For most Canadians, sending your money overseas can be a somewhat expensive and stressful process, but I know it does not have to be that way.
As you may have recently found out, the big banks in Canada are a rip off when it comes to international money transfers. What you may not know is not only do you get charged huge fees to send your money ($25 – $50) but the receiving bank will also hit you with receiving fee (Another $20-$80).
Unfortunately that is not the worst of it – the exchange rate that Canadian banks offer you is where they really take you to the cleaners. Fortunately there is a way to save a big percentage – potentially many thousands of dollars and certainly I have.
Yet most Canadians still use banks because of the perceived security they offer, but there is a much better way – just as safe, a lot cheaper, faster and with much better service too.
These are a new breed of money transfer companies and I will uncover the best of them for you.
My name is Quinn and I was born in B.C. and raised in Australia – as a result I continually travel the world and after almost 10 years in Canada with my wife now, the sale of our house in Toronto and with a move back to Australia looming I decided to find out who was the best at transferring our families money from Canada.
I am actually pretty familiar with OzForex, the Australian stock market listed parent company who owns CanadianForex. I have been using OzForex for many years, but when it came time to send money back home again, I found out that I needed to register with CanadianForex separately.
Rather than just use a company I was familiar with, I decided to take a deeper look at all the companies that operated in Canada – make sure I was getting the best deal on rates and most importantly that my money stayed safe.
Safety and Security
Because of onerous regulations, there are only a handful of operators with a physical presence in Canada – but I decided to limit the companies I was interested in to these companies. There is a very good reason for this – They need to be registered with FINTRAC which is Canada’s anti-money laundering and financial counterterrorism agency.
Just as we saw Canadian banks do well globally during the financial meltdown, I feel safe knowing my money is being sent using a company that has to jump through lots of Canadian financial regulatory hoops.
For me it is also icing on the cake that they have a physical presence in the US, UK and Australia too!
The other advantage I hoped they had was service – hopefully by being in Canada they would provide good service and decent rates too.
In the rest of my review you will find out how they fared.
How it Worked
As part of registering and complying with Canadian regulations there are a few things you have to do:
- Register Online – this opens to a new window (and will give you two fee free transactions)
- Verify Identity
Registering just takes a few minutes, then you have to confirm your identity which might be done automatically or else by email.
In my case they needed me to send information back, which you can email back to them.
Here is the email they sent:
This is actually much easier than it sounds.
For example I just took a screen shot of my bank account online. The CanadianForex guy told me on the phone simply to reply to the email he sent. He also said that I did not have to include transaction details but just had to include my name, account number, date, bank logo of a recent statement. (I recorded the conversation to be sure this information is correct)
I scanned my drivers licence, but you could possibly just take a photo of it with your smartphone.
All in all this was really easy to do and took me just a few minutes.
I also sent them a “Direct Debit” form which I filled out and sent back with everything else but you may choose not to do this.
There are two ways to get money from your Canadian account to Canadian Forex:
- Direct Debit
- Canadian Wire Transfer
The direct debit option is free and very easy once set up but you are required to fill out a direct debit form to authorize the transactions. The benefit of this is that it is free and very easy – you don’t have to deal with the bank at all. The downside is that you are limited by $25k for the first transaction and $50k after that.
For added security, they also conduct a “penny test” which means they send a small amount and you call back to verify you received that amount.
The wire transfer option means that you can transfer larger amounts but you will pay a fee to your bank (in my case this is $25) but for larger amounts over $50k this may be the only way for you to go and actually the cheapest way to go as well because the exchange rate Canadian Forex offers gets better as the amounts increase.
It took three days from the time Canadian Forex received my money until it landed in my bank account in Australia. I know this because of the handy emails you can opt to receive.
Of course it takes a day or two more than this for your bank to actually get the money to Canadian Forex but still a couple of days faster than I have experienced with bank-to-bank transfers.
Apart from rates and fees, I think this is where money transfer companies crush the banks. CanadianForex for example offers online and phone based transaction services 24/7 – this means that I can call anytime and get help.
Usually someone in Toronto picks up the call but I have spoken to people in San Francisco and Sydney too while using OzForex all while living in Canada.
Online – I am not sure how it could be better. You can choose to lock in the rate when you want in real time. I have saved a lot of money having access to this “live rate” as opposed to a bank which just keeps the same crappy uncompetitive rate all day.
You can also watch what is happening each step of the transaction and set it up to send email alerts if you wish.
For me this is a godsend because as I showed here, I can save a great deal of extra money when I have this level of control and communication.
In fact for this review I actually followed my own advice to the letter and saved a bundle – to be specific I saved $1220 on this $20,000 transaction.
However the easiest, most passive way to save loads of money is simply to use a reputable company like Canadian Forex.
Rates and Fees
This is the best part – I enjoy saving money to some extent but not giving it away to my bank makes me very happy indeed.
The fixed fees charged are usually what people focus on, but over a few thousand dollars it is really the exchange rates that are the most important.
Canadian Forex like many of their competitors have a tiered rate. In other words, as it was emplained to me, “the more you transfer, the better the rate”.
Based on the transaction I did online, the difference in the mid-market rate and the rate I was offered was 0.9% – of course for larger amounts you will see the rate improve.
A bank by comparison charges between 2% and 4% on the difference. If you want to know more about why banks charge an arm and a leg, I wrote a detailed page about this here.
In general terms this means you are saving at least 2% every time you transact – which is on $20,000 is $400.
I am really happy with CanadianForex so far – link opens to a new window and will give you two fee free transactions.
I hoped they would be pretty good based on my experience with OzForex.
I knew I would get a great rate and I did.
I hoped I would get great service and I did.
About the only complaint for CanadianForex has nothing really to do with them and more about the paperwork required – or should I say “email work” to meet Canadian regulations. That said, it is a small price to pay knowing your money is safe and secure.
Speed wise, I use to send all my money using banks and typically it will take 5 to 7 days for banks to transact. Bank to Bank CanadianForex was 2 or 3 days faster, but this may vary depending on the bank you currently use in Canada.
Oh Canada! – That is something to rejoice.
Now I know there will be questions and hopefully some experiences to share as well.
Please leave your comments and questions below!
Thanks for reading.