5 Best places to exchange currency in Ottawa - 2024

Whether you’re about to leave Ottawa on an overseas trip, or you’re a foreign visitor just arriving to spend some time in Canada, you might be looking for easy, cheap ways to exchange currency to or from CAD.

Claire Millard
Ileana Ionescu
Last updated
October 30, 2023

This guide walks through all your options. We’ll cover where to find physical currency exchange services in Ottawa - plus some alternative options if you don’t want to spend your precious time standing in line in an exchange office.

Things to consider before exchanging money

1. Get a travel money card to cut costs

A prepaid travel money card is a flexible and cheap way to pay in stores and make cash withdrawals as and when you need to during your trip. Cards can be picked up in person or online, and often come with a linked account you can use to hold multiple major global currencies. Good ones to look out for in Canada include the Wise card, and the Cash Passport from Canada Post.

Get a Wise travel card

Wise cards are linked to a digital account which supports 40+ currencies for holding or exchange.

Canada Post’s Cash Passport supports 7 currencies and is a good last minute option as you can walk in and get one at a Canada Post office conveniently.

One big difference between the 2 cards is that the Wise card will let you leave your balance in CAD and automatically convert for you at the point of payment with no foreign transaction fee. The Cash Passport on the other hand will charge you a 3.25% fee if you don’t have the currency you need in your account, or if your balance in that currency isn’t high enough.

If you’ve previously picked up a prepaid travel Mastercard in Ottawa airport, it’s helpful to know that this service wound down in February 2023, and is no longer available for new customers.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the pros and cons of Wise vs the Cash Passport, to give you an idea of whether either would work for you.



Free to open an account

✅Hold 40+ currencies

✅Use your Wise card in 150+ countries

✅No fee to spend currencies you hold

✅Mid-market rate currency conversion with low fees from 0.43%


Some transaction fees apply

❌Some ATM fees apply once your monthly free withdrawal allowance is exhausted

❌No branch network 

Cash Passport


Convenient to collect in a Post Office branch

No fee to spend currencies you hold

Secure way to spend and make withdrawals

24/7 emergency support

✅Extra Mastercard perks and travel benefits available 


15 CAD fee to get a card

3.25% fee if you spend an unsupported currency, or if you don’t have enough of a supported currency in your wallet

Limited range of only 7 supported currencies 

Exchange rates include a markup

2. Check the mid-market rate 

We’ve said you need to compare exchange rates to pick a travel money provider - but what should you compare them to?

The key thing you need to get familiar with is the mid-market rate for the currency you need. You’ll find the mid-market exchange rate using a currency converter tool or with a Google search. It’s a useful benchmark as it’s the rate banks get when they trade currencies at a wholesale level, but it’s not usually passed on to customers exchanging smaller amounts. Instead, banks and exchange services commonly add a fee to the rate they use to calculate travel money exchange, which pushes up the overall price you pay.

It’s not impossible to find services which offer the mid market rate. However, you may need to shop around a bit - or pick a provider like Wise which has a travel money card which uses the mid-market rate for transparency.

3. Beware of ATM rates

Making ATM withdrawals to get your travel cash is convenient and safer than carrying all the cash you’ll need for your entire trip when you leave home. However, there’s one common pitfall when using ATMs overseas - dynamic currency conversion (DCC).

DCC is when you’re asked if you’d prefer to pay in your home currency, or if you’d like the ATM machine to do the currency conversion for you instead of your card.

DCC is positioned as a handy service as you can see the costs to you in your home currency instantly. However, it usually means you get a pretty poor exchange rate, so your withdrawal costs more overall compared to letting your bank or card issuer do the conversion for you.

If you’re asked if you want to pay in your home currency just say no, to avoid the extra costs associated with DCC.

Read more:

Avoid airport currency exchanges

Airport currency exchange services are convenient, but can also be expensive. That’s because there’s little competition and travellers by this stage tend not to look too closely at the rates and fees being offered.

In Ottawa airport there are 3 airport exchange desks, all provided by ICE. If you’re thinking of using one of these options, do double check the exchange rates to make sure you’re happy with the deals on offer. Or, as an alternative, consider getting money from an ATM at your destination instead.

Using a card to get local cash from an ATM will mean you get the exchange rate set by your card issuer or bank - you’ll just need to watch out for dynamic currency conversion, a common pitfall we’ll cover in a moment. If you have a travel prepaid card from a service like Wise you may also get some fee-free international ATM withdrawals every month, with the mid-market rate for currency conversion.

Where to get foreign currency outside Canada

Last minute trips may mean no time to get your travel money sorted before you depart. We’ve already touched on the fact that airport currency exchange is seldom a good pick - so what are the other options?

Depending on where you’re heading you’ll probably want to choose between finding an ATM on arrival or - if you’re carrying cash in CAD - visiting an exchange office wherever you are.

In most places - and particularly in urban areas - ATMs are easy to find, and can be convenient and cheap. Just remember to steer clear of DCC which we introduced earlier. If you plan on exchanging CAD in cash you’ll need to invest a bit of time looking for an exchange office while you’re in a city or busier tourist area. Availability becomes very limited as soon as you get into suburbia or somewhere more rural.

An alternative which offers convenience and low overall costs is to get a travel money card from a service like Wise, or a Cash Passport from Canada Post. You won’t need to get your travel money sorted out before you go, and you can often access competitive exchange rates and low overall costs.

Best place to exchange currency in Ottawa?

Ottawa has plenty of currency exchange offices including multiple branches of popular providers like Money Mart which offers Western Union currency exchange. There are also plenty of independent options in the city centre and scattered throughout other districts. Which is best for you will ultimately depend on where you are and which currency you need.

We’ve highlighted a few of the top rated travel money options in Ottawa, including their Google rating, below. Unfortunately, most Ottowa exchange services don’t publish their exchange rates online so you’ll need to call before you pick one to get the latest rates and availability.

Find more currency exchange services in Ottawa here.

NameAddressPhone numberGoogle Rating
Money Mart2222 Carling Ave Unit 3, Ottawa, ON K2A 1H3+1 613 216 5227

4.8 star

Multiple branches around Ottawa, many with a good Google rating

Ottawa Foreign ExchangeBillings Bridge Plaza, 2277 Riverside Dr. Store 142, Ottawa, ON K1H 7X6+1 613 731 13504.3 star
Dewan Exchange 604 Rideau St, Ottawa, ON K1N 6C6+1 613 860 80804.2 star
Altaif Currency Exchange1729 Bank St, Ottawa, ON K1V 7Z5+1 613 260 23384.1 star
Ultimate Currency Exchange2573 Carling Ave, Ottawa, ON K2B 7H7+1 613 596 55054 star
  • Correct at time of writing, 11 October 2023 ### How we rated the best places to exchange money

You’ve got a reasonable range of choices for Ottawa currency exchange, including some which have pretty high ratings on Google, with a good number of reviews posted. Our table features some of the top rated options. However, as live rates are hard to find online you’ll need to call ahead to check opening hours and currency availability, and to get the latest available rates for the currency you need.

Factors to consider when choosing an exchange provider in Ottawa

There’s no single best place to exchange your currency in Ottawa - it’ll depend a lot on where you are and what currency you need. Make sure you’re selecting a reputable service by comparing Google or Yelp ratings - or you can take recommendations from friends if you’d prefer.

Compare a few different Ottawa currency exchange services on both the fees and the rates on offer. Or save time on research, and avoid the need to stand in line at a money changer, by picking a provider which always uses mid-market rate currency conversion with low, transparent fees, like Wise.

Tips for finding the best currency exchange rates in Ottawa

Before we finish up, here are a few more handy tips for exchanging foreign currency in Ottawa, or once you’ve reached your destination:

  • Travel cards from a provider like Wise or Canada Post let you set your budget in advance, and also offer safety benefits compared to using your bank card abroad

  • Before you pick your Ottawa currency exchange store check the mid-market rate for your currency, so you know what a good deal looks like

  • Ottawa currency exchange services don’t often publish live rates so it’s worth calling providers you’re interested in before you leave home to get the rate you need for your currency

  • It’s usually best to avoid airport currency exchange desks - make an ATM withdrawal on arrival at your destination instead if you need cash instantly

  • Use the Exiap currency conversion tools to stay updated on current exchange rates

    How do I exchange currency after a trip?

If you’ve overestimated how much money you need for your trip you may have travel money left over when you get back home.

You can often sell foreign currency - at least larger denomination notes - to a currency exchange service. However, exchange desks use different rates when they buy and sell any currency, so you might get back less than you originally spent.

Prepaid travel cards like the Wise card or Canada Post Cash Passport can be a good alternative, as you can add money conveniently, and top up if you run out while you’re away if you want. And with Wise there’s no need to convert all your funds to foreign currency in advance as the card can convert for you with the best available fees and the mid-market exchange rate.

FAQs - best places to exchange currency in Ottawa

What is the cheapest way to get foreign currency in Ottawa?

As currency exchange services all have different rates and fees, you’ll need to shop around to find the best ottawa currency exchange for your specific currency. Compare the exchange rates offered by a few different providers, or to use the tools and reviews on Exiap, to narrow down your search.

Should I exchange money before I travel?

You can exchange your money before you travel, but depending on the service you use, you won’t always get the very best rates. It’s worth knowing that you don’t necessarily have to exchange before you leave. You could get a multi-currency account and card from Wise, or a Canada Post Cash Passport instead. Both are convenient for spending and withdrawals overseas.

Does it matter where you exchange currency?

Yes. Currency exchange services set their own rates and fees - so which one you pick can make a huge difference to how much you have to spend on your trip. It’s worth investing some time in researching the best options for your needs, including exchanging cash and using a specialist travel money card instead.