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Currency Exchange

Toronto, Canada
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Currency Exchange

Beware the Foreign Exchange Centre on the lower basement level of the Eaton Centre! My relatives visiting from Japan changed their money there under the assumption that any business located in so illustrious a shopping centre must be trustworthy. As it turned out, they were charged a 10% service charge and were given an exchange rate fully 20 cents below the official rate. They only received $450 for 50,000 yen. When I saw their receipt I was shocked and phoned a number of other currency exchange businesses. It turns out that, had my relatives gone anywhere else, they would have received between $575 and $585. In other words, the Eaton Centre's Foreign Exchange Centre ripped them off to the amount of $125! What a way to welcome foreign visitors. Sadly, this incident will colour their memory of the Eaton Centre and Canada. (Needless to say, when I went with my brother-in-law to try to get his money back, the clerk merely sneered and pointed at the line printed at the bottom of the receipt: "All Transactions are Final.")

(College Currency Exchange located at 1 Carlton Street one block north of the Eaton Centre is a safe alternative).

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Petroff Gallery
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1. Re: Currency Exchange

Hi Lukeelliot,

Welcome to the TORONTO TRAVEL FORUM.

And I see you are also a Brand NEW Member to TripAdvisor… so a BIG Welcome Aboard as well !!

Sorry to hear about your relatives… that really can put a damper on a vacation.

Unfortunately if they (or you) had checked in with TripAdvisor BEFORE this happened the situation might have been avoided… clearly the best way to get the most purchasing power by converting Foreign Funds into Canadian Funds here in Canada these days is by using Plastic (be that a Credit Card for making large purchases… or whatever one puts into an ATM Machine to get actual hard currency for smaller purchases).

This is most certainly the way to get the most mileage out of one’s Foreign Currency... BOTH the best exchange rate and the lowest fees for converting money (YES there is always a fee charged… 3% seems to be the norm).

For more info see the CANADA – TRAVELLER ARTICLE entitled *Banks and Money* = tripadvisor.ca/Travel-g153339-s601/Canada:Ba…

Sadly, when one doesn’t use a Canadian Bank to exchange funds, one runs the greatest chance of “being taken advantage of” by unscrupulous merchants (be that Foreign Exchange Kiosks OR Retailers themselves). This is because the ONLY Legal Currency in Canada is Canadian Dollars… all other monies ARE NOT regulated… and other than Banks, Exchange Rates are decided by individual merchants (You want FAIR EXCHANGE... then you must deal with a Bank).

Hopefully, this is a lesson learned... and now you (and your relatives) will stick around TripAdvisor, and use us a tool for Research & Info in the future for Trip Planning… using TripAdvisor is a fabulous way to plan a vacation, learn insider tips from locals, and even ways to save money in one’s travels.

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

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2. Re: Currency Exchange

I'm afraid I've been warning about the Eaton Centre currency exchanges for a long time -- their rates really are terrible.

You can do fine at certain currency exchange places, you just have to know where to look (or know the latest exchange rate so you can compare with what's posted). Guardian Currency Exchange across the street from the Eaton Centre (in Dundas Square) is also good -- I've used them personally.

new york
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3. Re: Currency Exchange

I agree that Guadian Currency is the best I have found to exchange US currency. Unfortunately my credit card companies have increased their foreign transaction fees so using credit isn't always the best anymore (although I continue to use mostly credit and only cash enough for small transactions)..

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4. Re: Currency Exchange

I have found some currency exchange places are better then the banks. Always ask before going through with the transaction, and know what the current rates are. I use www.XE.com to see what the current rate is. Also keep in mind though, that most places use the previous days closing rate plus a commision.

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5. Re: Currency Exchange

I fail to see why charging 10% commission and a bad rate is "not trustworthy". Did the exchange centre post/quote a rate that's different from what your relative got?

In most countries without currency control(except Japan), you get lousy rates at airports and tourist spots. Canada is no exception. Did your relative shop around? Negotiate?

Many people like to shop at expensive stores and pay a premium, for whatever reason. It's the consumer's own responsibility to shop around for the "best" deal.

>> there is always a fee charged… 3% seems to be the norm

I never paid any fee at Guardian, Carlton or any currency exchange shops in Toronto in addition to the posted exchange rates.

Edited: 31 January 2011, 22:57
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Jasper, Canada
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6. Re: Currency Exchange

"so illustrious a shopping centre"

??? Does this mean you think that the merchants there operate with the intention of *not* making a profit? It's one of the most touristy shopping malls in the area - in general, I would expect prices and services there to be more expensive than other places.

I agree with bibimbob - if the rates you got were as advertised or posted (even if not the cheapest), what is so "untrustworthy" about them? I think it would be fair to say "Beware the Foreign Exchange Centre on the lower basement level of the Eaton Centre because their exchange rates are not competitive and are more than other nearby currency exchanges." but overstating your case just makes it hard to take your complaint seriously.

Toronto, Canada
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7. Re: Currency Exchange

I was ripped off this morning from the same 'Foreign exchange centre' in eaton centre.I was there to exchange 2450 chinese yuan.The rates were not posted and when I asked the guy working there he told me the rate is .1005.I got only 221.60.Too bad I didn't check out with the rate before with other exchange rate places.When my friend suggested me to call the one on 1 carlton exchange place,I found out that the exchange rate is .14 not .1005 and I was ripped off by $109.A little bit expensive than other places is okay but so much expensive not acceptable.This exchange place should be closed down for ripping people off like this.10/20 dollars less than other places is fine but less by so much.HORRIBLE.

Edited: 27 July 2011, 06:17
Toronto, Canada
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8. Re: Currency Exchange

And funny thing the receipt says 'All transactions are final and not responsible for violating any exchange rate policy.

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9. Re: Currency Exchange

The Eaton Centre is one of Toronto's prime tourism destinations. And it's on the edge of the Ryerson University campus. So that means you get a lot of people coming into the area who are completely unfamiliar with Canadian currency rates, and needing Canadian money quickly. Sadly, unscrupulous people taking advantage of tourists exist all over the world, not just in the exchange place at the Eaton Centre.

There is a CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) on Dundas, across from the Eaton Centre. It's also a short walk to a number of other Canadian Banks, down in our Financial district at King Street. You can often purchase (mainstream) foreign currencies at many of our banks.

Bendix, Globex, OANDA, Calforex, these are all reputable exchange houses, as well as our Banks themselves, and all have downtown Toronto offices.

Alternatively, many visitors to our city opt to use the ATM machines that are so conveniently located just about everywhere (although you must beware of the possible service charges associated with ATMs). Best to do your research PRIOR to landing in Toronto to get the best and most honest exchanges for your money.

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10. Re: Currency Exchange

Unfortunately, the only way to tell the difference between a tourist trap exchange booth and one that offers fair rates is to know the current rate. But it's not hard to come prepared: a Google search for "2450 Chinese yuan in Canadian dollars" will do the conversion for you at the current interbank rate. You should walk away from any place that's more than 5% off that (and run if they're more than 10% off).

Locals on the TripAdvisor forums can usually point you to the currency exchange kiosks with the best rates, and (thankfully) Canadian banks do reliably offer decent but not stellar exchange rates. An ATM wouldn't help here, since you're selling foreign currency, but they do offer great rates as long as you minimize transaction fees from the ATM owner and your own bank.