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Money Questions
Q: Where can I exchange currency?
A: First choice: a bank machine (ATM, robot bank). Second choice: a bank. Third : Foreign Exchange service@North York. (Check today exchange rate )

The best option for obtaining local currency, no matter where in the world you are travelling, is to use an automatic teller machine. This assumes, of course, that you have a bank account which is accessible by ATM and that your card works in the country you are visiting (see next question).

If you withdraw cash from your account using an ATM, you will be given the amount you select in local currency, which will be withdrawn from your bank account using the best possible exchange rate, better than you will get any other way. Your bank may add a service charge, but you will almost always do better on this transaction than by exchanging cash or travelers' cheques.

Any branch of any bank will exchange US cash or travellers' checks. Many will exchange British pounds. For other currencies, you may have to go to a central branch. In some cities, there may be specialized foreign exchange dealers. Note that banks tend to close early -- often at 3 pm Mon-Thu, 5 or 6 pm Fridays, and many are closed all day Saturdays.

Specialized foreign exchange businesses also operate in major cities; rates and fees may vary so shop around if you plan to use their services.

US cash is accepted at most stores but you won't get a very good exchange rate. Remember that they're doing you a favor by accepting it at all.

Q: Will my bank machine (ATM) card work in Canada?
A: It will if your bank is on the Plus or Cirrus networks.

Almost all Canadian financial institutions have automatic teller machines (ATMs), and you'll also find ATMs located in large and small shopping centers, airports, train stations, and even many gas stations and corner stores.

Canadian financial institutions include banks, credit unions, and trust companies. Each institution has a brand name for its ATM service, such as Instabank, Instant Teller, Cashstop, Green Machine, and so on.

You may hear about 'Interac'; this is the Canadian domestic network for interbank electronic funds transfers, which all Canadian banks are a member of. It does not operate internationally and is of no use to visitors from outside the country. Some bank staff are not familiar with international services and will talk only about Interac since it's all they know.

There are two international networks operating in Canada: the Plus Network (allied with the Visa credit card) and Cirrus (allied with MasterCard). All Canadian financial institutions are members of one or the other; the Bank of Montreal and Royal Bank are members of both. Check with your home bank before you leave and find out which network (if any) your card will operate on. Your bank should have a book it can give you which lists banks and bank machine locations worldwide on the network which it is a member of.

PLUS network members in Canada include: Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), Canada Trust, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Laurentian Bank, Royal Bank, Toronto-Dominion (TD) Bank, and caisses populaires (francophone credit unions).

CIRRUS network members in Canada include: Bank of Montreal, Credit Unions, National Bank, National Trust, and Royal Bank.

Most of these institutions are major national organizations with branches across the country. In Quebec the most common financial institutions are the caisses populaires (credit unions).

Other banks, trust companies, and credit unions may or may not be members of these networks.

You can look up ATM locations online: MasterCard and Cirrus ATMs, VISA and Plus ATMs.

Q: Will my credit card be accepted?
A: Do you have one of the following...?

Visa and MasterCard are both accepted almost anywhere. American Express is less commonly used but is accepted at larger stores and gas station chains. Discover is not very common, but is accepted at large stores.

Q: Do I have to pay sales tax?
A: Yes but you may be able to get a refund(Refund- Only For Visitors only); keep your receipts.

Sales taxes vary from province to province. In most provinces, most things that you buy have two point-of-sale taxes on them: a 7% federal tax called the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and a provincial sales tax (PST) which varies from province to province. In most of Canada, the PST and GST are calculated separately on the base price of the item; in Quebec and Prince Edward Island, the GST is added to the price of the item, and then the PST is calculated on the total. There is no PST in Alberta, the Yukon, or the Northwest Territories. In Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, you pay a single 15% tax (the Harmonized Sales Tax, HST) instead of the GST and PST. (See the table below)

Province GST PST HST
British Columbia 7% 7% No
Alberta 7% No No
Saskatchewan 7% 8% No
Manitoba 7% 7% No
Ontario 5% 8% No
Quebec 7% 6.5% (on top of GST) No
Prince Edward Island 7% 10% (on top of GST) No
Newfoundland No No 15%
Nova Scotia No No 15%
New Brunswick No No 15%
Yukon Territory 7% No No
Northwest Territories 7% No No

Some items (food at grocery stores, for example) are not taxed. In some stores, the GST is already included in the price tag, but most often it is added at the point of sale. (You'll see square green signs telling you one way or the other.) The PST is almost always added at the cash register.

Visitors can get refunds on the GST and HST, as well as the Quebec and Manitoba provincial sales taxes, on certain items. In general, you can get taxes refunded on anything you take home or have shipped home, and on accommodations. Tax is not refunded on meals, even if included in your hotel bill. You will have to send in your original receipts and you won't get them back. Credit card charge slips and photocopies of receipts are not accepted.

You can get the complete information and application forms at border-crossing points, most duty-free stores, most tourist information centres, and online at Revenue Canada's web site. You may be able to get your GST back on the spot in cash at a Duty-Free store as you leave the country (but not if you leave at an airport).

Information Copy from TravelLibrary.com