Frommer's lists exact prices in the local currency. The currency conversions quoted above were correct at press time. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing consult a currency exchange website such as www.oanda.com/convert/classic or www.xe.com/ucc to check up-to-the-minute rates.
Cost-wise, the eastern provinces of Canada are incredibly affordable -- among the most affordable such places in North America, I'd wager. You'll pay normal prices for food and gas, because those things are generally imported to the provinces, but hotel and transit rates are middling to lower than average. And shopping is a downright bargain.
Canadian currency, like U.S. currency, is denominated in dollars and cents, though there are some differences. Canada has no $1 bill, for example. Instead, Canadians use a $1 coin (called a "loonie" because it depicts a loon) and a $2 coin (sometimes called a "twoonie").
You'll avoid lines at ATMs and airports in eastern Canada by exchanging some money before you leave home. You can exchange money at your local American Express or Thomas Cook office, or at your bank. Exchange enough petty cash to cover airport incidentals, tipping, and transportation to your hotel before you leave home, or withdraw money upon arrival at an airport ATM (automated teller machine).
If you're driving into Canada, you needn't worry about stocking up on Canadian dollars before or immediately upon entry into Canada. That's because U.S. currency is widely accepted here, especially in border towns, and you'll often see signs at cash registers announcing current exchange rates. These are not always the best rates, however, so it behooves you to visit an ATM or cash some traveler's checks as soon as you're able.
The easiest and best way to get cash right away in eastern Canada is from an ATM machine, sometimes referred to here as a "cash machine" or "cashpoint." They're widely available in most towns and cities. ATMs often offer the best exchange rates in Canada -- avoid exchanging money at commercial exchange bureaus and hotels, which usually have the highest transaction fees. If your card uses the Cirrus (www.mastercard.com) or PLUS (www.visa.com) networks, you'll surely be able to find ATMs throughout eastern Canada that connect to your bank.
Remember that many banks impose a fee every time you use a card at another bank's ATM, and that fee can be higher for international transactions (up to US$5 or more) than for domestic ones. I've found that members of the Global ATM Alliance usually charge no transaction fees for cash withdrawals at fellow Alliance member ATMs; these include Bank of America in the U.S. and Scotiabank in eastern Canada. So, if you have a BoA account, seek out Scotiabank ATMs.
Traveler's checks are another option. You can buy traveler's checks at most U.S. banks. They are offered in U.S. denominations of $20, $50, $100, $500, and sometimes $1,000. Generally, you'll pay a service charge ranging from 1% to 4%. The most popular traveler's checks are offered by American Express (tel. 800/528-4800), Visa (tel. 800/847-2911), and MasterCard (tel. 800/627-8372); you'll pay fees for each. American Automobile Association (AAA) members can also obtain traveler's checks for relatively low fees (for checks up to US$1,500) at most AAA offices. Auto clubs in other countries sometimes offer similar services.
American Express, Thomas Cook, Visa, and MasterCard also offer foreign currency traveler's checks in Canadian dollars. They're accepted at some locations where U.S.-dollar checks may not be.
Finally, credit cards are one last safe way to get or spend money. They provide a convenient record of your expenses and generally offer relatively good exchange rates. You can even withdraw cash advances from your credit cards at banks or ATMs (provided you remember your PIN), though high fees can make these credit card cash advances a pricey way to get cash. Keep in mind that you'll pay interest from the moment of the cash advance withdrawal, even if you pay your monthly bills on time. Also, note that many banks now assess a 1% to 3% "transaction fee" on all credit card charges you incur abroad.
Credit cards that are more or less universally accepted in eastern Canada include Visa, MasterCard, Interac (a Canadian card), and American Express. Diners Club and Discover cards are accepted by a few merchants, but not many.
Remember to bring some cash, in any case: Many small establishments still accept no credit cards. This isn't New York City.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.