Currency Exchange in Ontario: Where to go and what to know


Ontario is by far the most populous province in Canada, and is home to both the countries capital, Ottawa, and its largest city and metropolitan area.
The heart of economic and political life in Canada, Ontario is also the home of many popular tourist destinations.

Visitors entering Canada through Ontario will surely be on the look-out for a quick, fair, and reliable place to exchange their money to Canadian dollars. Here’s all you need to know to be at an advantage and make the most of your hard-earned money.

This article covers:

  • The most important information and tips you need to make the best decision
  • Overview of some of the best locations for exchanging money in Ontario

Things to know before exchanging your money

Before you hurry off to a cash-only poutine joint after crossing into Ontario, there are a few things you need to know.

First, you need to find the currency exchange businesses around you.

Second, and this is important, you need to make sure you’re getting the best exchange rate you can find. Exchange rates can vary significantly from one currency exchange business to another.

So before you head out to spend your cash on all that Ontario has to offer you’ll want to get your currency exchanged at the most favorable rate. That leaves you with more cash in hand when you go exploring.

The next few sections offer tips for managing your currency exchange wisely.

Know the Actual Exchange Rate

Savvy customers should research the real exchange rate for their currency pair (in this case, USD-CAD) before they walk up to a currency exchange counter. That’s the rate at which the currency is currently trading on the open market. Luckily, it’s easy to do that. You can either go to Google and search the currency pairing, or check Transferwise’s nifty online currency converter.

If you’re at a currency exchange counter and compare their exchange rate to the exchange rate on Google or Transferwise, you’ll see that the exchange rate at the brick-and-mortar store is less favorable to you.

You’ll end up with less cash there, since you won’t be getting the mid-market rate, that you see on Google. That’s because currency exchange vendors tilt the exchange rate in their favor to increase their profits. The mid-market rate is what they use to trade among themselves. Most services will not offer you the mid-market rate and not tell you openly about the markup added on the rates.

Smart shoppers should consider the mid-market rate the “ideal” value of a currency pair, and patronize a currency exchange business with a rate closest to it.

The money transfer service Wise is one of the leading money transfer specialists in the business. What makes them different is they’ll offer you the mid-market rate every time.
If you know someone who lives in your travel destination and has a cal bank account, you can send them money via Wise before you depart, and withdraw the funds at a no-fee ATM after you arrive. This winning method lets you access cash while avoiding both high exchange rates and ATM fees.

If you live in Europe or the UK you can also get access to the multi-currency debit card, which allows you to withdraw cash in over 40 different currencies at the favorable mid-market exchange rate. US residents can sign up to the waitlist of the in-demand card.

Remember - Exchange Rates Are Always Changing

Exchange rates are in constant flux and it can be bewildering to keep up with it. So it really helps to keep tabs on the exchange rate of the relevant currency pair before you depart for your trip. That way you have an overview of what a beneficial rate is like.

One way to save yourself the headache of tracking currency market fluctuations? Get a multi-currency borderless account with Wise. It’s ideal for travelers. Wise gives borderless account holders bank details that apply to multiple countries: a British account number and sort code, a European IBAN, a US account number and routing number, and an Australian and BSB code. That means you can both withdraw cash from the same account in the US, UK, Australia, or the European Union, and pay no bank fees in any of them. A borderless account also allows you to withdraw cash in over 40 different currencies at the mid-market exchange rate.

Research Your Home Bank’s Partnership Before You Leave

No one likes ATM fees. They can cost you several dollars each time you withdraw cash - not a fun expense when you’re abroad. That’s why it’s wise to check which bank partnerships your local bank has with international banks. If you can find a foreign bank that’s part of the same ATM network, you can use its ATMs and avoid those pesky fees.

Always Choose To Be Charged In Local Currency

When you’re using an ATM, it will ask you if you want to be paid out in your native currency or local currency. Word to the wise: always choose to be paid in local currency.
Banks know that many travelers prefer dealing with their home currency, and pack hidden fees into the exchange. To stay one step ahead of the conglomerates, make sure you select the option that pays you in the currency of your destination country. You’ll end up with significantly more cash in your pocket.

Avoid Airport and Hotel Currency Exchanges

As with accepting ATM payouts in your native currency, another trap to avoid is currency exchanges and airport and hotels. Because they know that they’ll encounter travelers who just want to make a quick, convenient exchange, airports and hotels are notorious for setting unfavorable exchange rates and that means you’ll end up losing a lot of money.

Spend Your Money Before Leaving

Finally, before you depart for a country that relies on a different currency, be sure to spend all of the cash you have in the local currency. If you bring it to your next destination and have it exchanged into a different currency there, you’ll likely have to pay a commission to the currency exchange service. Instead of handing over a percentage of your money to a third party, why not spend it on something fun your last night in town?

Where to exchange money in Ontario

It’s important to check the exchange rate and fees before patronizing an exchange vendor. Use the businesses website or call ahead to find out the exchange rate in advance.

The following table lists some of the best-reviewed currency exchange businesses across Ontario.

Business name Address Contact details
Calforex Currency Exchange - Toronto Downtown 290 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1 +1 416-921-4872
Ultimate Currency Exchange 2502 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4P 2H7 +1 416-440-1472
Cash Money 357 Great Northern Rd, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6B 4Z7 +1 705-256-2274
Continental Currency Exchange N Centre Rd, London, ON N6G 3Y9 +1 519-850-0111
Windsor Station Currency Exchange 298 Walker Rd, Windsor, ON NBY 2M9 +1 519-258-7994

Exchanging your currency may not be the most thrilling part of travel. But if you do take the steps outlined in this article and find the fairest currency exchange vendors, you’ll have more money in your pocket to spend on enjoying yourself. The more you know, the more of your own money you keep.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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