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Canada currency: the essentials about the Canadian dollar

by Luz Prada | July 24, 2019
Canada currency Canadian dollar

From the majestic Rocky Mountains to the pristine shores of its countless lakes, there are a lot of places in Canada and things to do in Canada that cater to every traveler's taste. Before your trip, it is important to familiarize yourself with the local Canada currency: Canadian dollar. In this guide, we'll delve into the Canadian Dollar and all you need to know about it. 

What is Canada currency?

If you are travelling to Canada, you might be wondering what is the currency for Canada? Canada's currency name is the Canadian dollar and its symbol is C$. The banknotes are issued by the Bank of Canada and are manufactured in Ottawa. The coins are minted in Winnipeg and are issued by the Royal Canadian Mint.

In Canada, you will see bills of 1,000; 100; 50; 20; 10 and 5 dollars. The coins are 1 and 2 dollars and 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents. In both cases the inscriptions are in the two official languages of the country: French and English.

In 2011, the material used to make the banknotes changed, so it was very expensive. After that date they have been progressively replaced by banknotes made of plastic polymer. These banknotes tend to get stuck to each other and wrinkle if you leave them exposed to the sun. Most coins are made of nickel-plated copper.

Exchange rate: Canadian dollar to US dollar 

The current exchange rate from Canadian dollar to US dollar is: 0.74 US Dollars for 1 Canadian dollar. You can always check the up-to-date conversion here.

Can you use US dollars in Canada?

You can use US dollars in Canada, but it is more common to use Canadian dollars. Some businesses, especially those in popular tourist areas or near the US-Canada border, may accept US dollars. Nevertheless, those that accept US dollars will likely provide you with change in Canadian dollars, and the exchange rate might not be as favorable as official exchange rates. 

credit card in a restaurant

Where can I exchange foreign currency in Canada?

You can exchange your currency in banks, currency exchange kiosks in airports, in shopping malls or online through Canada Post.

If you don't want to exchange currency, you can use your credit card or withdraw cash from an overseas ATM. The international credit cards Visa, American Express, Mastercard and Dinners Club work at the points of sale and you can also use traveller's checks, which are used less. Most credit cards in Canada charge a foreign transaction fee on any purchase that’s not in Canadian dollars.

There are ATMs in banks, shopping centres, hotels and service stations. Don't forget that withdrawing money from an ATMS can come with extra costs.  Debit cards are mostly compatible with the Plus, Maestro and Cirrus networks.

Is Canada expensive for tourists?

Accommodation costs 30 euros or US $34 per night in hostels. Hotels range from 60 to 170 euros or US $68-193.

If you get a meal in McDonald's or an inexpensive meal it will cost you approximately 8 euros or 9 US dollars and a high-quality meal will cost 35 euros or 39 US dollars and up. Prices in restaurants and other services are advertised without the respective taxes.

One ticket to the cinema costs 8.7 euros or US $10 and bottled water 1 euro or US $0.88 per litre. Petrol costs 0.83 euros per litre or US $1.

The minimum ticket for public transport costs 2 euros or US $2.3 one way. For taxis, for the minimum fare you will have to pay 2.5 euros or US $3 and 1.2 euros or US $1.4 per kilometre.

Is tipping mandatory in Canada?

There is a service culture and in shops there is kind customer service. Although tips are common, customer service is cordial if tips are not given.

Bargaining is not common except in the flea markets. There are some places that operate 24/7 and others that open on weekends or until 9 at night, but most of the shops close at five in the afternoon.