Sending money to Canada from the US?
February 16, 2008 4:23 PM   Subscribe

Best way to send money from the U.S. to Canada?

My superb graphic designer recently performed some services for me and invoiced me in US dollars.

I tried to PayPal her the money and the amount of pushback I got from PayPal was excessive - they voided the first transaction, and after I jumped through all the first set of hoops, they voided the second transaction and requested another set of hoops.

I then tried Western Union. It all looked good until it came to the fee, which was 11% of the invoice amount. I couldn't stomach that.

She has a bank account there; I have a couple of bank accounts here. She'll take either $Can or $US. I'm happy to do whatever it takes. What's the right way to do this?
posted by ikkyu2 to Work & Money (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If she's comfortable giving you her bank acct number, you can wire it. Usually ~$25 I think? Alternatively, if she's comfortable providing her CC account number, you could mail a cheque to Visa/Mastercard/Whatevercard.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:29 PM on February 16, 2008

USPS International Money order

~$4 fee plus postage. You can send up to $700 per money order, not sure if there are any (insurance) complications if you need to send multiple money orders in one shot.

Make sure its the "International" money order, as the domestic one cannot be cashed (easily) in Canada.
posted by 3rdparty at 4:33 PM on February 16, 2008

I have received money from Canada quite painlessly via a google checkout account, it's a flat 2% fee, but it's not really set up to be a person to person system as much as a seller to buyer money system so there are a few annoyances with how money is handled that bug me. (Withdrawals are done to a bank account you set up and is automatically done 2 days after payment clears and it's difficult to pay someone unless they send you an invoice or you have a storefront or checkout page set up.) On the flip side, if she has an adwords account the whole thing ties together nicely.
posted by hindmost at 5:05 PM on February 16, 2008

Yep, as long as she can cash $US, the $3.85 fee from the USPS for an International Money Order is pretty painless. It does have a limit of $700. Not sure about sending more than one (at a time)...but I can't imagine it would be difficult.

You can also wire the money using your bank and her bank account info. You tell your banker her account/routing number and go from there. It will arrive in her bank account as $CDN and have a small fee taken out (usually about $10 - $15). It's easy because you can call your banker and do it over the phone.
posted by barometer at 5:40 PM on February 16, 2008

Mail her a cheque. Regardless of the type of currency in your account, you can make out the amount in USD or CAD.
posted by lunaazul at 5:45 PM on February 16, 2008

Yeah, what lunaazul said.

I've received cheques in both US$ and Euros. I deposited them successfully in my Canadian bank account. There wasn't even a fee -- just a long wait for the cheque to clear.

Heh, mefi's spellchecker doesn't like the word cheque.
posted by MiG at 5:56 PM on February 16, 2008

I'm a consultant in Canada and I have US clients. I've NEVER had any trouble cashing a US funds cheque drawn on a US bank. My clients have ranged from Hewlett-Packard to some guy outside Atlanta who wanted to make shareware for a living. I've also never been charged a fee for doing so. It does take a couple of weeks for the money to officially clear, since US bank cheques don't clear automatically, even in the US. (Here in Canada, the banks usually immediately honour cheques and follow up later.)
posted by acoutu at 6:07 PM on February 16, 2008

Oh, right, I assumed she was having problems cashing a cheque. Didn't realize that hadn't been tried yet -- definitely, she can cash a US funds cheque, from a US bank, at her Canadian bank. The currency will be converted either at the time of deposit or the day the cheque clears (I can't remember). She can also open a US funds account at her bank, if she thinks she may continue to amass US dollars and would like to keep them that way given the current exchange rate.
posted by barometer at 6:13 PM on February 16, 2008

The charge for writing a cheque in American dollars from my Canadian bank is $40. The charge for cashing a cheque in American dollars by my Canadian bank is $10 plus a crappy exchange rate, and if it's any significant amount, they hold it for 20 business days.

Go to your bank, ask them what the fastest and cheapest option is. I can send a wire transfer for $26 and receive one for $10 -- still not super cheap, but cheaper than cheques and a hell of a lot faster.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:45 PM on February 16, 2008

And just to clarify -- I realize you're dealing with an American bank so my info is only half useful for you, but I wanted to point out that all of these options, cheques, money orders, wire transfers, etc, are likely to have costs both to the sender and the receiver that need to be considered.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:46 PM on February 16, 2008

Hey I just got paid in Canada. I may have just had breakfast with your friend. I got paid for the work I did (two jobs) in two checks, one in US dollars and one in Canadian dollars. I've done this befre and usually it takes the foreign check longer to clear and I get a note from my bank that they converted the currency, but in the US at least you can deposit a check from Canada and they'll just convert it for you. I assume this would be true for your friend as well. At my bank (credit union) there aren't any other fees.
posted by jessamyn at 7:00 PM on February 16, 2008

Warning that paying across the border is hard, especially on the Canadian side of things. For example, my mom sent me an international money order from the US and the bank held it for 10 days. US checks they hold for like 40 days now. I asked them why and they said it was because of 9/11. Canadian banks are more fucked up than US ones, which I didn't think was possible!
posted by SassHat at 7:29 PM on February 16, 2008

if you ask your bank to do a money order in Canadian dollars, she won't have to pay a cent to deposit her cheque. My bank in Wisconsin only charged me $20 when I still made income in the states.

Canadian banks are capricious with holds on foreign/ out of province cheques. It's not a problem if you have credit with them, but it's technically up to the supervisor. My branch accepts personal cheques from the U.S. at no cost, but I have a mortgage with them.

If you're dealing with a professional she probably has a U.S. dollar account, and will hold on to your greenbacks until they're worth a little more.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:37 PM on February 16, 2008

Could you do an e-mail money transfer? My bank allows me to send money to anybody with an email address - they pick the bank they want to deposit it into when they get the email.

It's quite secure and the fees are minimal.

Not entirely sure it will work for international transactions though.
posted by davey_darling at 9:09 PM on February 16, 2008

If you want cheaper than western union, yet faster than the time it takes a check to clear, I might suggest Disclaimer I did some work from them in the past. YMMV. You should at least have a look, but I am not sure that it works for the amount of money you hope to send.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 9:21 PM on February 16, 2008

Canadian banks are capricious with holds on foreign/ out of province cheques.

See also: one man's humorous attempt to cash a cheque from Warner Brothers.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:18 PM on February 16, 2008

US citizen, living in canada. i have checking accounts in both canada (bank of montreal) and the states (wachovia), and a paypal account with access to both (i found that i could set this up using, but not weird). the only difficulty i've had with receiving money from the states is that things, in general, seem to take about twice as long to process, on the canadian side.

whereas a paypal-to-checking/checking-to-paypal transfer takes, maybe, four days on the US side, it usually takes more than a week when coming to or from my canadian account. my bank has told me that, officially, US checks are held for 30 days, but i've cashed checks from my father that have cleared immediately (it may help that i'm in windsor, just across the border, so there are a lot of "international" transactions taking place here, on any given day).

my bank here has never charged me a fee for depositing a check made out in US dollars, although the exchange rate is never as great as it might be, although paypal's exchange rates are always shittier. the fees for wiring money are pretty steep.

also, i've found it's more or less impossible to send money to canada (from the US) in canadian funds. i looked everywhere for a place that would issue money orders in CAD, when i was applying to grad schools and found nothing. the US dollar was still higher, at the time, so I just sent the money orders in US funds, and it seemed to work out fine.
posted by wreckingball at 9:19 AM on February 17, 2008

The currency will be converted either at the time of deposit or the day the cheque clears (I can't remember).

Neither of theseā€”it's converted right when the check is issued.
posted by oaf at 1:15 PM on April 3, 2008

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