If you’re travelling, you might consider exchanging money at Ottawa airport. But is it worth it? Will you be overpaying on fees? You’ll read it here
Toronto Pearson Airport serves some 50 million passengers every year. If you’re one of them, and will be passing through Toronto Airport on your way out of the country, you might be wondering if you can get your travel money while you’re there.
This guide covers all you need to know about currency exchange at Toronto Airport. We’ll also take a look at some alternative ways to save when you travel, including low cost currency exchange with Wise, and the Wise multi-currency account. Let’s dive right in there.
Go straight to:
- Things to look out for when you exchange money at Toronto Pearson Airport
- Where you can exchange money on Toronto Airport
- Alternatives to exchanging money on the Airport
Although exchanging money at the airport can be a convenient service, it’s not always the cheapest option. Especially if you take a close look at the exchange rate you’re being offered.
If you’re visiting people that you know, and trust, and they have a bank account in the country you’re visiting, it could be cheaper for you to send money there, before you leave. If you do this with Wise, you know for sure that you don’t pay more than you have to. You’ll always see the fees upfront, and your money will be exchanged with the real, mid-market exchange rate, without any hidden fees on top.
Compare fees and exchange rates before you make a decision, so you’re sure you’re getting the best deal for you.
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Before you decide where to get your foreign currency, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best deal available. Here are some things to think about
The first thing to look at is the upfront fee or commission charged by your chosen provider.
It’s worth knowing that many currency services state that they have zero percent commission, or offer no fee foreign exchange. That doesn’t mean that the service they offer is actually free, though. In fact, in this case you might find that the provider simply wraps their fee up in the exchange rate they offer, using a marked up rate to ensure they make a profit on the transaction.
Looking at the exchange rate on offer is often even more important than knowing the listed fees. Exchange rates change all the time, so the easiest way to find the current rate for your currency pairing is to Google it or check an online currency converter or app. This gives you the mid-market exchange rate, which you can use as a benchmark to check the rates available at the airport, online or near you.
The mid-market rate is a good measure to use because it’s the one the bank or currency provider will have received when it bought the currency in the first place. However, currency services often don’t give their clients the same good deal. Instead they add a markup to the exchange rate available for customers - as we noted above - and keep the difference as profit.
The good news is that not all providers add a markup to their rates. Some, like Wise, offer the mid-market rate with no extra margin, and charge a simple transparent fee instead. More on that later.
Toronto Airport is well served for currency exchange kiosks, including 5 CIBC Banking Centres, and 13 separate ICE currency exchange desks¹. No matter where in the airport you are, there will be one nearby.
However, it’s good to know that changing money at the airport usually isn’t the cheapest option, even if it’s convenient. Toronto Airport, like any other airport, has a captive market with many thousands of customers passing through every day. The limited competition, high footfall, and low repeat business in airports mean there’s no real incentive to offer low prices. Check the deals on offer carefully before you commit.
Let’s take a look at the different currency exchange options in Toronto Pearson Airport.
You’ll find CIBC banking centres in several locations in Toronto Airport¹:
- Terminal 1 Domestic - after security
- Terminal 1 International - after security
- Terminal 1 USA - after security
- Terminal 1 - before security
- Terminal 3 - after security
You can order foreign currency online and collect it at a CIBC Banking Centre at the airport. You can also buy currency on the spot - although for large transactions or unusual currencies, you’re usually better off ordering in advance. Opening hours vary by location, according to the flight schedules - check in advance if you’re relying on CIBC to get your travel money.
There are plenty of ICE booths and kiosks throughout Toronto Pearson Airport. All locations offer the option of ordering your currency online and collecting at the airport. Here’s where to find ICE in Toronto Airport¹:
- Terminal 1 Domestic - after security
- Terminal 1 - 5 locations before security
- Terminal 1 International - 2 locations after security
- Terminal 1 USA - 3 locations after security
- Terminal 3 Domestic/International - 3 locations after security
- Terminal 3 USA - 1 location after security
- Terminal 3 - 3 locations before security
It’s worth noting that not all locations offer the same range of services. Smaller ICE booths may only exchange Canadian dollars for foreign currencies. Larger locations will buy many different foreign currencies, as well as selling foreign currency for your trip. There are also ATMs available at some locations, and opening hours vary according to the flight schedules. Check the full details online to see which ICE desk will serve you best.
As we mentioned, buying your foreign currency at the airport can be an expensive choice. You do have some alternative options -worth considering if you want to make your money go further.
You can wait until you arrive at your destination and withdraw money from a local ATM. This is usually a good way to get a fair exchange rate. The fees you pay will depend on your own bank, and whether the ATM operator applies charges - check your own bank’s terms and conditions before you travel to see what international ATM use will cost you.
One thing to keep in mind when you take money out of an ATM when you’re abroad is Dynamic Currency Conversion, or DCC. When the ATM asks you which currency you want to be charged in, always choose the local currency of the country that you’re in. When you choose that option, your home bank should do the currency conversion. When you choose to be charged in your own currency, it means that the foreign bank will do the currency conversion. As you’re not a customer of that foreign bank, there’s a chance they charge you a worse rate than your home bank would.
You could also carry cash, and simply exchange it at your destination. If you’re headed for a city, and don’t need any local currency immediately, this could be a good way to get a decent exchange rate. Head into the city centre to find a currency exchange service - beware of hotel exchange desks, though, as these are typically expensive to use.
Finally, if you’re travelling to meet friends or family with a local bank account in the country you’re visiting, you could use Wise.
Before your visit, you can transfer money to their account, and once you’ve arrived ask them to withdraw the money from a local ATM. You’ll get currency conversion with the mid-market exchange rate, and pay just a low transparent fee.
Cross border payments are even more convenient with the Wise multi-currency account. You can hold dozens of different currencies, and send payments all over the world, online or from your phone. All currency conversion uses the mid-market exchange rate with no hidden fees, so you know you’re getting the best deal available. And if you also need to receive money in Euros, British pounds, Polish Zloty, or US, Australian or New Zealand dollars, you can get your own local account details in these currencies. This makes receiving these currencies just as cheap, or usually even free, as if you’re a local in those countries.
See if you can save money with Wise, today.
Sources used for this article:
1.Currency exchange providers and Toronto Pearson Airport
*All sources last checked on March 2, 2020
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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