International wire transfers from Canada can be an expensive ordeal, and Canadians who have done their research will know that Canadian banks aren’t very competitive – in general, and specifically when it comes to foreign exchange. The big five banks in Canada are the biggest culprits, offering international money transfers which are both cumbersome (can be difficult or impossible to do if you aren’t physically present in Canada right now), levy high fees through using sub-optimal exchange rates, and ultimately leave you in the dark as for how much you actually paid.
For these reasons, and more, many Canadians are seeking the best international money transfer services in Canada, aware that it may be best to side-step their bank and opt for a specialist money transfer company.
Non-Bank Popularity On the Rise
In the UK, the USA, and Australia such international money transfer services are enjoying high popularity and high satisfaction from customers. As many as 50% or more of all Brits who do global money transfers do it through a specialist service and not their bank. There is absolutely no reason why Canadians should not opt for such an easy, comfortable and money-saving service, being money savvy. Expected savings of using a money transfer company over bank can be as high as 90% of the costs and is likely to save at least 50%; for Canadians performing large international money transfers, this can mean saving hundreds or thousands on a single transaction.
Canada’s Best International Money Transfer Services
- 96% Positive Feedback from Customers, Since 1996
- Service Oriented - Specialising in Large Transfers - Friendly Dealers
- Very Competitive Rates, No Wire Fees
- Global Leader in International Money Transfers - £10bn in Annual Turnover
- 20+ Global Offices
- Very Friendly Online Platform
- Multi-Lingual Website and Staff
- Fully-Functional App
- Forward Contracts Available
- Will Handle Transfer of Any Size
- Fund Transfers via Domestic Bank Transfer or Debit Card
- Accepts Clients Globally (USA - depending on state)
- OFX is 100% Safe - Large Well Known, Publicly Traded, Corporation with Offices Worldwide
- Best Overall Online Platform - Comfortable, Reliable, No Transfer Fees, Excellent Exchange Rates (ALWAYS beating Canadian banks significantly), Functional App
- Deals with 100+ Currencies and Able to Onboard Customers of All Sizes from Most Countries
- Large Transfers Are Eligible for Dedicated Account Dealer Support
- Operating Since 1970 - First Commercial FX Firm
- Corporate FX Specialists
- Very Friendly North American Support and Guidance, Large Transfer Specialist Brokerage
- Many Consumer and Business Awards
- Newly Revamped Website and Online Platform
For corporate clients (not accepting private customers)
- Very Tight Spreads
- Great Multi-Currency Account with Many Tech Integrations
- Specialist in Assisting Online Sellers and Approved by Amazon as a Payment Partner
- Authorized by 6 Global Regulators
Why not use Canadian banks to transfer money internationally?
Canadian banks remain the most popular way to send money internationally from Canada. By opting for one of Canada’s largest financial institutions, it’s definitely a safe and secure route to go down and providing you input the correct bank details, money should reach its destination safely. You have the option to initiate transfers in-branch, over the phone or through online banking and, depending on where the bank transfer is being sent, funds can take 2-5 business days to reach the recipient’s bank account. So whilst it may be safe, it can certainly be a slow process. What’s more, there are even bigger issues than simply speed.
The two biggest issues we have encountered with transferring money to a bank account abroad from Canada are:
- Sending money from Canada if you don’t have a physical presence in the country can be difficult or even downright impossible. At MoneyTransferComparison, we’ve heard from countless Canadian readers who have emigrated and simply been unable to process an international wire transfer with their chequing account or savings account provider. While Canadian banks allow you to make domestic payments via Interac e-transfer, they will oftentimes not allow customers to make SWIFT transfers abroad when they aren’t in Canada.
- The exchange rates offered by Canadian banks for sending money overseas are not competitive. With an average 2.5% FX markup on the currency exchange, these hidden fees are charged on top of C$2 to C$80 in wire transfer fees (depending on your bank), which makes it borderline not feasible to use your bank account to make international money transfers.
How much can it cost to send money abroad with a Canadian bank?
The direct transfer fees you’ll incur will vary hugely depending on who you bank with but the more important ‘hidden fees’ are high, regardless of who you bank with in Canada.
|Bank||Direct Transfer Fees||Currency Exchange Markup (Buying $10,000 USD)*|
|Bank of Montreal (BMO)||$5||2.65%|
|Bank of Nova Scotia / Scotiabank (BNS)||$1.99||2.88%|
|Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)||$30 < $10,000, $50 $10,001 – $50,000, $80 > $50,000||3.34%|
|Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)||$6 <$1,000, $10>$1,000||2.6%|
|TD Bank Group (Toronto Dominion-Bank)||Up to $25||2.64%|
*Source: Publicly available information which has been collated by KnightsbridgeFX – www.knightsbridgefx.com/cibc-bank-exchange-rates/
The direct payment fees for international wires are by far the best if you bank with Scotiabank (just $1.99) and by far the worst if you bank with CIBC (ranging from $30-$80 depending on the amount sent). The average markup taken by Canadian banks for a $10,000 USD transfer was 2.82% and in all cases a Canadian bank charges a higher markup than specialist online money transfer services or currency brokers in Canada. CIBC again proved the most expensive with a whopping 3.34% foreign exchange markup.
In other words, transfer $10,000 with banks and be hit with as much as $334 in fees.
RBC offered the best markup on international wire transfers from Canada but even they charged 2.6%. So that means
using the best money transfer company will enable you to save a minimum of 60% of the associated costs (and will not charge you for outgoing wires).
For more information on bank fees and to see how Canadian bank transfer fees stack up against the rest of the world, see our complete guide to international money transfer fees. Our guide to transferring money internationally for cheap explains the dos and don’ts of money transfers in order to save money along the way.
To view the current rate offered by your bank, you may need to log into your online banking platform. For more information on the associated fees and FX rates of Canada’s largest banks see:
Canadian Top 5 Bank Criticism (not foreign exchange oriented)
Other than providing poor rates and poor service when it comes to foreign exchange, the big 5 Canadian banks – Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Royal Bank of Canada and TD Bank Group – have been criticized for numerous things. Being a complete oligopoly, Canadian banks allow themselves to have very little regard for customers.
Just look at this article about Canadian banks raising fees during the pandemic in spite of record profits to get a notion of why Canadians are angry at banks. All five banks happen to be included in the largest 100 financial institutions in the world and make vast revenues from large corporate customers, leaving little focus on retail and SME clients. Using a fintech non-bank service normally saves on both hassle and fees – and when it comes to international money transfers, it’s no different.
How much money can you save circumventing bank foreign exchange in Canada?
Let’s look at a typical example to see what kind of savings you could make by opting for a money transfer service in Canada. Let’s assume you found an attractive bungalow near Fort Myers, Florida you wanted to buy. To purchase it, you need to move 10,000 USD for the down payment. The interbank exchange rate at 11:17am EST on 15 Nov was 0.7532. The average spread applied by Canadian banks was 2.82%. At this price, you’d need to come up with 13,659 CAD. However, you could get a much better rate through an online money transfer provider. From our sampling, the worst rate offered by money transfer services operating in Canada was 1.2%.– This means you could buy 10,000 USD for 13,438 CAD. A saving of C$221 just by switching international money transfer companies.
Why transfer money from Canada?
There are a whole host of reasons you may be looking to make a foreign currency transfer from / to Canada. And depending on whether you’re looking to make an international wire transfer from US to Canada for a house purchase or send a small international wire from Canada to the UK for a family member, it can impact the money transfer service that you would need. There’s no one size fits all solution and some money transfer providers are better in certain locations and sometime
5 Most Popular routes for transferring money from Canada:
The majority of Canadians are looking to transfer money from Canada to USA (or send money from USA to Canada). Transferring money from Canada to Europe (CAD to EUR) is also very popular, as well as transferring money from Canada to UK. Additionally there are the popular routes of transferring money from Australia to Canada, and transferring money from HK to Canada (the second biggest destination for Canadian immigration). Lastly, there is a lot of demand for transferring money from UAE to Canada, where many Canadians are employed.
Recent boost, March 2023: The Canadian government has revised its foreign buyer ban to increase flexibility for newcomers and businesses in the real estate market. Changes include fewer restrictions for work permit holders, lifting the ban on vacant land purchases, and allowing non-Canadians to buy properties for development. These revisions aim to encourage foreign investment in Canada’s housing supply.
🔎 Money transfers from Canada to USA:
sending money from Canada to USA has always been the primary destination but has propelled in 2022 and 2023 as Canadians are investing billions in U.S real estate. It was reported that in 2021 alone, Canadians purchased U.S properties to the tune of $5bn making them the biggest foreign investors in USA real estate. The reasoning for this was the Canadian housing market, which was very hot since the beginning of the pandemic and has since cooled down. On the other hand, the U.S real estate market continued to grow throughout 2022, presenting a unique opportunity for Canadian investors. This is of course likely to change as we see house prices fall around the world in 2023. Additionally, when transferring money from Canada to USA and tying an investment to U.S dollars, it makes perfect sense with the strengthening of the US dollar and helps Canadian investors make a little extra on their investment (USDCAD rate grew over the past 12 months approximately 7%).
🔎 Money transfers from Hong Kong to Canada:
Following the US, Hong Kong is the second most popular choice for Canadian expats. In fact, Ottawa previously estimated there were 300,000 Canadian citizens living in Hong Kong. The common history between the two countries means a large number of these are former migrants from the 1980s/1990s and their offspring. The number of Hong Kongers migrating to Canada has also soared, with 2021 seeing the most Hong Kongers being granted Canadian citizenship in the last 24 years. The 3,444 Hong Kongers granted permanent residency in Canada is 15 times higher than the number approved in 2010. For this reason there are many individuals who have a reason for transferring money from Canada to Hong Kong, and likewise, transferring money to Canada from Hong Kong. Whether it’s individuals on a work visa transferring money from Canada to HK for their family or permanent residents in Hong Kong sending money to Canada to manage property or other investments, there are plenty of driving factors behind money transfers from Hong Kong to Canada, and vice versa, being so popular.
🔎 Money transfers from Europe to Canada:
It may come as no surprise to know that France is the most popular destination for Canadian expats, with some 90,000 Canadians reported to reside in the country. French lineage now accounts for an estimated 15 million people in Canada and many of these individuals have the requirement to send money from Canada to Europe or transfer money from Europe to Canada. Business trade is also popular. The EU and Canada have a comprehensive trade agreement which sees tariffs removed on 99% of all goods and sees a heavy influence on the EU’s access to the Canadian services market. It’s even possible to see a breakdown on the level of trade between Canada and different EU countries. It’s estimated that the value of exports from France to Canada is worth €5 billion and 79% of businesses exporting to Canada from France are SMEs. Once sales have been made, it’s likely that these firms will want to transfer money from Canada to France to repatriate their revenues. Likewise it’s estimated that Canada exports €4.5 billion worth of exports and these businesses will be transferring money from Europe to Canada.
🔎 Money transfers from UK to Canada:
Roughly 11.2 million Canadians have heritage from the British isles and there are an estimated 75,000 Canadians residing in the UK. With the UK being home to many of the most popular money transfer services in Canada, there has been a wide selection of options for Canadians to transfer money from UK to Canada for the last 15 years. Pretty much none of these companies had a presence in Canada when they started out, which made it more challenging to find good options to send money from Canada to UK but this is changing (just see our selection of the best money transfer services in Canada). After leaving the EU, the UK signed a trade agreement with Canada which came into force in April 2021. Total total trade in goods and services between the UK and Canada (i.e. exports both ways) was £23.0 billion in the four quarters ending Q2 2022, an increase of 11.1% or £2.3 billion from the four quarters ending Q2 2021. Thus thousands of individuals, and thousands of businesses are transferring money from UK to Canada, or transferring money from Canada to UK.
🔎 Money transfers from UAE to Canada:
Whilst the numbers aren’t quite as high, there is still estimated to be an impressive 40,000 or so Canadians living in the UAE. Of course, many of these are attracted by the 0% income tax laws of the UAE, though Canadian citizens will want to tread carefully and speak to a financial advisor before transferring money from UAE to Canada. Or maintaining properties and investments in Canada and transferring money from Canada to UAE. To benefit from no tax charges back home in Canada, you’ll have to apply for non-residency. Trade between the two nations is also pretty strong with nearly $2 billion of Canadian exports going to UAE and $549 million of imports from UAE to Canada. Many businesses are thus transferring money from UAE to Canada, and vice versa, looking to send money from Canada to UAE.
All of the above routes are fully covered by our recommended best money transfer companies in Canada. You can use any of these international money transfer companies to transfer money to Canada from abroad – USA, UK, France, HK, Australia or UAE – and you can use them to transfer money from Canada internationally to any of these destinations. Foreign exchange providers actually offer approximately 100 currencies on average so the likelihood of you not meeting your foreign exchange requirements through using them is very low (in fact, foreign exchange services have a higher currency selection than banks).
Why is OFX #1 Best International Money Transfer For Canadian Customers?
We believe that the best choice for money transfers to Canada and from Canada is OFX. OFX is a very well known provider with headquarters in Australia but offices across the globe, including Canada. Through their global presence, OFX has banks accounts across the globe so if you need to transfer money from a Canadian bank account when you are not in Canada you can just fund the transfer through an e-transfer, which is a huge advantage considering this is one of the main sticking points for Canadians who use banks to make international bank transfers.
Additionally, OFX is a very credible and safe option, being in business for 20+ years and handling many billions in customer funds every year. The service is ultra friendly and while you can transfer money internationally with ease using their award winning online money transfer system (rated #1 globally for online money transfer services), you can also speak to local Canadian currency dealers in Canadian hours (something which is hardly possible with any other foreign exchange provider).
Lastly, as the best international money transfer service in Canada for 2023, OFX offers incredible rates with no hidden additional fees. While the actual quotes are specific to the currencies you want to exchange and the volume of transfer you make (large international money transfers normally get better rates, as a rule of thumb with all providers)… we can indicate that it would normally cost you less than 1% in margins (against the banks average of 2.5% in Canada and at least twice cheaper than HSBC which is the best bank for international transfers in Canada). Oh, and there are absolutely no international wire fees with transferring with OFX so you can make as many transfers as you’d like.
As an added value you can use OFX to store foreign currency and receive foreign currency payments abroad, through its multi-currency account function.
Where Do You Stand With Deposit Insurance?
The Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) does not insure your deposits with an international money transfer company. With a bank, federally regulated credit union or trust, up to $100,000 is protected by the CDIC. Money transfer services should be regulated by FINTRAC and hold client funds in segregated accounts at a top tier Canadian bank. Opting for a regulated and financially sound international transfer company will mitigate your risk.
Transferring money to Canada internationally?
All international money transfer services featured on this list also support inbound bank transfers to a Canadian bank account. Below you can find a useful list of SWIFT codes in Canada:
Compare foreign exchange services to save
To conclude this guide for international money transfer services in Canada, we encourage you to compare foreign exchange rates yourself and not just take our word on who is the best. The way to do this is to sign up with multiple international money transfer companies in this space and see what each is offering in terms of features, systems and also rates. Remember that if you have a large amount to transfer internationally you can speak to a money transfer company and “negotiate” your rates… with this tip you can save a bundle of money.