CIBC Foreign Currency Account Review 2024

Claire Millard
Şeyma Mektepli
Last updated
April 22, 2024

CIBC has several options for foreign currency accounts, depending on whether you want to save, spend or invest. Some services are offered as cross-border banking solutions for Canadians visiting the US often, while others are specialist services for travellers or high wealth individuals.

CIBC could offer what you need for a foreign currency account - but the products aren’t necessarily the most flexible out there. If you’d prefer a multi-currency account you can use to hold and spend dozens of currencies all from the same place, you may prefer a specialist provider.

This guide introduces a couple of different options - such as the multi-currency account and card from Wise if you need a flexible digital account, and the foreign currency saving accounts from HSBC if you’d prefer to stick with a bank. Let’s dive in.

What is the CIBC multi-currency account?

CIBC doesn’t offer a multi-currency account with full feature access, but does have several different foreign currency tools and products which could be useful depending on what you need.

CIBC in Canada offers US dollar accounts which can be used for saving or day to day spending.

You can also hold foreign currencies in Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP), Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF) and Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) through CIBC Wood Gundy. These are specialist wealth management products so you’ll need to talk to an advisor to understand your options and availability.

As an alternative, if you’re looking for an account to use to manage your money when you travel or shop online, CIBC also has the CIBC AC Conversion Card which is a prepaid card you can use to hold 10 different currencies. This is a specialist travel card rather than a full function chequing or saving account product.

This guide uses the CIBC USD account options where showing features and fees.

Pros and cons of CIBC multi-currency account

Multi-currency accounts can have various advantages for both personal and business use. As we’ve mentioned, CIBC doesn’t have a specific multi-currency account that’s available for receiving, holding and spending foreign currencies - instead you can get a USD account and card, or you can choose a multi-currency prepaid card. Here are a few pros and cons of CIBC’s selection of foreign currency products:

CIBC account prosCIBC account cons

✅ Several different account and card options

✅ Different specialist needs served including for investment and travel spending

✅ Broad USD account features for cross-border use

✅ You can get service online, in app and in a branch if you need it

❌ No single, flexible, multi-currency account option - products are aimed at specific niche groups

❌ Fees apply, and some products are only available to high wealth individuals looking to invest 

How does CIBC multi-currency account compare?

Whether or not one of the CIBC foreign currency account products will work for you will depend on your specific needs. There are other alternative products out there if CIBC is not suited to you - here are a few you might consider, lined up for easy comparison:

CIBC accountsWise AccountHSBC foreign currency saving account Canada Post Cash Passport
AvailabilityCanadian residents - personal and business services availableAvailable to residents of Canada and many other countries - personal and business accounts availableCanadian residents - personal and business services availableCanadian residents - personal customers only

USD chequing and saving accounts

CIBC AC Conversion Card supports 10 currencies as a prepaid card

40+ currencies supported for holding and exchange; account details to receive payments in 10 currenciesSaving accounts in USD, GBP, EUR and HKD7 major currencies
Account FeesVarious fees, depending on the account you pickNo ongoing account fees; currency conversion from 0.43%No ongoing fees; in branch transactions have fees which vary by currency

15 CAD order fee; 1.5% fee to spend in Canada;

3.25% foreign transaction fee 

Linked Debit Card

USD chequing account has a debit card

CIBC AC Conversion Card is a prepaid multi-currency card

Yes - Wise card available for personal and business useNot available Yes - prepaid card account product 
Best FeaturesDifferent options available including cross border banking, investments and a prepaid spending cardFlexible account to hold, send, spend and receive many currencies High rate savings account options in several currenciesGet a card instantly in a branch, to hold and exchange 7 currencies

What is the eligibility for a CIBC foreign currency account?

For the CIBC USD saving account you must be a Canadian resident, and above the age of majority wherever you’re living. For the CIBC USD chequing account which is offered through the CIBC US company, you can be either a US or Canadian resident, but you’ll also need:

  • Your passport or a US driving license

  • An existing CIBC Canada account

  • Access to online banking with CIBC

As we mentioned, CIBC also offers foreign currency investment products. These are viewed as wealth management services, so you’ll need to get in touch with the bank to discuss your eligibility and assess if they’re a good product for you.

Who is it good for?

CIBC has several different foreign currency account options:

  • The CIBC USD saving account is for Canadian residents who want to diversify savings

  • The CIBC USD chequing account is for both Canadian and US residents who already have a CIBC Canada account

  • Wealth management products are aimed at high wealth investors

  • The CIBC AC Conversion prepaid travel card is good for people looking for an overseas spending card

When is a CIBC multi-currency account needed?

Let’s consider some of the general benefits of a foreign currency or multi-currency account first:

  • You can hold and exchange foreign currencies easily

  • You may get a debit card for spending and withdrawal

  • You could have ways to receive foreign currency payments to your account

  • Your can diversify your saving and investment in foreign currencies

As we’ve seen, different products have their own features which makes them suited to different customer needs. Aside from the options for CIBC, you might want to consider:

  • Wise if you need a flexible account to send, receive, hold and exchange a really broad range of currencies, with a card for day to day use

  • HSBC if you want to diversify your savings and need currencies other than USD - accounts also available in GBP, EUR and HKD

  • The Canada Post Cash Passport if you need a card you can get instantly and use for overseas spending and withdrawals

Go to Wise

How to open an foreign currency account with CIBC

If you’re already a CIBC customer you can open a foreign currency account online by logging into CIBC’s online banking service - this saves time as you can get the information needed prepopulated on the application form.

If you’re not already a CIBC account holder you can still apply online as long as you can provide all the relevant documents and your tax residency information. This process should only take a few minutes - and if you have a problem along the way you can always pop into a CIBC financial centre to get help.

What documents you'll need

To open any bank account you’ll usually need a proof of ID and a proof of address. ID documents are usually a passport or driving license, while a utility bill or bank statement can serve as a proof of address. You may be asked for your social insurance number when applying for a foreign currency account in Canada.

CIBC pricing

If you choose a CIBC USD account you can send and receive payments for a fee. For outgoing international wires you pay 30 CAD to 80 CAD depending on the value of the transfer. For incoming transfers you’ll usually pay 15 CAD. Bear in mind that fees may vary based on the specific CIBC account you pick.

CIBC exchange rate

CIBC will choose its own exchange rate if you need to make currency conversion to or from your foreign currency account. This rate might include a markup - which is a fee added to the mid-market rate you’d see online or on a currency conversion tool. It’s worth comparing the rate you’re quoted from CIBC against the mid-market rate to see what markup is used, as this can be quite variable - and can often work out to be a pretty high fee in the end.

CIBC foreign currency account alternatives

Let’s look at some alternatives to the CIBC foreign currency account and card products we’ve featured. We’ve included HSBC as a bank competitor, and also a couple of specialist services so you can see if any might suit your personal needs.

Wise multi-currency account

If you need a flexible digital account and card which you can use to hold 40+ currencies and exchange with the mid-market rate, Wise could be an excellent fit for your needs.

You can open a Wise account online or in the Wise app, and order a card for no fee. You’ll get account details to receive payments to your account in 10 currencies, and can send money to 160+ countries. This account can work for people who travel a lot or spend online, and anyone making or receiving regular overseas payments.

Foreign Currencies: 40+ currencies supported for hold & exchange, local account details in 10 currencies

Fees & Exchange Rates: No ongoing fees, mid-market exchange rates

International Transfers: To 160+ countries, from 0.43% fee

Debit Card: Available for use in 150+ countries

Go to Wise

Learn more: Wise Account review and Wise card review

HSBC foreign currency savings accounts

If you need a foreign currency account for saving, CIBC can only offer a USD product - but HSBC has several different supported currencies which may help. HSBC high rate foreign currency accounts don’t have a debit card so these aren’t meant for day to day use, but can be good to diversify savings or for future overseas transfers.

Foreign Currencies: Saving accounts in GBP, USD, EUR and HKD

Fees & Exchange Rates: No ongoing fees, exchange rates may include a markup

International Transfers: 40 CAD fee if sending in the same currency as the account

Debit Card: Not available

Canada Post Cash Passport

If the reason you need a foreign currency or multi-currency account is because you want convenient ways to spend when you’re abroad, a prepaid card like the Canada Post Cash Passport might work for you. You can get this card in a post office branch instantly, so there’s no need to wait for the mail - and then hold and spend 7 major currencies. There are a few fees to be aware of, including inactivity fees.

Foreign Currencies: 7 major currencies supported

Fees & Exchange Rates: 15 CAD order fee; 3.25% foreign transaction fee to spend a currency you don’t hold; exchange rates include a markup

International Transfers: Not available

Debit Card: Prepaid Mastercard

CIBC accountsWise AccountHSBC foreign currency saving account Canada Post Cash Passport
Currencies available 

USD chequing and saving accounts

CIBC AC Conversion Card supports 10 currencies as a prepaid card

40+ currencies supported for holding and exchange; account details to receive payments in 10 currenciesSaving accounts in USD, GBP, EUR and HKD7 major currencies
Monthly feeVarious fees, depending on the account you pickNo ongoing account feesNo ongoing fees

Inactivity fees may apply if you don’t use your account frequently

Exchange rate

Exchange rate may include a markup

Mid-market exchange rate

Exchange rate may include a markup

Exchange rate may include a markup
Currency conversion costsIncluded in exchange rate offeredFrom 0.43%Included in exchange rate offered3.25% foreign transaction fee  to spend a currency you don’t hold
Card order feeCard available for USD chequing account only - no feeNo feeNot applicable15 CAD
Go to Wise

How to use CIBC foreign currency account

Different CIBC foreign currency accounts can be used in different ways. You can:

  • Get a US based account for chequing and card use, through CIBC USA

  • Open a USD savings account as a Canadian resident looking to save in a different currency to diversify

  • Get a prepaid card that supports 10 currencies from CIBC, in partnership with Air Canada

  • Invest in foreign currencies in Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP), Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF) and Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA)

How to use CIBC foreign currency account abroad

You can only really use a foreign currency account abroad if you have a debit card. The prepaid CIBC AC Conversion card is offered for international use, and the USD account options for checking and saving also have cards which you can use to spend and make withdrawals overseas. Foreign currency investment accounts are not suited to overseas use.

Supported currencies

CIBC supports USD accounts for saving and spending, and has investment options in 8 major currencies. The CIBC AC Conversion card can support 10 currencies.

Are CIBC multi-currency accounts safe?

Yes. CIBC in Canada, and the CIBC organisation in the US are both safe to use, licensed and regulated. As with any financial account you’ll need to take normal common sense precautions to protect your account and card - but other than that, you should have no problem using these accounts safely.

Conclusion: CIBC foreign currency account opening

Opening a multi-currency account can be very handy if you spend in foreign currencies, make and receive international transfers or if you want to save or invest in a foreign currency.

CIBC has several foreign currency account and card options, which could suit travellers, investors and cross border commuters who need to use USD frequently. Different products will suit different customer niches - there’s not really an allround CIBC foreign or multi-currency account which will work for a range of different purposes.

Use this guide to weigh up if CIBC has a product that will meet your specific foreign currency money management needs - and if not, compare some other products. For a good all rounder you might like Wise which has an account and card for flexible day to day use, or if you’re looking for high rate savings in more foreign currencies, try HSBC Canada.

Go to Wise

Foreign currency account in CIBC FAQs

Does CIBC offer foreign currency accounts?

Yes, CIBC has USD cross border banking products, investment services in 8 currencies and a prepaid card you can use for spending in 10 currencies.

Can I deposit foreign currency into my CIBC account?

You can usually only deposit money into your CIBC account electronically - cash payments in foreign currencies aren’t accepted. Make a bank transfer or wire to add money to your foreign currency account instead.

Does CIBC charge international fees?

Different CIBC account options have their own fees, including charges for bank wire transfers sent internationally. Check your account terms and conditions to make sure you’re not surprised by any international charges you might face.

Can I access my CIBC foreign currency account overseas?

To get easy access to your CIBC account overseas, pick an option with a debit card, like the USD chequing and saving accounts offered for cross border travellers. Or pick an alternative from a provider like Wise, which has flexible access and can be used globally.