# How to Determine an Exchange Rate

An exchange rate is the cost for exchanging one currency for another. Exchange rates oscillate regularly throughout the week since currencies are being actively traded. That makes the price go up and down. The price for a currency on the market differs from the rate you will get from your bank when you exchange currency.

Market Exchange Rates

Traders and companies buy and sell currencies around-the-clock during the week. In order for a trade to take place, a currency must be exchanged for another. For example to buy British Pounds (GBP), another currency must be used to buy it. Regardless of what currency will be used a currency pair will be created. If U.S. dollars (USD) are used to buy GBP, then the exchange rate is for the GBP/USD pair.

Understanding an Exchange Rate

If the exchange rate for the USD/CAD pair is 1.0950, that means one U.S. dollar costs 1.0950 Canadian dollars. The first currency in a pair always stands for one unit of that currency. The exchange rate shows how much of the second currency is necessary to buy one unit of the first currency. In other words, this rate tells you how much it costs to purchase one U.S. dollar using Canadian dollars.

In order to figure out how much it costs to buy one Canadian dollar using U.S. dollars the following formula should be used: 1/exc. rate. In this case the position of currencies will switch (CAD/USD).

When people go to the bank to exchange currencies, it is most likely that they won’t get the market price that traders get. This is because the bank will markup the price to make a profit. If the USD/CAD rate is 1.0950, the market will say that to buy one U.S. dollar it costs 1.0950 Canadian dollars. However the bank says it may cost 1.12 Canadian dollars. This difference represents the profit. If you need to calculate the percentage discrepancy, take the difference between the two exchange rates and divide it by the market exchange rate as follows: 1.12 – 1.0950 = 0.025/1.0950 = 0.023.

Currency exchanges and banks compensate themselves for this service. The bank offers cash, while traders do not deal in cash in the market. To get cash, processing, wire or withdrawal fees will be applied to a forex account. For most people who are looking for currency conversion, getting cash momentarily and without fees, but paying a markup, is a reasonable compromise.