The currency system in Canada uses dollars and cents similar to the U.S. system. Canada now has one- and two-dollar coins, known as the "loonie" and the "toonie", in addition to 1 cent, 5 cent, and 25 cent coins. The paper money comes in different colours and designs. The most common are $5 bills (blue), $10 bills (purple), $20 bills (green), $50 bills (red), $100 bills (brown), and $1000 bills (purple). You may still see some old red $2 bills, which remain valid currency. To get cash, the easiest way is to use any of your bank cards for the Interac system with just about every automatic banking machine in Canada, conveniently located at banks and other locations throughout most cities and at airports.
Canada's federal tax, known as the GST, or "goods and services tax", is 5% and applies to most foods and services provided in Canada. As of April 1, 1997 the HST or "harmonized sales tax" is a 13% tax that replaces the provincial sales tax (PST) and GST.
And what do you do when you've spent the last of your loonies and your toonies? Major cards such as American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted in Canada. Keep in mind your financial institution at home will automatically make the currency exchange before you receive your monthly statement.
And in case you were wondering, yes, tipping is practiced, and expected, in Canada. Tips or service charges are not usually added to restaurant bills in Canada. If you are satisfied with the service received (or if they're just so darn cute), a tip of 15 percent is customary. Following the introduction of the federal goods and services tax (GST), many Canadians have begun to tip on the pretax amount.
Relevant Links: Currency Exchange at xe.com.