Is U.S. Currency Accepted in Canada?

Hundred Dollar bills
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Canada, just north of the United States, is a huge country—the second largest in terms of area after Russia—and you can visit anywhere between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, or even get close to the Arctic Ocean. There are countless places to enjoy yourself in Canada's 10 provinces and three territories.

Collaboration Between Canada and the U.S.

Canada and the U.S. have a longstanding, healthy relationship. The robust economic trade and tourist activity between the two countries result in a steady stream of people moving over the border between Canada and the U.S.

Despite these close ties, the two are completely separate countries, and Canada has a protected border and its own government, laws, and currency, the Canadian dollar. Just like the U.S. currency, the Canadian dollar is divided into 100 cents.

Using U.S. Dollars in Canada

You can probably use U.S. dollars to cover costs in Canada; however, U.S. bills won't be accepted everywhere, and it may be expensive to pay with them.

Though many major hotels and retailers will allow customers to pay with U.S. currency, they may set their own exchange rate, which will not likely be favorable to the customer. 

The good news is that duty-free shops, border crossings, border towns, and Canada's most popular destinations and attractions will readily accept U.S. currency and probably give a decent exchange.

Places You'll Need Canadian Currency

Smaller or more rural destinations may not want to be saddled with foreign currency and will therefore not accept it. When traveling outside of popular areas, have some Canadian cash on hand, or a credit card. 

Automated machines, such as those at laundromats, parking meters, or anything into which you must insert money will likely only accept Canadian money.

Where to Find Local Currency

The best advice for people traveling in Canada is to trade in U.S. dollars for some of the local currency. You can do this at exchange booths, border crossings, and large shopping malls, but for a better exchange rate, go to a Canadian bank. Post offices and American Express offices are additional options, along with hotels.

Potential Bank Fees

To find an ATM, check in bank lobbies, malls, stores, restaurants, and bars. It is wise to check with your bank about potential fees for withdrawing money from your account when in Canada. Whether you will be charged a withdrawal fee by the ATM machine depends on which ATM network you use, and your bank might charge you a foreign transaction fee, too.

In addition, you can use your credit card (Visa and Master Card are most widely accepted) for point of purchase or your ATM to draw Canadian dollars from your U.S. account. Try to maximize the amount of money you withdraw from an ATM to cut down on withdrawal fees, and know that some cards charge foreign transaction or conversion fees even in Canada.

Some rideshare programs available in the U.S. are available in parts of Canada, too, but remember that those fares will usually appear in Canadian dollars, so you'll need to convert them to U.S. dollars to know how much you're paying. If the rideshare company charges in Canadian dollars, those fares could be subject to foreign transaction fees, so it's worth using a credit card that waives those fees to avoid excessive charges.