Foreign Exchange Guide to Canada
In this guide we review :
- Canadian dollar info - general info about the Canadian dollar
- Canadian dollar in the markets - recent CAD moves and predictions from the FX markets
- Travelling in Canada - currency & money saving tips
- Buying Canadian dollar cash online - travel money for Canada
- Sending money to Canada - save on Canadian dollar bank transfers to Canada
- Canadian dollar exchange rates - latest info & charts.
Canadian dollar (CAD) general currency information
Representing a little more than 5% of the foreign exchange market’s daily turnover, the Canadian dollar (ISO: CAD) is the world’s sixth most traded currency. Frequently called the ‘loonie’ by foreign exchange traders due to the image of a loon (an aquatic bird) on Canada’s one-dollar coin, the currency’s value is heavily influenced by commodities prices, particularly oil. For this reason, the Canadian dollar is often labelled a ‘petro-currency’. Canada currently has the world’s third largest oil reserves and is the world’s fourth largest oil exporter.
Canadians are mostly concerned with the value of their currency against the US dollar, since nearly 80% of Canadian exports go south of the border. In the past two decades, the Canadian dollar’s lowest value against its US counterpart occurred in January 2002 when the CAD/USD exchange rate traded at just 0.6178. The currency’s two-decade high occurred in November 2007 (following a boom in the oil price) when CAD/USD reached 1.1041.
Canadian dollar (CAD) in the markets
Having climbed to a 26-month high against the dollar of 0.829 (USD/CAD 1.206) in September following an unexpected Bank of Canada rate hike, the Canadian dollar spent much of the next five weeks losing value. By mid-October, the “loonie” had weakened back to 0.794 (USD/CAD 1.259). Softness in the currency reflected an improved outlook for USD and concerns that NAFTA negotiations with the US and Mexico might unravel.
Interestingly, in the five or so weeks prior to this report, the Canadian dollar had relaxed its dependency on oil as a driver of its valuation. During this period, prices for US oil futures rose more than 10%, yet the Canadian dollar weakened by 4% against the US dollar and by 1% against the euro.
In September, Dutch bank ABN Amro predicted that CAD would strengthen to 1.12 per USD by the end of 2018. As its reasons, ABN cited “strong conviction” on future USD weakness, future commodity price rises, an improvement in global trade and further rate hikes by the Bank of Canada.
With two rate hikes under its belt since July, the Bank of Canada is one of only two major central banks (together with the US Federal Reserve) to have entered a policy tightening cycle.
Analysts at Scotiabank predicted in September that Canadian interest rates would be raised to 1.75% by the end of 2018; they stand currently at 1%.
Canada currency and money saving tips
Accessing ATM's and banks is not a problem in Canada with any major credit card.
Getting around by train is a popular way of travel in Canada as it is a big place. Booking a sleeper car can be comfortable for long distance overnight stretches. VIA Rail's Canrailpass gives you 12 days of unlimited rail travel in Canada during a 30-day period, check VIA Rail's website for current prices. Bus travel in Canada is an economic and comfortable way to travel, Canada's system of intercity bus routes spans the entire country. Some cities also offer flexible transit passes so you can have unlimited all-day, multi-day, or monthly travel.
Canada Trip Checklist
Travel money for Canada
Save money and time by Ordering your Canadian dollar online from Travelex, you get better rates and can pick up the CAD cash locally or even on travel day at the airport.
Another popular option is to use a Pre-paid Travel Card. Your Debit/Credit Card provider will charge you 2% from market mid-rate, but your bank may also charge an extra 3% as an “Overseas Transaction Charge” plus “Overseas ATM” fees for withdrawing cash.
For card purchases if offered a choice of currencies always select to Pay in Canadian dollar otherwise you may get much worst exchange rates.
Sending money to Canada
When sending money to Canada it’s important to compare your bank’s rates & fees with those we have negotiated with our partner money transfer providers. To get a better deal you should follow these 3 simple steps :
- Open an account with a BER reviewed FX provider (id docs may be required)
- You specify the local or Canadian dollar amount you want to transfer
- Make a local currency domestic transfer for the requested amount to the provider's bank account in your country
- Once your funds are received by the provider the converted CAD amount will be transfered to the recipient account you specify in Canada.
By comparing the rates of FX specialist providers rates versus your bank's standard rates you can hopefully save around 5% and maybe more - end result is more Canadian dollar deposited into the recipient bank account in Canada and less margins and fees kept by the banks!