To transfer CAD to GBP, you can use either a bank or a money transfer specialist.
It takes around 2-4 working days for your money to arrive.
The true cost is a combination of fees and exchange rates, and depends on the size of your transfer.
I’ll explain how the process works and how you can avoid high charges.
How to transfer CAD to GBP (in 4 steps)
Step 1: Register as a customer
All new customers need to register to comply with anti-money laundering rules.
It’s essentially an identification check.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take long.
You need the usual stuff – name, address, date of birth. You might also be asked to provide a photo or copy of your passport or driver’s licence.
This step only has to be done once.
Step 2: Get an exchange rate
When you transfer Canadian Dollars to Pounds Sterling, it is the CAD to GBP exchange rate that matters.
The CAD/GBP rate changes every few seconds.
Your bank or money transfer company will quote you a current rate.
You then decide whether to go ahead or not.
If you are happy to proceed, the rate will be locked-in for you.
Step 3: Send in your Canadian Dollars
Before any money is converted, your bank or money transfer company will need to receive your Canadian Dollars.
A point to note is that if you use a bank, they will need your Canadian Dollars in your account before they lock-in a rate.
Whereas, if you use a money transfer company, you can secure a rate before you send in your money.
A money transfer service company will provide you with the bank details of their Canadian Dollar client account. This will be a safeguarded account.
Step 4: Your CAD is converted to GBP and sent out
Once your Canadian Dollars are received by your bank or money transfer company, they will convert them into British Pounds (GBP) at the exchange rate previously agreed.
Your Pounds will then be sent to the UK bank account nominated by you.
How long will it take?
The truth is the time taken varies in the real world.
It’s mostly because some banks will take longer than others at clearing your Pounds into your UK bank account.
The actual money conversion process (from CAD to GBP) is quick – it takes minutes.
To be conservative, I would allow 2-4 working days for your British Pounds to clear into your UK bank account.
I have found people are fine as long as their expectations are realistic.
Some companies promise the money will be there the next day, and when it isn’t, it causes customers unnecessary stress.
The true costs explained
A lot of people just search Google for the fees when they transfer money abroad.
If only if were that simple.
The true cost of transferring CAD to GBP is a combination of fees and exchange rates.
If you are transferring a small amount, the fees can be nasty as they tend to be a fixed amount.
Whereas, if you are sending a large amount, the exchange rate tends to be the more important charge.
We’ll take a look at both below.
International Wire Fees
In Canada and the US, the big banks tend to use the term “wire transfers” when you move money abroad.
In the UK, the term “money transfers” is more commonly used.
It’s all the same thing.
If you use your bank to transfer money from Canada to the UK, you will be charged a fixed fee irrespective of the sum involved.
Here are the fees charged by three of the largest Canadian banks:
- Royal Bank of Canada: $13.50
- Scotiabank: $1.99
- TD Bank: $40
As I mentioned earlier, the fee will hurt more on smaller sums or regular transfers.
Please note- you may incur other fees too.
One of the more common charges is a ‘correspondent bank fee’.
This is where another bank also collects a fee for helping your bank facilitate the transfer.
Sounds like a ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ arrangement.
Also, if you amend your transfer or make any error, expect another fee for your troubles.
The only real way to avoid bank fees is to bypass the banks.
Some money transfer companies also charge fees.
Others, such as ourselves, specialise in larger transfers, so we don’t charge any fees.
It depends on your situation.
Exchange rates (and why they matter)
Exchange rates are by no means standardised.
They vary a lot, depending on the provider.
A bank or money transfer company set their own exchange rates.
Much like a shop, they will add a mark-up or ‘margin’ to their wholesale cost.
This can be difficult to work out as exchange rates are always on the move and different companies have different providers.
But you can figure it out if you have access to wholesale rates and a calculator to hand.
Our research found that the exchange rate margin added by the big Canadian banks ranged between 2.6% and 3.0%.
In my opinion, that’s on the high side.
Let’s look at an example:
Say you want to convert C$120,000 into Pounds Stelring and move it to your UK bank account.
Your bank charges you 2.8% in exchange rate costs.
That works out at C$3,360.
You can see from the example that the exchange rate costs are way higher than the international wire fees.
The fees are more of a distraction.
It’s why you generally can find the fees listed on the internet, but the exchange rate costs rarely get a mention (psst…that’s where the money’s made).
Getting a good exchange rate should be your priority.
You should find money transfer companies are more competitive than the banks – otherwise they shouldn’t exist.
The thing to remember is you are not beholden to your bank.
You are in a position to shop around and get yourself a better deal.
Choosing a money transfer company
Choosing a money transfer company can be confusing.
On the surface, they might all sound the same.
But not all money transfer companies offer the same thing.
These days, a lot of the names you see around are really just ‘apps’.
They might sound funky and friendly, but as a customer, you are basically given a do-it-yourself platform.
In this space, the bigger names are PayPal, Transferwise, Revolut and WorldRemit.
You register yourself, enter all the payment and recipient information, choose when to exchange your money and confirm your transfer.
They suit some customers, but not others.
The money transfer apps are popular with micropayments (people sending regular amounts to family and friends), and online sellers who need to process a lot of small payments.
For people sending a large amount, they often find the apps have limitations or shortcomings.
If for example, you plan to send C$100,000 back to the UK, I doubt you are going to trust an app you’ve downloaded on your phone.
I know I wouldn’t.
- What if you get the payment details wrong?
- What if your money goes missing?
- What if you screw up the timing of your transfer and get a bad rate?
You can forget speaking to someone.
Customer support is through webchat or email.
Good luck with that.
In my experience, people that are sending larger sums prefer the reassurance and expertise that comes from human help.
That includes managing the process for you, making sure things are set up correctly, and working with you to achieve a better exchange rate.
As I said, it depends what you’re looking to do.
No company offers all things to all people.
It depends on what you prefer.
Don’t be sucked in by the rates you see online
You can get ‘real-time exchange rates’ from all sorts of places these days.
FX portals, comparison sites, even Google, will give you a rate.
But here’s the thing…
Most of the rates you find online are misleading. That’s because they are not customer rates.
Instead, what you are seeing are ‘interbank rates’.
Interbank rates are the rates used by banks to trade with each other – they’re like a wholesale rate.
To put that into context, even large corporations, that buy and sell massive quantities of currencies, don’t trade at interbank rates.
Unfortunately, this important point is hidden most of the time in disclaimers.
Now here’s the sneaky bit…
A lot of free websites use their wholesale rates as a teaser to lure in customers.
They make money by referring business and get paid a commission, or they have their own in-house service they’re directing you to.
You think you’re getting a great rate but find out later that their customer rates are vastly different to what you initially saw.
It’s a common ploy.
If you need to transfe CAD to GBP, it’s best to get a genuine quote from a bank or money transfer specialist before you commit to anything.
That way, you will avoid any unpleasant surprises and make firm plans with your money.
Getting the best CAD to GBP exchange rate
Exchange rates are always on the move.
It makes it tricky to know when to exchange your money.
The CAD to GBP rate can have major moves.
You can see just how much the rate has fluctuated in the last 10 years.
Peaks and troughs are a common event.
A natural ebb-and-flow pattern emerges in exchange rates, whether you look at a daily, monthly and multi-year chart.
Some of the moves can been huge.
Over a period of years, the movements tend to become larger – as there’s a greater chance of a big political or economic event happening.
But even over a few days or weeks, you can have swings of 2%-3%.
Even the small moves matter.
By way of example; on a $150,000 transfer of CAD to GBP, just a 3% adverse move in the rate would cost you an extra C$4,500.
Obviously, the larger the transfer, the greater the financial impact.
If you are unaccustomed to dealing with foreign exchange and currency markets, you may not be aware of current trends or potential risks in the CAP/GBP rate.
It’s why it can be useful to speak to someone who is familiar with news and events and is monitoring exchange rates continuously.
By working within the timeframe available, you could discuss market limits or target levels to aim for.
In my view, that’s a lot better than just leaving things to chance.
Who are we?
Key Currency is a leading money transfer specialist.
We offer great CAD/GBP rates and charge no fees.
As part of our service, every customer is assigned an account manager who can assist you from start to finish.
We can monitor the exchange rate for you, answer any questions you have, help set up your payment, and track its progress for you.
And unlike a bank or do-it-yourself platform, we work with you to achieve the best rate possible.
As a company, we are open and transparent.
The names, faces and backgrounds of our team of people are shown on our website.
You also have the peace of mind knowing that Key Currency is an Authorised Payment Institution (Financial Services Register No. 753989). As such, all money transfers are conducted through fully safeguarded client accounts.
We have attained a 5-Star "Excellent" rating on Trustpilot based on over 700 customer reviews.
Whether you are based in Australia or the United Kingdom, we can help.
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