If you are travelling to another country, you will need money in the local or national currency. You can wait until you get there, but it is not often much more difficult and less convenient to exchange Canadian dollars in another location. Most experts suggest that you exchange your money before you leave Canada in order to get a good exchange rate and to ensure that the money transfer is handled in a confidential and secure manner.
1. Local exchanges in another country
You can wait to exchange your money in your destination location as long as you have the necessary information in advance of your departure from Canada. But in most situations, it is much better you get your local cash before you leave home. There are some exceptions to this guideline. One is for the countries and locations that do not sell their currency outside their borders, or they do not have the resources to guarantee their currency in the international marketplace. Places with currency restrictions like Zimbabwe may be on this list. Others, like Cuba do not sell their tourist currency called a convertible peso outside of their borders. You have to buy it when you land in Cuba at their special money exchanges or by special arrangement with your hotel.
All Canadian banks offer some form of currency exchange so that you can get the type of money you need. But their rates are not always the best that are available on the market. They don’t give you the rate that you often see quoted in the newspaper for example. That’s because that published rate is called a mid-market rate. It is used by the banks to trade currencies between each other, sometimes in the millions of dollars. When an ordinary person goes to the bank to get American money for their visit to the States, the customer get charged between 2½ to 3 percent higher because all the banks tack on a fee. The banks have a fancy explanation for this extra charge, but really it just another way for them to make money.
3. Canadian money exchanges
Exchanging our Canadian money into foreign currencies is easier, faster, cheaper and more secure than any other choice, in Canada or abroad. There are currency exchanges conveniently located within shopping malls and downtown business areas. They are safe and secure and you can check all of the currencies they offer even before you step into the store or up to the wicket. They post the rates that they will buy and sell all the different types of foreign currency and you can comparison shop with the rates that the banks are offering. In almost all cases, the Canadian money exchange will be the best option, especially for the casual traveller or tourist who just wants not to be gouged when they exchange their hard-earned Canadian money for their vacation expenses.
4. Other options
One great option is you can afford it, is to buy your foreign currency in bulk. That’s not really possible for many people, but it is one way to get a better deal from the banks. Like everything else, they offer their bigger customers a better deal, like a lower rate to exchange their money into a foreign currency. The other thing you can do if you travel there enough on business or pleasure, is to open a United States dollar account with your Canadian bank. All the Canadian banks offer the opportunity to open American dollar credit cards and chequing accounts. Simply transfer the money you need from your Canadian money into your U.S. account, and then either take out the American money you need it, when you need it, or write checks in American dollars to meet your requirements.