Norbert’s Gambit: How to Exchange Money Without Paying Fees

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Wanderer

The Wanderer retired from his engineering job at a major Silicon Valley semiconductor company at the age of 33. He now travels the world, seeking out knowledge from other wealthy people, so that he can teach people how to become Financially Independent themselves.
Wanderer
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We frequently get questions from our readers about how we handle exchanging foreign currencies while living in so many countries. And our standard answer was: a combination of a credit card with no forex fees and a checking account that reimburses foreign ATM access fees. This way, you could simply hold most of your wealth in one currency, then spend it frictionlessly all around the world!

And that system has worked out pretty well for us.

Until. NOW!

Why now? Well, while we were working the vast majority of our money was earned in Canadian dollars, so our portfolio was mostly in CAD as well. But lately, we’ve been earning more and more side hustle money, and for whatever reason the vast majority of THAT income is earned in USD.

So what that means is it’s become more and more necessary to exchange CAD for USD and vice versa without doing it via a purchase. For example, I recently had to do this forex exchange inside my brokerage account in order to rebalance my portfolio.

The problem with doing this via a bank or even a brokerage account is the hidden fees that get charged. Even when a bank insists on not charging extra fees to exchange currency, whatever the bank’s exchange will usually differ from the real exchange rate as reported by xe.com, usually by 2-3%. This spread is what the bank earns off you every time you do a currency exchange, and while being charged 2% to exchange a few hundred bucks before going on vacation isn’t such a big deal, when you start exchanging thousands or tens of thousands of dollars at a time, these fees start to add up.

Let me tell you about Norbert’s Gambit.

How Does It Work?

Norbert’s Gambit it a strategy some financial advisor (named Norbert I’m assuming) came up with that allows you to exchange foreign currencies at the actual, real exchange rate. It does this by exchanging the money using the stock market, therefore bypassing those thievin’ banks.

Here’s how it works.

In a world full of giant multi-national companies, it’s relatively common for stocks of a certain company to be listed on multiple stock exchanges. Royal Bank (RY), for example, is listed on the Canadian stock exchange (TSX) in Canadian dollars as well as the US stock exchange (NYSE) in US dollars.

Because these are shares of the same company, they will trade on both exchanges on two different currencies. But because traders on both stock exchanges are deciding the price rather than the banks, the relative difference in the two prices will reflect the actual exchange rate, rather than the marked-up one the bank will give you.

So how do we do use this to exchange money?

Simple.

If a stock is listed on multiple exchanges (or “cross-listed”), and if you own that stock in one exchange, you can request that your brokerage transfer your ownership of that stock over to the other exchange. So for example, if you bought 1 unit of Royal Bank on the NYSE in USD, you could ask your brokerage to transfer (or “journal”) that unit over to the TSX, and then sell it in Canadian dollars.

Why Would You Do This?

Because the prices of the same unit are determined by the stock market and not the bank, Norbert’s Gambit exploits this to allow you to exchange money from one currency to another without paying any bank fees or foreign exchange rate mark-ups. Basically, the steps of Norbert’s Gambit are:

  1. Buy some stock units in your source currency
  2. Call up your brokerage and ask them to “journal” those units over to another exchange
  3. Sell those units in the destination currency

If done correctly, you’d be able to use this technique to exchange money from one currency to another and the only cost would be the trading commissions. This is especially useful with a brokerage like Questrade, who only charges commissions to sell ETFs, not to buy.

So if you were to exchange $10k CAD to USD, if you did it at a bank you’d lose 2%-3% to forex mark-ups, or $200-$300. But by using Norbert’s Gambit, you’d be able to do it for the cost of a single transaction ($5-$10).

A couple caveats to consider when attempting Norbert’s Gambit…

  • Caveat #1: If the stock/ETF fluctuates too wildly in price over the course of the day, those movements may blow away any foreign exchange savings you get.
  • Caveat #2: Depending on your brokerage, journaling shares takes time. For Questrade, it takes 1-2 business days. During this time, you will be subjected to the price swings of the underlying stock/ETF.
  • Caveat #3: If the stock/ETF is not traded with sufficient volume which causes the bid/ask spread to be too wide, you may lose more money in the bid/ask spread than you save on the foreign exchange.

So an ideal candidate for Norbert’s Gambit would be a cross-listed stock that doesn’t swing in price often, yet is traded quite heavily. Fortunately for us, one ETF does exist: the Horizons US Dollar Currency ETF, or DLR.

This is an ETF that just holds USD and nothing else. It’s cross-listed on the TSX and the NYSE, and is heavily traded, yet doesn’t change in price wildly since it’s just holding a basket of cash.

So why does this ETF exist, you might ask? Specifically to use with Norbert’s Gambit! Horizon’s created this thing specifically so that people can use this technique to exchange cash back and forth!

CAD-To-USD

OK now that we’ve introduced the technique, let’s talk specifics. Recently, as part of my year-end portfolio maintenance, I had to convert some money from CAD to USD. Let’s see how that went.

First, after pulling up my trading platform, I got a quote for the CAD-denominated version of DLR. At the time, it was trading at a price of $13.43 CAD per share.

On the US side, the same share was trading under the symbol DLR.U at $10.06 USD.

So that means that these two symbols (which again, are the same ETF under the hood) was reflecting a CAD-to-USD exchange rate of $13.43 / $10.06 = 1.335. At the time I placed this trade, Xe.com was reporting an inter-bank exchange rate of 1.334, so we are within 0.1% of the actual rate.

We start by calculating how much DLR we want to buy. At the time, I wanted to convert $10,000 CAD, so at a price of $13.43 per share, I needed to buy $10,000 / $13.43 = 744 shares.

After entering in our order, we wait for it get filled (which should be nearly instant because of the trading volume on this ETF). Note that even though Questrade doesn’t charge a commission for buying ETFs, I still got charged a small trading commission of $2.60 CAD from the exchange.

Next, I phoned up Questrade’s customer support line and asked for my shares of DLR be journaled over to the American side as DLR.U. Fortunately, the representative knew exactly what I wanted and put in the order. Note that it takes 1-2 business days after the trade settles for the journalling process to finish, so I had to wait until the DLR units disappeared and DLR.U appeared in my trading account.

Finally, once DLR.U shows up, I can then sell my units at the market price of $10.06 USD.

Note that I was charged a commission of $10.14 USD as a combination of Questrade’s trading commission and the exchange fees.

In total, I was charged $2.60 CAD and $10.14 USD on both sides of the trade, so all in all, I paid $9,991.92 + $2.60 = $9,994.52 CAD and got $7.484.64 – $10.14 = $7,474.50 USD.

So after fees, this means I managed to get an effective CAD-to-USD exchange rate of $9994.52 / $7474.50 = 1.337. Compares to the actual exchange rate of 1.334, that means I was able to get within 0.2% of the actual exchange rate.

So by doing Norbert’s Gambit, I was able to save the $200-$300 I would have lost by getting a marked-up exchange rate, and instead was able to do the trade for less than $20 CAD. Not too shabby!

USD-To-CAD

The process for going the opposite direction is pretty much the same, only you know, reversed.

At the time of this exchange, DLR.U was again trading at $10.06 USD, and DLR was trading at $13.32 CAD, for an expected USD-to-CAD rate of $10.06 / $13.32 = 0.755. And on the date of my trade, the Xe.com reported exchange rate was…0.755. Spot on, spot on.

We start by calculating how many units of DLR.U to buy. At the time, I wanted to convert $5,815 USD, so that meant I needed to buy $5,815 / $10.06 = 578 units.

 

After that, I called Questrade and again had them journal over my shares. A few business days later, my journalling was complete and I sold 578 units of DLR to complete my trade.

 

For some reason, the commission I got charged didn’t show up on the screenshot, but on the buy side it was $2.02 USD, and on the sell side it was $7.84 CAD. So in total, I paid $5,825 + $2.02 = $5,827.02 USD and received $7,698.96 – $7.84 = $7,691.12 CAD. This means I got an actual USD-to-CAD rate of $5827.02 / $7691.12 = 0.757. Which compared to 0.755, is about 0.3% off. Fantastic!

The Big Short

Now you may have noticed that in my screenshots of my sell orders, it mysteriously says “Sell Short” at the top. Why is that, and what does that mean?

Recall that doing a normal Norbert’s Gambit means I have to buy the ETF on one exchange, request a journal, wait for it to be processed, and then sell on the other exchange. While I’m waiting, I’m exposed to price changes on the ETF and I don’t like that.

Granted, by using the DLR/DLR.U ETF, I’ve eliminated most of the wild price swings that affect normal stocks. However, I wanted to completely eliminate that risk, so I used a modified version of the strategy that I refer to as a “Long-Short Norbert’s Gambit.”

But before I get into that, I should probably back up and explain what shorting a stock means.

Normally when you buy/sell stocks, you exchange cash for units, or units for cash like a regular transaction you’d make at the store. However, in stock trading it’s possible to sell a stock that you don’t actually own. Under the hood, when you do this you’re actually borrowing units of that stock from the brokerage, then turning around and selling them on the open market. Your brokerage is going to want those units back, and in the meantime will charge you interest for lending them to you. This is known as “going short” or “shorting” a stock. Conversely, owning a stock in the usual way (paying cash for it) is known as “going long.”

Why have I never written about shorting stocks before? Because shorting stocks is normally a terrible idea.

What traders use this technique for is a strategy known as “short selling.” Basically, they borrow shares and sell them at the current market price, going into a negative balance on that stock, all in the hopes that the stock will fall in value. If that happens, they’ll be able to buy back that stock at a lower price, hand them back to the lender, and then pocket the difference. Essentially, short selling is a way for traders to bet on a stock’s price to fall in the short term, and because I’m not a day trader, I don’t do this or recommend that anyone do this.

However, in the very narrow case of Norbert’s Gambit, shorting a stock is how you reduce the risk of a sudden change in DLR’s price.

Basically, a Long-Short Norbert’s Gambit involves you buying (or going long) on your source currency’s units, and at the same time selling (or going short) on your destination currency’s units. As a result of this, you will be put into a situation of owning a bunch of units on one side of the trade, while owing the same amount of units on the other side. On my USD-to-CAD trade, this resulted in me holding a balance of 578 DLR.U, and a NEGATIVE balance of -578 DLR.

However, what this does is it eliminates the risk of DLR/DLR.U suddenly changing value. Since I’ve bought AND sold the same number of units at the same time, my holding period for this stock was only a few seconds. I’ve essentially locked in my exchange rate.

Then, I request my journal. A business day later, my long position journals over, and as soon as it does, my brokerage realizes I own exactly as many units of this ETF as I owe, so it uses that journal to repay my lender. This is known as “covering my short.”

However, it’s important to note that shorting a position isn’t free. My broker warned me multiple times that I was about to enter a short position…

And then helpfully informed me I would be charged for the privilege.

Taking on this short position cost me the equivalent of 9% annually in interest charges! This is why I don’t recommend shorting stocks as a trading strategy. The cost of holding that short position gets expensive fast. However, since we’re only going to hold this short position for a single business day, my cost is limited to less than $2. Which is a small price to pay to protect from exchange rate moves that could potentially ruin my strategy.

And We’re Done

So that’s it! Using Norbert’s Gambit to exchange money at the real interest rate for fun and profit! Now, I know that I’ve only talked about this on a CAD-to-USD exchange, but there’s no reason this won’t work for any other currency. As long as there’s a sufficiently traded stock that exists on two exchanges that trade in different currencies, this should work just the same.

Be careful though. If you do this with a normal stock, it’s even more important to do a Long-Short Norbert’s Gambit to eliminate the risk of day-to-day price fluctuations. Even though I jumped through all those hoops with DLR, at the end of the day DLR is unlikely to change all that much over a single day. The same can’t be said of a stock of a normal company. So be careful, and check with your bank/brokerage company that they know how to journal shares before you make any trades.

Questions? Comments? Let’s hear it below!


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83 thoughts on “Norbert’s Gambit: How to Exchange Money Without Paying Fees”

  1. Thanks for this! After you sell and the money in a different currency settles in what Iโ€™m assuming is a monry market acct, how does your brokerage (questrade, vanguard) differentiate USD vs CAD? Or to ask in different way, how does it show this when you log in and look at it on the screen?

  2. Internet marketing raps by DNN: The NASDAQ clapped back after the capture of Hussein. Advancing in the business world makes 000’s in bank account look Crazy Eddie financially insane. Playing markets like Forex, dodging the S & P index, yields enormous returns on currency exchange checks! ๐Ÿ˜›

  3. You didn’t mention the implications of taxes by using this trick outside of registered accounts. There are possible capital gain implications along with gains that need to be declared due currency exchange correct? The CRA has a $200 exclusion on capital gains from foreign exchange

    1. So I would like to use this technique to exchange $75000 from CAD to USD. I currently hold $75000 in XAW and would like to switch to three US listed ETFs. Any way you can think of to minimize my risk of not holding XAW for a few days while waiting for DLR to journal over? Also, is there a maximum dollar amount Norbertโ€™s Gambit works for?

      1. There’s no maximum. It’s a ETF, so just buy however much you need.

        If you want to avoid the risk of not holding the equivalent US ETFs during the journal, you could consider going into margin on the US side for a few days. Calculate how much you want to earn, buy it and go into margin, then initiate Norbert’s. Once it journals over, sell it for USD and pay off the loan.

        You’ll be charged some interest, but over 2 days it won’t be a lot.

  4. Wow, that’s certainly very creative. Thanks for going through all the steps so it’s clear to us. It looks like this is worth it if you’re exchanging a pretty large amount, like $10,000. I probably wouldn’t bother if it was smaller than that. Great post.

  5. In the screenshots it shows both DRL and DRL.U are traded on the TSX. So if using this ETF (DRL) we are not actually journaling to the other exchange?

    1. Good catch! I seem to remember DLR.U actually used to be listed on the NYSE, but they must have changed that.

      Regardless, the process is the same whether it’s on the same excahange but in a different currency or across two different exchanges.

      1. Just wanted to re-ask the question that Taylor did below – how would you receive USD if both DLR.U.TO and DLR.TO are both traded on the TSX in Canadian dollars? I’m curious about this.

  6. Thank you for this post! This is one of the most useful things I’ve ever learned from any of the personal finance blogs that I’ve read. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    1. This is how the “side hustle millionaire” comes out of you like Ghost Rider out of Johnny Blaze. Side hustles are the “new new” of today’s employment. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. As a tax prep who does some work with hedge funds who do exactly this type of trading with both Forex and stock purchases, you did an excellent job explaining a difficult concept as well as putting it into practice. Just watch out for that Section 988 on the US tax side when reporting (although in your case it would be so minimal it’s laughable ๐Ÿ˜› ).

      1. When I read, “…for whatever reason the vast majority of THAT income is earned in USD”, my mind initially went to the nonresident alien rules and the Questrade account being a US investment account for some reason (Oops!). Given that the account is probably Canadian, as you alluded to, they would not be subject to Section 988.

        1. It’s probably similar to capital gains/loss rules when it comes to forex in Canada. You do have to report it, but since my holding period is a few seconds there’s no capital gains/losses to speak of.

  8. How come you only get charged for holding the short position for a “single” business day when it takes 1-2 business days AFTER the trade settles (total of 3-4 business days from when Order is entered) for the US-equivalent to show up?

    A small $2.00 fee to eliminate volatility may be worth it, but if it takes 4 business days (and over the weekend) it may end up being $10.00. Thoughts?

  9. I don’t believe the price of DLR.U.TO fluctuates much. I’ve only ever seen it fluctuate by a small magnitude around the $10.00 mark.

    I believe it is DLR.TO that moves in order to factor in the movements of the exchange rate. When the CAD was stronger, one share of DLR.TO was $10.50; when it was weaker, one share was $14.48.

    All this to say, when going from CAD to USD, I don’t think you need to sell short. You essentially lock in your exchange rate when you purchase DLR.TO.

  10. I have a related question that hopefully you guys can tackle! I have a majority of my investments in Vangaurd (in USD) and now living in Canada and will reach FIRE in 2.5 years and will look to access that money using the 4% SWR but need it in CAD. Any advice on how to take out USD from a US invesment fund, concert it to CAD, and hopefully avoid any capital gains? Thanks!

    1. Courtโ€” similar path here, US to Canada mostly in Vanguard. Would love to chat more/learn more. Feel free to shoot me an email if interested in sharing info.

    2. I think I need to elaborate as my first comment wasnโ€™t clear. Iโ€™m trying to take advantage of the CAD/USD exchange rate by converting some of my US assets from Vangaurd into my Canadian assets in Questrade. Is there a way to avoid capital gains somehow? Or do I have to sell my Vangaurd funds, pay capital gains, convert that US cash into my Canadian TD CAD account, and then by my Canadian funds through Questrade?

      1. My understanding is that yes you have to sell, realize capital gains (though Americans can realize up to $70k per married couple in LTC at a 0% tax rate). Then convert, then re-buy on the Canadian side.

        1. Thanks! Oo I didnโ€™t realize we could claim up to 70k at 0% tax rate. Follow up question to that – can we claim 70k in LTC while still working and bringing in an income with 0% tax on the investments? Or is that 0% tax on the 70k in LTC only when you have no other income to report?

  11. Sounds easy enough (seriously, no sarcasm there!).

    I assume “withdraw a fat stack of cash from the ATM and get reimbursed the ATM fee” is more complicated because then you are dealing with physical currency. Risk of loss, having to carry it around, declare large amounts of cash at customs, federal prison, etc, right?

  12. Fyi, if you’re in Canada and using RBC Direct Investing, this is even easier – you can do the buy and sell immediately as long as you ensure that (1) the ticker is correct, (2) you have the source & destination currencies correct. It’ll appear on your overview page as if you have a short position, however this sorts itself out in ~3 business days with no cost (as far as I can tell). No need to call anyone on the phone or pay short fees. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. If you have enough assets to waive the monthly maintenance fee, an interactive brokers account makes this a bit easier. Instead of trading an etf on two different exchanges to do an FX transaction, you can just trade the spot FX and get the market rate. To waive the $10/month fee you need to have an average monthly balance of 100k USD though
    >.<

    I'm not trying to promote IB in particular (I use a combination of brokerage accounts), but several of my friends who need to send money back home have found this super convenient if you need to transact in the currencies they allow you to trade.

    From IB:

    For each IB account, you designate a single base currency that determines the account's statement and margin requirement translation currency. However, deposits and withdrawals may be made in any non-base currency in AUD, CAD, CNH/CNY, CHF, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HUF, INR, JPY, MXN, NOK, NZD, RUB, SEK, SGD or USD.

      1. Again, not trying to shill for IB. I haven’t personally done this, though my friends who have did say they got the interbank rate. I just checked the real-time forex quotes on IB website and they do match the market. I work in the finance industry and banks/travelex will always rip you off like when I got burned for 10% of the spread in Hong Kong before I knew any better. That was a nice way to set $100 USD on fire

        “Exchange more than $600 USD and we won’t charge you transaction fees” -Travelex

        Working in the industry helps me identify how to avoid the ripoffs though :). IB does charge commissions for the trades but as far as commissions go they are the lowest around except for the free commissions on equity and ETFs that you can get from vanguard/ merrill edge / chase you invest / fidelity ishares trades

        Love what you guys are doing, keep up the great work!

        From IB:

        Forex Trading
        Direct access to interbank forex trading quotes, no hidden price spreads, no markups, just transparent low commissions*

        *Commission Tier based on monthly volumes, minimum commission is USD 2.00 (or currency equivalent) per trade.

        1. Do you mind helping more with this? I’d love to transfer from INR to CAD (or USD if CAD doesn’t work). Do you have more information on how to go about this?

          I already have a (USD) IB account.

          Thanks

  14. If you are using questrade, you can use the chat function to have them journal over the shares. Iโ€™ve done this many times and never had an issue.

    1. I’ve looked into Revolut before and my issue is, it’s great for holding multiple foreign currencies but how do I actually spend it or withdraw the cash? That was never clear to me for Canadians.

      1. You withdraw from an ATM and you spend as if it were a debit/cash card. You transfer money into it or out of it via a bank, a salary transfer, from a brokerage – however you like. You should look at it again – they have 2m users now so not small potatoes.

  15. This appears ok for USD to CAD. Do you have multiple banks to deposit to from your broker account. I either missed a step or how it becomes cash was not covered.

    1. My brokerage account can hold both CAD/USD, and I can link it to CAD and USD-denominated checking accounts where I can then either spend it or withdraw it from an ATM.

  16. Great info. I just recently learned of Norbert’s gambit and this is an excellent guide to putting it into practice. Thanks!

  17. Great post! This is a pretty cool trick ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have you guys considered using TransfertWise? I have been using them for years and they keep getting better. Their fee are super small (~0.005% to exchange 10, 000 CAD in USD) and make the transaction at market rate (which they guarantee for 48 hours). For more info: https://transferwise.com/#/chart

    In case you/others are interested to sign-up here is a referral link to get a $20 credit towards your first transfert – https://transferwise.com/u/cedricl10 (Please edit as you see fit)

  18. Great post! This is a pretty cool trick ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have you guys considered using TransfertWise? I have been using them for years and they keep getting better. Their fees are super small (~0.005% to exchange 10, 000 CAD in USD) and use market currency conversion rate (which they guarantee for 48 hours). For more details: https://transferwise.com/#/chart

    In case ppl are interested to sign-up here is a referral link to start with a $20 credit towards: https://transferwise.com/u/cedricl10 (Please edit as you see fit)

      1. Hey Wanderer. One follow up. How do you get to the 0.5% markup for CAD-to-USD you are referring to?

        Here is the data I’m getting via TransferWise:
        – You send: $10,000 CAD
        – You are quoted an exchange rate of 0.75310 Guaranteed rate (48 hrs)
        – You paid: 57.71 CAD (fees)
        – You received: $7,487.54 USD

        The rate via xe.com is currently at 1 CAD = 0.75302 USD, so using this rate I would instead have received $7,530.2 USD which is a difference of 0.0056% which is much lower that the 0.5% you are calling out.

        What am I missing?

  19. I just learned a new word–frictionlessly! May I please have your permission to use that cool word sometime, maybe in faculty meetings? “Professor, I don’t think your idea can be implemented frictionlessly!”
    TIA,
    Dan Villarreal
    Taipei, Taiwan
    PS: Looking forward to catching up with you and getting that author-autographed book whenever you’re in my AO

    We frequently get questions from our readers about how we handle exchanging foreign currencies while living in so many countries. And our standard answer was: a combination of a credit card with no forex fees and a checking account that reimburses foreign ATM access fees. This way, you could simply hold most of your wealth in one currency, then spend it frictionlessly all around the world!

  20. Wow first time in my life i read a digestible explanation or Norbert gambit!! Thank you!!

    Do you know if Questrade have a form for that? Or is the phone the only way?

  21. This is a fascinating way to exchange money. I don’t expect you’d be doing this with small amounts of cash though.

    Certainly on our next vacation, I don’t think we’ll be exchanging money this way. But cool none-the-less

    1. Just saw on couch potato that it is possible with Questrade to journal from DLR to DLR.U . Other brokers also offer it but it’s not automatic. You have to see with them.

  22. Cool article. I think a lot (not all) of the commenters may be missing part of the point when they say their alternative method incurs no ‘fees’. The banks are really making their profit on the inflated bid/ask spread which is orders of magnitude greater than is available if you could trade FOREX directly on the exchanges.

    If you are converting $10K CAD to USD at a ~1% spread (e.g. buy at 1.329, sell at 1.316) with a ‘no-fee’ service, and then convert back to CAD, you’ll end up with $9,800 ($100 per transaction). In reality, the banks are able to trade currencies with spreads closer to 0.001% so that same transaction sequence might leave a bank with $9,998 ($1 per transaction). With this, a $10 transaction fee is relatively immaterial when compared to the cost due to the spread.

    Long story short, don’t be fooled by ‘no fees’ advertisements for FOREX conversion. You need to look at the quoted bid/ask spread to know the true costs.

    (source – I’ve worked with FOREX trading for many years)

  23. You sign up for a cross border account, TD or Royal both have this as they own banks in the US. Then from something like 5000 ATMS in the US, you are able to withdraw from your US account, without the ATM fee.

    The Royal US credit card also looks attractive, but their transfer rate is still higher than Transferwise, but not by much.

    Royal Direct charges 9.00 per trade, and 100.00/year admin fee. I know, not great. So have opened a QuestTrade Account.

    cheers

  24. Hi there,

    thanks for your blog!

    I have just moved to Canada last November and started investing in December. Actually the first trade I ever did in my Questrade RRSP was buying DLR. TO to journal for buying ITOT and IEMG. I just recently made a smaller contribution to my RRSP’s and bought without the gambit. Was shocked what Questrade “charged” as an exchange rate. Never again!

    I have one question though. How do you properly track the full return of the portfolio? Wealthica and all the excel/ google spreadsheets don’t understand the journal and sudden change in currency.

    Cheers
    Chris

    1. I’m not sure I understand your question. The currency exchange shouldn’t affect your returns. I’m also not sure what Wealthicia is. Can you clarify your question?

  25. Hi Wanderer,

    If you buy in CAD, you track the contributed amounts in CAD and at any time you are easily able to check your return in CAD by checking how much your investments are worth at this moment (including dividends). If you however build in another step that is reducing or increasing your investment, in this case exchange CAD into USD, how do you track this effect as there are differences (forex losses and gains) or is this effect too little to worry about?

    Wealthica is roughly said to be Personal Capital for the Canadian investor http://www.wealthica.com

  26. I have completed this with RBC Direct Investing and it is even easier than you describe. Simply buy DLR on one exchange(CDN) and sell on the other(US) or vice versa. No need to call to ask them to “journal” the ETF or stock everything is done electronically. I suspect different brokerages would have different requirements.

  27. I saw someone mention there would be capital gains tax involved outside of a registered account. I currently have 50k CDN cash in my Questrade and want to convert to USD. I’m not seeing how any capital gains tax would be applied in doing this transaction unless you made money on the conversion from DLR.TO to DLR.U.

    Am I missing something?

    1. The only capital gains/loss occur if the value of DLR moves from when you buy and when it journals, so it’s going to be tiny if it’s there at all.

  28. I don’t usually write comments, but, this is gold (if it works). Today, i went and bought some US stock from a CAD account (ie I had no USD funds), and after calculating out the currency conversion cost CAD to USD, that i’d just paid (stock price only), then, using the RBC online foreign exchange currency converter tool to help figure out what I’d paid to convert to, and (eventually) from USD, above the exchange rates. I was like, “holy!” i need to earn “x” percent just to break even…shit lol……Googled to see if there was a better way, and came across, “Norbert’s Gambit,” and then this post almost immediately. The other comments with reference to RBC also added to the helpfulness in my particular case. A very tangibly helpful post. Thanks

  29. I use bmoinvestorline. It looks like the symbol for DLR.U changed to CAN. The quotes I see today are:

    DLR: $13.31
    CAN: $9.74

    Does that make the exchange rate 13.31/9.74 = 1.366 ?

    The exchange right now on fx is: 1.314

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