Can Canadian money (change) be used in the United States?

  • As a visitor to the US from Canada, is it possible to use Canadian money, especially coins, at businesses in the US?

    What about vending machines?

    There are local exceptions that accept Canadian money at par, mostly for tourist promotions, (Jay Peak, Vt), Myrtle Beach, SC) for the later:

    When I worked at a department store in Bellingham, WA (30ish miles from the boarder), we accepted all Canadian currency. If I remember correctly the mall in town did as well.

    Even Canadian vending machines don’t accept Canadian coins. The new loonies and toonies are not backward-compatible.

    The simple answer ... some US businesses will accept Canadian money, some will not .... of those that do, some will accept coins, some will only take bills (and give change in US coins ;-) ... some older vending machines will accept Canadian quarters, most newer ones won't. So don't count on using Canadian money 100%.

    Yes and no. In general, a vendor may accept anything as payment. But a purchaser cannot demand that anything but 'legal tender' be accepted by a vendor who serves the general public.

    These answers appear to be talking about the US near Canada? Because in the middle and below of the US, the answer is NO. Not venders, not vending machines. Just NO.

    @MarkMayo Yeah, it's related, but it's a very poor relative. Canadian businesses have almost always had no problem taking US dollars, but they very rarely give anything close to a fair exchange rate.

    I could never understand the use of vending machines. Usually nasty overpriced crud in'd think for the quality and price it would take anything from USD to CAD to Chuckie Cheese Tokens.

    @user2338816 As your own link states, a purchaser can't even demand that legal tender be accepted by a merchant. 'Legal tender' status just means that _people who are owed debts_ must accept it, not that anyone selling anything must do so. It's perfectly legal, for example, for a merchant to only accept card payments or only accept checks.

    @trevor Having lived in Bellingham mostly, since 1988, I experienced the same thing. However, your comment sounds past-tense, and more recently, most places including Bellis Fair mall have stopped accepting Canadian change at par, and may even have stopped taking Canadian cash. (Probably because VISA became more popular, so there's been less interest in people trying to spend Canadian cash, so less of a need for stores to care enough to accept it.) Though as Necreaux's answer suggests, we generally don't care to differentiate the pennies (presuming less than 5 of them in a purchase).

    @Auspex : Right. Those of us living near the border recognized some border behaviors are a bit unusual, so there was inclination to share details of these areas, which are an exception we know about, so people may better know the full story. Bellingham is 30 miles/minutes (by car) from Canada. Mt. Vernon, which is 60 miles/minutes from Canada, never (that I've noticed) accepted Canadian money as widely as Bellingham (or other spots even closer to the Canadian border). (Nor Seattle or anywhere else further from the border.)

  • Necreaux

    Necreaux Correct answer

    5 years ago

    Technically no, practically speaking yes.

    Many of the coins look the same as US coins at a first glance, so careless clerks may accept them. I am in the US and often find myself with Canadian pennies and quarters which are very similar to the US counterparts. Having all the new coins in the US in recent years makes it even harder for people to tell the difference. Generally, vending machines will not accept them.

    It's probably technically illegal to pass them off as US currency though, it might be classifiable as counterfeiting or fraud, but it happens all the time, intentional or not.

    EDIT: To summarize discussion in comments...

    There may be stores near the border that officially accept CAD. That would be completely legitimate. I live in a border state but have never seen any. In all fairness I live 200 miles from the border but I do go near the border several times a year. I also have never specifically looked. It is probably limited to tourist locations.

    In reference to careless clerks, using CAD for an entire transaction is unlikely to work. 4 CAD quarters would be way less likely to work than 3 USD and 1 CAD.

    I'm still skeptical on the vending machine front. I've tried it without success and stopped trying, but maybe there are vending machines that would accept them. A whole discussion on how they work would probably be off-topic, but I think it has something to do with whether they detect a coin based on size or electrical resistance.

    The USA might be the only country you can spend those Canadian pennies now.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM