Best Places to Buy Canadian Dollars in the USA
If you have a trip to Canada planned, you’ll need to work out the best way to get Canadian dollars to pay for things while you’re there. While carrying CAD cash is a popular option, you might find using a travel card is cheaper and more convenient - and more secure than carrying a lot of cash too.
Where to buy Canadian dollars in the US
When it comes to getting Canadian dollars for your trip, you’ve got several different options, including taking cash in USD to exchange, converting to CAD online before you travel or at the airport, or picking up a travel money card for convenient spending and cash withdrawals in Canadian dollars on arrival in Canada.
Each option has its own features, fees, pros and cons. Which is best for you will depend a lot on your personal preferences - this guide will help you pick the right one based on convenience, cost, availability and more.
Canadian dollars travel money card
Travel money cards and international prepaid debit cards are a safe and convenient way to spend in Canadian dollars - and if you pick the right one they could help you save on currency conversion, too. Top up your card balance in dollars and convert those dollars to CAD to spend in stores and restaurants, or withdraw cash from ATMs when you need it. Easy.
Learn more about the best Canadian dollars cards in the US. Let's look at Wise card and Revolut card more in detail:
Wise debit card
With the Wise travel money card you’ll get the mid-market exchange rate whenever you need to switch from dollars to CAD. It’s free to spend Canadian dollars when you have enough balance in your Wise account - or if you’d prefer, just leave your money in dollars and let the card do the conversion when you make a purchase, with the mid-market exchange rate and low fees. You can also withdraw Canadian dollars from an ATM whenever you need them - giving you the safety of spending with a card, and the convenience of cash.
It’s free to open a Wise account, with a one time fee of 9 USD for the Wise debit card. Switching from one currency to another costs from 0.43% with Wise - with the mid-market exchange rate, so you can see exactly what you’re spending, and how much your travel money is costing you.
You're not limited to buying and holding Canadian dollars with Wise; you can hold balances in 40+ currencies, plus you can get local bank details to receive payments conveniently to Wise in a selection of global currencies.
Revolut debit card
Open a Revolut account online and order your travel money card, to start spending in 150+ countries. You’ll be able to choose from a Standard account which has no monthly fee to pay, or upgrade to an account with a monthly fee which also unlocks extra perks and benefits. All account tiers offer some no-fee currency conversion, and some no-fee international ATM withdrawals, with fair usage fees applied once your account plan allowances run out.
Revolut accounts can be used to hold and exchange 25+ currencies and depending on which plan you pick you could also get handy benefits like some travel insurance and airport lounge access, to make your trip more comfortable.
Buy CAD online
Often this is one of the best ways to buy Canadian dollars, based on convenience and cost. You won’t even need to leave home to order your money - and the dollar to Canadian dollars exchange rate might be better online, to give you more Canadian dollars for your US dollars. You can reserve your order, pick it up in a store or even have it delivered to your door, depending on which provider you pick.
If you’d prefer to use a travel money card, you can also get that set up online. Open a digital multi-currency account with a provider like Wise or Revolut, get your card, and simply make an ATM withdrawal once you arrive in Canada to get your CAD cash. That means you don’t need to collect your travel money in advance, making the process fast and easy.
Currency Exchange International (CXI)
Currency Exchange International specializes in providing foreign currency exchange at great rates with superior customer service. CXI owns and operates 30+ of its own branch locations across the United States, as well as working through affiliates to extend branch services - plus you can order foreign currency online through its website.
Buying Canadian dollar online for home delivery is easy with CXI. Select from more than 90 foreign currencies and receive it as soon as the next day. Available in most areas.
You can buy CAD with dollars at major banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America. You will need to be a bank customer already and can order Canadian dollars online easily. Banks do offer a wide range of currencies that you can buy but make sure you spend your foreign currency overseas because you might not be able to convert it back to dollars when you get back home.
In some cases, you can choose to receive your order in small, large or mixed denominations but it is subject to availability. Currency exchange services offered by the bank might not offer the best CAD to US dollar rates but they are convenient, particularly if you are an existing customer.
When you buy Canadian dollars from the bank you can pay with credit card, cash or from one of your bank accounts.
Foreign Currency Exchange
Money changers are another option to buy Canadian dollars in cash. However, it can be hard to find them outside of the city and they may not stock less common currencies.
Often the exchange rates are on a board facing the front of the shop, so finding the USD to CAD rate is easy. Ask what transaction fees they charge for the foreign exchange and if it costs more to pay with credit cards - and bear in mind that the exchange rate you get is likely to include a markup, which is a fee added onto the mid-market rate.
It’s good to know that you’ll often find that the exchange rates are better in major cities where competition drives down overall cost - that can make it well worth going to a city center if you're exchanging high value amounts.
Yes, you can buy currency at the airport. But that doesn't mean you should. While it's convenient, it's also often very expensive, which can mean that you receive less CAD for your USD at the airport. Most airport currency exchange services accept cash and credit cards.
Ordering your Canadian dollars online and picking it up at the airport can be cheaper than buying CAD on the spot when you arrive for your flight. However, because of the costs overall, if you've run out of time before your trip, it might be better to buy your Canadian dollars when you get to your destination, or use your cards instead, to make an ATM withdrawal on arrival in Canada.
What is the cheapest way to buy Canadian dollars in the US?
The cheapest way to buy Canadian dollars in the US is usually online. You’ll have a couple of options, depending on what suits your needs:
- Choose a specialist provider which has multi-currency accounts to support international spending - like Wise or Revolut
- Use an online money exchange service, and collect your foreign cash or have it delivered to you - in this case, you may pay an exchange rate markup, which is an extra fee
Your other alternatives include getting your cash at your bank, or at the airport. Banks may not have any conversion fee advertised, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the service is actually free. The costs are often simply added into the exchange rate used for conversion, which can make them harder to spot.
Of course, you also have the option to buy Canadian dollars at the airport. However, this can be very expensive compared to buying your Canadian dollars online before you head off, simply because airport exchange services know you have no other options until you get to your destination. That can mean high commission fees and very poor foreign exchange rates.
How to get Canadian dollars in the US
There are a few different ways to get Canadian dollars in the US, so you can pick the method that suits you best. Each service will have its own process, so whichever way you choose, you’ll want to check directly with the provider you choose to make sure you know exactly what’s required to get your CAD conveniently and without unnecessary delays.
- Usually if you plan to get foreign currency cash through a bank or a specialist travel money service, you’ll need to visit a branch or agent location, and take along your USD in cash, or a card to pay for your Canadian dollars.
- Assuming the bank or currency exchange office you visit has enough CAD in stock, you’ll be able to take away your travel money instantly.
- However, picking up your Canadian dollars in person is not necessarily the most convenient choice. In many cases, you’ll also have the option to arrange your CAD online, which means you can get everything organised without needing to take extra time out of your day to go to the bank.
How to buy Canadian dollars online
Often buying foreign currency online is more convenient than visiting a branch in person. One great option is to sign up for a multi-currency account with a linked card which lets you manage your account digitally and make cash withdrawals.
Specialist non-bank providers like Wise and Revolut both offer convenient ways to hold, exchange and spend in a broad selection of foreign currencies, with easy to manage accounts you can access from your phone.
Here is how to buy Canadian dollars online with a specialist provider that offers multi-currency accounts or travel cards:
- Head to the provider’s website or download their app
- Hit Sign Up, add your personal details and create a password
- Get verified by uploading images of your ID documents - you might also need a proof of address
- Add some money to your account in USD, for spending later
Depending on the provider you pick, you can order a linked international debit card to spend while you’re away, or you can convert to the currency you need to make online payments. Some providers can issue you a virtual card instantly for online spending, and once you have your physical card you can withdraw cash as you travel for convenience.
How to get Canadian dollars in cash in America
If you’re keen to have some money in your pocket before you leave the US, you can also choose to order cash in Canadian dollars online and either collect it or have it delivered to your home address. That can be a convenient option, and gives you the reassurance that you’ll have access to CAD even before you travel.
Here is how to buy Canadian dollars in cash with an online money exchange service:
- Visit the provider’s website, and place an order for your currency
- Decide if you want to have your money delivered, or collect your cash at an agent location
- Make payment for your foreign currency in USD
- When you collect your cash, or when it’s delivered you’ll need to show a valid ID document
Where can I exchange USD to CAD
Your options to exchange USD to CAD broadly split into two categories: ways to get Canadian dollars online, and ways to get Canadian dollars through a physical location.
Online, you can order foreign currency cash to collect or for delivery through a specialist service or your bank.
Or you could open a multi-currency CAD account with a specialist service like Wise or Revolut, and order a travel money card you can use to spend and make withdrawals in Canadian dollars and in many other supported currencies, too.
If you’d rather set up your travel money in person you can do so by visiting a currency exchange store or bank and paying for your Canadian dollars in cash or with a card. You can also exchange money at the airport before you leave the US - but this often costs more overall, so do check the exchange rates available before you get started.
What is the cheapest way to convert USD to CAD?
There’s no single best provider when it comes to exchange rates. Different services set their own rates which may vary based on the currency, the amount you want to exchange, how you want to pay, and whether you’re exchanging money in a digital account or for physical cash.
Generally, looking for a service which has transparent exchange rates which are the same as - or close to - the mid-market exchange rates is a good idea. You can compare a few live exchange rates for popular providers using the Exiap tools, to see which works best based on the specific transaction you want to make.
Let’s take a look at the exchange rates you might be able to find through some different exchange services:
- Wise exchange rate: mid-market exchange rates with transparent conversion fees split out, from 0.43%
- Revolut exchange rate: all accounts have some currency conversion which uses the mid-market rate - fair usage fees apply once you’ve exhausted your plan limits
- Currency exchange international: exchange rates are likely to include a markup, but tellers in physical locations may offer to match or beat other local bank and airport exchange rates if you ask
- Bank exchange rates usually include a variable markup which is added on to the mid-market exchange rate
- Currency exchange offices: exchange rates usually include a markup which is added on to the mid-market exchange rate - the amount of markup used does vary, so looking for a service in a city center where providers compete may mean you get a better rate
- Airports exchange rates usually include a markup which is added on to the mid-market exchange rate - because of a lack of competition this can be a pretty high fee
You can compare rates on this page: Best CAD exchange rates
Conclusion: Best ways to get Canadian currency in the US
The good news is that you have several different options to buy Canadian dollars in the US - which means that with a bit of research you’ll find the right one for your specific needs.
Generally your options will include heading to a physical location - like your bank or a currency exchange store - to buy your CAD cash; or arranging your exchange online. Ordering your foreign currency online, or opening a multi-currency account and getting a linked debit card for spending in Canadian dollars means you can get everything organized without even needing to leave home. You may also get better exchange rates and lower overall costs, depending on which service you select.
Check out Wise and Revolut as good options for convenient spending in Canadian dollars, with fair exchange rates and low overall fees. With Wise you can open a free online account to hold and exchange 40+ currencies, and spend with your card in 150+ countries. All currency exchange uses the mid-market exchange rate with fees from just 0.43%.
Revolut lets you hold and exchange 25+ popular currencies - and you can pick the account tier which meets your needs, depending on how often you’ll transact and which features you’ll use. All accounts offer some currency exchange which uses the mid-market exchange rate, and some no-fee ATM withdrawals, with fair usage fees once you exhaust your specific plan limits.
How to buy Canadian dollars FAQs
Can I get Canadian money at my bank?
Yes, you can buy Canadian dollars at most banks. Although, currency exchanges rates offered at banks may not be the most advantageous rates, but buying CAD at a bank could be convenient, especially if you already have an account with them. When you are buying CAD at the bank, you can pay with card, cash or from your bank account.
Is it cheaper to buy Canadian dollars in the US or in Canada?
Whether it’s cheaper to buy Canadian dollars at home or once you arrive in Canada depends a lot on the exchange rates you’re able to find online or in physical exchange stores locally. As an alternative, travel money cards from providers like Wise and Revolut give the convenience of using a card with the flexibility of being able to withdraw cash at an ATM in Canada with good exchange rates and low fees, making them a great choice for many travelers.
Is it better to exchange money in US or Canada?
Getting your travel money in advance means you’ll save time once you’re on your trip, but you’ll need to shop around to get a good deal. Take a look at options like Wise and Revolut which offer convenient and flexible digital accounts you can use to hold and spend in Canadian dollars conveniently.
What is the best way to get Canadian money for travel?
There’s no single best way to get your Canadian dollars for your trip. Compare a few services using the handy Exiap tools, including physical exchange locations and convenient digital alternatives, like Wise and Revolut, to find the best option for your needs.
Related: Best travel cards for Canada
How long does it take to get Canadian dollars?
If you’re ordering cash in Canadian dollars you may be able to collect it instantly or on the same day, depending on the provider you pick. Home delivery of currency usually takes a few days. Getting a travel money card from a service like Wise or Revolut allows you to add USD instantly, and then spend or make withdrawals in cash in CAD as soon as you arrive, so you can access Canadian dollars right away.
How to get the best exchange rate for Canadian dollars?
You’ll need to shop around to get the best exchange rate for Canadian dollars, including physical locations and banks, and digital and online services like Wise and Revolut. The good news is that Exiap has lots of handy comparison tools to let you see live exchange rates, fees and more. Use these to kickstart your research and get the best deal for your specific needs.