I have a USD account with Bank A in Canada.

I have a CAD account with Bank B in Canada.

I would like to transfer USD money from Bank A to Bank B as CAD.

What are the options available to do this so as to get best rates?

Am I just limited to the service that bank offers?

  • You can always take the funds out, convert them elsewhere, and then deposit. Whether you can get a better deal than the bank offers is an open question subject to continuous change, and so really isn't a good Stack Exchange question. The Canadians I know seem to just save their USD separately to spend in the US
    – keshlam
    Oct 21, 2016 at 19:44
  • See if money.stackexchange.com/a/46618/24920 could give you an idea
    – base64
    Oct 21, 2016 at 19:59

2 Answers 2


You can use Norbet's Gambit to convert between USD and CAD either direction. I have never personally done this, but I am planning to convert some CAD to USD soon, so I can invest in USD index funds without paying the typical 2% conversion fee.

You must be okay with waiting a few days for the trades to settle, and okay with the fact that the exchange rate will almost certainly change before you sell the shares in the opposite currency.

The spread on DLR.TO is about 0.01% - 0.02%, and you also have brokerage commissions and fees. If you use a discount broker the commissions and fees can be quite low. EG. To transfer $5000 USD to CAD using Questrade, you would deposit the USD into a Questrade account and then purchase ~500 units of DLR.U.TO , since it is an ETF there is no commission on the purchase. Then you request that they journal the shares over to DLR.TO and you sell them in CAD (will have about a $5 fee in CAD, and lose about $1 on the spread) and withdraw. The whole thing will have cost you $6 CAD, in lieu of ~$100 you would pay if you did a straightforward conversion with a 2% exchange fee. The difference in fees scales up as the amount you transfer increases.

Someone has posted the chat log from when they requested their shares be journaled from DLR.TO to DLR.U.TO here. It looks like it was quite straightforward.

Of course there is a time-cost, and the nuisance of signing up for an maintaining an account with a broker if you don't have one already. You can do it on non discount-brokers, but it will only be worth it to do it with a larger amount of money, since the commissions are larger.

Note: If you have enough room to hold the CAD amount in your TFSA and will still have that much room at the end of the calendar year, I recommend doing the exchange in a TFSA account. The taxes are minimal unless the exchange rate changes drastically while your trades are settling (from capital gains or losses while waiting a few days for the trades to settle), but they are annoying to calculate, if you do it often. Warning if you do it in a TFSA be sure not to over contribute. Every time you deposit counts as a contribution and your withdrawals don't count against the limit until the next calendar year.

  • Interesting. I'd not heard of this before. Luckily I bought lots of USD when CAD was over par.
    – not-nick
    Oct 23, 2016 at 0:01

Transferwise gives an excellent exchange rate and very minimal costs.

They save on costs by not actually changing any money; your money goes to someone else in the US, and the Canadia dollars you want come from someone else in Canada. No money changes currency or crosses borders, there is no bank transfer fee (assuming that domestic bank transfers, inside the country, are free), and they give an excellent exchange rate (very nearly the spot rate, I find; far better than many rates I find online for sending money across the border).

I sent money from the UK to Japan with it last week, at a fixed fee of about three US dollars (I was charged in GBP, obviously). About one tenth the cost of an international bank transfer.

I just double-checked; at about midday on the fifth of October 2016, they gave me a rate of 130.15 JPY per 1 GBP, and then charged me two GBP to transfer the money. The rate that day, according to xe.com, varied between 130.7 and 132 ; basically, I don't think I could have got a better deal pretty much anywhere. As I type, this very second, they offer 1.33 CAD for 1 USD , and google tells me that this very second, the exchange rate is 1.33 CAD for 1 USD - transferwise is giving the spot price.

I don't think you'll get a better rate anywhere else.

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