Money and Banking

Canada’s currency is based on dollars and cents. Credit cards (VISA, Mastercard and American Express) are accepted for most purchases. Many stores and restaurants also accept debit cards (Interac). These bank cards allow you to pay for goods and services directly from your bank account. Some international debit cards are accepted. Ask your bank if your card is valid in Canada before leaving your home country, and be sure you know your daily withdrawal limit.

Most Canadians do not carry large amounts of cash. We recommend that you do not carry too much cash. Instead, we suggest that you bring your money to Canada as traveller’s cheques in Canadian dollars or use a credit card or debit card. Traveller’s cheques can be converted to cash at most Canadian banks. You can also easily replace them if they are lost.

All major Canadian banks and many international banks are located in Toronto. ATMs (automatic teller machines) are widely available for withdrawing cash or using credit cards and debit cards.

Living Costs

Each learner’s budget will be different depending on the kind of accommodation, food, transportation and activities you prefer. 

Taxes and Tipping

When you buy products and services in Canada, you pay sales tax in addition to the listed price. In the province of Ontario, the rate for HST (harmonized sales tax) on many items and services is 13%. It means that a $1 item will cost $1.13 to buy.

Also, Canadians will tip for specific kinds of service.  For example, at a restaurant with table service, an additional 15-20% is generally added to the final bill.  For other services, like taxis and hair dressing, 10-15% is generally added as a gratuity for good service.  

The University of Toronto has an informative page of links about living in Toronto.

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