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Mackinac Bridge to stop taking Canadian currency for toll payments

The Mackinac Bridge connects Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas, and is five miles long.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio
The Mackinac Bridge connects Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas, and is five miles long.

Come October, Canadian currency will no longer be accepted when crossing the Mackinac Bridge.

A July 25 statement from the Mackinac Bridge Authority said Canadian dollars see limited use throughout the year and the decision would save on administrative costs.

The Mackinac Bridge Authority is the body responsible for the bridge's upkeep.

While the Mackinac is not an international bridge it has historically accepted Canadian dollars due to its proximity to the border and influx of Canadian travelers.

The MBA typically receives about $4,000 each month in Canadian cash.

MBA spokesman James Lake says that pales in comparison to U.S. currency.

"It's about 500 customers per month that would be using Canadian currency to pay the toll compared to maybe an average of about 300,000 U.S. crossings during the month," Lake said.

It costs eight Canadian dollars to cross the bridge compared to four U.S. dollars.

Bridge Director Kim Nowack said the higher rate is due to administrative costs associated with exchanging the money into U.S. currency.

“We do have a lot of Canadian customers who currently use credit or debit cards to pay the toll,” Nowack said. “Those customers get a better exchange rate through their credit card company than we can offer them. In fact, when they learn that the toll will be double when paying with cash, many of them choose to pay by card instead.”

Per MBA Board policy, the group must seek two exchange rates from two different banks.

After selecting a bank based on those rates, the MBA then must pay for an armored vehicle to transport the cash and pay wire fees for the amount exchanged.

Nowack said cutting Canadian cash will save on those expenses.

Canadian customers can exchange their money at banks in St. Ignace or Mackinaw City.

The new toll policy takes effect Oct. 1, 2023.

Michael Livingston covers the area around the Straits of Mackinac - including Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties as a Report for America corps member.