For many Canadians, moving south for cold winter months is a tradition. But once you choose a location for overwintering, you’ll also need to think about how to pay for your stay in local currency. How you decide to move money from your Canadian bank can have a big impact on the cash available to you.

“Travellers generally rely on bank transfers to manage transactions, so they can overwinter in a foreign country,” says Andrew McGuire, CEO of Agility Forex, a Canadian currency exchange and money transfer specialist. “But if you’re using bank-to-bank transfers to pay local bills, your savings will be significantly depleted by fees and uncompetitive currency exchange rates. Carefully choosing a foreign exchange partner can allow you to preserve a lot more of your travel budget. Over four or five months, this can add up to significant savings.”

Agility Forex has carved out a niche as a knowledgeable currency exchange specialist, helping customers to make foreign exchange transfers affordably and transparently. Using a streamlined online platform, Agility offers extremely competitive currency exchange rates. Customers can use the platform to establish an account, check the foreign exchange rate that they will be offered and complete a currency exchange, all within a few minutes.

“Some of the biggest expenses for snowbirds include rent, local utility bills, phone bills, and service and maintenance bills,” says McGuire. “And to pay locally, those payments have to come out of a local foreign account.”

However, currency exchange rates offered by banks to their customers are much higher than the interbank rate that banks charge each other.

“For banks, currency exchange is a service, but it’s not their specialty,” says McGuire. “They’ll exchange currency at a significant markup that’s opaque to the customer. At Agility, we offer a far more competitive rate. If you visit our website, we’ll not only quote our best rate, but will also tell you exactly the commission we’re earning on the exchange. If you’re converting Canadian dollars to pesos, for example, you’ll know exactly how much money will be transferred to your Mexican bank account.”

Even customers with both a U.S. dollar and Canadian dollar account at the same bank branch can use Agility Forex to transfer funds between those accounts at a favourable exchange rate instead of the bank rate.

Banks also charge an additional wire fee above the exchange rate for the service of moving the money to another country.

“Each time you move money to pay a bill, you’ll be subject to a wire fee that could range anywhere from $30 or $40 to as much as $120 per transaction,” says McGuire. “When Agility handles that transfer, there are no costs associated with actually moving that money to another account.”

While Canadian credit cards are accepted virtually everywhere, the currency exchange rates offered by credit card companies can also be significantly higher than interbank rates. Often, cardholders only know the exchange rate they were charged when they receive their monthly statement.

“Many credit card companies also charge a foreign transaction fee that’s hidden inside the foreign exchange rate,” says McGuire. “If you make a purchase using a credit card, but that transaction isn’t processed immediately, you might be subject to a different exchange rate than the one you might have expected. Generally, when using a credit card, you can’t make an informed choice about currency exchange rates at the point of purchase.”

Some Agility Forex clients use the company’s online exchange platform to establish automatic recurring transactions that coincide with their pension income, for example.

“We have clients in Australia who transfer their Canadian dollar pensions through Agility every month,” McGuire says. “We receive their Canadian dollars and we repatriate those pensions as Aussie dollars locally. It’s very easy and convenient.”

McGuire notes that customers can set up accounts with Agility Forex from anywhere in the world. It’s never too late to begin using the service.

“If you’re currently using a bank to handle your currency exchange and money transfers, visit the Agility website and check out the rates we offer,” he says. “If you think the rates we’re offering are competitive, set up an account and say goodbye to money transfer fees at the same time.”

Written by: Peter Kenter, Postmedia Content Works

This article was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Agility Forex Ltd.

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