How to Set Up a US Dollar Ledger or Side for a BMO InvestorLine RRSP Account

If you have an InvestorLine RRSP account you can buy US stocks paying for them in Canadian dollars and receiving any dividends, interest or distributions they pay out in Canadian dollars. You will have to pay InvestorLine a foreign exchange fee, though, each time you buy a US stock or each time you receive money in US dollars that has to be converted back to Canadian dollars. There is an alternative: you can set up a US Dollar account within your existing InvestorLine RRSP account.

Why Might You Want a US Dollar Sub-Account within your RRSP?

Every time you listen to the business news on the radio or skim a news website, you will hear or see what the current exchange rate is for the Canadian dollar versus the American dollar. That’s because the exchange rate changes constantly. As recently as 2002 the Canadian dollar was only worth about 62 cents US; in 2007, the CAD was worth $1.10 US. That’s quite a range. (This is information from the Bank of Canada website at

This variability means you may pay more to buy one US dollar on one day than on another. Or, conversely, you might get more Canadian dollars for each US dollar you earn in dividends in one month than in another.

If you have a US dollar sub-account you can do all of your US business using US dollars. You can keep any US cash in a US cash account ready to re-invest. If you need more US dollars, you can choose when to buy them based on a good exchange rate. Similarly, you can wait till the foreign exchange rates are favourable before moving money back into your Canadian currency account.

For example, if you hold shares in Walmart in the US dollar side of your RRSP account, you will receive the dividend payment in US dollars into your US dollar cash account. You can then use it to buy more US dollar investments without ever paying a foreign currency exchange fee.

How Do I Set Up a US Dollar Sub-Account within my InvestorLine RRSP?

At first I thought I could do this by selecting something online but I can’t.

To set up the US side of my account, I phoned BMO InvestorLine at 1 888 776 6886.

As usual, I needed to provide my InvestorLine account number and my access password.

When I spoke to an InvestorLine representative, he assured me the US side of my account could be set up quickly and easily based on my phone call.

How Soon Will I See a US Ledger or Journal for my BMO InvestorLine Account?

If I understood correctly, I will see this new part of my account tomorrow, one business day after I requested its creation. I’ll update this post then.

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Do you use a US side or ledger for your InvestorLine account? Do you wish CIBC Investor’s Edge accounts had one? Please share your experiences with a comment.

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