Below is a simple guide to the best ways to transfer money from Canada to the US – without paying high bank fees.
I’ll explain how it works, how long it takes, and compare the best services for Canada to USA.
Best Rates For Sending 5,000.00 CAD to USD
Best Rates For Sending 5.00 CAD to USD
1. Best Ways to Send Money from Canada to the USA
Choosing the best way to send money from Canada to the USA ultimately comes down to your specific needs.
To make it easy for you to decide, we’re narrowed down the best money transfer services for you according to different circumstances:
|Best for small amounts (Below $7000 USD/$9500 CAD)||Wise (Go to Wise Review)|
|Best for large amounts (Above $7000 USD/ $9500 CAD)||OFX (Go to OFX Review)|
|Best for small cash transfers (Below $7000 USD/$9500 CAD)||Western Union (Go to Western Union Review)|
As you can see, our recommendations are all specialized money transfer companies partly because they’re more affordable than Canadian banks.
Plus, they perform transactions smoothly and have great customer service.
So why do we pick one over the other for different types of transfers (small, large, bank, or cash)? This comes down to what each one is good at.
Here’s a look at the criteria we use to determine which is the best for each category:
- Keeps their rates low without compromising on service
- Which transfer type are they best known for (small, large, bank, or cash)
- Offers different transfer speeds
- Offers a variety of payout and funding methods (bank or cash)
- Has a proactive customer service team that resolves bottlenecks quickly
- Makes the transfer process smooth overall
Keep reading to know which currency transfer company you should choose based on your CAD-USD transfer needs.
1.1 Small Bank Transfers Below $7000 USD/$9500 CAD
For smaller transfers from Canada to the US, we recommend Wise (review).
Wise is known to offer significant savings on bank-to-bank CAD-USD transfers. But what we love best about it is it’s high level of transparency. Simply enter the amount you want to transfer into the Wise calculator and you’ll see the exact amount your receiver will get — no surprise fees (and see signing up)!
Plus, it has special features that sweeten the deal.
It offers a multi-currency account that lets you hold, manage, and convert between 50+ currencies and get USD bank details to get paid and pay like a local.
The multi-currency account also comes with a MasterCard debit card that’s great for traveling, ATM withdrawals (in Canada, the USA, and worldwide), and online shopping in USD and many other currencies.
1.2 Large Bank Transfers Above $7000 USD/$9500 CAD
For your large CAD-USD transfers, OFX (review) is our top pick as it has the infrastructure and regulatory backing to handle your larger transfers effortlessly:
- OFX is registered in Canada (by FINTRAC) and the USA (by FinCen) and has a physical presence (offices) in both countries which adds to its reliability.
- Their rates are structured to help you save money on transfers above $7000 USD/approx $9500 CAD
- They have excellent customer service and you can speak to an actual human in case you have trouble with your transfer
Finally OFX may charge a fixed fee of $15, however if you click here (opens a new tab) you can avoid these fees all together.
1.3 Small Cash Transfers Below $7000 USD/$9500 CAD
Cash transfers come into the picture when your recipient doesn’t have a US bank account.
And, sending cash transfers can be a bit more expensive than bank-to-bank transfers because of the number of steps and people involved.
For example, most cash transfer providers also let you fund your transfer with cash.
This means the agent fees at service kiosks (at both sending and receiving ends) can add to the cost of the transfer.
However, we still recommend them because they’ve been operating for decades and have an extensive network of cash payout centers that make these transfers convenient and fast.
Western Union has exceptional presence in the US, where transfer kiosks and agent counters are integrated into convenience stores, check cashing stores, etc. If you are a Scotia Bank customer you can use their partnership to send for a bank with what seems to be good fees.
If we had to pick one over the others, we’d go with Western Union, which has a great reach, and offers a guarantee for their Money In Minutes service (where your recipients can get cash in under 10 minutes).
You might also like our Western Union review.
2. Cheapest Ways to Send Money from Canada to the USA
2.1 Cheapest Way to Send Small Bank Transfers Below $7000 USD/approx $9500 CAD
Wise is an extremely inexpensive way to send small bank transfers from Canada to the USA.
Wise is known for its transparent fee structure which prioritizes bank-to-bank and card-to-bank transfers at the interbank rate and with no margin hidden in the exchange rate.
Instead, Wise charges a small percentage fee to cover the cost of your transfer.
The best bit?
You can see them using their calculator before you even sign up. This may not seem like much, but many services and banks make a big show and dance of low fees and then make up for it in other ways.
Importantly, Wise has local bank accounts in Canada and the USA, which also helps to keep surprise fees (like sending and receiving fees) to a minimum.
Learn more about Wise and sending money with our Wise review.
2.2 Cheapest Way to Send Large Transfers Over $7000 USD/approx $9500 CAD
Who is more affordable can vary on any given day because of market fluctuations.
But in general, OFX has very competitive rates for large bank transfers from Canada to the USA.
Even if they turn out to be a bit more expensive than competitors on some days, we’d still choose them.
For one, OFX not only has offices in Canada and the USA, they also offer 24×7 phone support for your large transfers — very reassuring (and as we have found and many other 3rd party reviewers, sometimes necessary) when you’re dealing with large sums!
Finally, OFX does keep their costs low for large transfers in a number of ways.
The margin OFX charges on the exchange rate goes down in percentage terms as the transfer amount increases.
They have local bank accounts in Canada and the USA designed to remove often costly fees hidden fees such as sending and receiving banks charge. (More about these fees discussed in a moment)
They sometimes charge a flat $15 USD fee for all transfers below $10,000 USD. Want to waive this fee forever? Access OFX using this link to OFX here.
Learn more about OFX and sending large international transfers with our OFX review.
You might also like Wise Vs OFX.
3. Fees You Should Know About
You can do a wire transfer from the Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion bank, ScotiaBank, etc – but you’ll pay around $15-$40 CAD for your transfer (yes, that’s can significant – and this doesn’t even include the currency exchange margin, receiving and other other costs involved). Here we describe the process of doing a Tangerine wire transfer.
Money transfer companies on the other hand try to pass on a lot of savings to their users – but there are still some fees to consider such as:
- Fixed fees
- Margin on the exchange rate (usually the largest cost in a transfer)
- Sending and receiving fees (charged by your bank and the recipient’s bank)
3.1 Fixed Fees
This is a fee charged by a money transfer company, either as a percentage or flat fee that varies based on the amount, currency, or location.
Some companies advertise “fee-free” services, and they’re referring to this fee that’s under their control to uphold or waive.
However, there are a couple of other (potentially much bigger) costs in the equation that you need to consider.
3.2 Margin on the Exchange Rate
Most money transfer companies charge a percentage margin on the exchange rate they offer (this is not the interbank rate – that is, the rate at which banks and large financial institutions buy currency.)
Usually, companies that process larger transfers make sure the margin goes down as the amount increases. The opposite is true for companies that specialize in money transfers.
How to get the lowest exchange rate?
Shop around for a preferred exchange rate before committing to a service.
An important thing to keep in mind though – the cheapest service may not always be the best choice!
But rest assured, whichever money transfer company you choose is most are far cheaper than banks.
3.3 Sending and Receiving Fees
Sometimes your bank or your recipient’s bank may charge fees, which we refer to as hidden fees.
For example, Royal Bank of Canada charges $6-$10 CAD on service fees online or using their App, TD charge $50 for a wire payment to a non-TD Canada Trust account within Canada or internationally and CIBC is $30 to $80 depending on the amount you want to send.
Also, many banks in the USA charge up to $15 USD for receiving international transfers.
Some people find these are “hidden fees” because you won’t know you were charged this fee till you receive your bank statement.
On the other hand, some money transfer services like Wise and OFX minimize (or sometimes completely remove) these fees by having local bank accounts in the sending and receiving countries.
4. Safest Ways to Send Money from Canada to the USA
As far as we can reasonably tell, all the money transfer companies referred above are completely safe options for your CAD-USD transfers.
Wise, OFX, Western Union are licensed financial service providers in both Canada and the USA (regulated byThe Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) andFinancial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), respectively – which means they need to adhere to regulations designed to protect you.
Other than that, these companies use technology such as SSL certificates, two-factor authentication, and regular audits to keep your money and personal data safe.
5. How to Send Money from Canada to the USA
Get started with your CAD-USD transfers in a few easy steps.
- Choose a recommended money transfer company based on your needs and create an account with them.
- Verify your account with a national ID or any other address proof (as required by the specific company). This is a mandatory process and can take anywhere between a couple of days to a week – so plan your transfer accordingly.
Note: you may need to share additional documents for large transfers.
- Fund your transfer after making sure you’re good to go with the available rates (don’t forget to double check your recipient’s details)
- Enter and double check your recipient’s details.
- Track your transfer on the chosen money transfer company’s web dashboard or by downloading their app.
- Funds arrive!
You might also like: Online Money Transfer Services in the Canada which also covers other destinations like Australia, Philippines and India
6.1 How Much Do Canada to USA Wire Transfers Cost?
Wire transfers from Canada to the USA can cost anywhere between $15 to $40 CAD. Plus you have to consider other fees like currency exchange fees (ranging between 1 – 5%) and receiving fees for the US bank.
So while it may seem convenient to send CAD-USD transfers via your bank, you will pay a lot of money in fees.
6.2 Can You Send Money from Canada to the USA through PayPal for Free?
You can send money from a Canadian PayPal account to a US PayPal account.
However, these transfers are not free. They are considered international transfers and will attract PayPal’s international transfer fees.
6.3 Can I Use Venmo to Send Money from Canada to the USA?
Venmo doesn’t work in Canada, so it’s not possible to Venmo money from Canada to the USA.
Venmo only lets you send money to your friends, family, and businesses in the US.
Technically though, if you are a Venmo user and happen to be in Canada, we have found instances where people say they have used Venmo (untested).
6.3 Does Zelle Work With Canadian Bank Accounts?
Zelle is only integrated into the mobile apps of US banks and allows domestic transfers. In fact, you need a US bank account and phone number to sign up for Zelle.