Currency and Exchange
Canadian currency is based on dollars and cents, similar to the United States. Paper bills are color coded for denominations (starting at $5) and coins are used for $2 (toonies), $1 (loonies) and smaller denominations.
Though some retailers will accept American money, in order to eliminate confusion with exchange rates, travelers are advised to exchange US currency for Canadian dollars (this can be done at most banks).
Foreign currency exchange outlets are located in airports and major centres:
Edmonton Currency Exchange
100, 10336 Jasper Avenue Edmonton, AB T5J 1Y7
Phone: (780) 426-5971
Western Currency Exchange
Energy Plaza, 125, 321 – 6 Avenue SW Calgary, AB T2P 3H3
Phone: (403) 263-9000
Jasper Marketplace Currency Exchange
Maligne Lake Office, 616 Patricia Street Jasper, AB
Phone: (403) 852-3370
Custom House Global Foreign Exchange
Park Avenue Mall
211 Banff Avenue, Banff, AB T1L 1B8
Phone: (403) 760-6630
In addition to other private currency exchange outlets in malls, etc., many banks also offer currency exchange. You may want to contact a branch before you arrive to order your cash.
ATM’s or ABM’s (automated banking machines) are readily available throughout retail outlets and public venues across the province. If your bank card (with a valid PIN number) can access the Cirrus and PLUS networks (check the back of your card), you will be able to withdraw money virtually anywhere. Keep in mind that nominal fees ($1.50 - $3) are charged for withdrawals from bank machines.Credit Cards
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted across the province, as are Interac cards (direct debit). American Express is less common, but can be used at many major hotels and restaurants.
Did you know you should contact your credit card provider before travelling to other countries? Unusual activity abroad is a flag for credit card companies and some will suspend an account as a precaution. Quick advance notice will ensure you can use your card as you choose.
As debit and credit card usage has increased, traveler’s cheques have become less popular. Most businesses will still accept them, but it is a good idea to inquire with the merchant when entering a store.Sales Tax
Alberta is the only province in Canada with no Provincial Sales Tax (PST) however there is a four per cent Tourism Levy on hotel rooms. The federal government charges a 5% Goods & Services Tax (GST) on the sale of most goods and services but international visitors may be eligible for a refund on the GST for accommodation, travel tour packages and goods purchased while in Alberta. The requirements: you must spend a minimum of CAN$200 (before taxes) of goods and/or accommodation. Be sure to keep your receipts. Download an application from the government website here.
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"Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote" - Michael Palin