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Cash & ATMs in Canada: All on fees, limits, exchange, card, money

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cash currency exchange atms in canada

Canada is a country with stunning natural beauty and lively cities. Its majestic mountains, clear lakes, and cosmopolitan cities all draw tourists in. Canada has a lot to offer, from the breathtaking Rockies and the peaceful beauty of Banff to the busy streets of Toronto and the cultural diversity of Montreal. To easily get around this very different country, you need to learn how to use the local cash, ATMs in Canada, and other ways to pay. This guide will give you all the financial information you need to be excited and confident about your trip to Canada.

Do I need cash in Canada, or can I just use a credit card?

Over 75% of transactions in Canada are done with credit or debit cards, making them the most popular ways to pay. People still use cash, but mostly for smaller purchases. About 20% of all transactions made by tourists at the point of sale are made with cash. Mobile wallets and digital payments are becoming increasingly popular, especially among younger people.

You will need cash for:

Small purchases like at some coffee shops, bakeries, and market stands
Gratuities and tips – it’s usually easier to pay with cash, especially in smaller places.
Some local buses, mostly in smaller towns and rural areas.
Street vendors and food trucks

You can use your card for:

Almost all services and purchases. The country is very card-friendly.
Hotel stays, rental cars, and flights all over the country.
Big stores, restaurants, and bars in cities and tourist spots.
Fees to get into national parks, museums, and other big attractions
Tours. But some do expect cash in case you don’t want to pay extra swipe fees.

Can I use US dollars, euros, or pounds in Canada?

The Canadian Dollar (CAD) is the country’s main currency. CAD is what is mainly accepted in Canada. There are $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills.

Use of Foreign Currencies: Some border towns, popular tourist spots, and some large hotel chains may accept US Dollars, but most transactions are done in Canadian Dollars. It’s not common to accept Euros and Pounds.

How do I get the Canadian Dollar?

There are three main ways to get cash: Use ATMs, exchange money at currency exchanges, or send money via Money Transfer services.

Where can I find Canadian ATMs?

In Canada, there are more than 70,000 ATMs. Banks own about 18,000 of them and private ATM companies own the rest. There are a lot of them in cities, and there are at least a few (at least 1-2 ATMs) in smaller towns in Canada. But don’t expect to find them if you’re going to faraway places like farms, cruises, etc.

You can find ATMs at:

A lot of airports
Town squares and the market
Every big city has main tourist streets.
Malls for shopping
Lanes for food
ATMs and banks
Some business buildings
Places to get petrol

These are the spots where it will be tough to find an ATM:

Little airports
Bus stops in the area
A few villages and towns
Out-of-the-way resorts and retreats

Currency exchanges in Canada

You can use these places to exchange money in Canada:

Authorised currency exchange centres: You will find them in all touristy destinations and on main streets in big cities in Toronto and Vancouver, branded as currency exchanges.
Banks: Bank branches can also easily convert your currency to Canadian Dollars, especially from currencies like US dollars, Euros, Pounds, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, and Singapore dollars. Expect a pay a commission of 0.5% to 2% per transaction.
Hotels and airports: Airports have lots of currency exchanges and so do many large and small hotels. But the exchange rates are not great. Some large hotels may offer rates similar to banks.

Pro-tip:

Don’t exchange at airports – Rates are poor
Don’t exchange at the black market
Bring new notes – Damaged, dirty notes will get you lesser rates or higher fees

Which types of cards are accepted in Canada?

Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, Maestro, and UnionPay are the main cards that Canadian ATMs will accept. Keep in mind that some ATMs will only take Visa. They likely won’t take Amex, Diners, Discover, or Rupay cards.

You can swipe Visa and Mastercard almost anywhere. You might also be able to use your Amex at fancy places.

The best way to exchange money is with cash. A lot of currency exchange places accept Visa followed by MasterCard. Pay attention to the fees you’ll have to pay if you use your card to exchange money.

Are Canadian ATMs the same as those in other countries?

Yes, they are. There are new ATMs that look and work like ones in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and India. Some of them take your card inside while you use it, so don’t forget to take it out again when you’re done.

You can also choose to convert currencies at an ATM by pressing With Conversion, Accept Conversion, Without Conversion or Decline Conversion. If you want to avoid extra fees, it’s usually best to choose Without Conversion or Decline Conversion.

Scotiabank
TD Bank
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
CIBC
Desjardins

There are also ATMs from the following international banks in Canada:

HSBC

A group of banks around the world work together to make the Global ATM Alliance possible. Customers of this alliance can get cash from any partner bank in the world without having to pay an ATM fee. The Global ATM Alliance is made up of many banks from the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and Latin America. Bank of America, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, and others are among them. Canada’s Scotiabank was a part of this network at the time this article was written.

What are ATMs called in Canada?

In Canada, ATM usually have the word ‘ATM’ as a signage or you will find an ATM looking like machine just with the bank name, so familiarise yourself with the common bank names.

ATMs and PINs type in Canada

ATM PIN Length: Usually 4-digit PINs, but some ATMs may accept 6-digit PINs.

With respect to merchants, they accept chip-and-PIN cards mainly and then magnetic stripe cards.

Languages at Canadian ATMs and currency exchanges

By default, ATMs have English and French. It’s okay if you don’t understand these languages. You can use the camera feature of Google Translate to translate the ATM screen on your phone in real-time. Note: These translations aren’t always right, so be patient and don’t rush through the transaction

To get your cash in Canada at a currency exchange, you can also talk to people in the two languages listed above.

Withdrawal limits and ATM fees in Canada

Withdrawal limit: Most Canadian ATMs don’t limit the amount of money you can take out at once, but it depends on the limit on your bank card.

ATM fees: Sadly, most foreign cardholders don’t have fee-free ATMs in Canada. The fees are between C$3 and C$3.5.
The only ones who can get free withdrawals at Scotiabank are those who are part of the Global ATM alliance.

Use ATM Fee Saver to find free ATMs, currency exchanges, and banks in Canada. The web and mobile app ATM Fee Saver helps you find Canadian ATMs with lower fees. It also helps you find places to exchange money and send money to other people. It tells foreign cardholders how much they can withdraw and how much they will be charged. Use the app’s calculator to find out how much fees you’ll be charged. Once you choose an ATM, the app’s navigation feature will help you get there. It has information on 50 countries, and Canada is one of them.

How to avoid paying a lot of money at Canadian ATMs and currency exchanges

For ATMs:
Use the ATMs in the country that don’t charge a fee or have a lower fee.
Find ATMs with low fees by using the ATM Fee Saver app.
When you use an ATM, choose Decline Conversion or Without Conversion.
Get cards from your home country that don’t have fees.

For exchanging money:

In Canada, you should never get your money from an exchange office that says it doesn’t charge a fee. If they say no fee, that means they include their fee in the exchange rate. When you exchange money, nothing is ever free.
Credit and debit cards should be avoided for currency exchange transactions.

Are Canada’s banks and ATMs safe places to use?

Most of the time, yes. There are instances where secret cameras are put near the keypads of some Canadian ATMs to get your PIN. So make sure to cover the keypad when you enter your PIN.

You can follow general precautions such as:

You should use ATMs in bank branches instead of machines that are outside of banks.
Keep an eye on your card transactions: Use your bank’s mobile app or online banking to check your credit card transactions often. Report any unidentifiable transactions.
For private transactions, stay away from public Wi-Fi: When you use public Wi-Fi to do things like online banking or use your credit card, be careful. For extra safety, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Don’t lose your card: Make sure you can see your credit card at all times while you’re making a purchase. Don’t give your card to a store clerk who takes it away.
Bring Two Cards: When you travel, it’s smart to bring two cards with you. This way, you have a backup card in case one of them stops working.

When exchanging money, only go to authorised and registered exchange places.

Safe to carry cash while travelling in Canada?

In general, it is safe to carry cash around with you when you travel in Canada. Here are some ways to make sure your cash is safe:

You shouldn’t keep all of your cash in one pocket or wallet. Instead, spread it out.
You could put cash in a safety belt or a fanny pack.
Don’t show off a lot of cash in public.
Try not to show all of your cash when you pay.
Put wallets in front pockets instead of back-pockets.
Keep your purses, wallets, and bags close to your body and out of the way when you’re in a crowded place, like the street, a train, or a bus.

FAQs

Can I take out cash for free in Canada?

If your bank is a member of the Global ATM Alliance, then yes, Scotiabank ATMs will let you take out money without any fees. If not, you will have to pay a fee.

Can I use credit cards from the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and other places in Canada?

Without a doubt! At most ATMs in Canada, you can use cards from the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and other places.

Can I find Bitcoin ATMs in Canada?

Yes, there are more than 2,500 Bitcoin ATMs in Canada.

Are there any Bank of America ATMs?

There aren’t any Bank of America ATMs in Canada.

Any Barclays Bank ATM in Canada?

Canada does not have any Barclays ATMs.

Any HSBC ATMs in Canada?

There are many HSBC ATMs in Canada.

Any Standard Chartered ATMs in Canada?

In Canada, there are no Standard Chartered ATMs.

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