A step-by-step guide on how to transfer US dollars from your US dollar bank account into your Questrade account to avoid the hefty conversion charges.
If you are looking for the best place to buy and trade stocks and ETFs in USD (probably on the New York Stock Exchange) then the best place to start is our Questrade Review.  They were the first ones on the scene to allow USD-denominated RRSP accounts, and continue to be market leaders when it comes to allowing you to hold United States Dollars in your registered accounts.

I transferred some money over to my non-registered margin account on Questrade today from my non-registered BMO investorline account.  It took me a few days of procrastination, one day of trying to figure out why I couldn’t do a USD bill payment from my BMO bank account, and finally another day figuring out that in order to transfer USD, you need to do a pre-authorized deposit.

I actually searched my own blog on how to transfer USD and couldn’t find anything (I’m not narcissistic I swear! I just remembered that I posted about how long a USD transfer took back in January).  I finally figured it out today (after wasting about a total of 45 minutes of my life that I will never see again).  I thought I would actually post it and help you save 45 minutes of your precious time… and if I have a memory lapse again, I can search my blog with “great success”, as Borat would say.

The reason why you might do a USD transfer is because you won’t have to exchange your Canadian dollars into US dollars when the exchange rate isn’t favourable.  I don’t like losing money to currency hits AND conversion charges.  It’s a win-win situation.

So here is the low-down on how to transfer your USD to Questrade from your USD account, step by step:

  1. Log into My Questrade
  2. Click on “My Funds”
  3. Click on “Fund Your Account”
  4. As you can see, only Online Banking and Pre-authorized Deposits are free of charge; Online Banking doesn’t do US dollar transfers, so the only free option is a Pre-authorized Deposit
  5. Before you get freaked out by the word “pre-authroized deposit” like I initially did, you can do a pre-authorized deposit only once- it doesn’t have to be recurring (yes, you can be non-commital like me)
  6. Follow the instructions- they’ll ask for your US dollar bank account number and will verify your bank account with e-signatures
  7. Once you’ve set up that account link, you can transfer USD any time with ease (no need to fill out a form/ paper work each time)
  8. I set up the Pre-authorized deposit back in January (and forgot about it, of course), and it still worked for me today (it will work for you forever as long as you don’t change your US dollar account number)
  9. After setting this up, this time, it only took one day to transfer to Questrade from my USD account.  Awesome. =)

Why Should I Bother Holding USD?

There was a time when holding USD in your discount brokerage account was a major advantage – especially if you were an index investor through ETFs.  This advantage basically boils down to the fact that the US was way ahead of Canada when it came to ETFs and the competitive cutting of MER fees.  Consequently, if you were looking to get quick and easy diversification to any market other than Canada’s, the best way to do it was through the NYSE.  Now, you don’t need to change money over from Canadian Dollars to American Dollars before buying a stock or an ETF on the NYSE – buy what happens is that when you go to make that purchase and have only Canadian cash available within your account, is that it automatically get exchanged.  If you do this regularly and are constantly converting cash back and forth between NYSE-listed ETFs/stocks and your Canadian cash, you’re going to lose a ton of money on the exchange rate.  It’s way better to keep your money in one currency if possible.  Not all discount brokerages are created equal in this regard though – some will charge you an account fee for the privilege of holding USD there.  As you no doubt have picked up by this point, I’m a HUGE fan of keeping my money working for me inside of my portfolio – as opposed to working for someone else through fees and commissions!

Happy trading US equities!  As Miley Cyrus would say, party in the USA!

Article comments

28 comments
Roxanna says:

I transferred USD dollar to Questrade through direct deposit. I’m not sure why it shows in CAD now!! Any idea?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Roxanna, you need to make sure you have a USD account set up in Questrade otherwise it will automatically convert to CAD when you transfer U.S. funds to your CAD account.

Booku says:

Thanks Robb for the instruction on how to do this.

@Roxanna – you need to make sure you set the currency of your account in Questrade to USD, otherwise it will convert it to CAD by default. To do this, go into ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT, then select CURRENCY OF TRANSACTION, hit CHANGE and choose USD and save.

Peng says:

Hey quick question, when setting up the pre auth deposit to Questrade did the deposit reaccur every single months or is it just a one time thing? I noticed you said it was possible to only do it once and I would like to know how to make it a 1 time transfer only THANKS

Robb Engen says:

Hi Peng, when you set up your account you’ll be asked to fund it either through a one-time fund transfer or by transferring existing investments. The initial one-time fund transfer should just be “one-time”. To do a recurring pre-authorized deposit you need a minimum $100 and you’ll be asked for the deposit frequency (i.e. monthly, bi-weekly).

Ali Husain says:

Hi, I just wanted to thank you for your article. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to transfer USD directly to my account without the heavy currency conversion fees, and this really helps. All the best!

Robb Engen says:

Thanks Ali, it’s great that Questrade has the USD RRSP option to help us save on currency conversion.

Sam says:

Hi can you withdraw the USD from your QT account back to your USD bank account and have the money remain in USD?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Sam, yes you can do this (assuming you can link to your USD bank account) but keep in mind the tax implications if you withdraw money from your RRSP. Yes, even if the money is just sitting in cash it’s still inside your RRSP and subject to tax implications upon withdrawal.

Connie Scott says:

Does uploading a void cheque do the same as a pre authorized deposit?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Connie, yes that is the same thing. Upload a void cheque or direct deposit form, which most banks will provide for you.

halinkaii says:

I understand Questrade does not pay any interest on balances in account. Canadian or US.
Does Questrade have any other place you can deposit your cash/balances to be held short term between your trades? sometimes I don’t make the trade for weeks or months and the money just sits there without any interest.

Jessica says:

Hi there

I am Canadian and I will get paid in US Dollar from one of my client.

Since then I’m thinking of investing in US stocks in Questrade, however I’m not sure what is the best bank in Canada that has the US Dollar account.

How’s your experience with BMO?

Thanks

Kyle says:

I personally have never used Jessica. Questrade has had USD accounts for as long as anyone in Canada though I’m pretty sure.

Greg says:

I tried following the instructions in this post and Questrade is adamant that they require a void cheque or a stamped direct deposit form, even after doing their e-signature dance and faxing in a signed “direct deposit form” downloaded off the Tangerine website.

I have tried explaining that since Tangerine doesn’t have any branches it’s impossible to get the direct deposit form stamped. I also have no void cheque to send them as I’m trying to fund via a USD savings account.

Love the self-serve aspect of Questrade, but god help you if you have to deal with any of their customer support folks.

Kyle says:

Has the online support been any better Greg? That’s usually where I go first.

Aman says:

Hi Greg,

I was attempting to do something similar but I wanted to transfer USD I had in Questrade to a Tangerine USD savings account. What I did was call Tangerine and ask them what needs to be done to get a STAMPED Direct Deposit Form. They were very helpful. They are going to send a Stamped & Signed direct deposit form. I wasn’t sure if it needed to be signed but would could it hurt.

They can either fax it or mail it to you. I’m having mine mailed. I’m hoping with this I’ll be able to upload to the Questrade site and do what I need to do.

Dima says:

I’ve just set up the pre-authorized transfer of USD from my TD bank account. They didn’t require any void USD cheques, but maybe it’s because my account in CAD was at the same financial intitution and had the same transit no.

Dima says:

The next day I’ve got an email from Questrade:

Dear Mr. …,

Please be advised we have received your esigned pad agreement, however we have yet to receive a corresponding Void Cheque or Stamped Direct Deposit form.

Kyle says:

So did you send them a void cheque Dima?

Brad says:

@Steven: Questrade asks for a void cheque *or* a pre-authorized deposit form stamped and signed by the bank.

josh says:

sorry correction- i havent*. also if you have a regular/cad invesment account and transferred the funds to questrade and then try to buy usd stock will questrade automatically convert your cad to usd? thx

Teacher Man says:

Hey Josh, I have yet to do this myself. I would ask the online help. I remember reading on redflag forum awhile back that it would automatically do this within an RRSP, but no on a margin account. I would simply ask them though.

josh says:

hey

i was wondering if you had a bmo investerline usd account, or just a regualr usd saving/chequeing account that you used for the transfer. i haved opened a bmo investment account yet and would like to know if there is a cad or usd investmnet account. Thanks

steven says:

Hi,

I did exactly the same thing as what you did, however Questrade asks for a void cheque. Do I have to order us cheque? since I rarely use it. thanks.

young says:

@steven= Thanks for visiting. Hmm maybe they don’t have a bank associated with your account yet? It could be that they can’t do the online-verification with your USD account… Do you have a USD account? Maybe that’s it?

Graham says:

Hi,
Great site! I just wanted to ask you whether you would be required to have a USD denominated bank account from which to transfer the funds to Questrade (i.e. can I set up a USD Questrade account by funding from a CAD bank account)?

Thanks in advance for your reply.

Cheers,
Graham

young says:

@Graham- Thanks Graham! Yes, you would, otherwise you would be transferring CAD money to a USD account which would pretty much be using their currency exchange. A USD account is really easy to set up (you get a better exchange rate too). I often just exchange money when the CAD dollar is really good from my CAD to USD account at my bank. If you want even better rates, you could go to a currency exchange place and exchange your CAD dollars and deposit the USD into the USD bank account. Hope that helps and thx for reading!