Travel Money Guide: Canada

Rates and Fees verified correct on December 5th, 2016

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

The ANZ Travel Card is a prepaid card that can be loaded with up to 10 foreign currencies to make purchases overseas at over 36 million locations.

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

    Compare travel cards for Canada

    Rates last updated December 5th, 2016
    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, CAD 3.00, EUR 2.20, GBP 2.00, HKD 20.00, JPY 260, NZD 4.50, SGD 4.00, THB 95, USD 2.50 1.1% of the value purchased $0 Go to site More
    NAB Traveller Card
    NAB Traveller Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD $0 per withdrawal on international ATMs and $3.75 per withdrawal at any Australian ATMs $0 $0 Go to site More
    Cash Passport MasterCard
    Cash Passport MasterCard
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD $2.50 for withdrawals made overseas 2.95% of the amount withdrawn for domestic withdrawals $0 $0 Go to site More
    Qantas Card with Qantas Cash
    Qantas Card with 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
    Travelex Travel Card
    Travelex Travel Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD Travelex does not charge an ATM withdrawal fee when you use your Travelex Multi-currency Cash Passport to withdraw currencies that are loaded on the card at overseas ATMs where MasterCard is accepted. The greater of 1.1% of the initial load / reload amount or AU$15.00 $0 Go to site More
    Rates last updated December 5th, 2016
    Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC) Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (VISA) Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Annual fee
    Bankwest Zero Platinum MasterCard
    An introductory offer on balance transfers with $0 annual fee. Complimentary travel insurance & 24/7 Concierge service and $0 foreign transaction fees.
    0% of transaction value $0 $0 p.a. Go to site More info
    28 Degrees Platinum MasterCard
    Benefit from no international transaction fees on purchases, no currency conversion fees and no annual fee.
    0% of transaction value $0 $0 p.a. Go to site More info
    Rates last updated December 5th, 2016
    $
    Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
    St.George Complete Freedom Account
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network.
    Visa $0 $2,000 No account keeping fees, if you deposit $2,000 per month plus no minimum balance required. No ATM fees when using St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. Open More
    Westpac Choice
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network.
    Mastercard $0 $2,000 No ATM fees when using St.George, Westpac, BankSA or Bank of Melbourne ATMs in Australia. Deposit at least $2,000 per month and enjoy no monthly service fee. Open More
    Bank of Melbourne Express Freedom
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network.
    Visa $0 $1,000 No ATM fees when you use Bank of Melbourne, St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. No monthly fees if you deposit $1000 into your account each month. Open More
    Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
    No overseas ATM withdrawal fees (charged by Bankwest), 3rd party ATM fees and international transaction fees may still apply.
    Mastercard $0 $2,000 No monthly fees when you deposit at least $2,000 into your account each month. Free access to Bankwest and CommBank ATMs in Australia. No overseas ATM withdrawal fees (charged by Bankwest) though third party fees may apply. Open More
    Citibank Plus Everyday Account
    No international transaction fees and no overseas ATM withdrawals fees if you use a Citibank ATM overseas.
    Visa $0 $0 No ATM fees using Citibank, Westpac, BankSA and St.George branded ATMs in Australia. Use overseas Citibank ATMs for free. 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
    20160.990807
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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
    Debit cards (Transaction accounts)
    • No currency conversion fee
    • No international ATM fee
    • No monthly fee
    • ATM operator fees
    Credit cards
    • Complimentary travel and purchase insurance
    • Interest-free days on purchases
    • Cash advance rates and fees
    • ATM withdrawal fees
    Traveller's cheques
    • Money back if victim of fraud
    • Can only be cashed at banks and selected merchants
    • Need to pay commission on buying traveller's cheques
    Cash
    • Useful for small payments
    • Foreign exchange fee or commission may apply on foreign currency orders
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    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 16 November 2016 at 14:59.

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    8 Responses to Travel Money Guide: Canada

    1. Default Gravatar
      anu | September 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
        Sally | September 13, 2016

        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
      Rae | September 8, 2015

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

      • Staff
        Sally | September 8, 2015

        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
        Sally | September 2, 2015

        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
      Jaano | April 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
        Elizabeth | April 23, 2015

        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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