As in the United States, Canadian currency is based on dollars and cents. Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, and 25 cents, and one and two dollars. The one-dollar coin is the gold-colored “loonie,” named for the bird featured on it. The unique two-dollar coin, introduced in 1996, is silver with a gold-colored insert. Notes come in $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 denominations.
All prices quoted in this book are in Canadian dollars unless noted. American dollars are accepted at many tourist areas, but the exchange rate is more favorable at banks. Currency other than U.S. dollars can be exchanged at most banks, airport money-changing facilities, and foreign exchange brokers in Vancouver , Victoria , and Whistler . Travelers checks are the safest way to carry money, but a fee is often charged to cash them if they’re in a currency other than Canadian dollars. All major credit and charge cards are honored at Canadian banks, gas stations, and most commercial establishments. Automatic teller machines (ATMs) can be found in almost every town.
The cost of living in Vancouver and Victoria is similar to that of all other Canadian major cities, but higher than in the United States. If you will be staying in hotels or motels, accommodations will be your biggest expense. Gasoline is sold in liters (3.78 liters equals one U.S. gallon) and is generally $1–1.30 a liter for regular unleaded.
Tipping charges are not usually added to your bill. You are expected to add a tip of 15–20 percent to the total amount for waiters and waitresses, barbers and hairdressers, taxi drivers, and other such service providers. Bellhops, doormen, and porters generally receive $1 per item of baggage.
Canada imposes a 6 percent goods and services tax (GST) on most consumer purchases. The BC government imposes its own 7.5 percent tax (PST) onto everything except groceries and books. So when you are looking at the price of anything, remember that the final cost you pay will include an additional 13.5 percent in taxes.