Cross-border transactions can be complicated and expensive. First, you have to deal with a constantly shifting exchange rate. Then there’s the foreign transaction fees you’ll run into… and don’t get us started on what happens if you’re a dual citizen and have to pay a tax bill!
What’s the solution? A US Dollar bank account based in Canada.
It’s easy to assume that Canadians can only have accounts that deal in Canadian currency, but that’s not the case. All the big banks (and most of the small ones) have USD bank accounts as well.
A US dollar account can be a lifesaver for Canadians who:
- Work with American clients and need an easy way to get paid
- Frequently visit the States and want to hold American currency instead of changing it back and forth.
- Pay any kind of bills in the US (this is a special case – more on this later)
The main reason why these accounts can save people so much money is that it prevents the constant need to pay exchange fees as you change money back and forth.
On this page, you’ll find information about all the best US bank accounts for Canadians, the pros and cons of a Canada-based US dollar account vs a US-based account and suggest some alternatives in case you’re really not feeling the extra bank account.
The Best USD Bank Accounts for Canadians Compared
Here’s some essential information about the selection of Canadian USD bank accounts. For more details about each bank’s offerings, see our write-ups below.
$0 - $4.95 US
$0 - $1.25 US
No Available Promotion
$0 (If paying for another account)
12 free, then $1.25 US
No Available Promotion
2 free debit transactions, then $1.25 US
No Available Promotion
No Available Promotion
$0 - $2
1 free, then 3$ US
No Available Promotion
No Available Promotion
No Available Promotion
EQ Bank USD Bank Account
We’re big fans of EQ Bank, partly because of their stellar customer service, but mostly because of their comparatively massive interest rates. EQ Bank’s EQ US Dollar Account is a no-fee account with the highest interest rate on this list (by far!) at 1.0%. The EQ US Dollar Account also has one of the best exchange rates on the market.
Their focus is on convenience – you can transfer funds either between EQ accounts or between your US Dollar Account and a linked account from another bank. You can also send your US dollars to other US dollar accounts in any country using Wise, which has no hidden fees.
In order to open an EQ US Dollar Account, you must open a Savings Plus account. Then you can use the Savings Plus account to transfer funds to your US Dollar account (and back again).
We can’t stress enough how fantastic EQ’s interest rate is. A rate of 1% in a world where 0.05% is considered “high” is really special. If you need to accept payments from the States, or if you need a Canadian-based account that lets you grow your money and keep it in US currency, EQ’s US Dollar Account is a perfect choice.
TD Bank USD Bank Accounts
TD gives you two account options for a Canada-based USD account.
1) The TD US Daily Interest Chequing account gives you no monthly fee, but a $1.25 US transaction fee. The transaction fee is waived if you maintain a balance of at least $1,500 US in the account.
2) The TD Borderless Plan has a monthly fee of $4.95, but it’s waived if you maintain a balance of $3,000 US. There are no transaction fees.
The TD Borderless Plan doesn’t pay interest on account balances, but it does give you an annual fee rebate on TD’s US $ Visa, as well as preferred foreign transaction rates. Depending on how many transactions you expect to need monthly, this may be the better option in spite of the larger monthly fee ($4.95 = about 4 transactions).
Both of TD’s accounts give you 10% off TD Travel Medical Insurance, plus no additional fees for cheques or bank drafts. Like many accounts on this list, they don’t allow ATM withdrawals or point of sale transactions (which is why that US Visa card could really come in handy if you travel frequently!).
BMO USD Bank Account
BMO offers Canadians two US dollar account options: one chequing and one savings.
The BMO US Dollar Primary Chequing Account is a no-fee account if you already have a BMO account. If not, BMO’s monthly fee is usually about $4/mo. This account gives you 12 free transactions, and then charges you $1.25 each. Account holders can set up PAPs, write and deposit cheques, make transfers, and set up online bill payments. Overdraft services are available.
The BMO US Dollar Savings Account’s fees are the same as the chequing account. Money in this account earns 0.05% interest. Because it has no chequing capabilities, it’s likely best used in conjunction with a USD chequing account unless you’re just looking for an account to receive US payments and hold onto cash before converting it to Canadian.
Scotiabank USD Bank Account
Scotiabank has a single US dollar account available for Canadians. The Scotia US Dollar Daily Interest Account charges a $1.00 monthly fee unless you have a balance of $200 or more (or if you’re a senior). Account holders receive 2 free debit transactions, then the fee increases to $1.25.
Scotiabank has tiered interest rates:
- 0% for balances under $1,000
- 0.010% for balances between $1,000 and $4,999
- 0.025% for balances between $5,000 and $9,999
- 0.05% for balances over $10,000
Account holders have access to 2 free teller-assisted transactions per month. Scotiabank offers no-fee USD bank drafts, and the debit transactions available on this account include:
- Cash withdrawals
- Account transfers
Tangerine USD Bank Account
Tangerine Bank has one US currency account, the US Dollar Savings Account. This account has no fees or minimum balance, a 0.1% interest rate, and a great exchange rate.
The downside of Tangerine’s US Dollar Savings Account is that you can only withdraw US funds by visiting a branch – and the one Tangerine branch is closed due to Covid. However, you can receive US dollar payments to this account and then transfer your money to Canadian as needed. The usefulness of this account will depend on your personal circumstances.
RBC USD Bank Account
Royal Bank of Canada offers two Canada-based, US-dollar accounts:
The RBC US Personal Account is a chequing account. Fees are $2/month, with 6 free transactions, then $1.25 per transaction. This account charges no fees for e-transfers. Overdraft protection is available for $5/month.
The RBC US High Interest Savings Account is a no-fee savings account. Account holders can complete 1 free transaction a month, after which they cost $3 each. The account features a 0.5% interest rate.
RBC’s accounts don’t allow cross-border debit transactions or non-RBC ATM withdrawals. Account holders can transfer money across the border to their US-based RBC Bank account (more on this later) or convert it to Canadian dollars by transferring to a Canadian dollar RBC account.
National Bank USD Bank Account
National Bank’s USD Progress Account is a chequing account with no monthly fee. Transaction fees vary—cheques and preauthorized payments are $1.25, but other kinds of transactions may have larger fees attached. You can write cheques, set up bill payments, or withdraw US funds at a National Bank branch.
Interest rates vary for this account.
- Accounts up to $4,999 earn 0% interest
- $5,000-9,999 balances earn 0.01% interest
- $10,000 balances and up earn 0.1% interest.
Like many of the accounts on this list, the USD Progress Account has no ATM, point of sale, or online banking transactions.
CIBC USD Bank Account
CIBC’s US$ Personal Account is a chequing account with no monthly fee. Account holders pay only $0.75 per transaction, which is the lowest transaction fee on this list (besides the free ones, obviously).
This account doesn’t have a specific minimum balance, you just need to keep some money, any amount, in the account for it to remain active. The account also pays 0.05% interest, calculated daily, and paid monthly.
One great thing about the CIBC US$ Personal account is the flexibility. You can write a cheque in US dollars or withdraw USD from any CIBC branch or CIBC US currency ATM in Canada. The ATMs are a nice (and rare!) touch.
Simplii Financial USD Bank Account
Simplii Financial has one US currency account, the USD Savings Account. This account does not allow point of sale purchases, cheques (incoming or outgoing), or ATM transactions. However, you can send a Global Money Transfer, bank draft, or money order.
Basically, this account is best for accepting incoming wires and holding US dollars until you’re ready to transfer them to other accounts.
How to Open a USD Account in Canada
Applying for a USD account in Canada is easy, especially if you already have a Canadian-dollar account with the bank you’re applying to. Banks such as RBC, CIBC, and TD allow you to complete the application in minutes online, while others such as Scotiabank and National Bank prompt you to book an appointment or call them.
Either way, you must be of the age of majority with a valid email address and Canadian address. In order to open an account online, you must be applying for a personal account in your own name – if you want a joint account, you’ll need to contact the bank directly.
USD Account in Canada vs USD Account in the States
In addition to US currency accounts based in Canada, Canadians have the option to open a US dollar account in the States. These can be (but aren’t always) slightly more complicated to open, but they can be well worth it, especially if you spend significant time in the US.
- Your cash is widely available from ATMs in the US
- You can pay at the point of sale with your debit card
- Bill payment in the US is easy (great for snowbirds)
- Transferring US Paypal funds is easy
- You save no exchange fees
- Opening an account can be more complicated (although it’s not if you go with the right bank)
- You can’t visit a branch when you’re home in Canada (ditto)
- If your account earns interest, you may have to pay taxes in the US
Several of the big Canadian banks have US-based divisions that allow for seamless transfers across the border. You can sign up for your US-based account from Canada by visiting a Canadian branch or going online (it varies by bank, so check their website once you make your decision).
Here are a few options to get you started:
RBC Bank USA Direct Checking Account
Based in Georgia, RBC Bank is Royal Bank’s American division. You can open an account online or in-branch at home in Canada without a social security number or a US address.
RBC Bank’s account makes it easy to transfer money across the border, while also giving you the ability to shop or use over 50,000 ATMs in the US for no extra fee. It syncs with your online banking, giving you a seamless banking experience.
This account has a fee of $3.95/month (or $39.50/year) and gives you 10 free debits, and $1/transaction after that. RBC Bank also offers a premium option which costs $9.95/month ($99.95/year) and gives you unlimited transactions.
CIBC Bank USA Smart Account
CIBC Bank USA’s Smart Account gives you a US debit card, US cheques, and access to ATMs in the US. The Smart Account is linked to your CIBC online banking. You can apply for it online and do not need a social security number or US address.
CIBC Bank USA’s Smart Account charges fees on a sliding scale, starting at $4.95/month for up to 12 monthly transactions. Unlimited transactions cost $14.95/month (significantly more than RBC Bank’s premium account, which is also unlimited… but costs only $99.95/year).
TD Bank Convenience Checking
The Convenience Checking account from TD Bank USA costs account holders $15/month—or $0/month if you maintain a balance of at least $100. Convenience Checking clients receive a debit card for point of sale transactions and ATM withdrawals (for no fee at TD/TD Bank ATMs in the US and Canada).
These are just a few options to get you started. If you want to know whether your current bank has a US-based division, try searching for “[your bank name] cross border banking.”
Best Alternatives to a USD Bank Account
If opening a US dollar account (in the US or Canada) isn’t really appealing, you do have some other options to explore.
If you simply need an easy way to shop in the States occasionally, you could consider a Canadian credit card with no foreign transaction fees. This allows you to spend money in the States without worrying about transferring US currency to different accounts. The downside to this plan is that you are still spending Canadian dollars and are therefore at the mercy of a variable exchange rate.
A US Dollar credit card is another option, although these usually come with hefty fees and are really only useful when you’re making a US dollar purchase – while a Canadian no-fx credit card is useable whenever you shop in Canada as well.
If you need to accept payments from US-based businesses, Paypal can do it for you – but then you have to choose between keeping the money sitting in your Paypal account…and dealing with less-than-awesome foreign exchange rates when you transfer it over.
Another option worth considering is Transferwise’s Borderless account. This account allows you to hold over 40 different currencies in a single account and switch between them as needed. It lets you avoid foreign transaction fees and gives you access to a better exchange rate than the banks do.
An app like Wise or Western Union lets you transfer US currency easily, which could work if you simply need a way to get US dollars to someone else, but it’s less helpful when it comes to shopping or living in the US – you need somewhere to put the money you’re sending!
The best solution for you is really going to depend on your personal needs, so keep an open mind and see what stands out the most.
Canadian U.S Dollar Accounts FAQ
The Best USD Bank Account in Canada: Our Verdict
Our pick for the best US dollar account for Canadians is the US Dollar Account from EQ Bank. The lack of both monthly and transaction fees, plus an interest rate that is literally 20 times that of most competitors make it a no-brainer for holding your US dollars and letting them work for you between visits to the States.
From there, you’ll need to consider what you need your US accounts for:
- Do you need to accept payments from US sources?
- Do you need to be able to pay bills in the US?
- Do you need to be able to access ATMs and pay at American stores?
- Do you just want somewhere to keep your US dollars as US dollars until the next time you travel?
If you’ll eventually need to withdraw American dollars for travel, bill payment, or shopping, you should consider opening at least one additional account to make that easier. You can keep your funds in your EQ bank account, earning interest, and then transfer cash to a US-based account like TD Bank’s Convenience Checking or RBC Bank’s Direct Checking account as you need it. A USD credit card would also do the trick.
You can move money from your EQ Bank either directly to a US-based account (via EQ’s International Money Transfer) or indirectly (by transferring to a Canada-based US dollar account first and then moving it across the border. Canadian banks with American divisions make that simple). EQ’s focus is on ease and flexibility, which is why it works so well with other accounts.
Whatever your specific US bank account needs are, you can find something that can handle it on this list. And an EQ Bank US Dollar Account is an excellent place to start. You can read our detailed EQ Bank Review, or see our list of the best banks in Canada to see exactly why it ranks at the top.
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