Taxes, tipping & money, Vancouver
I read online that most businesses in Vancouver, no longer want to accept U.S. currency, well, this is not true. I went to convenient stores, clothing stores, department stores, markets, restaurants, fast foods, museums, and NO WHERE did I have trouble paying with U.S. currency. This was a life saver for me, because I had no idea where to exchange my currency, so I was stuck with American Dollars.
I have no idea how accepted they are, the further you get from the border, but I didn't have any problem paying with them in Vancouver. And every time I paid with U.S. currency, they would always give me my change, in Canadian currency, so I ended up having a few on hand. The exchange rate is almost equal, so it's much easier to just pay with U.S. dollars, than looking for a place to exchange them.
All visitors may claim a refund of the goods and services tax (GST) and/or, the harmonized sales tax (HST) which they paid on eligible goods, must provide proof that they exported their goods from Canada. This is referred to as Proof of Export.
Proof of Export began at Canada's nine major international airports. Non-resident visitors departing from one of these airports, must have their goods available for inspection and their original receipts validated by a Canada Customs official as they leave Canada.
A lot of tourist-friendly businesses choose to accept American currency as a courtesy to American tourists, but US dollars are legally a foreign currency in Canada, not a secondary currency. What this means is that businesses that choose to accept US dollars choose their own exchange rate, and they will only give back change in Canadian dollars, as it's what they're legally able to do. Infrastructure in Canada - vending machines, laundry machines, pay phones, public transit ticket machines, parking meters - basically anything where you insert coins/bills... will only accept Canadian dollars/coins.
Major credit cards (especially Visa and Mastercard) are accepted at most vendors in Canada. I recommend using a credit card for any purchase over $10 as you will usually get a favorable exchange rate from your own bank.
Debit cards, however, work differently in Canada than in the States. If you aren't Canadian yours probably won't work or will at least confuse the cashier. Even if your debit card has a Mastercard or Visa logo the cashier may attempt to use the debit system with your card and fail.
To get by without confusion, just use your regular credit card or cash.
Ok as a frustrated waitress at times I would like to talk about tipping in Vancouver.. In Canada it is customary to add usually at least 10-15% from your bill to tip your waiter. If they have done an extraordinary job, I reccomend 20%. In the restaurant I worked in we had to tip out kitchen staff etc out of our sales.. so in otherwords if we made little or no money in tips.. we still had to tip out on the sale! So basically it is possible that we would lose money for serving a table that didnt tip well.. So please be kind, tip your waiter/waitress!! :)
I only just realized that in other places in the world, people don't tip their waiter/waitress in a restaurant.
To do that in Vancouver would be scandalous! It would be considered very very rude not to tip at a restaurant (buffet is a little different, since you serve yourself). The only case in which you normally wouldn't tip would be if you got atrocious service and were offended.
10% is standard, up to 20% if it's really good service!