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How I Convert Canadian Dollars to US Dollars For Cheap Using Canadian Forex (now OFX)

Before buying an online business, I had to answer a question about how I am going to convert Canadian dollars to US dollars and transfer the money abroad.

Since I wanted to convert a lot of money (more than $20,000), I did not want to lose too much because of a currency exchange rate. I was very aware that the rates offered by regular banks are pretty shitty, but I did not know what alternative I could use.

 

On top of that, I needed to send the money to the US as cheaply as possible.

How I Solved My Problems

Turns out that there was one answer to my problems: Canadian Forex.

I stumbled upon it by accident.

I was researching how other Canadians who receive the income from the US deal with the whole thing of exchanging US dollars to Canadian dollars and transferring money to Canada. My assumption was that there were more Canadians who get money from the US rather than send abroad and that I would be able to adapt their solution to my case.

And I was right!

After googling for something like “transfer US dollars to Canada” I found an awesome thread on PersonalFinanceCanada subReddit in which some dude described his approach of receiving payments his US employer. After reading it, I was, like, “Bingo! This is what I need!” His scheme has become a blueprint for my banking solution.

When I said in my post about finding a good US bank that I do not care that BMO Harris does not send money back to Canadian BMO for free, I meant I will be using Canadian Forex.

So, here is the schema I planned to use:

Transferring Money from Canada to USA

Actually, if I only needed to do a non-urgent wire transfer, I would totally use Canadian Forex and I wouldn’t bother with opening an account in a bank that offers this service over the phone or online.

Unfortunately, in my case, I need a fast domestic wire transfer. I briefly mentioned the reasons in my previous post and will write about it in depth later. A wire transfer by Canadian Forex would take the same 3-5 business days as by a Canadian bank. What I want to say that if the transfer speed is not critical for you, you can totally use Canadian Forex as a cheap and convenient wire transfer agent.

What Is Canadian Forex (OFX)?

This is how Canadian Forex describes themselves:

The best online service for international wire transfers and currency exchange management

How I Convert Canadian Dollars to US Dollars For Cheap Using Canadian Forex Banner

It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of OFX (former OzForex,) a strategic investment of Macquarie Bank, Accel Partners, and the Carlyle Group.

Canadian Forex is undergoing a rebranding to OFX that now combines all the local brands (USForex, NZForex, ClearFX, OZForex, UKForex, and CanadianForex) under one name.

If you want to register, you can use my link (which is an affiliated one, btw.)

How Is Canadian Forex Better Than a Bank?

The answer is simple: Their exchange rates are much better.

For example, let’s convert Canadian dollars to US dollars using Canadian Forex and… mmm let’s take TD and the rates they post on their website for Borderless Plan (which is supposed to be better). I did this calculation on September 21, 2015.

Let’s assume we want to buy $10,000USD.

$10,000USD Example

Institution Exchange Rate Transfer Fee To Pay
TD 1.3602 $0 $1,3602CAD
Canadian Forex 1.3417 $0 $1,3417CAD

We are saving here $1,3602 – $1,3417 = $185CAD! Not bad.

You, of course, noticed a column called Transfer Fee. Yeah, here comes one small disadvantage of Canadian Forex. They actually charge a fee if you convert small sums (less than $10,000). Also, the conversion rate depends on the amount you convert. The smaller the amount, the worst is the rate. But does it make the deal less attractive? Let’s see.

$1,000USD And $2,000USD Examples

Institution Exchange Rate Transfer Fee To Pay
TD 1.3602 $0 $1,360CAD
Canadian Forex 1.3488 $15 $1,364CAD

We get  $1,360 – $1,364 = -$4CAD

Buying $1,000USD through Canadian Forex is, in fact, $4CAD more expensive than through TD Borderless plan.

How about $2,000USD?

Institution Exchange Rate Transfer Fee To Pay
TD 1.3602 $0 $2,720CAD
Canadian Forex 1.3466 $15 $2,708CAD

In this case  we will save $2,720 – $2,708 = $12CAD

Verdict

While Canadian Forex is very good when it comes to converting big amounts of currency, it may slack a bit when it comes to smaller amounts. They charge $15CAD for converting sums less than $10,000, and they do not work with the sums that smaller than $1,000CAD.

However, starting at $2,000CAD they offer better rates and the difference between their offering and the offering of some banks with special rates not only covers the fee but also saves you money.

How To Use Canadian Forex (OFX)

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Before diving into the procedure, I just want to mention again that Canadian Forex is undergoing a rebranding to OFX.

The OFX brand used to be split between USForex, NZForex, ClearFX, OZForex, UKForex, and CanadianForex. However, over the course of the last two years, they have combined the local brands to create one global brand – OFX.

Registering an Account

Required Documents

It is easy to register online, just follow this link (which is an affiliated one, btw.)

After you submit the registration,  you have to call them to go through a phone interview. On the phone, they will ask questions like:

  • address confirmation;
  • the reason you need the service;
  • if you use it for business, what kind of business it is;
  • how often you plan to run transactions;
  • when you plan to have the first transaction.

After that they will ask you to send them a couple of confirmation documents:

  • a scan or photo of a certified copy of an I.D. (passport or driver license);
  • a bank statement, which has to include the bank logo, your name, and the date.

It all sounds easy, right? However, this was the step which I had a bit of a difficulty with.

Finding a Guarantor

First of all, I had to find a Guarantor who would certify a copy of my I.D.

Who can be a Guarantor? According to their email, “a Guarantor is a person engaged in one of the following professions: dentist, medical doctor, chiropractor, judge, magistrate, lawyer, notary (in Quebec), notary public, optometrist, pharmacist, professional accountant, professional engineer or veterinarian.”

I decided to go with a notary option.

However, I had troubles finding a non-expensive notary that would be willing to take the work. The only notary I found was charging $50 for the 1st copy! The other ones did not want to bother. Eventually, by mistake, I stumbled upon a lawyer, and surprisingly he did not mind to make a quick buck ($25 cash) to verify my scan. I went to his office at lunch time and was done with it in less than one hour.

Still, Canadian Forex did not like the copy. It turned out it was too dark, and they needed to be able to see the photo clearly. Thankfully they just asked me to submit a new scan of my passport without verifying it again.

Account Opened!

After that Canadian Forex took some time to verify my documents, and in about 1 week my account was opened.

Everything was set up and ready to go!

Converting Canadian Dollars to US Dollars And Sending It to a US Account

So, I needed to convert Canadian dollars to US dollars and send it to my US account.

Ah, forgot to tell you that Canadian Forex does not work on weekends and holidays when the trading market is closed. They open from Monday 7 AM by Sydney time right through to Friday 5 PM by the  New York time. That means they work at night too, 24 hours.

At 10 PM I logged into my account and opened a new deal. Why is 10 PM? To get the best conversion rate.

The best time to buy currencies is 2 PM - 6 AM ET when the trading activity goes down Click To Tweet

I liked the conversion rate, so I proceeded to the next step.

I made myself a beneficiary, typed in my US account credentials and submitted it. Since it was my very first transaction, before proceeding I had to receive a call from a CF’s agent. The call came in less than an hour. The agent asked me about the deal and the beneficiary details, and it all took about 3 minutes. After the call, I received an email notifying that the deal became active and that I needed to send the funds to Canadian Forex.

They offer a few options to send the funds. I chose the online bill payment since my bank (BMO) supports it.

However, I was not able to send all money at once, because BMO has a limit of $3000 a day for online payments.

I had 5 business days to pay to Canadian Forex to keep the deal valid. It can be done in multiple transactions, but the 1st transaction must come in 24 h after the transaction approval.

So I sent $3000 right away through online banking.

To send the rest, I had to go to a local branch in person, which I did the next day. After leaving the bank, I felt a bit dizzy… I had never sent this big amount of money before!

By the end of the next business day, the money was received by Canadian Forex. The next question was: When the funds will be available on my US account? According to Canadian Forex, it was supposed to be available overnight! And indeed the next business day the full amount was available on my US banking account.

The whole process of transferring Canadian dollars to my US account took 3 business days. Pretty neat 🙂

Final Words

I really like Canadian Forex (now OFX) and I hope you will benefit from it, too. I wrote this article a while ago and used to have zero affiliate links in it. Well, the things have changed and it is not true anymore. But I still wholeheartedly recommend this service – and I will keep using it myself in the future.

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Thank you so much for supporting my blog by buying services through my affiliate links.

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  • Updated September 3, 2017
  • Banking
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