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Discussion: International Money Transfer from Canada to Europe

in: Orienteering; General

Jun 21, 2016 10:22 PM # 
Payment for European orienteering events sometimes requires direct payment to a bank account, typically using an IBAN account/bank identifier. My bank charges a pretty exorbinant fee and is a pain (requires visit to bank, paperwork, etc.).

Wondering if anyone (ideally in Canada) has used a stand-alone foreign exchange/transfer service to perform an international money transfer. Any recommendations?

Google suggests things like ...
Canadian Foreign Exchange Services (
World Remit (
Currency Fair (
Jun 21, 2016 11:10 PM # 
How much is "exorbitant"?
Jun 22, 2016 12:01 AM # 
I haven't heard of anything but will follow this thread closely. Let us know if you get any good suggestions. Orienteering Canada regularly have this issue. As an example for the recent WOC test races the wire fees were equal to about 50% of the entry fees for 3 athletes.
Jun 22, 2016 12:04 AM # 
wire transfers in the US incur an added charge of about $35 independent of the paid amount. Not sure if this is a fixed rate, but that is the fee I have encountered multiple times and multiple banks. I guess several people could coordinate and get together to pay for the events in one wire. Nah... too complicated, I guess.
If you can send money via PayPal to a friend in Europe who can do a transfer for you, maybe that is an option.
Jun 22, 2016 12:42 AM # 
I tried to deal with the money transfer bit several times with mixed results. As mentioned, the fees are high - $35 for $25 camp site? Really! Plus various fees get sucked off, exchange rates alter and finally the recipient winds up with an unpredictable amount.

Most recently I have asked the organizers to be able to pay upon arrival. They have agreed and I hit the ATMs as many time as needed to hit the needed amount. Also complained at O-ringen during an ambassador session. Next year could pay by credit card. So pursue the alternative.
Jun 22, 2016 3:26 AM # 
Lately CIBC has been offering a "Global Money Transfer". It is pretty straightforward and reasonably priced. I no longer feel the pain. Here's an article on how & why they did it.

Before I believe TD also provided (and probably still do) a similar service.
Jun 22, 2016 3:39 AM # 
As for banks, Scotia Bank (my bank) is $40 and requires an in person visit. Bank of Montreal is similar. Royal Bank is $13.50 and can be done online, but I believe requires having an account.

But, I am interested in the stand-alone services. Might try one just to see how they work.
Jun 22, 2016 3:46 AM # 
My experience with canadianforex is that it requires a lot of faffing around.. I've used them for larger transfers when the exchange rate actually made a difference. But to pay for race entry, accommodation, that kind of thing.... I won't bother anymore - direct from the bank is quicker and so simple.

(I did have a problem last week when I tried to transfer 15 pounds to the UK - that amount is too small. There is actually a minimum (I think $100) on CIBC
Jun 22, 2016 4:16 AM # 
Up over (formerly known as "down under") we're doing this all the time. It's part of the services you expect from your bank, I can order it online and see the exchange rate before pressing "go". But likewise you expect to pay something. It's normally the equivalent of 15 euro, and some recipients also report that their bank takes up to 10 euro off them. So it's no big deal for a consignment of equipment say, but clearly ridiculous for a campsite. On the other hand the credit card industry here has a different price structure - it takes a percentage from the recipient - for me as a small trader its 4-5%, and I suspect a slightly worse exchange rate.

I've found many event organisers to be very understanding, and happy to accept a promise to pay on arrival. You can't expect a private campground operator to be as trusting though.
Jun 22, 2016 4:38 AM # 
Looking at the reverse situation.

Both Canada's Zone4 and USA's EventReg are set up to accept credit card payments (the latter's through PayPal) for event fees. Do they make payment by European residents easier than bank transfers?
Jun 22, 2016 8:26 AM # 
ph: is brilliant. peer to peer exchanging. I have used it over a dozen times to transfer money to my swedish account and can really recommend it.
Jun 22, 2016 9:21 AM # 
GuyO: The answer is yes! I have paid for events both in Canada and USA with my european credit card and never had any problem.

The problem with european events is that many of them have their own domestic payment structure organised through clubs and federations. Foreigners are rare and a nuisance for event registrars/cashiers. In most cases, bringing cash to the event is easiest for all.

On the other hand, I understand if organisers of international evnts (like the WOC test races) won't allow cash payments. When we organised WUOC in 2010 about half of the teams paid by cash. With about 300 athletes/coaches and 65 Euros per person and day, you do the math on how much money had to be brougth to the bank on arrival day...
Jun 22, 2016 3:54 PM # 
@Eriol - the big thing I don't understand is why the European systems don't accept credit cards and/or paypal or some other simple online payment. Is it a cultural thing where in NA we are used to paying online with credit cards but that isn't the usual thing in Europe?
Jun 22, 2016 5:21 PM # 
Thanks to all for the comments. CIBC looks like a decent local (bank) alternative. But, I am really intrigued by That they use the mid-rate rather than a "buy" rate is pretty impressive, especially if larger sums of money are to be transferred.

Some context ... Rachel is headed to Norway for the fall semester, so I'm looking at options for a variety of transfers. Team fees, school fees, races, training camps ... multiple transfers, varying amounts (large and small).
Jun 22, 2016 5:35 PM # 
I don't think so. People in Sweden pay online with credit card all the time. However, not for the smaller local orienteering events where the organising club will invoice the participating clubs after the event. This does not include the big summer events like Origen, but I just checked and seems like you pay with a credit card there these days.
Jun 23, 2016 12:45 AM # 
AZ, in Norway I pay for a lot of things with a bank transfer -- club dues, trip expenses, magazine subscriptions, reimbursing friends, rent, etc. It's the usual way. It's very quick, everyone can do it, and it doesn't have the overhead costs of a credit card.
Jun 23, 2016 1:12 AM # 
@ph: With, is it possible to control exactly how much the receiving individual receives? It seems as though the exchange rate can fluctuate between when the transaction is submitted (and paid for) and when it is actually processed. Thus, the actual amount received can vary slightly (up or down) from the estimated amount when the transaction is submitted.
Jun 23, 2016 1:15 AM # 
Yes I was able to pay for the O-Ringen last year by credit card, but the Sorlands Galloppen only took bank transfers -- even though both entries were through Eventor.

I pay all recurring bills -- including credit card bills -- with electronic transfers. Pretty much has replaced writing checks.
Jun 23, 2016 4:20 AM # 
In up-over and I imagine elsewhere you really need to look at the FX rate as well as the fee. Typically the FX rates the banks use are 4 to 5 % off the spot rate. So add that to the fee as well.

We use WorldFirst for transfers at work now and it saves a motza - no fee and they charge 0.5% off the spot exchange rate, so every 1000 spondooolies transferred we save 45 plus spondoolies.

You also get the choice (from memory) of setting whether the transfer is specified in your currency or the recipients - so they get exactly what they are expecting.

We actually have foreign currency accounts with our own bank (NAB, you evil fossil fuel funding fiends) and we even use WorldFirst to transfer money between the two accounts.

Definitely look at them or something similar, they are a no-brainer.
Jun 23, 2016 4:56 AM # 
Perhaps I'm missing something, but...

How do 3rd party money transfer services get the money from your (sender's) bank account to theirs?
Jun 23, 2016 1:20 PM # 
@bmay. Yes you can specify either the exact amount you send or the exact amount the receiver gets. Transfer wise will take around 1-2% extra to cover for currency fluctuations which immediately get returned to you upon completion. From personal experience 1 year ago transactions took longer so there was a greater risk of fluctuations. Today sterling to euro or sterling to sek transactions are instant and that is transferring up to £4000 GBP.
Jun 23, 2016 4:42 PM # 
@guy - You book a trade at a specified exchange rate with the third party, who has domestic transfer capabilities in both the sending and receiving countries. You send the money to them domestically in your country, they send the recipient the corresponding amount via a domestic transfer in their country.
Jun 23, 2016 5:02 PM # 
@ph - Thanks. Unfortunately, I've discovered the "Specific Amount Transfer" doesn't work when sending from Canada or US (

It is possible to accomplish part of the goal by using the "set a rate limit" function. For example, to keep the payment from dropping below a set amount in the foreign currency, you could deliberately over-pay by say 1% and then set the rate limit at 1% to avoid an underpayment. A bit kludgy, but Ok.
Jun 23, 2016 6:31 PM # 
@undy, WorldFirst seems to have a $500 minimum. Maybe fine for business, but not so great for paying for smaller things.
Jun 23, 2016 7:15 PM # 
Try They will issue you a quoted rate, and once you book the transaction you have 3 days to make the transfer while the quote is locked in.
Jun 23, 2016 9:58 PM # 
@blegg, may be worth consideration. They don't get a good review on But, given that it's a Canadian company, maybe their service for locals is better than average.
Jun 23, 2016 11:38 PM # 
@GuyO - The transfer from the client's bank to the 3rd party transfer service seems to be handled very similarly to paying a bill through your bank (i.e., phone, gas, credit card, tax). I executed a transfer with and there is a step in the process where I was asked to enter my own bank information, sufficient that a payment could be made from my bank. Transferwise (actually Align Inc) now shows up in the list of payees under "Bill Payments" on my bank account. I suspect a person could skip the automated payment during the transaction and then perform the transfer to the 3rd party separately. One would have to know the 3rd party's payee name and also tag the payment so they know who it is from.
Jun 24, 2016 1:44 PM # 
Just wanted to thank you all for this thread; I just paid the Zurich youth hostel for the junior team, and saved some money by using transferwise.
Jun 24, 2016 3:33 PM # 
I paid an invoice to CompassSport awhile back using transferwise, (Nick suggested it as he's had people from a number of different countries use it successfully). It does seem to be a good option.
Jun 24, 2016 4:04 PM # 
WorldRemit also seems like a viable alternative. It allows specification of the amount received (rather than the amount sent). Good reviews on Low fees/good rate (comparable to transferwise). Payment is by Interac-Online (rather than Bill Payments) through one's own bank.
Jun 24, 2016 4:41 PM # 
As barb says, thanks for all the great info. My initial post was based on experience of ten years ago. Nice progress since.
Jun 24, 2016 7:36 PM # 
Hi guys. My name is Al and I am the managing director of the company that owns and operates I am very glad you use the site as a reference. It really is an honor for me, and for the company. Much obliged.

I would be glad to address any question you may have. There were quite a few companies discussed here and most of them are good, but the question is what are your needs - locales / nationality you're from, where are you sending to, which volumes, frequency, do you prefer to do things online or via telephone/email... and for which purpose. I will check back on this thread in the coming days, so please add your questions below.

Take care.
Jun 24, 2016 8:31 PM # 
Holy cow. The internet is spying on us.
Jun 24, 2016 9:18 PM # 
Hi Al,

Thanks for chiming in (very surprised you found this thread). I've found good information on your website. Typical transfer needs for this community ...

Sender: Individual person
Sending Country: North America (Canada or United States)
Recipient: Organization (e.g., orienteering event) or Business (e.g., campground/hotel)
Receiving country: Europe (GB, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, etc)
Amount: Small (e.g., $50 for campsite or individual entry) to medium (e.g., $1000 for entry fees for club or family to a week-long orienteering festival)
Frequency: 1 to 10 transactions per year
Preferred method: Online and simple (avoid needing to send documents, multiple phone calls, etc).

Jun 25, 2016 2:49 AM # 
Add Australia to your list of sending countries - and USA to the list of receiving countries (from Oz that is).
Jun 25, 2016 2:54 AM # 
I run a small O-gear supply service as a volunteer for my local association, and have been purchasing gear from suppliers in Europe and the US for a few years. My Moscompass supplier uses Moneybookers (Skrill) - works quite well with no fees and a reasonable exchange rate.

Buying stuff from the US though, is a pain for both supplier and myself, with fees at both ends.
Jun 25, 2016 3:14 PM # 
Hi again guys!

I found this thread using a software called which discovers fresh mentions of my website. I get daily alerts for that sort of things. I assure you no spying was involved in the process :)

@bmay: Thanks for the specs and I am happy to chime in. I will write the my input below.

@simmo: Got your specs as well, thanks.

Points to consider:

- Funding your transfer: Stick to companies that have USA offices and bank accounts so you can transfer money domestically to them, OR companies that accept debit card payments (which have much worse fx rates but at $50-$200 it doesn't make a big difference).

- Receiving countries: all big foreign exchange companies deal with the aforementioned currencies. So that should not be a problem at all.

- Recipient: all platforms are geared towards payments, so there would be absolutely no issue to make payments with any of them.

- Signing up: the issue is the KYC process for US-based clients. Canadians and Australians, as commonwealth countries, are likely to sign up very quickly, possibly with online verification without needing to send through any documents besides a photo ID.

- Transfer size: most companies are geared towards medium to large payments, so small payments could be a problem.

--> I see 3 companies that may fit those requirements:

- Currencies Direct, their minimum is $100, but they have USA offices and deal with a lot of American, Australian and Canadian clients. I send through quite large numbers so I know people do manage to sign up and transfer, and I know clients are happy because they use them more than once. They have a great online payment system which is quite easy to use.

- Moneycorp: USA offices and now able to accept clients from all states, and I think their on-boarding process really improved as a result of a local partnership there. Very low minimum of $50. Very reliable company with most experience.

- Transferwise: They have USA offices, amazing payment system, and better rates on very small transfers than other companies. Less track record than the other two, less "expertise" perhaps, and it is possible their on-boarding would be a bit longer.

Additional companies mentioned on this thread:

-- World First, which has been mentioned on this thread, has the easiest on-boarding process for Americans clients. I sent through a mystery shopper from Florida and it took only 2 days to complete the registration. Their online system is also one of the most intuitive. So it's a perfect fit for "online and simple" requirements. Alas, the minimum amount to send is USD / CAD / AUD 1,000, so I don't think it fits your needs. You can definitely sign up with them for the bigger transfers though.

-- WorldRemit is really about remittances, their rates are higher and it's sort of a misuse to use them for payments though it may be possible. I would not use them for this particular purpose.

-- Moneybookers/Skrill: It's extremely expensive to use for foreign currency transfers. At $50 it doesn't matter much but at $1,000 you could be paying as much as $70 in fees which is too much. Have a look here:

-- CurrencyFair: I don't think they take American clients, but this has changed

Concluding words

Both Currencies Direct, Moneycorp and Transferwise are really good for your purposes. CD and MC are a bit more "flexible" - if you ever need a larger payment in the future, you can use their best functionality, speaking to a dedicated dealer that provides guidance and can set you rate alerts (this is when transferring more than $5,000 in one payment or setting up a regular transfer). Transferwise are a bit cheaper in terms of rates, and "purely" online with no dedicated foreign exchange dealers or all of that.

I suggest you simply try them. I would be very happy to hear about your experiences and embed your experiences into my review. If there are enough people from this forum who would join either Moneycorp or Currencies Direct, I can try to get a special discount rate for them! But I will need a volume of at least 10 people to request something like that.

One last thing - I would be happy if you sign up through my website's links. My business is based on referrals and this is how I make my money.

I hope this was somewhat helpful and I am looking forward for more questions. Thanks!
Jun 25, 2016 6:36 PM # 
Great information, MTC! Thank you so much for taking the time to give us your insights.
Jun 26, 2016 1:12 AM # 
Hi Al, Thanks for the information. Brian
Jun 26, 2016 9:07 AM # 
Hi guys, happy to help! I will stick around for a few more days just to make sure there aren't any loose ends and then set myself a reminder for 1 month down the road to see if anyone tried either of these companies, and/or if there's any requirements from me to approach these companies for a special discount rate. cheers!
Jun 28, 2016 2:07 AM # 
I have used ( (mentioned above) to send foreign currency many times over the last few years with great success.

Once I had opened an account with them, linked to my bank account, I can now sit down and in a few minutes initiate a foreign trade, e.g. have them sell me and then send for me (usually by wire, but also possible by bank draft) so many Euros, for example, to an orienteering organizer's bank account. I pay XE with an EFT transfer of dollars from my personal bank account.

They will quote you in advance how many dollars it will cost to buy and send the desired Euros, Swiss Francs, etc.

Over the years I have sent money successfully this way to Switzerland, Sweden, Hungary, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Italy, Finland, Latvia, France, Estona, and Ukraine, among others, and never had a problem.
Jun 29, 2016 5:45 AM # 
So, I made a couple transfers ...

I like that you can get an instantaneous estimate of the exchange rate and fees without waiting for a quote. Sign up was easy. I don't like that you can't specify the actual amount to be received for Canadian transfers (you specify the amount to be sent and then the rate floats until the payment clears). Rates seem really good and fees are low (I think about 1 to 1.5 % of transfer amount). It took a few days for my payment to clear (payment is through the Bill Payment feature of Canadian banks) and the payment to go through.

Rates and fees are available instantaneously (without waiting for a quote). Sign up was easy. You can specify either the amount to send or the amount to be received, which is nice. Rate locks immediately, so there is no guessing about what the exchange rate will be. Rates are a little worse than (maybe 0.5 to 1 %), fee is quite reasonable (flat fee of $3.99). Payment is through Interac-Online, which is supported by many Canadian banks. I made a transfer yesterday and it was received today, so the overall turn-around time seems really good.

Overall, both services seem very good. probably has the better rates. But, is a bit faster and allows the received value to be locked in. I would happily use either service in the future depending on the goals/requirements of the transfer.
Jun 29, 2016 5:54 AM # 
Hypothetical transfer ... Suppose recipient needs 1000 Norwegian kroner, sending from Canada.

1) ... $157.61
2) ... $159.74
3) ... $200.01 (including $40 wire fee)

Basically, either of the 3rd party companies is absolutely acceptable, but my bank sucks for this type of transfer.
Jun 29, 2016 7:41 AM # 
I used Transferwise to pay for O'France and was impressed with the ease of use, loa cost etc as others have mentioned. Subsequently used it to pay for a B&B in France
Jul 5, 2016 11:27 AM # 
Hi guys, happy to help. @bmay you can also fix the rates with Transferwise. You have a check box for that (you have to pay a certain amount upfront with a debit card, but it's highly highly recommend to fix the rate especially in such volatile times).

This discussion thread is closed.