Update 2020-05-02: PayPal no longer allows you to transfer USD to a USD account at a Canadian bank. The instructions below don’t work. Instead you should set up an account with US-based RBC Bank. It’s only $3.95/mo and you can apply online.
So, you’re Canadian and you often get paid in USD via Paypal. When you withdraw into your Canadian dollar (CAD) bank account, Paypal charges a premium for the currency conversion. A hefty 2.5% in fact. This is a common problem among freelancers like myself. Fortunately, I’ve recently discovered a way to avoid these currency conversion premiums.
1. Open a USD bank account with your Canadian bank. This is surprisingly easy. With RBC, you can quickly open a US High Interest eSavings account through online banking. No need to wait on the phone or sign any papers.
2. Find out the 9-digit routing number for your bank. If you’re with RBC, it’s 026004093. You may need to do a Google search for your bank’s routing number, or call/email them as a last resort.
3. Add your US bank account to your Paypal account.
- Login to Paypal
- Under “Profile”, click “Add or Edit Bank Account”
- Click the “Add” button
- Select “United States” in the country dropdown
- Enter your bank name (e.g. RBC)
- Choose the account type
- Enter the routing number you found in step 2 above
- In “Account Number” you need to put BOTH the 5-digit transit number and 1-12 digit account number together. For example, if your transit number is 00003 and your account number is 1234567, you would put 000031234567.
- Click continue
- Now it’s just like adding any other bank account. You wait until Paypal makes a couple of small deposits into your USD account and confirm.
When I successfully transferred all my US cash in Paypal to my USD account it was a great feeling. I wasn’t charged any service fees and since that cash is now sitting in a high interest savings account, it’s actually working for me.
I’ve only tried this with RBC, so I’m not sure if it works with other institutions. If you try it, let me know how it goes.