canadian dollar feature image

How to find the best CAD exchange rate

By tracking the performance of the CAD and the AUD/CAD exchange rate, you can enjoy excellent value for money when you send money to Canada.

If you don’t find the best exchange rate for an international money transfer, your transaction could end up being much more expensive than it needs to be. So if you want to send money to Canada, you need to understand what affects the value of the CAD and how you can time your transfer when the AUD/CAD exchange rate is at its highest. And if you compare money transfer providers to find the highest exchange rates and lowest fees, you’ll be able to keep more money in your pocket.

Let’s take a look at the history of the CAD and the factors that affect its value relative to the AUD.

Get live Candian dollar exchange rates

Rates last updated January 22nd, 2017
Description Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Services Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received
TorFX International Money Transfers
TorFX International Money Transfers
TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction
Conditions apply
AUD 200 1 day Online, Phone, Agent Go to site More
Exclusive: World First Foreign Exchange
Exclusive: World First Foreign Exchange
Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee
Transfer money into a range of currencies online and over the phone.
AUD 500 2 days Online, Phone Go to site More
Exclusive: CurrencyFair International Money Transfers
Exclusive: CurrencyFair International Money Transfers
Exclusive offer: 3 Free transfers (after your first transfer).
A peer-to-peer transfer service with a large range of currencies on offer.
EUR 8 2 days Online Go to site More
FC Exchange International Money Transfers
FC Exchange International Money Transfers
No transfer fee via online, branch or phone when transferring more than £10,000 or equivalent. GBP 3,000 1 day Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account Go to site More
Exclusive: OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers
Exclusive: OFX (Ozforex) International Money Transfers
Exclusive offer: Special exchange rates and $0 transfer fee
OFX is currently offering finder.com.au exclusive exchange rates and $0 transfer fee on all transfers.
AUD 250 1 day Online, Phone, Agent Go to site More
Currency Online International Money Transfers
Currency Online International Money Transfers
Enjoy regular scheduled transfers, one off transfers and a range of currencies. Also enjoy your first transfer for free. AUD 0 2 days Online, Phone Go to site More
Compass Global Markets International Money Transfers
Compass Global Markets International Money Transfers
Send money in as little as 24-48 hours to a range of countries with Compass Global Markets. AUD 1,000 2 days Online, Phone Go to site More
1st Contact International Money Transfer
1st Contact International Money Transfer
$0 online fee without any minimum limit on money transfers. AUD 0 2 days Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account Go to site More
Currency Solutions International Money Transfers
Currency Solutions International Money Transfers
Send money overseas for a range of reasons, including regular payments and buying overseas property. 97% Trustpilot score. AUD 3,000 2 days Online, Phone, Bank Account to Bank Account Go to site More

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History of the CAD

Throughout its history, Canada has used everything from furs to playing cards as currency. It was the French who first introduced coins to the nation in the 1660s, but these were only used to pay their taxes and buy European goods. With a lack of coins to use to buy local goods, the colonial authorities began to place value on the back of playing cards in order to pay soldiers. Throughout the 18th century, the coin shortage continued and the government began printing paper money from cardboard in order to fill the deficit.

Starting in 1841, the Province of Canada began using the Halifax rating. This new Canadian Pound was equivalent to four US dollars (USD), while it took an additional four shillings and four pence to equal one British pound sterling. There was much debate over whether to adopt a sterling monetary system or to use a decimal one based on the USD. This debate lasted well into the 1850s, with the end result being an alignment of Canadian currency to the USD in 1858.

The Province of Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia united in a federation called the Dominion of Canada in 1867, merging their three currencies into one Canadian dollar (CAD). By 1873, Prince Edward Island joined this federation and Canada was finally on its way towards having its own uniform currency to trade with.

With the passing of the Uniform Currency Act in 1871, all of the provinces started using the Canadian dollar based on the gold standard. The gold standard was abandoned during World War I, and by the start of World War II the rate was fixed against the USD at CAD$1.10. When Canada began to float its currency in the 1950s, it rose in value in comparison to the USD for over 10 years.

Due to the heavy trade between the United States and Canada, the value of the CAD in comparison to the USD is considered very important. When the value is much lower than the USD, consumer concerns reach high levels and exports suffer. When the CAD rises in value, manufacturers are able to purchase foreign materials at a better price.

The export of commodities from Canada, especially oil, also helps to drive the value of its dollar. The technological boom of the 1990s, which was centred on the United States, brought the value to an all-time low of US$0.617 in 2002, yet it rose sharply and was able to meet the USD in value at the start of the sub-prime mortgage crisis in 2007.

The way in which the Canadian and US dollars work in tandem has become a tool for foreign exchange investors, who use the behaviour of the CAD to predict what is going to happen in the US economy. By noting trends in the commodities market and the changing value of the CAD in response, they are able to plot a course that shows them how the USD is going to react. This is only possible because of the tight economic relationship that Canada shares with the United States.

Today the Canadian dollar is the seventh most traded currency in the foreign exchange market. Because of Canada’s economic and political stability, its currency is popular with central banks and is the fifth most commonly held reserve currency in the world, only following the US dollar (USD), euro (EUR), Japanese yen (JPY) and British pound sterling (GBP).

CAD exchange rates

Due to the fact that more than 75% of Canada’s exports go to the US and more than half of its imports come from the US, the value of the CAD is usually measured based on its performance relative to the USD.

Following the USA’s technological boom of the 1990s, the CAD reached an all-time low of US$0.617 in 2002. However, much like Australia, the success of Canada’s economy is largely influenced by the commodities market. So on the back of high commodities prices, especially oil, the CAD rose in value against most other global currencies from 2002 to 2013. And in September of 2007, when the sub-prime mortgage crisis took hold in the US, the CAD closed a day’s trading above the USD for the first time in more than 30 years.

In more recent times, as commodities prices have cooled and the US economy has enjoyed steady growth, the CAD has steadily fallen in value against the USD. From an exchange rate of 1 CAD = 1.02 USD on 16 September 2012, the rate dropped to 1 CAD = 0.68 USD by 20 January 2016. By the end of November 2016, 1 CAD had risen slightly to be worth 0.74 USD.

Elsewhere, the AUD and CAD have regularly traded close to parity with one another. Although the CAD reached a high of more than 1.30 AUD in 2008, in the five years to November 2016, 1 CAD has traded at between 0.93 and 1.08 AUD.

The table below tracks the performance of the CAD against a selection of major global currencies during the past decade:

January 2006January 2011January 2016
USD0.8585161.0023050.721813
EUR0.7250090.7485200.664750
GBP0.4990210.6420300.489580
AUD1.1729050.9795790.988447
CNY6.9284006.6061944.700772
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Factors that affect the value of the CAD

There are myriad factors and indicators that can affect the value of a country’s currency relative to another. These include everything from interest rate changes and unemployment figures to consumer sentiment and even political developments.

Some of the factors that affect the value of the AUD/CAD exchange rate include:

  • Commodities. The performance of both theAustralian and Canadian economies is tied closely to the strength of the global commodities market and also agriculture. When demand for natural resources is high, both economies tend to perform well.
  • Oil. Continuing on from the above point, a large portion of Canada’s exports comes from the sale of energy-based products to the rest of the world. So when oil prices rise, so too does the value of the CAD.
  • Imports and exports. The US is Canada’s largest trading partner, while the bulk of Australia’s trade is done with Asian countries like China and Japan. The performance of the US and Asian economies can therefore drive the AUD/CAD exchange rate up or down.
  • Interest rates. A cut to interest rates means easier access to money for consumers and businesses, and therefore results in the depreciation of a currency’s value.
  • Supply and demand. The supply and demand for the CAD and AUD on global currency markets can drive their value up or down.
  • Overall economic performance. As well as each country’s gross domestic product (GDP), other factors such as unemployment figures and consumer confidence should be taken into account.
  • Trade. The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, signed in 2016, is a free trade agreement that will hopefully strengthen Australia’s economic relationship with Canada and a range of other nations.

The latest in foreign exchange

When is the best time to transfer money to Canada?

The ideal time to send money to Canada is when the AUD/CAD exchange rate is at its highest. This is the time when the AUD in your pocket will be able to purchase the maximum number of CAD.

But due to the complexity of exchange rates, predicting the fluctuations of any exchange rate is far from easy. However, you can still do plenty to increase your understanding of the AUD/CAD exchange rate, including staying abreast of key economic and political developments in Australia, Canada and around the world. Monitoring exchange rate forecasts from economists and financial experts is also a good idea.

Another tool you should use to track down the best time to send AUD to CAD is graphs that chart the history of the AUD/CAD exchange rate. This information is freely available on currency conversion sites like xe.com and makes it easy to examine the 10-year performance of the AUD/CAD exchange rate. Not only can this help your understanding of the issues that affect the value of currencies, but it also shows just how much exchange rates can fluctuate in a short period of time.

As the chart of the AUD/CAD exchange rate shows, the best times to transfer AUD to CAD in the year leading up to 1 December 2016 were:

  • In January 2016, when 1 AUD = 1.01 CAD
  • In August 2016, when 1 AUD = 1.00 CAD
  • In November 2016, when 1 AUD = 1.03 CAD

However, the worst time to send money to Canada was between 28 April and 21 June, when 1 AUD traded at less than 0.96 CAD and reached a low of 0.93 CAD.

image00

* Screenshot taken from xe.com on 01/12/2016

Choosing the right time to send a CAD transfer

Tom is working in Australia for two years and slowly saving enough money to pay off a CAD$5,000 debt to his parents. He finally has enough funds saved up to send home to Canada and get back in the black, but Tom knows that he will need to time his transfer for when the AUD/CAD exchange rate is at its highest to get the best possible deal.

As his parents haven’t placed a strict timeline on when his debt is due, Tom decides to wait around throughout 2016 to find the best exchange rate. He considers sending the transfer in February, when 1 AUD = 0.98 CAD, but a look back at the recent value of the CAD tells him he might be able to find a better deal if he holds out.

Unfortunately, by May the value of the AUD has dropped to 0.93 CAD, so Tom has to keep waiting. However, his patience is rewarded when 1 AUD climbs to 1 CAD in August, and even higher to 1.03 CAD in November.

As the table below shows, by sending his transfer in November instead of April, Tom can save a massive AUD$522 but still transfer the exact same amount of CAD to his parents.

February 2016May 2016August 2016November 2016
Exchange rate1 AUD = 0.98 CAD1 AUD = 0.93 CAD1 AUD = 1.00 CAD1 AUD = 1.03 CAD
AUD needed to transfer CAD$5,000AUD$5,103AUD$5,377AUD$5,000AUD$4,855
Money savedAUD$522

Why you need to choose the right money transfer provider

Finding the right time to send a transfer is only part of the battle when trying to find the best exchange rate. The other part is to compare transfer providers to find the one that consistently offers the best AUD/CAD exchange rate.

This is because most transfer providers make money in two ways: the first is by charging transfer fees, but the second is by adding a margin onto the exchange rate at which they purchase currency. So if your bank buys CAD at a rate of 1 AUD for 1 CAD, it might then skim a little off the top before selling those CAD to you at 1 AUD for 0.96 CAD.

However, the exchange rate margin varies from one transfer provider to the next, while transaction fees and transfer options can also differ between companies. That’s why it’s always important to compare money transfer providers and track down the best exchange rate for your CAD international transfer.

Henry compares transfer options

Henry wants to send AUD$1,000 from Australia to his aunt and uncle in Vancouver, Canada. The transfer is a gift to say thank you for the financial support his relatives have provided him in the past, and Henry is keen to get the best value for money for his transfer.

Having discovered that his bank offers very low exchange rates for international transfers, Henry compares the cost of sending $1,000 to Canada from his bank account with the cost of sending it with a cash transfer provider and two popular online money transfer services.

As the table below shows, by using money transfer company 2 instead of his bank, Henry can save AUD$15 in transfer fees and send an extra CAD$51.70 to his aunt and uncle – and all by sending the same amount of AUD.

This is the perfect demonstration of how comparing transfer options can help you save a lot of money.

BankCash transfer companyMoney transfer company 1Money transfer company 2
Exchange rate1 AUD = 0.9529 CAD1 AUD = 0.951616 CAD1 AUD = 0.99 CAD1 AUD = 1.0046 CAD
Transfer fee$22$60$5$7
Amount sent (in AUD)$1,000$1,000$1,000$1,000
Total cost of transfer$1,022$1,060$1,005$1,007
Amount received (in CAD)$952.90$951.62$990$1,004.60

International money transfer options

There are four options to choose from when transferring AUD to CAD:

  • Bank transfers. It’s simple and very convenient to send funds straight from your Australian bank account to an overseas bank account. However, if you choose this option you will have to settle for a much lower exchange rate than you could get elsewhere.
  • Cash transfers. Cash transfer companies like Western Union and Moneygram are ideal if you want to send fast cash transfers. They can help you send money to Canada within minutes, but their transfer fees can be higher than other options and you will find better exchange rates from online companies.
  • Online transfers. You can usually find the best AUD/CAD exchange rates and lowest transfer fees from specialist online transfer companies. These providers, such as OFX and CurrencyFair, specialise in international transfers and offer safe and secure online transactions.
  • PayPal. PayPal’s international money transfer service is certainly convenient, but its fee structure means it’s not a viable option for large transfers.
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How to compare money transfer providers

Before you choose a transfer provider to help you send money to Canada, consider the following factors.

  • Exchange rate. The best exchange rate will help you get maximum value for money, so look for the company that regularly offers a better AUD/CAD exchange rate than its competitors. However, make sure that great exchange rate isn’t offset by high transaction fees.
  • How much the fees are. Transfer fees could be a flat amount or a percentage of your transaction, so the size of your transfers could influence how much you pay in fees. Also remember that some companies won’t charge any fees on large transfer amounts.
  • How to send money. What options are available for sending money – is the service online only or can you lodge a transfer in a branch as well? Also check to see whether there are phone transfers and a convenient smartphone app available, and make sure there are no hidden fees attached to these options.
  • What options are available. As well as one-off transfers, you may also be able to schedule recurring payments in advance. Some companies even offer forward contracts and limit orders, helping you save time and money and lock in the exchange rate you want.
  • How to get help. If you ever have a question about a transfer or your account, how can you access the help you need? Check to see whether the company offers an online help centre as well as multiple contact options for customer support.

Tim Falk

A freelance writer with a passion for the written word, Tim loves helping Australians find the right home loans and savings accounts. When he's not chained to a computer, Tim can usually be found exploring the great outdoors.

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TorFX guarantee to beat any competitor's exchange rate for a transaction
Conditions apply

Exclusive: World First Foreign Exchange

Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee
Transfer money into a range of currencies online and over the phone.

Exclusive: CurrencyFair International Money Transfers

Exclusive offer: 3 Free transfers (after your first transfer).
A peer-to-peer transfer service with a large range of currencies on offer.

FC Exchange International Money Transfers

No transfer fee via online, branch or phone when transferring more than £10,000 or equivalent.

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