Best places to exchange currency in Winnipeg

10.04.17
4 minute read
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While Winnipeg isn’t as well known as Montreal or Toronto, it’s still an attractive place to visit.

Whether you’re after breath-taking nature trails, cultural events or even family fun, you’re sure to find something that will fit what you’re looking for in Winnipeg.

Of course, if you’re visiting from a foreign country, your first step is to buy some Canadian Dollars for your trip.

Read this guide to learn how to exchange currency in Winnipeg while getting the best deal.

What you need to know before exchanging currency

Before you choose a place to convert your money, it’s worth taking the time to understand how exchange rates work. Here are some key factors to consider before buying Canadian Dollars.

About the Canadian Dollar

The Canadian Dollar is popular because of the country’s strong and successful economy. That said, because the Canadian Dollar has a floating exchange rate, it’s value will still fluctuate from day to day depending on the current state of the markets.

To help stay updated on the changing exchange rate, you can sign up for exchange rate alerts. This’ll help you to keep track of the rate and receive real time notifications when it hits your desired level. You can then use this knowledge to convert your money at the best possible time.

Always check the mid-market rate

Even though the Canadian Dollar’s exchange rate fluctuates, it’s still possible to know if you’re getting a fair deal. The mid-market rate is the midpoint between demand and supply for a currency, and is the fairest exchange rate possible.

The mid-market rate can be a useful tool for you to compare if the rate you are being given is a fair or not. You can check the live mid-market rate by using an online currency converter. Be sure to also add to the calculation any upfront commission charged.

Avoid airport and hotel currency exchanges

It’s rarely a good idea to exchange your currency at an airport or a hotel, but if this is your only option then there are places in Winnipeg where you can do this.

If your plan is to buy currency at the airport, Winnipeg’s Richardson International has foreign exchange kiosks run by ICE (International Currency Exchange) in both the arrivals and departures halls. Opening hours are set according to the airport’s flight schedule. You can order your currency online ahead of time or simply head to a kiosk once you land in Winnipeg. Many hotels around the city also offer foreign currency exchange services.

Exchanging currency at the airport or hotel can be easy and convenient but remember that you’re unlikely to get the best deal possible at these places. The exchange rate will often be less favourable here due to the lack of competition.

ATM withdrawals

An ATM withdrawal can be the cheapest and most effective way to buy Canadian Dollars.

Scotiabank, a member of the Global ATM Alliance, has various ATMs located around Winnipeg. If your home bank is also a member of the alliance, you can make withdrawals from Scotiabank’s ATMs free of charge.

If you aren’t, though, it’s still a good idea to ask your home bank what their charges are for making withdrawals from ATMs abroad. They might have an arrangement with a Canadian bank that would allow you to make withdrawals for free or at a reduced fee.

Some ATMs will ask you if you’d like to be charged in your home currency. This might sound convenient, but it’s nearly always an exchange rate ripoff. It’s essentially permitting the ATM’s bank to apply its own (usually less favourable) exchange rate. So, during your time in Canada, always complete ATM transactions in Canadian Dollars.

Use up all your money before you leave

If you’re thinking of selling any leftover Canadian Dollars before you leave for home, please reconsider.

Foreign exchange companies often sell at one rate and buy at another; and the rate at which they buy back currency often tends to be not in your favour. You’re usually better off spending all your Canadian Dollars while there or saving it up for your next trip.  

Where to exchange money in Winnipeg

If you’re caught out in Winnipeg without any Canadian Dollars, there are several foreign exchange bureaus around the city where you can buy as much currency as you need. Popular companies include Olympia Trust Foreign Exchange, Custom House and FIRMA Foreign Exchange.

No matter how attractive the deal you’re offered might sound, always compare it to the mid-market rate to make sure it’s actually fair. Many companies claim they do not charge fees, when in fact they build a profit into the exchange rate you’re offered.

Currency Bureau Address Contact Information
Olympia Trust Foreign Exchange 201 Portage Avenue, Suite 1800, Winnipeg +1 866-752-7135
Travelex Winnipeg International Airport, 2000 Wellington Ave, Winnipeg +1 888-666-5977
Currency Mart 240 Graham Ave., 2nd Floor, Suite, 290, Winnipeg +1 204-800-8122

The bottom line

If you want the best deal on Canadian Dollars, using an ATM is probably your best bet. Stay away from airport and hotel foreign currency kiosks, and always compare any foreign exchange bureau deals with the mid-market rate to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

Or, better yet if you or a friend have access to a Canadian bank account, just use TransferWise to transfer your money with the transparent mid-market exchange rate. Not only does TransferWise use the real mid-market exchange rate to convert your money (which almost always beat the banks), your money will also be sent and received using local banks, thus bypassing those nasty international banking fees..

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

Find out more