Mind the “$”: Is that price in Canadian or American dollars?

News Release

Use these tips to prevent an unexpected currency exchange from breaking your budget

July 13, 2017 – OTTAWA, ON – Competition Bureau

You are looking for a good price on a flight for your upcoming summer vacation. You have a tight budget and need to squeeze it in. After searching for some time, you start to get a little lost in the maze of international websites that offer price comparisons. You finally find the best deal. Thrilled, you book it! But did you think to check which currency was used in the advertised price?

When shopping online for various goods such as furniture, entertainment tickets, clothes, jewellery, online games and travel packages, pay close attention to the dollar prices displayed and beware that they may not be shown in Canadian dollars (CAD).

Some websites fail to clearly identify which currency they use in advertised prices. In some cases, they simply use the “$” symbol, which could represent either Canadian or American dollars. Ensuring that you are shopping on the company’s Canadian website (with an address ending in “.ca”), or selecting Canada as your country of origin can help, but it does not guarantee that the price shown is in CAD.

Information about the currency and exchange rate may only be disclosed at the checkout or in the fine print so be sure to read carefully before confirming your purchase. Ensuring you are aware of currency when making purchases online will help avoid unexpected charges on your credit card statement.

Here are some tips to help you with your shopping experience:

  • Look for more than just “$”: it is the currency symbol for both American and Canadian dollars. Instead, look for the currency code “CAD” (French: dollar canadien), sometimes listed as Can$ or C$, to distinguish it from American dollars. 

  • Check for pricing options: some websites will provide different currency options at the top or bottom of the page. At every step of a transaction, verify that the pricing information displayed is clear and the currency is identifiable. 

  • Do some research: consider checking the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), “Help” section or terms and conditions for additional information about currency and pricing. When in doubt, reach out to the website’s customer service to confirm currency and other pricing information. 

  • Read the fine print: you might be able to find information about the currency displayed, customs and brokering fees or international shipping fees in small print near the price shown or at the bottom of the page.  

  • Spread the word: Help ensure your friends and family are also aware by sharing this message!

If you've been misled into thinking that you were paying in Canadian dollars when you were in fact paying in another currency, report it to the Competition Bureau and include as much information as possible. 


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