Remittance Justice

They fought to get their landlords to clean up their cockroach-infested apartments and won. They fought to get payday lenders to lower their astronomical borrowing rates and won. Now ACORN Canada, a network of low-income Canadians, is embarking on its most ambitious project.

It has just launched a campaign to get North American banks to reduce the “predatory” fees they charge immigrants and migrant workers to transfer money to their families back home.

ACORN made its first move Monday. It released a report showing the rates charged by Canada’s chartered banks, their American counterparts and two money-transfer companies to send $100 to various destinations.

The figures were startling. Fees ranged from $3.70 to $66.25 (not including the pickup charges usually imposed at the receiving end).

Here is a sample, using a transfer of $100 from Toronto to Mexico:

MoneyGram, which has the lowest fees, charges between $3 and $10 (depending on the service and destination) plus an exchange rate fee of 70 cents for a maximum total of $10.70.

TD Canada Trust charges $35.91 for the same service.

None of the other Canadian banks lists its exchange rate fee, making comparisons difficult. They divulge only their transfer fees, which range from $10 at Scotiabank to $25 at BMO. (CIBC refuses to provide any information.)

The most expensive Canadian option is HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation), which charges $25 to $30 for the transfer, tacks on a commission of $10 and adds an exchange rate fee of $10.84 for a maximum total of $50.84.

Read more: Toronto Star: Immigrants gouged on money transfers


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