Travel Money Guide: Canada

Rates and fees last updated on

Use our travel money guide to organise your finances for your trip to the land of snow and the Northern Lights.

Travellers to Canada will be happy to hear that the monetary system basically works the same way as it does in Australia. You can use your cards in the same type of places as you would at home, there’s a similar number of ATMs and banks, and prices for accommodation and food are more or less the same — though it gets more expensive if you’re going skiing or snowboarding. As you’ll be making transactions in Canadian dollars, there are some fees you’ll need to look out for. Here we compare the different travel money products and strategies you can use to get the most out of your trip to Canada.

Which option is right for your next trip?

ANZ Travel Card

ANZ Travel Card

  • Load up to 10 currencies
  • Lock in your exchange rates
  • No overseas transaction fees

ANZ Travel Card

The ANZ Travel Card is a prepaid card that can be loaded with up to 10 currencies to make purchases overseas at over 38 million merchants and over 2.3 million ATMs worldwide.

  • Lock in your exchange rates and know how much money you have to spend
  • No transaction fees for electronic purchases when using foreign currency
  • Multiple reload options - online, over the phone or in person
  • Manage your money online or over the phone 24/7
  • Spare card if in case one is lost or stolen

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Compare travel cards for Canada

Rates last updated September 23rd, 2017
Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
ANZ Travel Card
ANZ Travel Card
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD AUD 3.50, USD 2.50, GBP 2.00, EUR 2.20, NZD 4.50, CAD 3.00, HKD 20.00, SGD 4.00, THB 95, JPY 260 1.1% $0 Go to site More
Qantas Cash
Qantas Cash
AUD, AED, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD AUD 1.95, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, USD 1.95, THB 70.00, AED 6.50 $0 $0 Go to site More
NAB Traveller Card
NAB Traveller Card
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD

Overseas: $0 per withdrawal via international ATMs

Domestic: $3.75 fee applies

$0 $0 Go to site More
Cash Passport Mastercard
Cash Passport Mastercard
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD USD 2.50, EUR 2.50, GBP 2.00, NZD 3.50, THB 80.00, CAD 3.50, HKD 18.00, JPY 260.00, SGD 3.50, AUD 3.50 $0 $0 Go to site More
Australia Post Multi-currency Cash Passport
Australia Post Multi-currency Cash Passport
AUD, NZD, USD, EUR, GBP, THB, SGD, CAD, HKD, JPY Overseas: $0

Domestic: 2.95% of the amount withdrawn

$5 $0 Go to site More
Rates last updated September 23rd, 2017
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC) Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (VISA) Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
The greater of 2% or $4
$0 p.a.
Receive complimentary international travel insurance, access to a 24/7 concierge service and 0% foreign transaction fees.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
0% of transaction value
$0
$225 p.a.
Receive 40,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $500 on eligible purchases in the first three months.
28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
3% of the cash advance or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
Designed for travel, benefit from no international transaction fees on purchases and no currency conversion fees.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
Greater of 2% or $4.00
$99 p.a.
Offers an introductory balance transfer rate of 0% p.a. for 13 months with a 2% BT fee, plus platinum perks.
Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$5
2% or $4, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
No fees on overseas ATM withdrawal, no foreign transaction fees and earn 75,000 bonus More rewards points.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated September 23rd, 2017
$
Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
$0 Overseas ATM withdrawal fees charged by Bankwest. Third party ATM fees and international transaction fees may still apply.
Mastercard $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees when you deposit at least $2,000 into your account each month. Otherwise, a $6 monthly fee applies. Unlimited Free withdrawals at Bankwest and CommBank ATMs in Australia. Go to site More
Westpac Choice
$0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network. International transaction fee still applies.
Mastercard $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 monthly fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA ATMs. Go to site More
St.George Complete Freedom Account
$0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network. International transaction fee still applies.
Visa $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. Go to site More

How many dollars do I need to bring to Canada?

Canada and Australia are similar countries when it comes to daily prices and holiday expenses. Like all places around the world, prices jump up significantly in Ski resorts such as Whistler. So, you’re going to need more cash if you head up the slopes.

WhistlerBudgetMidrangeExpensive
accomodations-in-greeceMotel (Whistler)
AU$90 per night
Hostel (Winnipeg)
AU$30 per night
3 star hotel (Whistler)
AU$200 - AU$300 per night
3 star hotel (Winnipeg)
AU$100 per night
5 star hotel (Whistler)
AU$400 - AU$500 per night
4 Star hotel (Winnipeg)
$150 per night
eatWhistler’s best burgers
AU$10 - AU$15
Drive in fast food (Winnipeg)
AU$4 - AU$8
Mexican food (Whistler)
AU$20
Pub food (Winnipeg)
AU$10 - AU$20
Araxi restaurant 10 oz. steak (Whistler)
AU$54
Angus Sirloin (Winnipeg)
AU$36
seeSnowshoe walking tour (Whistler)
AU$80 per person
Manitoba Museum (Winnipeg)
$7 per person
10 days skiing (Whistler)
AU$750
WWII Historical Walking Tour (Westminster)
AU$80 per person
Sea to Sky Exotic Driving (Whistler)
AU$800
White water rafting (Winnipeg)
AU$120

*Prices are approximate and subject to change.

Exchange rate history

The Australian and Canadian dollars have been pretty much on par the past few years, which makes it pretty easy when you’re trying to figure out the real cost of spending in Canadian dollars. Canada is a stable economy like Australia and you shouldn’t need to worry too much about the movements between the currency pair on your travels.

YearAverage exchange rate
20121.035302
20130.996085
20140.996305
20150.960577
20160.985094
20171.003058

*Exchange rates are accurate as of 3 September 2017

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Travel card, debit card or credit card?

Don’t stress about using your card to make purchases and to withdraw cash — card acceptance and ATM availability are similar to Australia. Canadian merchants accept Visa and Mastercard, and American Express credit cards are accepted in more places than in Australia. Canada uses an EFTPOS system similar to our own called (Interac Direct Payment) IDP, and it’s available all across the nation. You can use this system to get cash out over the counter if you’re paying with your debit or travel card. Travel cards, debit cards and credit cards are all worth comparing before you leave Australia.

Travel money options for Canada at a glance

Travel money optionsProsConsiderations
Travel prepaid cards
  • Multiple currencies
  • Avoid currency conversion fees
  • Supplementary card
  • Look out for ATM fees
  • Reloading time
Debit cards (Transaction accounts)
  • No currency conversion fee
  • No international ATM fee
  • $0 account keeping fees when you deposit at least $2,000 into your account each month
  • Unlimited free withdrawals at selected banks
  • International transaction fees may apply
Credit cards
  • Complimentary travel and purchase insurance
  • Interest-free days on purchases
  • Accepted worldwide
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Emergency card replacement
  • Benefits including rewards points on spending, 0% purchases, frequent flyer perks, complimentary travel insurance
  • Cash advance rates and fees
  • ATM withdrawal fees
  • Higher spending limit (depends on your approved credit limit)
Traveller's cheques
  • Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen
  • Can only be cashed at banks and selected merchants
  • Need to pay commission on buying traveller's cheques
Cash
  • Payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • Foreign exchange fee or commission may apply on foreign currency orders
  • Higher risk of theft

This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

How travel cards, credit cards and debit cards work in Canada

Using a prepaid travel card

Travel cards let you spend Canadian dollars in Canada. This avoids the fee for currency conversion. A travel card lets you hold multiple foreign currencies at a time, which may be helpful if you’re visiting neighbouring United States. If you’ve transferred your funds to Canadian dollars, you can avoid currency conversion fees when spending in Canada. Travel cards also come with a supplementary card, which can come in handy if your primary card is lost, damaged or stolen. While you can avoid currency conversion fees, there are some other costs you’ll need to look out for. For example, look for international ATM fee waivers to save on cash withdrawal costs.

  • Tip: You might be able to give ATM fees a miss by taking cash out over the counter when you make a purchase.

Using a debit card

It’s hard to look past the Citibank Plus Transaction Account. It’s the product of the moment for travellers: no charges for currency conversion, no international ATM fee (operator fees of a couple of dollars apply) and no monthly or account keeping fees make this account from Citibank a traveller’s best friend. If you just want to take your everyday debit card with you, you’ll most likely pay $5 for international ATM withdrawals (plus the ATM operator fee) and a 3% currency conversion fee.

  • Tip: Citibank do not have any standalone ATMs in Canada. The only Citibank ATMs are attached to branches in Canada’s major cities.

Using a credit card

A credit card can give you interest free days on your purchases, complimentary travel, purchase insurance, worldwide acceptance and additional financial security. If you have a credit card, and you plan on using the complimentary international travel insurance feature, double check your planned activities are covered by the policy. For example, some winter sports like snowboarding require additional cover. Credit cards are a good way to make purchases; however, you should supplement your credit card use with a debit card when you want to make ATM withdrawals. Cash advance fees and interest can compound and give you a nasty surprise when you arrive back in Australia. Some of these charges can be avoided (have a look at the FAQs section of our travel money page for information about credit cards with a positive balance and cash advance changes), but it’s better just to keep your credit card for purchases and emergencies.

  • Tip: Some merchants may question Australian issued credit cards. Make sure you have photo identification to show just in case.

Using a traveller's cheques

Traveller's cheques have been made redundant by the other forms of travel money compared on this page for the following reasons:

  • Your bank will give you your money back if you’re the victim of card fraud.
  • You can use your card in a wide number of places in Canada. Meanwhile, traveller's cheques can only be cashed at banks and a select number of merchants.
  • You’ll pay a commission to buy traveller’s cheques.

Paying with cash in Belgium

While card payments are common, there are always going to be times when you need to pay with cash, especially if you’re buying something small — some merchants won’t accept a card for a small payment due to surcharge fees. If you’re wondering the best way to exchange Aussie dollars for Canadian dollars, you have these options:

  • Before you leave. Exchange cash in Australia using a foreign exchange service (information provided on this page).
  • When you arrive. Visit a bank or a dedicated foreign exchange office, avoid exchanging cash at the airport as you can easily find a better rate elsewhere.
  • Withdraw from a Canadian ATM. The simplest way to get CAD is to make an ATM withdrawal when you arrive. There are multiple ATMs at Canadian airports which offer a true rate, just be conscious of ATM withdrawal fees.
Did you know?
The Canadian dollar is one of the most traded currencies in the world. It’s colloquially referred to as the ‘buck’. This can be traced back to the origins of Canada’s history, where the Hudson’s Bay Company created a coin worth the pelt of one male beaver, otherwise known as a buck.

canadian-dollar-banknotes

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Michael’s season in Whistler, a.k.a. ‘Little Australia’

Michael did a season skiing Canada’s famous peaks: Whistler and Blackcomb. The season lasts for approximately 6 months starting in November and ending around May.

Michael

What cards did you take with you?

Why did you take these cards to Canada?

Michael says that the ANZ Low Rate Mastercard was his day to day credit card and he knew he was going to be in Canada for a while so opened a local bank account instead of taking a travel friendly debit or credit card.

Any tips on how to go about getting a Canadian bank account?

He says that in order to get a Canadian bank account, you have to get a Social Insurance Number (SIN), which is the equivalent to our Tax File Number (TFN). Once you have that you can apply for a bank account/keycard. You can get these forms from any Canadian bank, it’s a matter of going through the process and filling out the forms. Michael says it’s something he definitely recommends for someone who is going to be doing a season in Whistler.

Were there any places where you had trouble using any of your cards?

He says more or less, ‘no’. Michael told us of one instance where ANZ flagged a possible fraudulent purchase because of the location, apart from that everything was fine. He says make sure you tell your bank about your travel plans to avoid this situation.

Michael’s tips for managing travel money in Canada

Michael has some good advice about making international payments to Canada. He says he had savings in his Australian bank account, and he needed to transfer this money to his new Canadian account. He made a lump sum transfer every month or two. He recommends the services of OFX, a foreign exchange and international payments company.

  • International payments. He says it was very easy to create an account and make a BPAY payment to OFX. It only took a couple of days for the funds to clear in his Canadian account. A transfer fee of $25 was charged by OFX for each transaction.
  • Travel safety. He also says give money belts a chance. While they may not be the most fashion forward choice of apparel, it’s savvy nonetheless. Michael’s words: “A travel money belt is probably a good idea for people who are prone to losing things.”

If you're planning on hitting the slopes while you're in Canada, you will need to make sure that you have additional Winter Sports insurance. So, if you are heading to Canada, make sure your trip is protected. Compare travel insurance policies today.

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Buying currency in Australia

Canadian dollars are a common currency and can be purchased from any number of foreign exchange companies, including your bank. For example Westpac and Australia Post give you the same rate buying Canadian dollars, the difference is the commission. Westpac charge $4 for online foreign currency orders. Foreign exchange providers such as Australia Post and Travelex also have outlets at major Australian airports where you can collect your bucks before you hop on the plane. You can bring as many Canadian dollars into the country as you like. You must make a customs declaration if you’re carrying more than $10,000. These institutions also offer foreign cash:

Withdrawing from Canadian ATMs

There have been reports of Canadian ATMs not accepting foreign cards. Look for the Visa or Visa PLUS logo on the front of the machine to see whether you can use your card to get cash. The same with Mastercard. A local ATM operator fee applies each time you withdraw cash (excluding Global Alliance Partners — ScotiaBank for Westpac cardholders). This fee is comparable to Australia where you’ll pay $2 - $3 each time your withdraw in addition to international ATM charges and currency conversion charges (if applicable).

  • Tip: Look for participating ATMs in the Global ATM Alliance. Westpac cardholders visiting the Canadian province of Saskatchewan can avoid the international ATM operator fee by using ScotiaBank ATMs. ScotiaBank have ATMs inside 7/11 stores as well as on the street.

Find bank, cash and ATM in Canada

Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

Whether it’s a credit card and a debit card or a travel card, you’ll need to use a combination of options. While you can get away with making card payment a lot of the time, there are still instances when you’ll need cash. Furthermore, what happens if you lose your debit card and you have to wait half a week for a replacement? Take a combination of the travel money products we’ve listed on this page and use the right card for the right situation so you can save on international transaction charges. The Northern Lights, some of the best skiing in the world and a people warm in heart and spirit, it’s no surprise that every month tens of thousands of Aussies travel to Canada. Do your research before you leave and you can enjoy your trip to Canada with the peace of mind you’re spending your money your way, and not giving your hard earned to your bank. If you have any questions about using travel money in Canada, ask us a question using the form at the bottom of the page.

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This page was last modified on 4 September 2017 at 6:16pm.

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8 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    anuSeptember 9, 2016

    recently shifted to canada. Having axis bank cad traveller card
    i want to transfer money into recently opened bank account
    can i transfer .if yes what is the procedure to transfer amount .
    i am having internet banking facilities also
    thanks

    • Staff
      SallySeptember 13, 2016Staff

      Hi Anu,

      Thanks for your question.

      As a financial comparison service based in Australia, you might be best getting in contact with your provider directly to confirm whether you can transfer your funds into your new bank account.

      Cheers,

      Sally

  2. Default Gravatar
    RaeSeptember 8, 2015

    I am planning a small trip to Vancouver Canada for a week or so how much Canadian money do you think I will need

    • Staff
      SallySeptember 8, 2015Staff

      Hi Rae,

      Thank you for your question.

      Unfortunately, without knowing your trip schedule, spending habits and financial situation, we can’t actually confirm how much money you’ll need for your trip.

      I would suggest preparing enough money to cover your necessary expenses, extra spending money and some emergency funds in case you run into an emergency.

      Many travel money cards available on the Australian market support Canadian Dollars, so you may want to consider one of these during your comparison. You can compare prepaid travel money cards here.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Sally

  3. Default Gravatar
    September 2, 2015

    I have a commonwealth travel money card and am in Canada. Which is the best partner bank for me to use for withdrawals?

    • Staff
      SallySeptember 2, 2015Staff

      Hi Phil,

      Thank you for your question.

      You can use your Commonwealth Bank Travel Money card at any ATM that supports MasterCard Cirrus or Visa Plus.

      However, please keep in mind that there is an ATM withdrawal fee of CAD$3.00 per cash withdrawal.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Sally

  4. Default Gravatar
    JaanoApril 23, 2015

    Hi. I am moving to Canada permanently. What would be the best way to take my money with me (your suggestions on Bank draft(s) in CAD?). Currently I do not have any bank account in Canada but will open on reaching there.
    Thanks

    • Staff
      ElizabethApril 23, 2015Staff

      Hi Jaano,

      Thanks for your question.

      As you can see from the page above there are quite a few options for taking travel money to Canada. Unfortunately, I’m unable to recommend a specific travel money option to you, but you can take a look at the options available and compare them based on fees, convenience, etc. If you opt for a travel money card some good things to check are fees for loading money onto the card, fees for inactivity on the account, the cross currency conversion fees, etc. If you plan on opening an account you might also want to see if you can have the money from your card transferred to your account when you open it, as this is an option with some issuers.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Elizabeth

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