Here is some basic information for Curve users travelling to Canada:
French is preferred in the province of Quebec. Many people in Montreal are bilingual but you may at times struggle to find English speakers outside of Montreal (especially in rural Quebec and Quebec City)
French and English are widely understood in New Brunswick as Canada’s only official bilingual province.
English is preferred in the rest of Canada
Telus, Bell and Rogers cover Canada nationwide. Freedom Mobile covers the major cities in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. Telus & Bell share their networks. If you are travelling to the Prairies or the West coast, you are better off sticking with Telus or Bell as they have much better coverage. Phone prices in Canada are very expensive, if your home sim card offers affordable roaming in Canada, you’ll probably be better off with that instead of a local sim card. Beware, Vodafone only roams onto Rogers in most cases, this can be problematic when travelling between Calgary and Vancouver and in Western Newfoundland.
Phone coverage is poor in the territories of Canada.
Telus Coverage Map - If you are going to be outside of the coverage zone in a remote area. Please tell someone at your hotel where you are going to be for your safety.
Currency and ATMs:
Canadian Dollar (Some merchants may also accept US Dollars but usually at a 1:1 rate)
Almost every ATM charges a fee between 2$-5$. If you are withdrawing small amounts, I would suggest you use a Barclays debit card or Barclaycard credit card at Scotiabank ATMs due to the Global ATM alliance. Credit Union ATMs are usually cheaper.
Using your card:
When asked, always say you’re paying by credit. Most Canadian merchants will ask ‘credit’ or 'debit. While your Curve card is a debit MasterCard, debit actually refers to domestic Interac debit cards and credit means Visa, MasterCard, AmEx etc.
Some merchants may state they don’t take debit cards (usually multi-storey car parks, referred to as parkades locally), your Curve card will work in those locations. (What they really mean is that they don’t take Interac).
Warning for Metal Curve Users: Beware of any parking machines that suck in your card as the card may get stuck.
The Contactless Limit is usually 100$ but in some locations can be 200$ (Gas Stations, Costco, Real Canadian Superstore). Contactless is widely accepted but is usually referred to as ‘tap’ or Paypass.
Some Gas Stations (also referred to as Gas Bars in Canada) may say they don’t accept foreign cards at the pump but your Curve card will still work. What they really mean is that they don’t accept Non-PIN cards at the pump (i.e. US cards). Most pumps will let you select the pre-authorisation amount, don’t worry if you don’t fill all the way up to the amount, you’ll be refunded.
Card is acceptance is near 100% (unless you are going to Asian restaurants in Vancouver or very small restaurants in rural Quebec) and it is more likely for you to come across a situation where cash is not accepted. Minimum transaction amounts are very rare.
These merchants can be an issue when using a Curve card:
Coke Vending Machines
Cineplex (Use the chip, contactless will not work, this is an issue with all MasterCards)
Some pay at pumps use old contactless readers and you may need to use the chip
Calgary city parking meters
Other tips and facts:
Winter tires are mandatory in some locations, please check ahead. Rental companies may need you to reserve these ahead of time.
The drinking age is 18 in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec. It is 19 in the rest of Canada.
British English spellings are preferred but American ize (i.e. realize) ending spellings are also acceptable.
Dates can be written both ways (I.e. DD/MM/YY or MM/DD/YY).
Try Poutine, it’s one of Canada’s national dishes and you won’t regret it!
Canadian’s use the word 'Bill" in restaurants, do not ask for the ‘cheque’.
The province of Newfoundland & Labrador is generally pronounced like Newfunland.
A gratuity is generally expected in the region of 12% to 20%. You can always tip by card.
You are not required to carry your passport with you. You can leave it in your hotel safe. It is generally recommend to carry some form of ID (i.e. Driving licence) but it is not mandatory.
Please feel free to suggest any additions