I am a Canadian that will be working in US for some time. I will still have Canadian bills to pay, so I would need to regularly transfer US dollars from some US bank to my Canadian bank account in $CAD. What is the least expensive and easy way of doing this?


We've been in this situation for about 10 years now. We don't have to send money back to Canada very often, but when we do, we typically just write a US$ check/cheque and send it to a relative back home to cash for us. We've found that the Canadian banks are much more familiar with US currency than vice versa, and typically have better exchange rates than many of the other options. That said, we haven't done an exhaustive search for the best deal.

If you haven't left Canada yet, you might consider opening up a US funds account at the same bank as your Canadian funds account if the bank will allow you to transfer money between the accounts. I haven't priced out that option, so I don't know what the exchange rate would look like there.

Also, you didn't ask about this, but if you have any RRSP accounts in Canada, make sure they're with a broker that is licensed to accept trades from US-based customers. Otherwise, you won't be able to move your money around to different investments within the RRSP.

Once you're resident in the US, you will no longer be able to open any new accounts in Canada, but you will be able to maintain the ones you already have.

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The easiest and least expensive way of doing this, similar to the answer from Randy Coulman, is to write a check and deposit it into the Canadian Institution. Since this transfer is between accounts you own the easiest thing to do is to do a deposit by mail.

Contact your current institution on where you would need to mail your deposit to. You can then write yourself a check on the US bank and mail it to the Canadian bank; be sure to write "For Deposit Only" along with your account number (and Branch Number for Canada) on the back. This is the slowest, but cheapest method.

An alternative option is to use Wire Transfers, but they can be very costly (you'll usually incur a fee when sending and when receiving). I only recommend them when you need the money in the account fast (they are usually settled within an hour).

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  1. I posted this on another question, but Royal bank has a no-fee-per-transfer service, You set up an account with their american counterpart and can then transfer back and forth as much as you want. There is a small fee if you keep very little money in the account. http://www.rbcroyalbank.com/usbanking/cross-border-transfer.html
  2. RBC's rates are consistently better than another option: xe.com. Even with the monthly fee RBC's rates are sufficiently better than xe.com that the RBC is cheaper overall (depending on how much you transfer).
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