The Canadian Dollar - Everything You Need to Know About Canada's Currency

Information on the Canadian dollar denominations, exchange rates and currency transfers...

Canadian Dollar – everything you need to know about Canada’s currency  


If you need to make currency transfers to or from Canada you’ll need to know all about the Canadian Dollar.

In our handy guide, provided by TorFX, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the ‘Loonie’, plus some extra fun facts.

(For example, the Canadian Dollar is known as the ‘Loonie’ because it features an image of a ‘Loon’ – an aquatic bird).  

Canadian Dollar denominations

If you haven’t had any experience of the Canadian Dollars before, here are the different denominations you’ll come across.

Coins1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, 1 dollar, 2 dollars

Notes – 5 Dollar, 10 Dollar, 5 Dollars, 20 Dollars, 50 Dollars, 100 Dollars

Fun(ish) fact... The Canadian Dollar has been in use since 1858.

What a difference a rate makes

Any international currency transfer will involve exchange rates.

If you have experience with exchange rates move on to the next section of our guide, but if you haven’t encountered them before here’s a basic explanation of what they are and how they work.

An exchange rate is the value of one currency relative to another. So if you had Pounds but wanted ‘Loonie,’ the GBP/CAD exchange rate would tell you how many Canadian Dollars you would get for each Pound.

However, exchange rates are always moving, meaning the value of the Canadian Dollar to the Pound changes constantly.

A small difference in the exchange rate can make a big difference to how much your transfer is worth, and this discrepancy is more significant depending on the amount you’re transferring.

For example...

Currency pair

Transfer amount

Exchange rate















Achieving a good exchange rate for your currency transfers is essential if you want to make your money go further!

Fun(ish) fact... The Royal Canadian Mint produced the world's first 10kg 99.999% Pure Gold Coin, featuring The Spirit of Haida Gwaii design from the masterpiece by Bill Reid, one of Canada's most accomplished and renowned artists.

Historic Canadian Dollar movement

Exchange rates can move by as much as 5% in a matter of days during periods of heightened volatility (political shifts, economic crises etc.) but if we look back over 10 years you can see just how much rates can change.


Over the course of a decade the GBP/CAD exchange rate traded at lows of 1.52 and highs of 2.09.


That’s a whopping difference of 0.57– or $57,000 on a $100,000 transfer!

The USD/CAD exchange rate, meanwhile, has traded at both 0.94 and 1.45 over the last decade – a movement of 51 cents.

The GBP/CAD and USD/CAD exchange rates are trading at higher rates now than they were ten years ago, meaning you’d get more Canadian Dollars than you would have in 2011.

Fun(ish) fact... The Canadian Dollar is among the top ten most traded currencies in the world.

What causes Canadian Dollar movement?

Different factors move different currencies, so here we explore some of the main causes of Canadian Dollar movement.

Commodity prices

Canada is a major exporter of oil, so the price of oil can have a notable impact on the value of the Canadian Dollar.

US economy

The US is Canada’s biggest trading partner, so the performance of the US economy can influence Canadian Dollar exchange rates.

Domestic data

Canadian economic data releases, including growth figures, employment data, manufacturing output and inflation, play an important part in Canadian Dollar strength. If the Canadian economy is performing well it tends to lend the ‘Loonie’ support.

Canadian Dollar currency transfers

Some top tips

1.     The exchange rate you see is not necessarily the rate you can achieve. If you google an exchange rate the one you see is typically the interbank rate. The interbank rate is the one at which banks and financial institutions buy currency and is not available to the general public.

2.     Compare banks with currency specialists. Banks often charge transfer fees and offer uncompetitive exchange rates, so you can save money by using a reputable currency specialist instead.

3.     Exchange rates are always moving, but by keeping an eye on the currency market you can pick the right time to move your money.

4.     There are a number of different currency transfer services which suit different requirements. You can find out more about some of these services in the next section.

5.     Talk to a currency specialist as soon as you can. The more time you give yourself to prepare for a currency transfer the more chance you have of securing a favourable exchange rate.

Canadian currency transfer services

If you need to transfer money to Canada there are a number of services you can use to help you get more for your money.

Currency service

What do you need to know?

Spot contract

Use a spot contract when you need to move money ‘on the spot’. Transfers will be made at the current exchange rate and will take between 24-48 hours depending on the country and currencies involved.

Forward contract

Fix an exchange rate up to two years ahead of making a currency transfer.

While fixing the rate in this way would mean you’d miss out if the exchange rate strengthened, you’d be protected from any negative shifts.

Limit order

Target a stronger exchange rate. Set the rate you want to achieve and your transfer will be triggered automatically if the market hits that level.

Rate alert

Set your target rate and get notified by text or email if the market moves to that level.

Regular payments

Automate regular overseas transfers. Remove all the hassle and benefit from excellent exchange rates and no transfer fees.

Currency wallets

Some international payment specialists allow you to buy currency in advance and keep it in a currency wallet until you need it. This allows you to take advantage of favourable rates and can speed up future transfers.


Canadian Dollar currency transfer FAQs

How long do currency transfers to Canada take?

The speed of your currency transfer will depend on the provider you use and the countries/currencies involved. A GBP/CAD transfer should typically take between 24-48 hours, although it can be quicker if you have funds on account.

Is transferring money to Canada safe?

As long as you use a reputable provider your transfer should be safe and secure. Look for a well-established currency provider who’s regulated by the right bodies and has good online customer reviews.

How much do currency transfers to the Canada cost?

If you use a bank to move money to Canada you may be charged a transfer fee. This can be a flat rate or a percentage of the transfer amount.

Some specialist transfer providers don’t charge anything outside of the exchange rate they quote, and as they work on smaller margins than banks you’ll receive a more competitive rate.

What is a margin and how does it affect my exchange rate?

Banks and other large financial institutions buy currency at the interbank exchange rate and add on a ‘margin’ before selling it on to consumers. The larger the margin applied the less competitive the exchange rate, and the less you’ll receive.

How much can I transfer to Canada?

Again this depends on the provider you use, but many have no upper transfer limit when it comes to moving money to Canada.


This information has been provided by TorFX

If you need to move money to or from Canada our currency partner TorFX can help.

TorFX have been offering their customers great exchange rates, no transfer fees and personal account management since 2004.

They’ve won the Moneyfacts Consumer ‘International Money Transfer Provider of the Year’ award for six years running (2016 – 2021) and hold an ‘Excellent’ five-star rating on Trustpilot.

Get a quote now to find out how much you could save.

You can also create an account with them in two minutes online or over the phone. Once you’ve created an account you’ll be able to check live exchange rates 24/7 and make fast, hassle free currency transfers.