Save USD and CAD currency exchange fees in TD Waterhouse RRSP Accounts

Happy New Year!

This is only indirectly related to Perceptus Solutions Inc., but it is relevant to one of our pet peeves, currency exchange costs for a Canadian. Perceptus is in an awkward situation, because of our web site revenues, and our web advertising, a lot of our revenues and expenses are in US funds. And every time that an exchange happens, we lose, and banks or other financial companies win.

Recently, when logged into my personal TD Waterhouse account, I saw one of those little internal banner ads that mentioned that they have an automatic US Sweeps Service to minimize currency exchange costs in your RRSP account. All it took was a quick call to the TD Waterhouse 1-800 number, to enroll. The folks on the phone refer to this as their “TD Waterhouse Automatic FX Wash Service”. This service will take your US dollars from USD stock sales and put them into a US Money Market fund. Later, when you need USD, it will automatically take USD from the MM fund, before taking any remaining amount from your CAD balance.

Let’s do some math. I’m not sure what the rate TD Waterhouse charges, but most institutions that I’ve used charge at least 1% over the exchange rate as a fee for doing a currency exchange. If you convert $1000 a year in your RRSP every year for 10 years, that’s $10,000 converted. The exchange fees of that, at 1%, would be $100. If you were a more active user, for a longer period of time… say, $10,000 a year in sales of USD stock, and you did this for 30 years, you would save $3,000 (plus compounding).

Start the new year off right and save a few bucks on your financial services. I have no idea which RRSP providers have similar features.

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