Ottawa is not only the capital of Canada, but a bustling cosmopolitan city that attracts visitors from around the world.
While you’re there, check out the National Gallery, or swing past the neo-Gothic parliament building. Who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of Canada’s tattoo-sporting president, Justin Trudeau.
Whatever your reason for going to Ottawa - as a tourist, for work, or for school - you’re going to need some cash. Finding the best place to change your money in a new city can be tough, but we’ve done the hard work, so you don’t have to.
Follow this guide to avoiding the rip-offs and finding the best places to exchange your cash in Ottawa.
Rates for currency exchange move around constantly. You can’t control or even predict the fluctuations, but being aware of the real mid-market rate (the exchange rate that banks and big traders use when they move money around on the global financial market) can help you get the best rate available.
Here are a few great tips when exchanging your home currency for Canadian Dollars while you’re in Ottawa:
- Compare the rate you’re being offered with the real rate online. Use an online currency converter, which gives the live mid-market rate, to help decide if the rate offered to you is actually a good deal or not. Knowing the true value of your money can help you avoid being ripped off.
- Avoid exchanging your money around airports and hotels. Although the services will be convenient, they’ll be priced accordingly. Expect poor exchange rates, commission charges and extra fees (whether or not they’re declared upfront). A better option is to change a small amount to get by once you arrive, and then convert the rest once you’ve made it into the city, where competition drives a fairer deal for consumers.
- ATMs are better options - check if your home bank has a partner in Ottawa. Often, an ATM is the most convenient and cost-effective way to access your cash while travelling. If you’re thinking of doing this, check before you leave whether your home bank has any partnerships with banks operating in Ottawa. If they do, you might find that some fees are waived when withdrawing from certain ATMs. Let your bank know you’ll be using your card overseas, to avoid having your card suspended.
- Avoid letting a foreign ATM do any conversion on your behalf. When you’re using an ATM abroad, you might be asked if you’d like to be charged in your home currency for the transaction. Although this can appear, onscreen, to be the better option, it rarely is. You’re likely to get a fairer deal by choosing to be charged in the local currency. Otherwise you’re allowing the ATM’s bank to apply a poorer exchange rate than what you’d receive by being charged in CAD by your bank back home.
Once you’ve changed your cash, get on and spend it and avoid changing more than you need. Otherwise you’ll be stung twice for conversion charges as you exchange to CAD and then back again at the end of the trip.
If you already have cash in hand from home and need to exchange it, then you’ll need an actual currency exchange service. All of the services listed here will charge fees - whether they're advertised upfront or disguised in the rates on offer. Know the mid-market rate so you can compare this to the deals at different outlets.
Accu-Rate offers two locations in Ottawa
|Ottawa West - 2573 Carling Avenue (Head office)||(613) 596-5505|
|Downtown Office - World Exchange Plaza First Floor, 111 Albert Street||(613) 238-8454|
Both offices open Mon-Fri 9:15a - 5:15p, closed on the weekends
|322, 50 Rideau Street, Ottawa K1N 9J7||(613) 569-4075|
Mon-Fri 8:30a-9:00p, Sat 9:30a-7:00p, Sun 11:00a-6:00p
Two locations inside of Ottawa
|Ottawa West - 2255 Carling Ave, Unit 104||(613) 422-1472|
|Sparks Shopping Centre - 240 Sparks Shopping Centre, C1 - Atrium - Food Court Level||(613) 232-1472|
- Ottawa West - Mon-Sat 9:30a-5:30p, closed Sundays
- Sparks Shopping Centre - Mon-Fri 9:30a-4:30p, closed weekends
Alternatively - for an even better deal - use TransferWise. If you have a bank account in Ottawa, or know someone who does, you can transfer money between accounts using the real mid-market exchange rate. You’ll save on time and fees, having more to spend on yourself whilst travelling.