Credit and Debit
There are debit card and credit card machines everywhere in Canada, and they accept many different types of cards from many countries. Most of the machines are on the Moneris system. You can check if your card is accepted by Moneris here:
Coins and Paper Money
Canada uses the dollar for its currency. Paper money comes in $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills. The chart below shows Canadian coins, their nicknames, the way you write their value, and whether or not you can use them in vending machines to buy soft drinks or candy. All Canadian coins have a picture of the queen on one side (heads).
|5 cents||nickel||beaver||$0.05 or 5¢|
|10 cents||dime||the Bluenose (ship)||$0.10 or 10¢|
|25 cents||quarter||caribou||$0.25 or 25¢|
|2 dollars||twoonie||polar bear||$2.00|
Most US coins are accepted in Canadian stores and vending machines, just as you can use American paper money almost everywhere in Canada. However, if you go to the United States, don’t try to use Canadian money. Except for towns near the border, American stores will not accept Canadian money. It is better to exchange your Canadian money for American at a currency exchange store or a bank, because then you will get the best exchange rate.
Canada has sales taxes on nearly everything. The government uses the tax money to pay for hospitals, schools, and roads. The Goods and Services Tax (GST in English, [TPS] in French), is a Canadian government sales tax of 5%. The Quebec Sales Tax (QST or [TVQ] is 9.5%). Together, they are about 15%!
You have to pay the GST everywhere in Canada, and most provinces have their own provincial sales taxes between 5% and 10%. You will pay these sales taxes for haircuts, long distance phone calls, clothes, chocolate bars, a cup of coffee….almost everything but groceries (food) and books in the case of the PST. Remember the taxes when you want to buy something, especially if it is expensive. You have to add about 15% to the price. This shows how the taxes are calculated when you buy something:
|plus GST [TPS] 5%||$ 5.00|
|plus PST[TVQ] 9.5%||$ 9.96|
One custom with money in Canada is tipping. Tipping means giving an payment directly to the worker for service. It is normal in Canada to tip in a restaurant, in a bar, in a hotel, and in a hair salon. Also, it is normal to tip a food delivery person – like a when you order a pizza for delivery. Finally, people usually tip taxi drivers.
How much to tip? It is normal to tip about 15% of the total before tax. So, if your meal is $14 before the tax, it would be normal to tip about $2. It is also normal to round the tip up. For example, suppose your bill is $17.29 with the taxes included. Well, rather than give exactly 15%, most people would just leave $20. For taxis, it is normal to give about 10%, and in a bar, it is about $1 per drink.
If you aren’t sure how to calculate the tip in restaurants, there are few easy ways to do it. First, if you look at the bill, there are two taxes, the GST (the Goods and Services Tax) and PST (Provincial Sales Tax). In Quebec, when you add the two taxes together, the total is almost 15%. In French the GST is called TPS, and the PST is called the TVQ. Another way might be on your cellphone. Many smart phones have a tipping app that makes it easy to calculate how much to tip. Finally, if you pay by credit card or debit card at the table with a machine, the machine sometimes has an automatic 15% tip adder for the bill.
Some visitors to Canada, who are from countries where there is no tipping sometimes feel unsure about it. Just remember, it is part of the cost of a restaurant meal, like the taxes. It is very similar in the United States and in other countries where tipping is customary.