Easiest way to easily transfer finds from the US to my Canadian bank account?
February 25, 2008 8:09 AM   Subscribe

I need to easily transfer finds from the US to my Canadian bank account. What's the easiest way to do this?

For the next few months I will be living and working in the US while my family remains here in Canada. So I need to move my US pay so we can pay bills, mortgage, etc. I currently bank at BMO and would rather not change accounts as we'll all be leaving eventually. Where can I do my US banking that will make life easier? I will be in California so I do not think the BMO Harris subsidiary will be much help.
posted by GuyZero to Work & Money (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know about the NW, but in the NE I just used any bank and wrote/mailed checks to the Canadian bank (in US $) for deposit into my account... It took a few days longer than normal for funds to clear, but I had reserve $$$
posted by Gungho at 8:25 AM on February 25, 2008

posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:25 AM on February 25, 2008

my bank takes 30 days to clear a US cheque. while i was down south, i wired money back to my canadian account once i had enough to justify the cost ($5000 - $9999; over $10k requires some kind of declaration).

you could work something out with a couple of paypal accounts.
posted by klanawa at 8:46 AM on February 25, 2008

Yeah, Paypal was my idea, too. It has been my experience that transferring money from a bank account in the US to a bank account in Canada is like transferring money between two countries!
posted by humannaire at 9:09 AM on February 25, 2008

Maybe a cheap US account + XETrade?
posted by PatoPata at 9:24 AM on February 25, 2008

I either write checks to myself (depending on your bank, may take some time to clear, about 2 weeks for me with Scotiabank -> Bank of America), or, for small amounts, use an ATM to get cash from my Canadian account, which is then available immediately upon deposit.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:31 AM on February 25, 2008

In my experience it takes longer to transfer from US->Can; 6 weeks the last time I deposited a cheque in Toronto from my BoA account. It's probably from the fact that banks down here like to manipulate transaction clearing times to try to get an advantage (seriously, withdraws normally take a few days to clear from my account, but they are expedited if I take funds out the second last day of the month - I think they're fishing for overdraft fees). Standard banking settlement period is also overnight in Canada vs two days in the US.

I'm also interested if you find a better solution.
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:49 AM on February 25, 2008

Buy CDN money orders, send them to family members to deposit in your Canadian account. I lived in the states for a year, and that was the best (cheapest/fastest) way I could find.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:18 AM on February 25, 2008

Best answer: I moved from Canada to the US, and retain my Royal Bank of Canada account, along with the credit card I had through them which I am still paying off.

I got a Royal Centura account - they're in Florida, and I am not, so I did everything over the phone to set it up, and do all of my cross-border banking by internet. To get the American funds into the American BMO account to begin with, you should be able to do direct deposit.

Talk to the BMO's American subsidiary. If they do internet banking, you do not need a local (to you) office.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:23 PM on February 25, 2008

Wire transfer?
posted by birdlips at 1:29 PM on February 25, 2008

Best answer: Seconding the US subsidiary bank. I, like joannemerriam, have a RBC Centura account, even though I've never been anywhere near one of their branches. Transferring money is instant and easily done online.
posted by ssg at 4:53 PM on February 25, 2008

TD is branching out deep into the NE US, not sure about any of the West Coast, but due to the differences in banking regulations it was explained to me (when I went in to a US TD bank to ask if getting an account there would make my life easier than dealing with my idiot FL bank), that it is not any easier to deal with a TD bank vs any other US bank, in terms of the ease of getting money in/out - they are basically completely separate entities working under the same name.

Because the regulations are so different, and because they changed the rules about cross-border funds transfers (don't even try to send your family a personal check, it can and will be held for upwards of 60 days if the bank decides to do it), it is oddly harder to get money into Canadian accounts as opposed to out of them. I would not recommend using checks or money orders - in the past year or so this has become very difficult and has caused me many headaches. The only way I could access funds from money order/checks originating from US banks this year involved weird loopholes, which I am happy to tell you about when you post your "Goodbye GuyZero Meetup" MetaTalk thread. :P

It's a bitch in the ass, you're lucky in that you'll have someone on the other side of things you can call and go down to the bank if something needs to be done/signed, etc. This has been plaguing me for two years with my US accounts. You need to get a print out before you leave Canada of all of your transit numbers (what they would print out if you were going to get direct deposit at work), take them to the US bank and say you want to set up regular wire transfers with no defined amount/deposit. So the US banks will have it set up so you can regularly deposit X dollars from/to each account, only in your case they will have to remove the fixed date/amount of the transaction and leave it up to you as to when/where. You will prob have to go into the bank each time to do this. If it's anything like my FL bank, they will charge you a flat fee (15 bucks a month) and you will have to deal with some faxing back and forth between the two banks with various forms to be signed. As far as I can tell, the only people who use this setup (other than me, sending money to myself) is divorced parents paying child support across the border, they will not offer this as an immediate solution as I think they make more money if you do it as distinct transactions each time (ie: buying a bank draft or getting to essentially allowing them to hold your money for 60 days in some limbo account). Once it's set up properly, it's easy peasey but again it may require signing paperwork on both sides of the border which has been the thorn for me.

When you go into send a wire transfer, expect the poor teller not to have a clue about what Canadian transit numbers are, even if the information is set up in the system and they don't have to do anything with it. The tellers are supposed to know this type of stuff, but depending on your particular branch/teller they may not have a lot of experience dealing with Canadian banks (especially as a lot of people in the recent past would just deal with money orders to avoid the whole mess, something which is becoming less of an option). Just let them know up front when you open the account that this is something you're going to need, that way you'll be dealing with a manager of some sort from the get-go. Get the branch mngr/asst mngr's contact info and let them know that your family back home is relying on these funds and this is a priority. I found with my US bank AND my Canadian bank, time never seemed to be a key factor in getting the funds transferred, I practically had to make a human sacrifice to get the funds in/out at all.

A little side rant re: US banks (again, Your Bank May Vary, but I have had 4-5 different US banks in my time and they all operated about the same) - you are going to have to learn the American strategy of defensive customer service - ask everyone's name up front, write it down in their presence (unless it's over the phone, in which case ask how you could identify them in the future - employee number, etc) including the time you talked to them and what they told you. Read it back to them and ask, "So you are telling me what I need to do is ________. Is that correct, [name]?" When they say yes, ask them, "And if I should have a problem when it comes time to do ___________ as you suggest, how can I reach you if I have any concerns or who else can I speak to here (a manager)?"

DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. Because when you go to Tiffany the teller on Monday, she will tell you to call the 1-800 number next time you want to deposit, "and all you have to do is just enter in this code!" But you will call the number and enter the code, and the customer rep will tell you that it's missing a digit, or it doesn't apply to your account type, or does not apply to international transfers, or you need to log into the website first. Because phone reps aren't authorized to do much of anything, they will call the branch seeking clarification (with you PATIENTLY waiting on the line while they do so). But when the branch answers, if you don't know who told you to do that, they will just connect you and the phone rep to the first available teller, say her name is Cindee. Cindee will say that you need to come into the branch and fill out the form. And when you go into the branch, foaming at the mouth, the manager will apologize profusely and tell you that she's sorry, there's nothing she can do and she is not sure why anyone would tell you that, when clearly the process is ZYX, and meanwhile you're trying to explain how you were first told ZYX by Tifanny (whose name you can't recall) and then the phone rep said no and then you were told YZX by Cindee (whose name you also can't recall), and the phone rep (whose name you never knew to begin with) told you that the entire process wasn't even an option as far as he was aware, but then again he's working out of the national call center in Duluth, so maybe things are different in the West Coast Division. So document, be prepared to explain things calmly to multiple people, don't be afraid to escalate. Canadians are great at the first two, its the last one that might cause some issues.

Sorry for the long response, hopefully it's helpful as opposed to terrifying. Good luck, buddy!
posted by SassHat at 9:27 PM on February 25, 2008

Response by poster: I am going to go check out RBC this week. I called BMO and was told flat out that there was no way to do it other than an international wire transfer for them.
posted by GuyZero at 7:31 AM on February 26, 2008

over $10k requires some kind of declaration

Transactions of under $10,000 require the exact same declaration if you're splitting them up to try to avoid it.
posted by oaf at 8:40 AM on February 26, 2008

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