Best CAD account in Australia: Banks and online providers compared

A Canadian dollar (CAD) account could be handy for anyone who needs to send, receive, exchange or spend CAD regularly. You’ll be able to get paid more easily in CAD, hold Canadian dollars to ride out changes in the exchange rate, and if you pick the right account you could also cut the costs of transacting significantly.

The big Australian banks do all offer CAD foreign currency accounts. However, they tend to be relatively expensive with limited features. Specialist providers like Wise and Revolut can be good alternatives.

In this article, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about opening a CAD account, including the best CAD account options available, the costs, and how to open one.

Wise Multi-Currency Account  Revolut Account

Can a CAD account be opened in Australia?

The good news is that it’s pretty easy to open a CAD account from a mainstream bank, or a specialist provider. Choosing the right one for you will depend on what you need.

The main Australian banks offer foreign currency accounts which can be opened to hold CAD.  However, it’s worth knowing that foreign currency accounts like these don’t always let you withdraw CAD directly from the account. You’re unlikely to have a debit card, so to get your Canadian dollars you’ll have to send a transfer to another account. This usually involves a fee.

Alternative online specialists, including financial technology firms, offer CAD accounts which may have no ongoing charges and low transaction fees. These providers aren’t banks, so you’ll probably not get a credit card or overdraft facility – but for holding, sending and spending around the world, they can be cheaper and more flexible than the options available from the big 4 banks.

This guide will walk through some of the best CAD accounts in Australia for individuals, business owners, freelancers and online sellers.

What are the advantages of a CAD account in Australia?

Having a foreign currency account can be handy for a range of people including:

  • Anyone with an income in a foreign currency
  • People paying international mortgages or bills
  • Anyone remitting money to friends or family overseas
  • Freelancers working with clients abroad
  • Business owners who want to build a more connected company

If you need to receive, send, exchange or spend CAD regularly, the chances are you can cut your costs with a CAD account.

If you get paid in CAD then having a dedicated account allows you to hold a CAD balance instead of being forced to convert payments immediately. That makes it easier to ride out changes in the exchange rate. And if you need to pay in CAD regularly, having a foreign currency account might mean you save on transaction costs, and can also capitalise on good exchange rates by buying CAD in advance when the rates look good.

Best CAD accounts

Here are a few options to consider if you’re looking for a CAD account in Australia. We’ve included both specialists and big banks so you can see which suits you:

Provider Availability Fees Debit card Other features
Wise Personal and business customers
  • Personal accounts are free to open, with no monthly charges
  • One time 22 AUD payment for business account – no ongoing fees
Yes
  • Multi-currency account to manage 54 currencies
  • Local account details for 10 currencies
  • Send payments to 80+ countries
Revolut
  • Personal accounts are immediately available.
  • Business customers currently waitlisted.
  • Standard personal accounts are free or upgrade to a fee paid plan for up to 24.99 AUD/month

 

Yes
  • Accounts available in 27+ fiat currencies
  • Good range of account features like budgeting and saving tools
Westpac Personal and business customers
  • No monthly fees
  • Telegraphic transfer fees apply when you send or receive payments
No
  • Open accounts in CAD or 11 other major currencies online
  • Not intended as a travel account
NAB Personal and business customers
  • No monthly fees

 

  • Telegraphic transfer fees apply when you send or receive payments
No
  • Open accounts in CAD or 15 other major currencies online

 

CommBank Personal and business customers
  • No monthly fees
  • Fees apply when you send payments, deposit or withdraw foreign currency cash
No
  • Open account in most convertible currencies
  • Pay in and withdraw foreign currency notes at a CommBank branch
Airwallex Business customers
  • No fee to open account
Yes
  • Accounts available in 11 currencies
  • Not available to personal customers

Wise

Open a Wise multi-currency account online or in the Wise app to hold, send and spend CAD as well as 50+ other currencies.

It’s free to open a personal account, and for business customers there’s a low 22 AUD one off fee to get set up. Once your account is up and running there’s no minimum balance, no monthly fee, and no ongoing charges.

All customers get a linked international debit card and currency exchange which uses the mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees. You’ll also access local bank account details to get paid for free from Canada and 30+ other countries.

Fees: No fee to open a personal account, 22 AUD one-off fee to open a business account. No monthly fee for either personal or business accounts

Currency conversion: Hold and convert 54 currencies with the mid-market exchange rate

Other notable features: Receive payments like a local from 30 countries, send money to 80+ countries, spend with your linked debit card in 200+ countries

Wise Multi-Currency Account

Revolut

Revolut describes itself as a financial super app, and has accounts which can hold CAD and 26 other currencies. You can opt for a free standard account or pay a monthly fee to get more features and higher levels of free transactions. Even if you take the free account option you’ll get a debit card, some free ATM withdrawals and free currency conversion up to a monthly limit.

Revolut business accounts are currently fully subscribed, but you can join a waitlist to apply for an account once they’re available again.

Fees: Standard accounts are free. Upgrade to a fee paid personal account for up to 24.99 AUD/month

Currency conversion: 27+ fiat currencies available

Other notable features: Broad range of account services including budgeting tools, savings and investments

Revolut Account

Westpac

Westpac foreign currency accounts offer a range of currencies including CAD and can be opened by both personal and business customers. For a CAD account you can usually apply online, but you’ll also need an eligible Westpac AUD account. You can open this at the same time if you want to, but it’s worth checking any fees that come along with your chosen AUD account.

You can’t withdraw money directly from your Westpac CAD account – you’ll have to make a transfer to another account to retrieve your funds. Also, you won’t get a linked debit card so you can’t withdraw your Canadian dollars at an ATM, or spend your CAD online when you shop with Canadian retailers.

Fees: No monthly fees. Transfers into the account cost 12 AUD; outward payments cost 10 AUD – 32 AUD + exchange rate markups

Currency conversion: Open an account in any of 12 major currencies online, or visit a branch to open in other currencies

Other notable features: Not intended for travel use, can not withdraw directly from this account in CAD

NAB

NAB CAD accounts are available for personal and business customers. However, as with the other big 4 banks we’ve listed, you’ll also need to have an eligible AUD account with NAB. Assuming you’re already an NAB customer you should find it easy to apply online for your CAD account – the only exception is for people running larger businesses who may need to visit a branch to get started.

Top up your account by depositing a cheque or making a bank transfer in AUD or CAD. You can then make payments out of your account electronically, but you can’t withdraw money directly in a branch or via an ATM.

Fees: No monthly fees. 10 AUD – 35 AUD to send an overseas payment, and up to 15 AUD to receive an international transfer

Currency conversion: Up to 16 currencies available, including CAD

Other notable features: Business customers can also get advanced banking features, trade finance and foreign exchange solutions

CommBank

Unlike the other banks we’ve looked at so far, CommBank CAD accounts for personal and business customers do allow you to deposit and withdraw CAD cash via a branch. There’s a fee to pay for this service, but it can still be handy if you need to deal with cash for any reason.

CommBank foreign currency accounts are available in most convertible currencies – but as with other big banks, you’ll need an eligible AUD account with CommBank too before you can get started.

Fees: No monthly fees. Up to 30 AUD to send an overseas payment, and 1% (minimum 10 AUD) fee to deposit or withdraw foreign currency notes at a branch

Currency conversion: Accounts available in most convertible currencies, including CAD

Other notable features: Business accounts also available

Airwallex

Airwallex offers accounts for business owners which can receive, hold and exchange Canadian dollars. You can get paid into your account by SWIFT transfer, and then hold your CAD balance or convert it back to AUD when you’re ready to withdraw it. It’s worth knowing that SWIFT transfers can include fees for the sender, and third party costs which may be deducted from the amount you ultimately receive.

Customers can also get physical and virtual international debit cards, and accounts have other business friendly features like Xero integration for easier bookkeeping.

Fees: No fee to open your account.

Currency conversion: CAD and a range of other global currencies available

Other notable features: Business customers only

How to open a CAD account in Australia

Whichever service you decide to go with in the end, there’s a good chance you can apply for your account online, or via an app. Some big banks might ask new customers to visit a branch to get started, particularly if you’re a business customer.

Here are the basic steps you need to take if you’re able to complete your CAD account application online:

  1. Choose the best provider for your needs
  2. Register for your account 
  3. Give your personal and contact information
  4. Complete the required verification steps
  5. Fund your account – and you’re ready to go

As with any other type of account, you’ll need to provide some documents for verification checks before you can use your CAD account. This is a legal requirement to prevent fraudulent account use. The easiest way to complete this check is by uploading images of your ID documents. Required documents can include:

  • Government issued photo ID
  • Proof of address – a utility bill or bank statement in your name for example
  • Tax ID information
  • Business registration documents if you’re opening a business account

Conclusion

Foreign currency accounts can help you spend less when you transact internationally. However, the range of CAD accounts on offer from the big 4 Australian banks can be limited in terms of features, with high transaction fees and inflated exchange rates.

For a more flexible option – which is likely to come with a linked debit card to make it easier to spend your CAD funds –  check out some modern online providers. You might find you get a more flexible account with lower fees and better exchange rates, too.

Wise Multi-Currency Account  Revolut Account

FAQs

Can I open a CAD account in Australia?

You can open a CAD account in Australia with a major bank or an online specialist service. Both options have different features, benefits and fees. Compare a few – starting with those listed in this article – to find the right option for you.

How much does it cost to open a CAD account?

CAD accounts are often free to open with low, or no ongoing fees – but transaction costs can be high if you choose a mainstream bank.

By Ileana Ionescu Updated March 29th, 2022