Currently $25/yr but will go up to $30 or $35 soon.
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Jun 20, 2006
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redflagguy2u wrote: HSBC used to have a rate a little better than the other banks for buying US cash. Wondering if there's a better way? Currency exchange houses sometimes offer good rates too usually. Any recommendations?
i have done some 1 on 1 exchange in the past, US to Canadian at pair with other RFD locally, worked out great, this way we both saved on comission fees, cash on hand and met at bank
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Nov 11, 2004
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redkid wrote: i have done some 1 on 1 exchange in the past, US to Canadian at pair with other RFD locally, worked out great, this way we both saved on comission fees, cash on hand and met at bank
Great idea... Just seems as if no one trusts anyone these days, not to mention the lazy factor
Hello
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jun 27, 2012
913 posts
99 upvotes
Winnipeg, MB
Geodude19 wrote: ...to add to the above, if you use, say, a BMO USD MasterCard, use XE Trade to get the funds to pay your statement in USD. But rather than paying fees on a USD account you can have XE Trade make a draft in USD out to BMO, then just go to a BMO branch and pay the MasterCard bill. I paid mine today.

You just need to get right on ordering the draft from XE within a few days (no more than a week) of receiving your credit card statement, so you have enough time for the draft to make it to you.
Draft? What a tremendous amount of work using a draft. Don't they charge for drafts? Don't drafts take days to clear?
OK - here's the procedure that's efficient: On XE pull the money from your Canadian account and send it to your US account. That US account pays your credit card because your credit card automatically extracts what money it needs every month from your US account. So on 1 page on XE you convert money, transfer money AND pay for your US credit card.
A little easier than using drafts.

But you could do the same thing with ING I've learned. And it looks like their exchange rates are even better. Another benefit with ING: You can move money between brick and mortar US $ accounts in Canada. I don't think there is any other way of doing this free. All other virtual banks don't offer US $ accounts. Also ING offers FREE email money transfers if you can wait a couple of days. Otherwise they're only a $1.00, not $1.50 like other banks. ING rocks. Too bad their interest rates for deposits suck. Not even close to the best you can get now. But...they offer free cheques. So you can deposit a cheque at another bank machine for instant transfer of funds, unlike online transfers which can hang in limbo for days. ING allows 3 banks to be linked but remember that you can move money by pushing or pulling. So use the ING checks to link banks to it. PC Financial allows up to about 8 accounts to be linked AND they issue free cheques so they are good to use as a financial hub as they have reasonable overdraft fees as well. No US $ accounts at PC of course. Their interest rates seem simillar to ING - not the place to park your main money.
Member
Feb 4, 2012
310 posts
121 upvotes
Ottawa
But why pay for a US account? I don't pay for bank accounts. Period. This way, Canada Post delivers an envelope about two weeks after I order the draft, I zip over the bank and pay it. So I pay zero for the BMO USD MC (my spending is over $1K annually), and I don't pay for a USD bank account. And I don't pay for my bank account at my CDN bank. I like free.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jun 27, 2012
913 posts
99 upvotes
Winnipeg, MB
> But why pay for a US account? I don't pay for bank accounts.

Who pays for a bank account? I don't. No monthly fees ever. Don't need to.

> This way, Canada Post delivers an envelope about two weeks after I order the draft, I zip over the bank and pay it.

I don't "zip over" anywhere. Once I click a couple things on a webpage the money will be transferred, the account deposit made, the credit card paid. One page, a few clicks, everything done. Takes about 30 seconds. Can you go to the bank, wait in line for the teller and pay your bill in 30 seconds? Didn't think so. The process does take 3-4 days - about the same as the mail. It would be wonderful if Paypal could integrate with credit cards but that is a long way off I think. Then you could pay your credit card bill with your Paypal balance that has been accumulating from your Ebay sales.

> So I pay zero for the BMO USD MC (my spending is over $1K annually), and I don't pay for a USD bank account.

BMO has a no fee US $ bank account. I've been using it for years. You also should get 1/2 percent cash back on your credit card. Or didn't you know? I've been getting that for years as well.

> And I don't pay for my bank account at my CDN bank. I like free.

Everybody likes free. I don't pay for any account and have many. Only Scotia forces you to pay monthly fees so I don't have one there.
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Now it would be great to get back on topic and hear if anyone has found a bank with better exchange rates than TD Waterhouse or ING.
Member
Feb 4, 2012
310 posts
121 upvotes
Ottawa
From the BMO site, it looks like it's "free" for any BMO USD accounts if you maintain a $3K monthly balance. So not free, from what I can tell. Or am I missing something? If it's really free I'd set up an account for sure.

And not that it matters, but I ride by the bank every day so it's easy to stop and pay a bill. I don't even have to worry about parking my truck, I take my bike right into the bank. Literally, it takes five minutes, if that matters. For me, it doesn't. I need the break at that point in my ride anyway. YMMV.
Member
Jun 21, 2011
292 posts
25 upvotes
Geodude19 wrote: From the BMO site, it looks like it's "free" for any BMO USD accounts if you maintain a $3K monthly balance. So not free, from what I can tell. Or am I missing something? If it's really free I'd set up an account for sure.

And not that it matters, but I ride by the bank every day so it's easy to stop and pay a bill. I don't even have to worry about parking my truck, I take my bike right into the bank. Literally, it takes five minutes, if that matters. For me, it doesn't. I need the break at that point in my ride anyway. YMMV.

if u maintain 3000, u can open any type of account. And Unlimited transactions.
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Apr 26, 2010
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Richmond Hill
Technically you are allowed to open up to 20 "accounts" but there will be a monthly plan fee. In order to waive the plan fee you have to keep at least the required minimum balance depending on the plan.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jun 27, 2012
913 posts
99 upvotes
Winnipeg, MB
[quote="Geodude19" post_id="15143710" time="1344045717" user_id="519336"]From the BMO site, it looks like it's "free" for any BMO USD accounts if you maintain a $3K monthly balance. So not free, from what I can tell. Or am I missing something? If it's really free I'd set up an account for sure.

Perhaps my account is grandfathered. All you can do is ask them I guess.
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Aug 1, 2008
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You guys gave great advice for people who "move" lot of money form CDN to USD (US$ CC, Xe.com, etc). What about people like me who get to US like once or twice a year? What I usually do is pay with my CDN credit card and get ripped off (including buying on ebay with paypal). They charge the mastercard rate (can't find it but must be even higher than the one of the Big 5) then add 2.5%. Since it's not big amounts, it's no big deal but still.
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Member
Feb 4, 2012
310 posts
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Ottawa
Bomberman07 wrote: You guys gave great advice for people who "move" lot of money form CDN to USD (US$ CC, Xe.com, etc). What about people like me who get to US like once or twice a year? What I usually do is pay with my CDN credit card and get ripped off (including buying on ebay with paypal). They charge the mastercard rate (can't find it but must be even higher than the one of the Big 5) then add 2.5%. Since it's not big amounts, it's no big deal but still.
This is the reason we use a BMO USD MasterCard for all US purchases. But in our case we travel to the US more frequently, perhaps 6-9 time per year, plus we buy a lot of stuff in the US when the price is better. You use the card in the US and there are no extra fees tagged on, unlike what you're seeing with a Canadian dollar MasterCard. There is an annual fee now with the BMO USD card but it's waived if you spend more than X annually, where I think X is $1K. The fee is going up to $35 according to an earlier post. You incur costs when you pay the MasterCard bill and need to get some US currency to pay the bill, and that's where a currency exchange service like XE comes in. With services like XE you tend to get a decent exchange rate vs. your bank, depending on what banking arrangements/package you have. I've also gone to local currency exchange shops but they are hit and miss, in my experience, with their rates.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Jun 27, 2012
913 posts
99 upvotes
Winnipeg, MB
1.017 ING
1.019 XE.com
1.019 TD Borderless
1.025 HSBC
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Today's rates Feb 15th, 2013 showing large fluctuations. Always check right before you exchange your currency.
1.017 ING
1.020 HSBC
1.022 XE.com
1.023 TD Borderless

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