Exchanging your money

Exchanging your money

By Renee Conte


The currency exchange rate tells you how much your Canadian money is worth in the local currency you require for your trip. You can find the official exchange rate of the currency in the country you will be visiting by using the Bank of Canada’s online currency converter.

It pays to know your options when dealing with foreign exchange rates. There are a number of ways to manage your finances when you are abroad that will save you a lot of money in exchange fees.


Foreign currency exchange at banks

If you want cash on hand before you leave Canada, you can buy foreign currency from your bank over the phone or online. It can be delivered to your local branch for pickup. Exchange rates at banks are slightly better than exchange rates elsewhere. You can also order currency before you leave on your trip from a number of websites that will ship it to your home or the airport for pickup within a couple of days.

Foreign currency exchange desks

If you need cash in an emergency, there are foreign exchange desks at airports and hotels that will exchange Canadian money for the local currency. Fees tend to be very high. Even those advertising no commissions may have hidden fees, making these desks the most expensive places to change money.

Foreign currency black market

The currency black market forms part of the underground economy in a number of countries around the world. This illegal or parallel market in foreign exchange operates outside legal banking channels. In a currency black market, transactions are almost always completed in cash, since its participants don’t want to leave any evidence that can be traced back to them. If you are tempted to take advantage of the currency black market, be aware that you will be participating in an illegal activity and not only can you be arrested, you are subject to the laws of the country you are in.

 mixture-69523Foreign currency scams

If someone should approach you on the street offering to exchange your money for a much better rate than a bank, be aware that this is most likely ar use to steal your money. Typical money exchange scams involve stealing your money during the process of counting and recounting a pile of bills or mixing your money in with currency from another country with a much lower exchange rate. It is much safer to go through an authorized agency or a bank.

Dynamic Currency Conversion

Some shops, restaurants and ATMs abroad offer a service called Dynamic Currency Conversion. This means that when you pay by credit or debit card at a shop or restaurant, or withdraw money from an ATM, you are given the option of paying in the currency of the country you are in or having the transaction converted into Canadian currency. Always choose to be charged in the currency of the country you are in. Don’t let the credit card company or ATM do your currency conversion for you — you will pay much higher conversion rates and transaction fees if you do.

For more information on this topic or other travel information visit travel.gc.ca. Information was sourced from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.

Making exchanges at the airport:

ICE International Currency Exchange is located on the first floor between the entrances, on the second floor at the domestic/international gates and at the U.S. departures area at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport. It is one of the largest retail currency exchange brands in the world, operating in 20 countries with more than 300 locations worldwide. They also offer travel insurance, calling cards, pre-paid cash cards, and Western Union services.

For even better rates and added convenience, try their “Click & Collect” option which allows you to reserve, pick up and pay before you fly.

Visit them at ice-canada.ca airport: