Canada’s largest city is also its most diverse. With over 140 languages spoken throughout the city, Toronto has become a cultural melting pot with something for everyone.
Whether you're moving to Toronto for work or study, retiring there or simply passing through on a short trip, you're going to need Canadian dollars. Finding a currency exchange service in a new city can be difficult. Unless you exercise caution, you'll find yourself being ripped off by poor exchange rates and hidden fees.
To make your life a little easier, this guide has done the hard work for you. Use it to avoid the rip-offs and find the best deals in town.
Currency exchange can be costly if you don’t do your homework. Here’s some things to keep in mind as you go on your quest for the best deal.
- Do some research on the mid-market rate of your home currency. Know what it’s worth in comparison to the Canadian dollar.
- Before you settle on an exchange service, compare their exchange rate with the real rate online using an online currency converter. Make sure you’re actually getting a good deal.
- As a rule of thumb, avoid exchanging money around airports and hotels if you can. Services are notorious for their tourist traps.
- Use an ATM, but check first with your home bank if they have any partnerships with banks in Toronto. Use the partner bank’s ATMs for reduced/waived fees.
- When using an ATM, don’t let it do any conversion on your behalf. Choose to be charged in the local currency (CAD).
The mid-market rate is something that all banks are familiar with - it’s the exchange rate they use to trade money on the global financial market. Incidentally, it’s also the only real rate, and the same one you’ll find on Google.
To make sure you’re not getting scammed by services that advertise ‘Zero Commission’, use an online currency converter on your smartphone to check the fairness of a rate you're being offered. Just enter your home currency on the left and CAD (Canadian dollars) on the right, and calculate the current exchange rate. You can then use that as a benchmark to see how good that deal really is.
It’s generally best to avoid exchanging money at airports and hotels if you can. Due to reduced competition and frazzled travellers, they normally charge higher fees (hidden or declared). If you need to change cash when you arrive, only change what you need and then wait until you get to a more central location before change the rest. Similarly, plan ahead and try to spend all your Canadian dollars before you leave, this will ensure you avoid being hit twice for conversion costs.
One of the best ways to exchange your money conveniently is to use a Canadian ATM. Speak to your local bank in your home country and find out if they have an arrangement with any local banks in Toronto. If this is the case, you may find that you can withdraw cash in the local currency with no extra withdrawal fees.
If you do choose to use an ATM, then you might be asked if you want to be charged in Canadian Dollars or in your home currency. Choosing this option means the bank will assign you an exchange rate, which is generally unfavourable. Choose to be charged in the local currency, you’ll get a much better rate this way.
When it comes to exchanging money, you’re going to have plenty of options in Toronto - with a wide variety of the good and the bad.
An important number to remember is the mid-market rate. Though it fluctuates constantly, be sure to check it before you check out your exchange service options. Use it as a benchmark for fair exchange rates.
Toronto Pearson Airport is home to several locations for Travelex. There’s no other currency conversion competition in the airport, so these services might not give you the best deal.
Similarly, the Eaton Centre, which is a huge draw for people coming to Toronto, has convenient exchange services. Despite their upscale location and extended opening hours, reviews online warn potential shoppers to beware the poor rates for currency exchange.
Compare their prices to these options below, which you’ll find in town.
Location: 2502 Yonge Street, Toronto M4P 2H7
Phone: (416) 440-1472
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday 10:00a - 5:00p.
Known for having the best rate available for cash conversion USD/CAD.
Location: 121 Runnymede Rd, Toronto M6S 2Y4
Phone: (416) 767-7782
Hours: Monday-Friday: 10:00a - 6:00p, Saturdays: 10:00a - 3:00p, closed on Sundays.
Exchange service based in western Toronto
Location: With branches and ATMs located around almost every corner, check TD Canada Trust’s Toronto Branch locatorr to find the one nearest to you.
Phone: Call theirl help line at 1-866-222-3456 or text them at TDHELP (834357).
Hours: Check online for opening hours for each branch location.
Offering 52 branches and ATMs located all over Toronto.
Alternatively, for fair and transparent pricing and real mid-market rates - use TransferWise. If you have a bank account in Canada, or know someone who does, you can convert your money using the real mid-market exchange rate and have it waiting for you when you arrive. Spend more money in Toronto and less money on fees.