I have been doing contract work with US clients for the past two years. Every time I got payed, I had to convert the money in Canadian dollars to use it here in Canada. I used to do this through a local branch of my bank, CIBC, and they always gave me an exchange rate that was about 3% worst than the spot rate. I was effectively giving away 3% of my salary to CIBC. I found this excessive and most of the time I did such a transaction, I inquired about any possibilities there were to get a better rate. I also asked friends in similar situations and even a few accountants and no one knew how to get a better rate.
Today as I went the convert the last of my 2010 USD revenues, I encountered what seems to be a rare case of an honest banker. I had given up on finding better rates so I was surprised when the Rideau street CIBC branch teller told me she could write me a bank draft to the Calforex outlet across the street and I would probably save about 2% on the conversion. It took 10 minutes to cross the street and get a check back from them in CAD. Had I known this two years ago, I would have saved thousands of dollars.
If you are a Canadian that gets paid in US dollars, do not convert your money through your bank. They run what can only be described as a scam.