We recommend all visitors use Canadian currency (the Canadian Dollar – CAD) when travelling within Canada. Visitors can exchange currency at Canadian chartered banks, trust companies, credit unions, or at offices of foreign exchange brokers, but it is advised to have local currency on hand prior to arriving. Some hotels, merchants, restaurants and suppliers accept US or other foreign currency at a pre-determined rate, which may differ from the daily rate posted by financial institutions.
The Canadian Dollar is made up of 100 Canadian cents. Coins are in denominations of 5 cents (nickel), 10 cents (dime), 25 cents (quarter), $1 (loonie), and $2 (toonie). Notes are in denominations $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 and $1,000.
Note that Canada phased out use of the 1 cent (penny) coin in 2013. If you are paying cash, the total amount of your purchases will be rounded either up or down to the closest 5 cents. Credit card and debit card payments are not rounded. For more information, visit the Royal Canadian Mint website.
If you need to exchange money while you are here in Vancouver there are several options available for you to do this.
Using your hotel is usually a very easy and hassle-free way of exchanging money, but you do pay for the convenience in that the exchange rates are never as good. Many downtown stores will also be happy to exchange money for you, especially US dollars to Canadian dollars, but also beware that these rates will never be the best either.
Your best bet for the best rate is to use a bank or an official currency exchange. Most banks are centered around the business area of downtown, or try the following:
666 Burrard Street in the city center.
Denman Place Mall
1030 Denman Street
Denman Place Mall website
Travelex Currency Services
Pan Pacific Hotel, 999 Canada Place.
Vancouver Bullion and Currency Exchange
800 West Pender Street, city center.
Banks and ATM’s
Using banks and ATM’s is usually better value overall. You can use a credit card to make withdrawals which would usually incur a foreign currency fee, plus some banks charge an ATM fee, but you usually get a much better rate of exchange from your credit card company. Secondly you could use a debit card for cash withdrawals. Check to see if your debit card has a ‘Cirrus’ symbol on it and if the ATM does too then you can use it. Banks and credit card companies do all charge different rates though, so please do check with yours before coming to Vancouver rather than end up with hefty charges. US banks are apparently charging quite bad rates, for example, so be aware of this.
As well as in the banks, there are numerous ATM’s in public places all around the city and whilst these are convenient, you should be aware that these do charge fees on every withdrawal and these are often more than the banks charge, so should perhaps only be used in an emergency situation.
Of course, if you don’t fancy carrying around a large amount of cash, travelers checks are a safer option and although these won’t be accepted in every small store in Vancouver, you can be sure that they will be accepted in major stores and in restaurants and at attractions. At least travelers checks give you the option to only take out as much as you need each day, and can also be exchanged for cash at banks and at your hotel etc, so that they can be used more easily for smaller purchases too.
So having had to spend more on a good meal, also means you have to spend more on the tip! In Canada as a whole, the norm is to leave a 15% tip for any kind of waiter or waitressing service. Usually a tip (or service charge) is not automatically added on unless you’re in a large party (perhaps over 8 people), but do check your bill first before leaving extra, just in case.
Most purchases in British Columbia are subject to a 7% Provincial Sales Tax (PST) as well as a federal 5% Goods and Services Tax (GST), with a few exceptions including liquor (10% PST) and accommodation (8% PST plus up to 3% hotel tax). Some goods such as food and restaurant meals, books and magazines, and children’s clothing are GST and/or PST exempt. For more information, visit the Province of British Columbia’s website