How TD Cross-Border Banking Works

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TD cross-border banking is one of the best U.S. bank accounts available, but many Canadians get a TD U.S. Bank account instead. While there’s nothing wrong with that decision, TD cross-border banking is incredibly convenient for people who earn US dollars regularly or even live in the U.S. part-time. Keep reading this post to find out the difference between TD cross-border banking and a TD US Bank account.

What is TD cross-border banking?

TD cross-border banking is essentially a TD Bank account that’s physically based in the U.S. This type of bank account is convenient for people who earn U.S. dollars or travel to the U.S. regularly. Since you’ll get a U.S.-based bank account, you can provide any U.S.-based employers with your direct deposit info. You also get a debit card and an optional credit card which would allow you to use U.S. TD ATMs without having to pay any fees. There’s a U.S. $4.95 fee with the account, but if you maintain a minimum balance of U.S. $3,000, the fee is rebated.

While it’s possible to have employers in the U.S. pay directly into your Canadian bank accounts, they (and you) would likely have to pay a wire fee. That would eat into your funds over time. Basically, if you were to get TD cross-border banking, you would avoid fees. You might even be able to get a credit card with TD cross-border banking, which would allow you to build a FICO score in the U.S.

What is a TD U.S. bank account?

A TD U.S. bank account is just a bank account based in Canada that allows you to store U.S. dollars. The advantage here is that you’re getting a secure place to keep your U.S. dollars. In addition, if you have a TD U.S. credit card, you could pay your bills via your TD U.S. bank account.

Even if you don’t earn U.S. dollars, you can still purchase U.S. dollars any way you want and then park those funds in your U.S. bank account. This can be beneficial for people who like to buy U.S. dollars when they’re “cheap.”

This type of account is great for people who occasionally have U.S. dollars, but don’t earn them regularly.

Why get TD cross-border banking?

People set up TD cross-border banking to avoid any fees when being paid by U.S.-based clients. For example, I used to have a U.S.-based client that I billed U.S. $200 every month. When I got paid, I lost $17.50 each time due to wire transfer fees. That’s a 9% fee which was insane. As soon as I set up my account, I was getting all my money.

Another scenario where TD cross-border banking makes sense is when people get paid in U.S. dollars via PayPal. As weird as it sounds, PayPal doesn’t allow you to transfer U.S. dollars to a U.S. bank account that’s based in Canada. You can only move it to a regular bank account. Your funds are automatically converted to Canadian dollars (at their exchange rate). Having TD cross-border banking allows you to transfer U.S. Dollars back to your TD U.S. bank account without any fees (more on that later).

Anyone who lives in the U.S. and has U.S. bills may also find TD cross-border banking convenient. With your account, you can pay any bills you have directly without worrying about any exchange rates. Alternatively, you can use your U.S.-based TD debit card to withdraw cash from your ATMs via your TD cross-border banking. If you were to use your Canadian debit card, you’d pay the exchange fee.

How to set up TD cross-border banking

Setting up TD cross-border banking is easy since you don’t need to have a U.S. address and you don’t need to do it in the U.S. Head to any TD branch in Canada and tell them you want to set up TD cross-border banking. You would need to be a Canadian TD customer.

They’ll get you to fill out some basic paperwork. If you don’t have a regular TD U.S. dollar bank account, it would be an excellent time to open one now. Once that’s done, TD will set up a conference call with a TD associate that’s based in the U.S. As soon as that person is on the phone, they’ll start to set up your TD cross-border banking. Funny enough, they’ll even ask you if you have a location preference for your home branch. It really doesn’t matter as you’ll have access to all TD ATMs regardless of what you select.

Once everything is set up, they’ll provide you with an account login for TD’s U.S. site and a debit card will be mailed to you. It should only take a few days to arrive, so you may want to call and find out the status if you don’t get your card within two weeks.

How to transfer U.S. dollars between accounts

With both TD cross-border banking and a TD U.S. bank account in place, you can quickly transfer U.S. dollars across the border with minimal fees.

In Canada, you send up to U.S. $2,500 a day from your Canadian bank account to your U.S.-based one. A transfer fee would apply, but that’s refunded within 5 business days. If you need to send more than that, you can call the TD cross-border support line at 1.877.700.2913. Have your U.S. access card (debit card) handy as that’s how they verify your identity. You should see the funds within 48 hours.

Once the money is in your accounts, you can do whatever you want with it.

How to convert US dollars to Canadian dollars

Let’s assume now that you need to convert U.S. dollars to Canadian dollars. I have a detailed guide on the best currency exchange options that covers everything from the easiest to cheapest methods. I’ll quickly list a few of my favourites. 

Let’s assume for a second you need to convert a massive amount of U.S. dollars. Using Norbert’s Gambit is the cheapest way to do so, but it requires a bit of work. First, you need to move your U.S. dollars to a U.S. trading account, buy a stock or ETF that’s listed on both the NYSE and TSX, then journal your shares over. After that, you sell your shares. Since you’re just converting stock from the U.S. to Canada, you’re only paying trading fees. Read my Norbert’s Gambit step-by-step guide for more details.

Another way to convert U.S. dollars to Canadian dollars is with an online currency exchange company such as OFX. Not only can you convert to Canadian dollars, but you can also swap for more than 50 currencies. This is handy if you need to send money overseas. Generally speaking, the more money you’re exchanging, the more you’ll save.

The most convenient way is to convert the funds directly with TD, but they don’t have the best exchange rates. If you just need to convert small amounts regularly, consider Wise (formerly TransferWise)

Final thoughts

Some people will find setting up TD cross-border banking to be annoying, but the immediate benefits are obvious. Also, think long-term. If you want to establish any kind of credit presence in the U.S., you’re going to need a bank account. A cross-border account is the easiest way to get one since you don’t need a physical U.S. address. Likewise, if you ever plan on getting U.S. credit cards as a Canadian, you should get a cross-border account. 

How TD Cross-Border Banking Works

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

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