Where To Exchange Foreign Money

where to exchange foreign money

Exchanging Foreign Money: A Comprehensive Guide


In a globalized world, understanding where and how to exchange foreign money becomes paramount whether for travelling purposes, international business dealings or investments. This article unravels some of the best avenues to do so in terms of convenience, value and security.

Banking Institutions

Banks serve as some of the most popular and traditional platforms for currency exchange. They offer a broad range of services from purchasing foreign cash, exchanging foreign currency, to international wire transfers. Banks such as the Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank, Bank of Montreal, and others, provide these services to both customers and non-customers. It’s important to keep in mind that transaction fees and exchange rates vary from bank to bank and can change depending on market conditions.

Credit Unions

Credit unions also offer currency exchange services, often at better rates than traditional banks. This is because credit unions are not-for-profit institutions and hence can often afford to offer lower fees and better rates. For instance, Vancity, one of Canada’s largest credit unions, offers competitive rates for its members.

Online Currency Exchange Platforms

Online currency exchange platforms have gained increasing popularity due to their convenience and often competitive rates. Platforms like KnightsbridgeFX and CurrencyFair allow users to exchange currencies at rates usually better than those offered by traditional banks. These platforms tend to have low overheads, allowing them to pass savings onto their customers in the form of better rates. But beware, not all platforms are created equally. It’s important to do thorough research and read reviews before committing to any online service.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Exchange Platforms

P2P Exchange Platforms such as Transferwise or OFX offer a unique solution to currency exchange. They match individuals looking to exchange opposite currency pairs, facilitating a direct currency swap. This innovative approach allows for significant savings as it bypasses the traditional banking system, often leading to better exchange rates and lower fees.

Foreign Exchange (FX) Bureaus

FX bureaus are another common platform for exchanging foreign money. Companies like International Currency Exchange (ICE) and Calforex operate numerous outlets across Canada. They offer competitive rates, particularly if you pre-order online. Moreover, their extended working hours often make them a convenient option for last-minute travelers.


For travelers, using ATMs abroad can often be a stress-free way to gain access to foreign cash. They offer 24/7-service and the exchange rate is usually comparable if not better than other options. Nevertheless, international withdrawal fees should be factored into the cost of this convenience.

Traveler's Cheques and Prepaid Cards

Traveler's cheques and prepaid cards offer another way to handle foreign money. They are secure, easily replaced if lost or stolen, and accepted worldwide. However, not all establishments accept them, and one may get slightly worse exchange rates compared to other options.


Choosing where to exchange foreign money requires careful consideration of a variety of factors including exchange rates, transaction fees, convenience, security, and more. By understanding the different options available and the advantages and disadvantages each offer, you'll be able to make a smarter and more informed choice that serves your needs best. Whether it’s for international travel or a business dealing, planning ahead and making mindful currency exchange decisions are the keys to maximizing your money's worth.