Where to Get the Best Foreign Currency Exchange in Calgary

Since last month, I’ve been slacking in posting blog posts not because I am in a binge-watching camp. I was busy planning my first trip to Cambodia, it’s the second SouthEast Asian country that I will visit. (Philippines, is the first. It’s where I was born.)

As of now, I’m done with the booking and hunting for the best foreign currency exchange in Calgary.

I bought US dollars, a currency that is widely accepted in Cambodia.

So in this post I’ll take to a trip in downtown Calgary where it is convenient to stroll, get lost, and shop for foreign currency.

Foreign Currency Exchange in Calgary (Downtown)

I went to both of these companies and settled to one because of a glitch.

1. Canex Forex Ltd.

Canex Forex is my first choice because of the good reviews I read online. However due to a down system, I cannot pay using my debit card. I don’t want to withdrew cash because I might end up having extra cash and incur ATM fee.

Lesson learned: Call before going to Canex Forex

The location is not far from C-Train Stations but you’ll have to walk both ways because there’s no bus routes in that area.

Disappointed, yes. But not defeated. On to my next and last choice.

2. Calforex

This time, I called Calforex to make sure they are not having the same technical problem as Canex.

“Yes, you can use debit card to pay.” That’s all I need to know. I immediately went TD Core Shopping Centre. Calforex is across Simons. If you are commuting, get off at 3rd St. SW C-Train Station.

You can also order cash online and have the cash deliver to your place.

My foreign exchange transaction:

Rate to Buy USD = 1.3465
CAD 807.90 = USD 600
Fee = 3.75
Total Cost = CAD 811.65

I’m not sure if the fee is fixed or will it increase depending on how much foreign currency is being bought.

Branch in Calgary:

  1. Downtown
  2. Chinook Centre

Branch Outside Calgary:

  1. Edmonton: Southgate Mall and West Ed Mall
  2. Victoria: Downtown
  3. Toronto: Eaton Centre and CF Sherway Gardens
  4. Vaughan: Vaughan Mills
  5. Ottawa: Rideau Centre
  6. Montreal: Rue Peel and Carrefour Laval (July 2019)

Other Service: The Buy Back Program is a service that I shouldn’t fail to mention. Calforex will buy back 50% of the currency (minimum of $1,000) within 30 days at the same rate on the receipt.

3. International Currency Exchange (ICE)

I chanced upon International Currency Exchange (ICE) while writing this post and decided to add it on the list although there’s not much feedback about it. If you avail their service can you share in the comments how was your experience.

Similar to Calforex, you can also order cash online (and pick up at a branch) on ICE and avail the buy back program (with no time limit and at a prevailing rate).

Branch in Calgary:

  1. 6th Avenue SW (downtown)
  2. Sunridge Mall
  3. Calgary Market Mall

Branch Outside Calgary:

  1. Alberta: Edmonton
  2. British Columbia: Abbotsford, Coquitlam, Kelowna, Langley, North Vancouver, Surrey, Vancouver, Victoria, White Rock
  3. Manitoba: Winnipeg
  4. Nova Scotia: Halifax
  5. Ontario: Brampton, Cornwall, Mississauga, Nepean, Ottawa, Toronto
  6. Quebec: Anjou, Doval, LaSalle, Laval, Longueuil, Montreal, Pointe-Claire, Quebec City, Rosemere, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville
  7. Saskatchewan: Saskatoon
  8. Ottawa: Rideau Centre
  9. Montreal: Rue Peel and Carrefour Laval (July 2019)

Tips in Finding the Best Foreign Currency Exchange Rate

Dont’t worry if you’re not in Calgary. (But do visit if you can.) By following these tips you can get the best exchange rate.

  1. Call before you go.
  2. Find the best currency exchange rate. I use XE Currency Converter app to find out the rate.
  3. Check the forex chart to see the best time when to buy. (This is a bit advance.)
  4. Use debit card as a first option, cash as second unless you don’t mind having extra cash in your wallet.
  5. Keep the receipt. If you want to sell your extra foreign currency back forex companies might as well have a proof.

If you don’t mind buying a currency ahead of time, check the trend of USD/CAD.

Best Foreign Currency Exchange in Calgary

Looking at the chart, I could have get the best rate in October when CAD is stronger than USD. I would only spend CAD 1.28060 for every USD; some other time.

Where Else to Go for Foreign Exchange

I thought of adding more options although I wouldn’t recommend you go these routes. You’ll never know when you don’t have a choice that rates doesn’t matter anymore.

1. Banks

Banks are everywhere in Canada; thus, these financial institutions are the most convenient to buy a foreign currency.

Caveat: Convenience comes with a lower exchange rate.

On the upside, you can use a debit card to withdraw local currency in your destination. I prefer to have cash and use only the debit card whenever I run out of cash, which is unlikely to happen.

Cash and no foreign transaction fee card like Home Trust Preferred Visa are my mode of payments. Rogers Mastercard Platinum is the backup card; both are cash back credit cards.

2. ATMs

It’s convenient to withdraw a local currency using debit card. But did you know that you can withdraw a foreign currency from an ATM in Calgary. The Olympia FX ATMs have different locations in the city; most are located in AMA Centres

Final Thoughts

It takes planning to find the best currency exchange rate and that is only a preparation in travelling to a foreign country.

This experience has thought me lessons that will make me a smarter frugal traveller.

Time is the best asset so make sure to buy a currency ahead of time to avoid buying from banks and ATMs.

Going on a vacation? How do you buy a foreign currency?

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About Pwede Padala Gal

Pwede Padala Gal loves to share tips on how to save in Canada and the Philippines. Someday she'll finally teach her Aspin at least one dog trick and keep a cactus alive. Chat with her on Facebook and reddit.

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