Bank wire transfers suck.

They suck in (at least) three ways:

  1. Banks charge a fee for every transfer (my bank, TD, charges $30-80 per transfer)
  2. Banks’ international exchange rates are terrible
  3. Sometimes, your money needs to pass through an intermediary bank, which may charge additional fees

Ugh.

So then, when when Jenna and I decided to move to France, I started looking around for alternatives to bank wire transfers. After looking at several options, we decided to try out CanadianForex, an online forex service that advertises better exchange rates and lower fees than the banks. I was skeptical.

So then, for the benefit of anyone considering CanadianForex, here’s a quick outline of how it all went:

Setup

I set up our CanadianForex account while we were still in Toronto. The process was pretty simple. It involved filling out an online form, taking a telephone call from a friendly CanadianForex rep to confirm a few details, then sending in proof of our Canadian bank account (a scanned bank statement).

After we arrived in Lyon and opened our French bank account (which is an entirely different story), I decided to try to actually move some money. I set up our French bank account as a beneficiary, then placed an order online.

Exchange Rate

I ordered Euros on January 11, 2012. That day, if I’d bought Euros through my bank, one Canadian dollar would have bought me 0.74867 €. At CanadianForex, the rate was 1 CAD = 0.7627 €

Bottom line: Using CanadianForex got me an extra 1.4 centime on the dollar, compared to TD Canada Trust. Not bad.

Fees

Because of the amount we transferred, CanadianForex didn’t charge us any fees.

Zero fees.

TD would have charged us at least $30 CAD per transfer.

Customer service

I telephoned CanadianForex a few times — once to confirm that my French banking details were set up correctly, and another time to confirm that there would be no intermediary bank involved. Both times friendly human beings with Australian accents (CanadianForex is owned by Austalia-based OzForex) helped me out and answered my questions.

The rest of my dealings with CanadianForex were entirely online, and very straightforward.

Side note: When I asked TD about their wire transfer protocol, they handed me a photocopied form, and told me that when I wanted to transfer money, I could fill it out and fax it to them. Fax!

Timing

From start to finish, the transfer took a few days. I ordered Euros on January 11, and received a confirmation that they’d been deposited in our French bank account on January 16.

When I checked, the transfer was exactly the amount quoted, and indeed, there were no fees or intermediary banks involved.

Again, not bad.

Overall

CanadianForex advertises itself as a cheaper alternative to wire transfers, and in my (lone) experience, it is. If you feel like saving a percentage point or two on international money transfers, they’re definitely worth checking out. I’ll definitely use them again.