Canadian dollar ($)
Budget: Less than $100
- Dorm bed: $25–40
- Campsite: $20–35
- Markets and supermarkets for self-catering
- B&B or room in a midrange hotel: $90–200
- Restaurant meal: $15–25 plus drinks
- Rental car: $25–60 per day
- Attractions: $5–25
Top End: More than $250
- Four-star hotel room or luxury B&B: from $180
- Three-course meal in a top restaurant: from $45 plus drinks
- Sea kayaking or canoe day tour: $65–175
Unless you're at a flea market, yard sale or antique store, bargaining is not a standard practice anywhere in Canada and would elicit more than a few strange looks if you tried it out.
ATMs are widely available and credit and debit cards are accepted almost everywhere.
Canadian coins come in 5¢ (nickel), 10¢ (dime), 25¢ (quarter), $1 (loonie) and $2 (toonie) denominations. The gold-colored loonie features the loon, a common Canadian waterfowl, while the two-toned toonie is decorated with a polar bear.
Canada has a full series of plastic/polymer notes in circulation. The currency comes in $5 (blue), $10 (purple), $20 (green) $50 (red) and $100 (gold) denominations.
In larger cities, currency exchange offices may offer better rates than banks.
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. The exchange rate tends not to be very favorable, and you may be charged transaction fees on top.
Most ATMs also spit out cash if you use a major credit card. This method tends to be much 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 there is with purchases). For exact fees, check with your bank or credit-card company.
Visitors heading to more remote regions (such as Newfoundland) 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. Note that 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 hard 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 (which is around 3% of whatever you purchased); ensure you check with your provider to avoid surprises.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
Tipping is standard practice in Canada, as it is across North America. Generally accepted rates are as follows:
- Bar staff $1 per drink
- Hotel bellhop $1 to $2 per bag
- Hotel room cleaners $2 per day
- Restaurant waitstaff 15% to 20%
- Taxis 10% to 15%