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Cross-border banking: Guide to sending money from Canada to the US

Learn how to find the best US dollar account in Canada for all your cross-border banking needs.

With a US dollar account, you can deposit US dollars into a Canadian bank account, without having to convert USD to CAD. This is convenient if you run a business that operates in the US, if you regularly travel to the US, or if you simply need to make lots of cross-border banking transactions. It also lets you time your currency conversions for when the USD to CAD exchange rate is at its peak.

But with a wide range of banks and other financial institutions offering US dollar accounts, how do you find the best bank to manage your cross-border banking? Keep reading for our guide to the best USD accounts and what you need to know if you need to send money from Canada to the US.

Best cross-border banking, by feature in April 2024

  • Best high-interest US dollar account: EQ Bank US Dollar Account
  • Best low-fee unlimited transactions US dollar account: TD Borderless Plan
  • Best free US dollar account: Tangerine US Dollar Savings Account
  • Best free US dollar account at a Big Six bank: National Bank The USD Progress Account
  • Best CAD to USD cross border banking transfer option: RBC Direct Checking Account
  • Best cross-border banking option for frequent travellers to the US: BMO US Dollar Account
  • Best free ATM access worldwide: EQ Bank Card
  • Best multi-currency prepaid card: CIBC AC Conversion Visa Prepaid Card
  • Lowest FX fees for money transfers: Wise US Dollar Account
  • Best US dollar chequing account from an Ontario credit union: Meridian U.S. Dollar Chequing Account
  • Best US dollar chequing account from a BC credit union: Coast Capital US Chequing Dollar Chequing Account

    Best high-interest US dollar account: EQ Bank US Dollar Account

    If you’re searching for the best US dollar account to maximize your savings, there’s a lot to like about the EQ Bank US Dollar Account. With an interest rate of 3.00% and no monthly fee chipping away at your balance, you might be surprised just how quickly your balance will grow. You’ll get a competitive exchange rate when you need to convert USD to CAD, and you can check EQ Bank’s live exchange rates by logging into your account. You can also use your account to send money from Canada to the US and all around the world with Wise, with no need to worry about hidden fees. And with the ability to make USD transfers in Canada without incurring any fees, there are plenty of good reasons why the EQ Bank US Dollar Account is worth a closer look.

    Best low-fee unlimited transactions US dollar account: TD Borderless Plan

    If you’re looking for a cross-border banking solution that offers maximum transactions for minimal fees, the TD Borderless Plan has got you covered. This US dollar account has a low monthly fee of US$4.95, but the fee is waived if you keep your account balance above US$3,000. This entitles you to unlimited transactions per month, so it’s a good choice if you need to make frequent payments, deposits and withdrawals. There are other perks too, including an annual $39 U.S. fee rebated on a TD U.S. Dollar Visa Card and preferred USD exchange rates. And with US bank drafts and cheques available for no extra cost, there’s a lot to like about the TD Borderless Plan if you’re looking for a high-volume transaction account.

    TD Borderless Plan

    N/A
    Bonus Offer
    $4.95
    Monthly Account Fee
    unlimited free
    Free Transactions
    Eligibility: Be at least 18 years old
    Free transactions: Unlimited
    Monthly account fee: US$4.95
    Bonus offer or perks: annual $39 U.S. fee rebated on a TD U.S. Dollar Visa Card
    • Low monthly fee
    • Unlimited free transfers
    • No minimum deposits
    • Credit card fee rebate
    • Fees in US dollar
    • Limited transaction types
    • No Interac e-Transfers
    Min. Age N/A
    Account Fee $4.95

    Best free US dollar account: Tangerine US Dollar Savings Account

    If you’re looking for a US dollar account that won’t eat away at your balance with regular fees, the Tangerine US Dollar Savings Account could be just what you need. With no monthly fee, the money you put into this account stays exactly where you want it to. There’s no minimum balance requirement either, and the fact that you can earn 0.10% interest on your balance is an added bonus. Tangerine is transparent about its USD to CAD and CAD to USD exchange rates too, so you know exactly how much bang you’ll get for your buck.

    Best free US dollar account at a Big Six bank: National Bank The USD Progress Account

    Prefer to keep your USD with one of the Big Six? We recommend checking out National Bank’s USD Progress Account. This US dollar account doesn’t charge a monthly fee, but it does support branch transactions like withdrawals and transfers. Additional services like cheques and pre-authorized debits attract an extra fee. If you have $5,000 or more in your account, you can earn interest at a rate of 0.1%, while deposits are covered by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC). If you’d like to open an account, you’ll need to head to your nearest National Bank branch.

    National Bank The USD Progress Account

    National Bank The USD Progress Account

    N/A
    Bonus Offer
    $0
    Monthly Account Fee
    N/A
    Free Transactions
    Eligibility: Be 18 years old or older, have a $5,000 minimum balance
    Transactions fee: USD $1.25/transaction
    E-transfer fee: N/A
    Monthly account fee: $0
    Bonus offer or perks: Earn a 0.1% rate
    • Good account to use if you travel to the United States
    • Offers a favorable exchange rate with withdrawals
    • Good for make cheques in USD
    • The Progress Account in US$ is not accessible through an ABM, a terminal at a participating merchant or our online banking services (except in the last case, to view your transactions).
    Min. Age N/A
    Account Fee $0

    Best CAD to USD cross-border banking transfer option: RBC Direct Checking Account

    If you need an account to make cross-border banking transfers easier, the RBC Direct Checking Account could be just what you’re looking for. For an annual fee of US$39.50, this convenient account supports unlimited transfers between the US and Canada. Transfers are instant and you can send money 24/7, while you can then access your cash without incurring fees at over 50,000 ATMs around the US. You can also earn cash back when you shop at large US retailers, get 10 included debits per month and take advantage of contactless payments. And with no minimum balance requirement — though you will need to deposit at least $50 to open an account — this account makes sending money to the US from Canada very easy indeed.

    RBC Direct Checking Account

    N/A
    Bonus Offer
    $39.50
    Monthly Account Fee
    N/A
    Free Transactions
    Eligibility: Be of majority of age, $50 minimum deposit
    Free transactions: Unlimited transfers and ATM withdrawals, and only 10 free debits per month
    Monthly account fee: US$39.50
    Bonus offer or perks: Avoid paying fees to maintain this account in your first year (and only pay US$39.50 per year or US$3.95 per month after that)
    • First annual fee waived
    • Free Canada to US transfers
    • No-fee US ATM withdrawals
    • Easy US cheque deposits
    • Fees are in US dollars
    • Limits on free debits
    • No interest on savings
    • Minimum deposit to open account
    Min. Age N/A
    Account Fee $39.50

    Best cross-border banking option for frequent travellers to the US: BMO US Dollar Account

    If you’re a Canadian who spends a lot of time in the US, the BMO US Dollar Account could help you manage your money more effectively. This day-to-day chequing account lets you access your USD 24/7 to pay bills, make purchases, set up direct deposits and more. There’s no monthly fee if you meet the minimum balance requirement, while you can also access BMO services such as travel insurance, prepaid credit cards and foreign currency exchange. So check out the BMO US Dollar Account if you’re looking for an easy way to spend your money when travelling in the US.

    Learn more: BMO US Dollar Account review

    Best free ATM access worldwide: EQ Bank Card

    One of the biggest traps of cross-border banking is that when you want to access your cash overseas, foreign transaction fees can make it an expensive exercise. But that’s not the case with the EQ Bank Card, which has no foreign transaction fees and no monthly fees. EQ Bank also doesn’t charge and exchange fees or exchange rate markups — you’ll get the Mastercard Currency Conversion rate for your transaction — and it doesn’t charge fees for foreign ATM withdrawals, which means more money in your pocket. Even better, you Earn 4.00% for 12 months when you set up $500/month or more in direct deposit for your pay (this applies to your EQ Personal Account, Joint Account and EQ Bank Card balance). Conditions apply. Thereafter, you'll earn 2.50% on your balance. on your card balance and 0.5% cashback on purchases. Throw in the fact that you get free domestic ATM withdrawals and you can use your card anywhere Mastercard is accepted around the world, and there’s a lot to like about the EQ Bank Card.

    EQ Bank Card

    $0
    Monthly Fee
    $0
    Transaction Cost
    0.5% cash back
    Rewards
    With no annual or monthly fees and a wide range of other perks, the EQ Bank Card is an affordable option to use in Canada and internationally. There are no foreign transaction, FX or international ATM withdrawal fees charged by EQ Bank, so it's a card that's easy to take with you when you travel. You also earn 0.5% cashback on domestic and international purchases, plus get free withdrawals at any ATM in Canada (EQ Bank refunds you if another ATM operator charges a fee). And with the ability to Earn 4.00% for 12 months when you set up $500/month or more in direct deposit for your pay (this applies to your EQ Personal Account, Joint Account and EQ Bank Card balance). Conditions apply. Thereafter, you'll earn 2.50% on your balance., there are lots of good reasons to like the EQ Bank Card.
    • No annual or monthly fees
    • No foreign transaction or FX fees
    • No international ATM withdrawal fees charged by EQ
    • Earn cashback
    • It's a prepaid card so your payments are not reported to the credit bureaus
    • Not available in Quebec
    • Funds can only be loaded from an EQ Savings Account
    Monthly Fee $0
    Transaction Cost $0
    Foreign Transaction Fee 0%
    Monthly Fee $0
    Rewards 0.5% cash back

    Best multi-currency prepaid card: CIBC AC Conversion Visa Prepaid Card

    If you’re a frequent traveller who needs to hold and spend multiple currencies, the CIBC AC Conversion Card might just have your name on it. This prepaid card can be loaded with up to 10 currencies (CAD, USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, JPY, HKD, TRY, CHF and MXN), allowing you to spend your money in 45 countries. You can easily load money onto your card using the AC Conversion app, with no minimum load amount required. There’s also no fee to order the card and no currency conversion fee, but keep in mind that an exchange rate markup will apply. So if you’re searching for a cross-border banking card that makes it easy to manage multiple currencies, add the CIBC AC Conversion Card to your shortlist of options.

    CIBC AC Conversion Visa Prepaid Card

    $0
    Monthly Fee
    $0
    Transaction Cost
    1% cash back
    Rewards
    Looking for a card that supports multiple currencies? The CIBC AC Conversion Visa Prepaid Card lets you hold 10 currencies for 45 countries, allowing you to shop online or in person at foreign retailers with ease. Supported currencies are CAD, USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, JPY, HKD, TRY, CHF and MXN, and there's no annual fee or fee for loading funds onto your card. It's easy to reload via the AC Conversion app, and you don't need to be a CIBC customer to qualify for this card.
    • Hold 10 currencies for 45 countries
    • $0 annual fee
    • No fees for loading funds onto your card
    • Don't need to be a CIBC customer
    • You'll have to pay exchange rates to transfer your money between currencies
    • You'll pay international ATM withdrawal fees
    Monthly Fee $0
    Transaction Cost $0
    Foreign Transaction Fee 0%
    Monthly Fee $0
    Rewards 1% cash back

    Lowest FX fees for money transfers: Wise US Dollar Account

    When you need to send money from Canada to the US or vice versa, foreign exchange fees and exchange rate markups can significantly increase the cost of your transaction. But that’s where the Wise US Dollar Account can offer a cost-effective solution. When you receive money in USD, you can convert it to CAD (or over 50 other currencies) at the mid-market exchange rate. The fee for converting money varies depending on the currency but starts at just 0.43%, so Wise offers very competitive FX fees for money transfers. And with the ability to send, hold and spend funds in dozens of currencies, using Wise for money transfers could save you a whole lot of money compared to your bank.

    Best US dollar chequing account from an Ontario credit union: Meridian U.S. Dollar Chequing Account

    If you want to manage your cross-border banking needs with an Ontario credit union, Meridian Credit Union’s US Dollar Chequing Account is well worth a look. This account is all about simplicity. There’s no monthly account fee and unlimited free deposits, while a $1 fee applies to other transactions. You can also earn a tiered rate of interest on every dollar in your account — 0.025% on balances up to $4,999, 0.05% on balances $5,000-$24,999 and 0.10% on balances $25,000 and over. And when you need to exchange funds or make a withdrawal, you can simply visit your nearest Meridian Credit Union branch.

    Meridian U.S. Dollar Chequing Account

    Meridian U.S. Dollar Chequing Account

    N/A
    Bonus Offer
    $0
    Monthly Account Fee
    N/A
    Free Transactions
    Eligibility: Be 18 years old or older
    Free transactions: Unlimited, free deposits, $1 fee for other transactions
    Monthly account fee: $0
    Bonus offer or perks:
    • No monthly fee
    • Earn interes
    • Unlimited free deposits
    • Low interest rate on balances below $5,000
    • $1 for transactions other than deposits
    Min. Age N/A
    Account Fee $0

    Best US dollar chequing account from a BC credit union: Coast Capital US Chequing Dollar Chequing Account

    The Coast Capital US Dollar Chequing Account is another option well worth considering. This cross-border bank account supports unlimited deposits and one free withdrawal per month, with no monthly fee. There’s a US$1 fee for additional transactions, but those transaction fees are waived if you maintain a monthly balance of US$1,000 or more. You can also manage your account via online and mobile banking, making the Coast Capital US Dollar Chequing Account a very competitive option.

    Coast Capital US Chequing

    Coast Capital US Chequing

    N/A
    Bonus Offer
    $0
    Monthly Account Fee
    Unlimited
    Free Transactions
    Eligibility: Majority of age, US$1,000 minimum balance
    Free transactions:
    Monthly account fee: $0
    Bonus offer or perks:
    • No monthly fee
    • Write cheques in USD
    • No transaction fees (if you meet minimum balance requirements)
    • Free eStatements
    • US$1,000 minimum balance
    • Only 1 free per month, then US$1 for additional transactions
    Min. Age N/A
    Account Fee $0

    Reasons to open a US dollar account in Canada

    Why open a US dollar account in Canada? There are plenty of reasons, such as:

    • If you get paid in USD. If you run a business that operates in the USA, opening a US dollar account lets you receive payments from customers and convert them to CAD when the exchange rate suits you.
    • If you frequently travel to the US. A cross-border banking account makes it easy to access US dollars when you need to make purchases in the US.
    • If you shop online and make USD purchases. You can use a US dollar account to make purchases in USD. Particularly if you’re making a large purchase, such as buying a property, the money you can save by not having to swap between CAD and USD could be substantial.
    • If you need to pay bills in the US. With a US dollar account, managing bill payments in the USA is easier and more affordable.

    USD accounts in Canada vs USD accounts in the US

    In this guide, we’ve looked at the best US dollar accounts with Canadian banks.

    However, another option you may want to consider is opening a USD account at a US bank. While the account-opening process is a little more complicated than opening an account with a Canadian bank, non-US citizens can open accounts in the US.

    There are a few reasons why you might want to do this. First, it makes it much simpler to pay any US bills you may have, such as if you have a USD credit card, and to pay for purchases using a debit card. It also allows you to avoid any foreign transaction fees that may apply, and build your US credit history.

    But there are also a few things to watch out for. For example, you may be asked to provide proof of a US address to open an account. And if you have a question about or problem with your account, it’s not exactly convenient to pop into your nearest branch. Finally, keep in mind whether you’ll have any tax obligations in the US if you earn interest on your account.

    Advantages of cross-border banking

    • Avoid exchange rate fluctuations. Opening a USD account means you’re no longer at the mercy of fluctuating exchange rates or the exchange rate markup imposed by your bank to convert USD to CAD.
    • Exchange USD to CAD when it suits you. You can convert your US currency into Canadian dollars whenever you want, taking advantage of attractive exchange rates. You can also convert the currency with a specialist foreign exchange service to lock in a better rate.
    • Hold USD. With a cross-border banking account, you don’t need to convert USD to CAD if you don’t want to. Instead, you can just hold US dollars in your account until you need to spend them, avoiding currency conversion costs altogether.
    • Avoid international transaction fees. Credit card foreign transaction fees are typically 2.5% of the transaction amount, but using a USD account allows you to avoid these hefty fees.
    • Earn interest on your USD. Some accounts also pay an attractive rate of interest on your money, helping you build a bigger USD balance.

    Disadvantages of cross-border banking

    • Limits on the types of transactions you can perform. Many USD accounts aren’ designed for day-to-banking, so there are often limits on the type and number of transactions you can make and how you can access your money.
    • Low interest rates on some accounts. The interest rates on some US dollar accounts are quite low, so they won’t do much to help you build a bigger balance.
    • Watch out for fees. Some accounts charge a monthly fee or charge additional fees for performing specific transactions, so check the fine print closely.

    How to send money from Canada to the US

    If you want to send money from Canada to the US, maintaining a US dollar account allows you to avoid the cost of converting from CAD to USD. You can then send US dollars to Canada in a few ways, such as sending a bank transfer, writing a USD cheque, or even withdrawing US currency so you can send a cash transfer.

    However, if you have Canadian dollars, there are several ways to send money to the US.

    Top 4 ways to transfer money from Canada to the US

    If you need to transfer money from Canada to the US, consider these four options:

    • Money transfer service. International money transfer services specialize in moving money across borders. They offer better exchange rates and lower fees than banks, and often support a wide range of payment methods. Compare international money transfer services to find the best value.
    • Bank transfer. Many people opt to send an international wire transfer through their bank. This is a safe and convenient option, but high transfer fees and bank exchange rate markups mean it’s not as cost-effective as other transfer methods.
    • Cash pickup transfer. If you need to send money to the US from Canada quickly, you may want to consider a service such as Western Union that allows your recipient to collect the money you send as cash. This makes it possible to complete the transfer within minutes, but you’ll need to watch out for exchange rate markups and transfer fees.
    • PayPal. PayPal offers a quick and convenient way to send money overseas. But fees and weak exchange rates mean it’s not the most affordable option.

    Digital access

    Go to site
    • Low $6 monthly account fee
    • Unlimited online transactions
    • Unlimited mobile and ATM cheque deposits
    • Sole proprietorships and corporations accepted

    Multi-currency

    Go to site
    • USD, GBP, EUR accounts
    • Multi-currency credit card
    • Pay bills in 37 currencies
    • Avoid FX fees
    • For registered Canadian corporations only

    Wire transfers

    Go to site
    • Transfer to 80+ countries
    • Low minimum transfer amount
    • High sending limits
    • No mark-up or FX rate fees
    • For registered Canadian corporations only

    How to choose the right bank account to meet your cross-border banking needs

    There’s a lot to consider when choosing a cross-border banking account for USD. Keep the following factors in mind when comparing your options.

    Fees

    While some US dollar accounts don’t have any monthly fees, many do. Check the monthly fee that applies and find out whether the fee will be waived if you meet a minimum balance requirement.

    You’ll also need to check the fine print for details of any other fees that apply. These could include transaction fees, cheque fees, ATM withdrawal fees and more.

    Availability and ATM access

    Check how you will be able to access the funds in your account. For example, can you write USD cheques? Is there a debit card attached to the account? Does the bank operate ATMs that allow you to withdraw US currency? How can you transfer money from your USD account to another account?

    Make sure the account you choose offers easy and convenient access to your money.

    What’s included

    It’s worth remembering that monthly transaction limits often apply to US dollar accounts. Check the terms and conditions to find out how many transactions you’re entitled to, and what transaction fees will apply if you exceed the limit.

    Also check whether you get access to additional features like US cheques and bank drafts, and whether the account offers overdraft protection.

    Interest rates

    If you’re searching for a USD savings account, check the interest rate that applies to your balance. Is the interest tiered so that a higher rate applies to larger balances, or is it a flat rate for all accounts?

    Insurance

    Foreign currency deposits are eligible for coverage from the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC). Check to make sure your bank is a CDIC member for extra peace of mind before opening an account. [link to CDIC Finder post]

    Promotions and perks

    Finally, compare any promotions or rewards that are offered with the account. For example, you may be able to access discounts on other products from the saame bank, such as an annual fee rebate on an eligible credit card.

    How to open a US dollar bank account in Canada

    You can typically apply to open a cross-border banking account online, but some banks will require you to visit a branch to complete the signup process.

    You’ll need to be the age of majority in your province or territory and provide:

    • Your name and date of birth
    • Your residential address
    • Your phone number and email address
    • Your SIN

    What documents are required to open a US dollar account in Canada?

    You’ll need to provide two pieces of Government-issued identification, such as a driver’s licence and passport, to prove your identity. You may also be asked to provide proof of address.

    FAQs for best cross-border banking

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