Canadian acceptance of American money?

If I go to Canada and get past the border towns will most Canadians retail and service businesses (say a restaurant) accept and be happy to get US dollars or Canadian money interchangably or do they usually require that things be paid for in Canadian money?

Just curious.

From my experience, it depends upon the merchant. Most places have taken U.S. dollars when I’ve traveled in Canada. However, I ran into some trouble when I was in Inuvik in the NWT. That’s above the Arctic Circle however and I think the problem there might have been logistical and the store not wanting to be stuck with a lot of American greenbacks.

I traveled through New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia, and New Foundland last summer. I used U.S. bills with no problem in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. I did not try in PEI or New Foundland. You will get a better rate of exchange at a bank, but if you are just crossing the border for a little while it might not make any difference.

Another option would be to use ATMs in Canada. They will disburse Canadian bills and I believe the rate might be better than changing at the bank. At least I’ve been told this is the case in Europe.

Generally, yes. If you are at a store that a tourist might go to, (IE - A store in a mall, resteraunt, etc) they usually will, but the exchange rate usually sucks compared to the banks. You are usually better going to exchange your cash first.

Some stores that do not cater to tourists (say, a wholesale type store or maybe a auto parts store) might not have a policy so that may be more touch and go.

I have almost never had a problem paying anywhere in Canada with American money. The exchange rate usually is disadvantageous - 40 to 45%.

Regarding bernse’s last comment, I would like to add that almost any store would accept american money but in some stores (few, I would imagine) they might not give you any exchange rate! Once after having come back from the states I only had american money, I went inside a convenience store and they would take the american money but wouldn’t give me any exchange rate at all. I left the store and went to the one down the road, where they did give me a reasonable exchange rate.

My American business associates used to ask this all the time when they came up to our Toronto office and I was working with them.

The short answer is yes, most Canadian businesses that visitors would patronize (stores, hotels, attractions, restaurants, bars, and so on) take American currency. However, while many such places accept it, they do not have to give you the correct or current exchange rate, or indeed any rate at all if they do not want to. (A few of my associates found this out the hard way when they tried to pay off a bar tab with US currency only to be told that the bar offered no exchange rate and would only take their American currency at par.)

Your best approach with currency is to trade American dollars for Canadian at a bank or foreign exchange. The best exchange rate will be at a bank–foreign exchange booths are usually slightly more expensive than a bank, but still offer a much better rate than you might find in some places.

The best approach of all though is to use a common credit card: Visa, Amex, MC, and the like. (I don’t think Canadian merchants accept Discover, though some might.) Purchases made in Canada are billed to your account at the rate for the day they are posted.

I don’t know about ATMs, though I would assume they would follow the lead of the credit cards and use the daily rate.

Most major Canadian cities are quite near the US border, so naturally they’ll tend to cater to US visitors with respect to currency. I’m living in Calgary, which is far from the border as substantial Canadian cities go at about 100 miles. Also, the US population near the border is small. In spite of this, I see conversion rates posted in touristy areas and in some fast food places (e.g. McDonalds)

One comment on ATM usage, reversing borders: I’ve twice used ATMs in the US with a Canadian bank’s card. Both times the ATM had posted a message that US cardholders are charged a fee of (~$2) per transaction. No mention was made of what charges were for non-US cardholders. Use of a Canadian bank’s card at both of these ATMs incurred a fee of … Nothing.

I’m not sure why there was no fee, but I’m not complaining. :slight_smile: I don’t know if Canadian ATMs extend the analogous deal to US cardholders, though…

What about tourist-type places on the US side of the border? How willing are they to accept Canadian money (aside from Tim’s comments about the ATM)?

In my experience, as a former customer service maven in Montana (many, many Canadian tourists, even if they’re only passing through heading south) . . . Not very.

The exchange rate is so skewed in favor of U.S. dollars that most U.S. businesses on this side demand greenbacks. And attempting to calculate the rate of exchange is a pain in the ass, and a lot of people won’t do it. I’m sure some businesses right up on the border might deal in Canadian currency, but not if you’re further than, say, 50 miles into the States. I’ve worked at several car rental places and a couple of motels, and none of them would take Canadian currency. The one exception to this I can think of is Glacier Park which being (1) right on the border and (2) a major tourist destination will accept Canadian currency for at or near the going rate of exchange.

The only exception to this I can think of are pennies, nickels, and quarters. As small change (literally), they come up pretty regularly. Everybody takes them without complaint if they’re mixed in with some American change. Vending machines won’t take them, but most people will.

Take your currency? They’ll quit playing hockey long enough to get on their knees and kiss your ass in thanks for your willingness to visit their freezing cold, God-forsaken wasteland of a country.

Or at least they should. :D:D

What does that mean?

I get the feeling that Canadians look at an American $1 bill and say, “Oooh boy! That’s worth a lot more than a real dollar!”, while the Americans look at a Canadian $1 bill and say “Aaak! Worthless piece of paper!”

If a Canadian merchant will accept an American $10 bill for an item priced at fifteen Canadian dollars, why won’t an American merchant accept a Canadian $20 bill for an item priced at thirteen American dollars?

Are people really that dumb? (Don’t answer that…)

You have good info in this thread - I just wanted to add, that when withdrawling canadian cash from an ATM, they use that day’s bank exchange rate to determine how much your account is debited.

If you anticipate using alot of foreign cash - go to a branch of your bank, and try to negotiate a better rate. It can be done, they DO have a little ‘wiggle room’, and the more you purchase, the better exchange rate you should get.

(this was the case at royal bank in canada anyway)

I spent the first 48 years of my life in a city ~30 miles from the Canadian border. Canadian money was acceptable, at par when I was young and the exchange rates were less than 2% off, then at the usual sort of not-quite-accurate exchange (e.g., with $C1 = $US0.7754 or something, they’d honor Canadian money at 75% of American).

The only real problem was trying to use a vending machine and finding out the only quarters or nickels you had were Canadian – they didn’t work! :frowning:

With regard to cards - Discover card is not accepted here - at least, I’ve never noticed a Canadian store that takes it.

Don’t forget debit cards - most Canadian stores have debit card readers - in fact, last year, more consumer transactions were done in Canada by debit cards than by cash. Next in order were credit cards, and cheques were a distant fourth.

If the merchant has posted some sort of notice giving an exchange rate, the place’ll definitely take US dollars.

Yes, but can you use a non-Canadian debit card, as opposed to any sort of credit card, at an Interac* terminal? Being Canadian, I’ve never needed to…

*Interac: the nation-wide debit-card system, to which the banks (as well as trust companies, caisses populaires, and credit unions) belong.

Interestingly, there was recently a court decision which prevented the Interac Association from restricting its network to machines owned solely by its member institutions.

As a result, we now have independent money machine suppliers and networks, whose machines usually charge about CAD 1.50 per use. Often these are found in convenience stores, where they sometimes replace bank-owned machines. Presumably the owner of the store either gets a cut of the profirs, or owns the machine and pays the service company to maintain it.

“Discover” does not conduct business in Canada. Dunno why. Everyone else does.

If you’re gonna tour in Canada, just bring your debit card and your credit cards. Rare indeed is the Canadian business that doesn’t take debit cards; it’s pretty much universal now.