The monetary system in Canada is based on dollars and cents like the U.S., but there are differences. Canada has nickels, dimes, quarters, 1-dollar coins (“loonies”) and 2-dollar coins (“toonies”), but no longer uses pennies, so cashiers round-off up or down as needed. Paper currency comes in $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, etc. bills.
U.S. currency is accepted as payment in most places in Canada, but not NWT campgrounds. Merchants give change in Canadian currency and they may or may not give you the prevailing exchange rate.
The Canadian dollar and American dollar are 2 separate currencies and the rate of exchange varies. Not all banks in the U.S. have foreign currency on hand, so exchange your U.S. currency for Canadian currency at a bank in Canada. You will probably get a better rate of exchange at a bank, although there is still a fee.
Major American bank and credit cards are accepted in Canada. Credit card purchases are billed at the U.S. dollar equivalent at the current exchange rate and often a pesky “Foreign Transaction Fee” is included.
Many cities in Alaska and Canada have automated teller machines (ATMs)—MasterCard/Cirrus ATM Network, Nexxus and others—and they usually accept bank debit cards regardless of country of origin. It is important to carry some cash since some merchants may not accept plastic. NOTE: Campground showerhouses often require loonies for coin-op showers and Northwest Territory government campground require Canadian funds (cash or cheque) for payment.