Canada's currency is the Canadian dollar symbol: $ proper abbreviation is CAD, commonly referred to simply as a "dollar", or "buck" slang. One dollar $ consists of 100 cents ¢. In the 1970s, the Canadian dollar was worth more than the U.S. dollar, but it slipped to about 66 cents U.S. by the mid-1990s. Currency traders made jokes about the "Hudson's Bay Peso". As of April 2012, the Canadian dollar is at par with the U.S. dollar.

Canadian coins are of 1¢ penny, soon to be phased out in fall 2012 but will still be accepted as legal tender, 5¢ nickel, 10¢ dime, 25¢ quarter, 50¢ rarely seen/never used, $1 loonie and $2 toonie. The penny, nickel, dime, and quarter match their U.S. counterparts in size, shape, and colour, but not in metallic composition. Canadian notes come in $5 blue, $10 purple, $20 green, $50 red and $100 brown denominations. The $1,000 pinkish bill has not been issued since 2000 as part of the fight against money laundering and organized crime. Although it remains legal tender, banks have been taking them out of circulation. In addition, the $1 green/black and $2 terra-cotta bills no longer circulate but are still considered legal tender.

In comparison to the United States, Canada may seem to be more expensive with some things costing almost double as to what they would in the United States. Be aware that Canada sells fuel gasoline, diesel, etc. in liters, as opposed to gallons. However, as of August 2009, many of the goods on sale in Canada have a price equivalent to that of the United States when the exchange rate is taken into account. While many Canadians are under the impression that shopping south of the border is less expensive, as of late, it has been cheaper to shop in Canada. Beer is generally stronger in Canada than in the States, but in some provinces such as Quebec, it can be cheaper than neighbouring U.S. states such as New York. There are now many microbreweries across the country, many with restaurants and pubs on premises; some of these are permitted to sell beer and cider on site.


Bargaining is extremely rare in ordinary retail shopping in Canada and attempts to talk a retail worker down in price will result in nothing besides testing the employee's patience. This is rarely a problem, as most retailers in Canada price their items fairly and do not look to extort their customers due to the highly competitive market and well-off economy. For larger-ticket items, especially high-end electronics and vehicles, many employees work on commission, so bargaining is possible for these items, and sales-people may offer you a lower price than what is ticketed right from the get-go. Some large retail stores will offer you a discount if you can prove to them that one of their competitors is selling the same product for a lower price. However, in certain establishments such as flea markets, antique stores, farmer's markets, etc, you may be able to negotiate a lower price, although it is, again, often unnecessary to put forth the effort.


No more GST rebates

Until 2007, travellers to Canada could claim back their GST on leaving the country, but this is no longer possible.

Be aware that in contrast to other countries where what you see is what you pay and so called "hidden costs" are forbidden by law you will almost always pay more than the prices displayed. They usually exclude sales tax and any number of very inventive extras and/or more or less mandatory tips.So don't get your dollar ready when you to the cashier in a thrift shop, because he may well ask you for $1.12...

Taxes will be added on top of the displayed price at the cashier. Exceptions where the displayed price includes all applicable taxes are gasoline the amount you pay is as it appears on the pump, parking fees, liquor bought from liquor stores, and medical services such as eye exams or dentistry.

A Goods and Services Tax GST of 5% is applied to most items. In addition to the GST, most provinces charge an additional Provincial Sales Tax PST on purchases. British Columbia, Ontario, and the Atlantic Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador have joined or "harmonized" the PST and GST. In these provinces, instead of being charged two separate taxes on a purchase, consumers will see one tax called the Harmonized Sales Tax HST.

While the GST and PST or HST are charged on most goods and services, some items are currently exempt from taxation. While this list can vary by province and tax, some common examples are: basic groceries not prepared, prescription drugs, residential housing, medical and dental services, educational services and certain childcare services.

The sales tax rates as of 2008 are:

Alberta - no PST, GST total only 5% total

British Columbia - The PST and GST were eliminated and replaced with a 12% Harmonized Sales Tax HST on July 1st 2010 12% total

Manitoba - adds 7% to the total taxable purchases plus the GST total 12% total

New Brunswick - adds 13% to the total taxable purchases as the Harmonized Sales Tax HST 13% total

Newfoundland and Labrador - adds 13% to the total taxable purchases as the Harmonized Sales Tax HST 13% total

Northwest Territories - no PST, GST total only 5% total

Nova Scotia - adds 15% to the total taxable purchases as the Harmonised Sales Tax HST 15% total

Nunavut - no PST, GST total only 5% total

Ontario - The PST and GST were eliminated and replaced with a 13% Harmonized Sales Tax on July 1st 2010 13% total

Prince Edward Island - adds 10% to the total taxable purchases plus the GST total 15% total

Quebec - adds 9.5% to the total of taxable purchases and the GST - the GST is taxed 14.975% total

Saskatchewan - adds 5% to the total taxable purchases plus the GST total 10% total

Yukon - no PST, GST total only 5% total

Additional taxes have been placed on some goods such as alcohol and gasoline and vary by province; however, these taxes are often included in the displayed price of the good.

currency exchange

In all cities and towns, it is possible to convert between Canadian dollars and most major currencies at many banks. In addition, some retailers in Canada will accept US currency either at par or at slightly reduced value. All Canadian banks provide currency exchange at the daily market value. In some areas, private exchange bureaus will give better exchange rates and lower fees than banks, so if you have time during your travels to look one up. It might save you some money on the exchange both when you arrive and before you leave, because Canadian dollars may not be worth as much in your home country, particularly the coin.

Private businesses are under no obligation to exchange currency at international rates. Even in the most rural areas, converting between Canadian and American dollars should not pose a problem, although travelers expecting to convert other currencies at a Canadian bank may need to be patient. In fact, most tourist destinations will accept American dollars as such, and are most likely to give a very good exchange rate. This is particularly true of regions that rely on tourism as a cornerstone of their local economy.

As Canadian Banks cash Canadian dollar travellers cheques free of charge, almost all businesses will do the same. This makes travellers cheques a safe and convenient way to carry money in Canada.

Many businesses across Canada accept U.S. Currency based on their own exchange rate for general purchases. Bills are taken with the current exchange rate. U.S. and Canadian coins, however, are similar in size, so they are used interchangeably; it is quite common for change to be given in a mix of Canadian and US coins. Almost all automatic vending machines will reject U.S. coins.

electronic banking/purchasing

The banking system is well developed, safe and technologically advanced. ATM usage in Canada is very high. There is a safe and widespread network of bank machines ATMs where you may be able to use your bank card to withdraw money directly from your account at home, but the fees involved can be more than for credit cards. If possible, try to use chartered bank ATM machines as the fees are often cheaper than the independent ATM machines. All Canadian banking institutions are members of the Interac international financial transaction network. Most retailers and restaurants/bars allow purchases by ATM card through Interac, even if they do not accept major credit cards, and many Canadians rarely use cash at all, prefering electronic forms of payment. Other ATM networks, including PLUS are widely supported and will be indicated on the ATM screen.