Canadian Currency

Money makes the world go round. Before going abroad it’s a good idea to look into the currency of your chosen destination. Canada has a relatively stable economy, and their financial structuring isn’t as complex as other nations.

Although foreign currencies can be changed into Canadian dollars at currency exchange kiosks at airports, banks and border crossings (among other places) transferring your funds at the right time and getting the best exchange rate possible can save you money and really help your global transition. If you’re emigrating it’s really recommended that you seek advice from a trusted currency broker. A good one to use TorFX.


The currency across Canada is the Canadian Dollar (CAD) and its value floats against the value of all other major currencies.  The most commonly available Canadian bank notes are $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. They’re brightly coloured and easily distinguishable. The $1 and $2 notes have been replaced with coins (called the loonie and the toonie. No joke). Other Canadian coins include 25¢ quarter, 10¢ dime, 5¢ nickel and 1¢ penny, although the penny is no longer in production.


If your stay in Canada is going to be of a considerable duration you will need to open a Canadian bank account. Although this may seem daunting it is actually pretty straightforward. The Banks in Canada offer similar services to other western nations, such as online banking and cash machines.

As well as international banks (like HSBC), credit unions and regional banks there are five main banks in Canada. These have offices in the majority of Canadian cities and are listed below.

Canadian banking hours are generally Monday to Friday, 9:30 until 16:30, but be aware that specific branches may trade differently.

The majority of Canadian banks are monitored by The Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation. The CDIC is a federal Crown Corporation of longstanding which provides deposit insurance and contributes to the Canadian financial systems stability.

Choose your bank based on recommendations and research. It is always a good idea to pick a bank which has a branch in your local area where possible. Before opening an account go to a branch and have a chat with a senior member of staff. Make sure you feel confident about what they’re offering and what sort of account you want to have. If there is a language barrier try to make sure you have someone who can come with you and act as a translator.

In order to open an account you will need to produce two government issued pieces of identification, such as a passport and drivers licence. You will also need to provide prood of address.  Foreign residents are then often asked for a reference from their employer/educational institution/previous bank.

Banking services

Canadian electronic banking machines are known as Automatic Banking Machine’s (ABM) They’re widely available and give you 24/7 instant access to your cash! The five big Canadian banks previously listed are members of the ‘Interac’ network, which means that no matter which one of the banks you’re with, you’ll be able to withdraw funds and make payments with a PIN number. Usually, using the ABM of a separate financial institution will result in service fees.

In Canada most payments can be made with debit/credit cards or cheques (which are still popular for mail payments). The main credit card companies in Canada are Visa, Master Card and American Express. Keep in mind that credit cards (particular Visa) vary according to the bank you’re with. Scrutinise the terms and conditions and be well aware of the pitfalls and benefits before getting a new card.

Note that new arrivals in Canada often find it difficult to establish credit without prior credit history. Talk to an advisor at your new bank about how initial credit can be established. Having a reference from a utilities provider may help this process.

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