Whether you’re after a family-friendly holiday or a romantic weekend getaway, Montreal is a great place for both. And not just in summer. While winters can get frosty, the 20-mile long RÉSO, or the Underground City, means you can move around the city, shop, eat or even catch a movie without ever having to go outside.
This seems like an attractive place to visit, right?
But for whatever reason you choose to visit Montreal one thing is for sure: you’re going to need some Canadian currency. Read on to find out how to get the best deal on your currency exchange.
Before you buy Canadian Dollars for your trip to Montreal, first take a moment to learn more about the process. Here are a few tips to consider when deciding how to exchange your currency.
The Canadian Dollar is a floating currency, and its value may go up or down depending on current demand, the state of the Canadian economy and other factors.
Monitor the exchange rate and convert your money when it’s relatively low in comparison to your home currency. You can sign up for exchange rate alerts to keep updated on the rate and receive real time notifications according to its changes. You can use this knowledge to get a better deal on your exchange.
Different companies often offer different exchange rates. However, the only real exchange rate is the mid-market rate which is the midpoint between the buy and sell rates from global markets. This is the fairest possible rate you can find.
It’s not advisable to exchange money at either airports or hotels if at all possible. But if you find yourself in a situation where this is absolutely necessary then you do have this option in Montreal. Montreal’s international airport has a total of six foreign exchange kiosks run by the International Currency Exchange, all of which operate according to flight schedules. Some hotels around Montreal also offer foreign currency exchange services.
But while this is convenient, it comes at a cost. People who exchange money at airports and hotels are captive customers. Foreign exchange companies know this, so they often set unfavourable exchange rates to increase their profit.
You’ll usually get a better exchange rate by withdrawing cash directly from an ATM. When you use an ATM, you should always choose to be charged in the local currency. So in Montreal, choose to be charged in Canadian dollars. Some ATMs will offer to perform the transaction in your home currency, but avoid this. You’ll be paying more in fees with this option.
Scotiabank is part of the Global ATM Alliance which is a partnership between banks from different countries that allow fee-free withdrawals from each other’s ATMs. Even if your bank isn’t part of the network, it’s still worth checking whether they have an arrangement with a Canadian bank. You may also have access to reduced fees if using a partner’s ATM.
If at all possible, try budgeting so that you won’t have leftover cash at the end of your trip. Otherwise, you may risk losing out on the exchange rate twice: when you buy Canadian Dollars and again when you sell them for your home currency. A few other options you can consider would be to save the currency for a return trip or sell it to a friend at the same rate you used.
There are several foreign exchange kiosks around Montreal. Options include the Sharif Exchange, VincoForex, Super Echange and Globex 2000. The details of these services are listed in the table below.
Whichever one you choose though, always bear in mind that there is no such thing as a fee-free or commission-free foreign exchange transaction. Always compare the rate you’re offered with the mid-market rate before you go ahead with the exchange.
|Currency Bureau||Address||Contact Information|
|Sharif Exchange||261 Boulevard de la Côte-Vertu, Saint Laurent, Montréal, H4N 1C8||1-514-223-6408|
|VincoForex||2178 Rue Ste-Catherine O, Montréal, H3H 1M7||1-514-663-7793|
|Super Echange||2087 Rue Guy, Montreal, H3H 2L9||1-514-932-2223; 1-514-394-0804|
|Globex 2000||1336 ave. Greene, Westmount, H3Z 2B1||1-877-933-2555|
While it’s possible to get a good deal on foreign exchange in Montreal, you’ll need to do your research. Start by finding out the mid-market rate and avoid places such as the airport, where the rate is often very unfavourable and the fees are high. Withdrawing cash directly from a trusted ATM operator often means you’ll get a fairer exchange rate. Just be sure to choose to be charged in CAD.
Alternatively, if you or a friend have a Canadian bank account, just use TransferWise to transfer your money at the fairest possible 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..