If you’re living and working away from Canada, you may occasionally be sending money back to thicken your bank account. If you’re in Japan, like myself, it’s a great time to be doing so due to the ridiculously strong yen.
Most foreigners in Japan (and I assume it will be similar no matter where you are) know about the 3 main ways to get money back to Canada:
- Through bank transfer – this is fast and reliable, but you will be charged about $40 by the Japanese bank to send it, and another $25 by your Canadian bank to process it.
- By Postal money order – this will only cost you about $25 to send, and there will be no service charge in Canada. The down side being that it will take about 3 weeks to get there.
- Use a wiring service, such as Go Lloyds – they are fast, and have the lowest rates here (about the equivalent of $20) but you will also be dinged by the $25 charge by your home bank.
So you’re faced with paying fees of $20 – $65 just to get your money to yourself. There must be another way.
There is. The best, fastest and cheapest method is to open an International Access bank account in the country you are currently residing. The only catch is that you need someone you can trust back in Canada.
These bank cards can be used worldwide at ABMs to withdrawal cash in the local currency. These accounts are meant for travellers, but I use mine for getting money back where it belongs… in a higher interest environment than here.
I deposit money here into my account, and a trusted person has my bank card and PIN back in Canada. That person withdrawals money from an ABM, then deposits it into my Canadian bank account.
This whole process costs all of about $3 (a $2 charge by the Japanese bank, and a $1 charge by the Canadian bank for use of its ABM)
A further bit of advice: regardless of what Canadian bank you use, I recommend using a Scotiabank ABM for the simple fact that their ABMs allow withdrawals of up to $1000 (with about $3 in service fees, that means it only costs you 0.3%). RBC, for example, has a $400 limit per day, meaning that to get the same $1000 back, you would pay about $9 in fees (or 0.9%) and would have to do it over three days ($400, $400 and $200).
No matter if you use this kind of account as a way to send money over time, or if you just use it when you travel, having an easily accessible International account is a safe and cost-effective way to move money across boarders.