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1 day Vancouver, Canada trip, money questions

RoyceSraphimRoyceSraphim Registered User regular
edited May 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
So I'm going for the Tenacious D and Protomen concert and I have money questions.

First off, how much of my American money should I convert to Canadian?

Second, do taxis there take Mastercard debit cards or credit cards? (mine has doubled for both)

Third, what taxi brands are there that should be trusted and should be avoided?

RoyceSraphim on

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    EsseeEssee The pinkest of hair. Victoria, BCRegistered User regular
    edited May 2012
    From my own personal experience, unless you know you need cash, you can really use a credit/debit card almost everywhere (except New York Fries and Tim Hortons might not accept credit for some reason, but that might have just been the ones I went to in Victoria, which is across the way on Vancouver Island). Incidentally, even if the card you have is considered a "debit card" in the States, it's really just going to go through as a credit card to everyone up there (so if anyone asks you if it's debit or credit, say it's credit to avoid any hassle). There's no difference between the two on your end, of course, but it sometimes makes a difference to the merchant. I seem to recall that they accept Mastercard in plenty of places, but obviously they always accept Visa. And you can definitely use credit cards to pay for taxis (and in that case I'm like 90% sure they should accept Mastercard because they deal with people from outside the country all the time).

    The only real downside to using a credit/debit card is that your card provider probably charges an international transaction fee on every transaction you make outside the country (mine is 3% of every purchase). I guess how much you care about that 3% fee dictates how much cash you would want to bring. But yeah, for reals, you don't really need to be carrying much cash, and depending on where you get the cash from it might be more than a 3% markup. Incidentally, if you happen to have a Bank of America account, it's 100% free to withdraw cash from Scotiabank ATMs using your debit card (this was actually the cheapest way for me to pay rent as an American living in Canada for a couple years-- withdraw it in cash and put it into my Canadian account). You won't get charged any kind of fee at all, not even the international transaction fee (because you're just withdrawing money, not paying someone with your card), and you'll be withdrawing exactly what the cash is worth based on the exchange rate at the time. I don't know if any other banks have similar agreements, but go ahead and ask your bank if they do. Either way, if you do want Canadian cash I think the best option is probably to go to a bank and either use my method or get your US cash exchanged there. I also found that I was able to use US cash at restaurants and such basically every time I asked, so you could probably do that, too. At any rate, definitely avoid those guys at the airports and whatnot that let you exchange funds because they usually charge hilariously exorbitant prices.

    Oh, regarding cabs again... From what I understood from somebody who lives there, every taxi company in Vancouver is required by law to charge the same amount for everything. So there's no difference in price between any legit cab companies, but I don't personally know which taxi companies are good or not. I do have a recommendation for a taxi company in BC, but they're only in Victoria, so that doesn't help you!

    Essee on
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    RoyceSraphimRoyceSraphim Registered User regular
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    MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    Essee seemed to say so, and the first Google hit from "Vancouver Taxi" says they accept all major credit cards:

    Yellow Cab

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    EsseeEssee The pinkest of hair. Victoria, BCRegistered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Do the cabs take cards?
    Essee wrote: »
    And you can definitely use credit cards to pay for taxis (and in that case I'm like 90% sure they should accept Mastercard because they deal with people from outside the country all the time).

    Most definitely, good sir! Sorry, I tried not to make that post a wall of text but I guess I still didn't break it up enough.

    Seriously though, I can only think of two-three places I encountered in two years in Victoria (plus a month I spent in Vancouver itself before that) that had any issue at all with taking credit cards. And those places pretty clearly indicated it. Like I said, pretty much the only concern with using a credit card is the international transaction fee, but 3% (my example; do check your card's charge) isn't all that bad. You can carry cash if you want (for those couple of places you might want to use cash) but since you're only gonna be there one day you shouldn't need to keep much on you at all. And like I said, see if you can find a bank to exchange your US dollars when you get there rather than getting something before you go, unless you're getting it through a bank in the States that won't charge you extra beyond the exchange rate difference. Otherwise I'd bet it's more than a 3% difference. Or you can potentially use US cash. Being so close to the US, I think a lot of businesses are used to having to deal with it (and again, on the few occasions I used cash instead of a credit card it was often US cash and I didn't personally have any trouble).

    Essee on
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    RikushixRikushix VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Just a heads up: Vancouver isn't as reliant on taxis as some other cities, partially because the transit system (even if we do complain about it) is pretty comprehensive. As a result, while you may see a LOT of taxis driving around, when it comes to flagging an empty one down it may take a minute or three. NYC this isn't. Also, taxis here are kinda expensive, though not absurdly so.

    As far as brands go? Nothing you should really "avoid". If you're looking to make a reservation for a taxi ahead of time, it's entirely possible you'll get a no-show. But MacClures, Yellow Cab, Bonnies, they're pretty much all the same, and fairly reliable.

    And it's already been mentioned, but they definitely take all major cards.

    @Essee: Most Tim Hortons out east for some ungodly reason only take Mastercard. I really don't know why.

    Rikushix on
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    EsseeEssee The pinkest of hair. Victoria, BCRegistered User regular
    Oh yeah, Vancouver's transit system is pretty robust. I hadn't really thought of that because of the way the OP was asking, that's one time you might want cash on you. Let's see here... Your options are $2.50 per person per ride with a 90-minute transfer (since it looks like it's on a weekend so you won't need to worry about fare zones... in fact it's happening RIGHT NOW so all my research means nothing, dangit), or $9 per person all day if you buy a DayPass from most grocery stores, drug stores, 7/11, etc. You can always just ask where the nearest place to buy them is, though. Like I said in my parenthetical, looks like you're already there, so have fun!
    Rikushix wrote: »
    @Essee: Most Tim Hortons out east for some ungodly reason only take Mastercard. I really don't know why.

    That just seems par for the course, then. You know, come to think of it, I think the same Tim Hortons I was thinking about where we could only use debit or cash might have had a Mastercard logo as well I believe... confounded Visas being useful everywhere BUT Timmy's.

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    Gilbert0Gilbert0 North of SeattleRegistered User regular
    In Canada, if it says Visa/Mastercard on it, we mean it as a credit card. In Canada, debit card is run through the Interac network. To tell, look on the back of your card and it'll list the networks it's good in.

    I would say 95% of places, will take your card as a credit card, with the exception being small cash only places. But like above, watch out for your fees. You could see a 1-5% surcharge + the conversion fee everytime you use it. Depends on your card.

    Taxis should all take plastic as well, just confirm before you hop in that their machine isn't broken, etc.

    As an emergency, I always like to take some cash, just in case but $100 would probably be fine.

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    BartholamueBartholamue Registered User regular
    Yeah, you should take cash just to be on the safe side.

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