January 11, 2016 7:13 pm
Updated: January 11, 2016 8:57 pm

Canadian currency exchange: how to get the best rates

WATCH ABOVE: If you’re heading to warmer climates this winter, make sure you shop around before exchanging your Canadian money. Your bank might not give you the best rate, and as Tony Tighe reports, the currency exchange business is very competitive.

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CALGARY – If you’re travelling to the southern United States or Mexico this winter, it will pay to shop around when it comes to exchanging your Canadian money before you leave.

Most people go to their bank to buy foreign money, but the currency exchange business is very competitive, according to Keith Brown with Albern Coin and Foreign Exchange.

“The best thing to do is phone around for rates before you leave; plan in advance,” Brown said.

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READ MORE: Tips for travelling south with a lower loonie

Not only does the exchange rate vary at different institutions, but there’s also a range in service fees, he said, adding some charge more than others and some don’t charge extra at all.

Amber Magee with Calforex Foreign Exchange also recommends shopping around. She feels it’s important to ask if the business has enough cash on hand in the currency you want to exchange.

“Availability is something that a lot of people wouldn’t ask, either. They just assume–especially with the banks–that they would have it readily available on hand, [that] it’s an in-and-out process. But oftentimes, that’s not the case,” Magee said.

The experts also remind travelers to ask for a mix of bill denominations when exchanging currency.

If you don’t have time to exchange money before you leave, remember that withdrawing cash from an ATM in a foreign country is more expensive.

Bank fees can add up to over eight dollars once it goes through the foreign bank and out of your account and the exchange rate on that transaction could be higher.

READ MORE: 4 tips to stretch your dollar when travelling abroad

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