Canadian dollar ($)
Budget: Less than $100
- Dorm bed: $25–40
- Campsite: $25–35
- Self-catered meals from markets and supermarkets: $12–20
- Bus pass: $3–5
- B&B or room in a midrange hotel: $80–180 ($100–250 in major cities)
- Meal in a good local restaurant: from $20 plus drinks
- Rental car: $45–70 per day
- Attraction admissions: $5–25
Top end: More than $250
- Four-star hotel room: from $180 (from $250 in major cities)
- Three-course meal in a top restaurant: from $65 plus drinks
- Skiing day pass: $50–90
Haggling in shops, markets or restaurants is not an accepted practice. At hotels and for services such as tours and activities, you can ask proprietors if they can cut you a better deal, but generally set prices won’t be altered.
ATMs are widely available. Credit cards are accepted in nearly all hotels and restaurants.
- Many grocery and convenience stores, airports and bus, train and ferry stations have ATMs. Most are linked to international networks, the most common being Cirrus, Plus, Star and Maestro.
- Most ATMs also spit out cash if you use a major credit card. This method tends to be more expensive because, in addition to a service fee, you'll be charged interest immediately (in other words, there's no interest-free period as with purchases). For exact fees, check with your own bank or credit card company.
- Visitors heading to Canada's truly remote regions won't find an abundance of ATMs, so it is wise to cash up beforehand.
- Scotiabank, common throughout Canada, is part of the Global ATM Alliance. If your home bank is a member, fees may be less if you withdraw from Scotiabank ATMs.
Most Canadians don't carry large amounts of cash for everyday use, relying instead on credit and debit cards. Still, carrying some cash, say $100 or less, comes in handy when making small purchases. In some cases, cash is necessary to pay for rural B&Bs and shuttle vans; inquire in advance to avoid surprises. Shops and businesses rarely accept personal checks.
Major credit cards such as MasterCard, Visa and American Express are widely accepted in Canada, except in remote, rural communities, where cash is king. You'll find it difficult or impossible to rent a car, book a room or order tickets over the phone without having a piece of plastic. Note that some credit card companies charge a 'transaction fee' (around 3% of whatever you purchased); check with your provider to avoid surprises. If you are given an option to pay in your home currency, it is usually better to NOT accept, as they charge a higher interest rate for the point-of-sale transaction.
For lost or stolen cards, these numbers operate 24 hours:
For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.
Tipping is a standard practice. Generally you can expect to tip:
- Restaurant waitstaff 15% to 20%
- Bar staff $1 per drink
- Hotel bellhop $1 to $2 per bag
- Hotel room cleaners From $2 per day (depending on room size and messiness)
- Taxis 10% to 15%
Traveler's checks are becoming more and more obsolete. Traveler's checks issued in Canadian dollars are generally treated like cash by businesses; those in most other currencies must be exchanged for Canadian dollars at a bank or foreign currency office. The most common issuers are American Express, MasterCard and Visa.
- All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars ($), unless stated otherwise.
- Canadian coins come in 5¢ (nickel), 10¢ (dime), 25¢ (quarter), $1 (loonie) and $2 (toonie or twoonie) denominations. The gold-colored loonie features the loon, a common Canadian waterbird, while the two-toned toonie is decorated with a polar bear. Canada phased out its 1¢ (penny) coin in 2012.
- Paper currency comes in $5 (blue), $10 (purple), $20 (green) and $50 (red) denominations. The $100 (brown) and larger bills are less common. The newest bills in circulation – which have enhanced security features – are actually a polymer-based material; they feel more like plastic than paper.
- For changing money in the larger cities, currency exchange offices may offer better conditions than banks.