The legal currency is the Canadian dollar
, which is divided into 100 cents. Paper bills come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 1,000 dollars. Coins are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 25 cents, as well as 1 and 2 dollars.
Currency exchange offices
are numerous in Québec’s major cities. Airports also offer exchange services. Some businesses accept U.S. currency, but offer less competitive rates than exchange offices.
Opening an account is essential for carrying out day-to-day transactions. This can be done at the financial institution of one’s choice (banks, caisses, local credit unions, etc.). The applicant's social insurance number or any other document that provides proof of residency in Canada may be used for identification purposes.
It is important to choose an institution that meets one’s needs, since fees for transactions, checks and other services can vary from one institution to another.
Upon opening the account a debit card linked to the banking account is provided. The funds available on the card are the same as the amount in the account. Transaction fees depend on the banking plan selected. All Canadian financial institutions are part of the Interac network, a payment system that exists throughout North America. ATMs are open 24/7 everywhere in Québec.
Financial institutions, department stores and other retailers offer a variety of credit cards. In North America, these cards are not affiliated with bank accounts, but instead with a credit account at another institution. The customer is not required to pay the entire balance, but a minimum amount must be paid each month. Any unpaid balance is subject to fees and the monthly interest rates are quite high. The most common cards are Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
Requesting credit can be difficult for new immigrants because the request usually involves analyzing the applicant’s credit history in Canada. Immigrants often have no Canadian credit rating.