Moving to Montreal from abroad? Here’s how to transfer your money here cheaply…


Canada is the new land of opportunity for foreigners seeking a better life. As other nations have slammed their doors shut to immigration, our nation has embraced it. Diversity is our strength, as people from every corner of the Earth enrich our communities with their culture, perspectives, and contribution to our economy.


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The last point is vital: our country is greying rapidly. According to Statistics Canada, seniors (65 years and older) outnumbered children 14 years and younger for the first time ever in 2016. By 2031, one in every four Canadians will be over the age of 65.


Most of them will be retired (or curtailing the hours they work per week). Unless we find enough people to fill the void they will create in the workplace, an unprecedented labour crunch will develop.


How do we stave off this crisis? We aren’t reproducing fast enough, so that leaves immigration. Just this past year, Canada granted permanent residency to over 300,000 people and is on track to welcome a million more between 2018 and 2020.


Montreal is a top destination for expats from around the globe


Greater Montreal is no stranger to this trend. While many new arrivals usually opt to live closer to the core, some choose to lay down roots in the West Island. These expats tend to be wealthier – soon after arriving, they end up needing to move money from their home country into their newly opened Canadian bank account.


The bad news – wiring large amounts of money to purchase a home or to satisfy the requirements of the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program can get expensive. On top of egregious fees, the currency exchange rates banks charge can skim untold thousands of dollars off the top of their bank accounts.


The good news – third-party money transfer companies offer a cost-competitive alternative to the banks. Have you just arrived in the West Island and find yourself in this situation? Read on below and we’ll break down how these operators can help you keep thousands of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket while you execute Canada-bound international transfers.


Transferring money through the banks can get prohibitively expensive


For decades, the banks had a virtual monopoly on international cash transfers. Yet, despite competition from third-party financial companies, they continue to prey on the ignorance of long-time customers when it comes to services like international money transfers.


Depending on what institution you use, the fees they assess (this includes the spread – which is the difference between the interbank rate and the one they charge) on cash transfers can exceed 10%. Even Americans feel the sting – despite the close historical relationship between the USA and Canada, they routinely find themselves paying a premium of 2.5% on transfers.


The last rate may not sound like much, but if you are moving tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, it can add up to an amount that would pay for a very nice vacation. No matter your circumstances, it pays to research alternatives to the status quo.


Online money transfer companies cheaper, offer better customer service


What if you could move money across borders for a fraction of the rates legacy banks charge? Thanks to the power of the internet, online money transfer companies have emerged, boasting low/no transaction fees and drum-tight exchange rates.


How can they charge such low rates and stay in business? It’s simple – unlike the big banks, these companies don’t have tens of thousands of employees to pay or billions in real-world infrastructure to maintain.


With such a tiny overhead, their margins can be much smaller than the banks. Legacy providers can’t touch online money transfer companies, as they would have to operate at a loss to compete.


On top of this, many of these sites offer extensive FAQs, live chat, and have phone operators ready to assist with any query you might have. Often, responsiveness is excellent, contrasting sharply with the traditional experience of spending ages on hold with your bank.


Canadians can also make use of cash transfer companies


It isn’t just expats taking advantage of the savings that online money transfer companies offer. Every year, numerous West Island residents flee Montreal’s infamously frigid winters. While in Florida, Arizona, Mexico, Costa Rica, or elsewhere, some stumble upon irresistible real estate opportunities.


If you are in the process of buying a property in paradise, don’t send money to close these deals by using your bank. As you know by now, you will end up wasting untold thousands of dollars.

Companies like World First, OFX, and Transferwise all offer vastly superior rates compared to banks like RBC, Bank of Montreal, and Scotiabank. Give the aforementioned online upstarts a chance, and spend the money you would have burned to furnish your new snowbird nest!


Don’t get hosed by the banks


Moving to a new country is never easy. From dealing with the Canada Border Services Agency on the first day to learning a new language (the ability to speak and understand French is needed for many jobs here), the last thing you need is to worry about money.


By not letting legacy financial institutions siphon off your savings through greedy fees, you’ll ensure your first year in the West Island is a happy and exciting one.