Banking in Canada is reliable and convenient, though not always free. You actually pay the bank to hold your money for you, with fees for everything from withdrawals to transfers. It’s becoming standard, however, to offer free banking for your first year, so shop around and don’t be afraid to say you will bring your business elsewhere. Browse through our tips below and feel free to share your experiences with banking in Canada in the comment section.
Before you decide on a branch and begin banking in Canada, take into consideration which branches are convenient to your home and place of work and what their opening hours are. It is very likely that two original pieces of identification will be required to open an account.
Banking in Canada made easy
● Debit cards can be used almost everywhere without any additional fees, and Canadians tend not to carry much cash as a resuly. The INTERAC system is a collection of banks and merchants that all use the same payment system. Money can be transferred by using an email address (you don’t need the other person’s bank details) in Canada as long as both parties have a Canadian bank account that has INTERAC email transfer capabilities. It costs $1.50 per transfer.
● Many banks actually charge you to have a checking or chequing (current) account. Most will refund this “cost” if you maintain a sizeable balance, usually at least $1,000 – $1,500.
● Check books (as they say in Canada for ‘cheque’) are often required for paying rent. It can cost up to $40 for a book of 100 checks, so beware of these costs.
● International bank cards will not always work, so please check with your local bank first. Using cash advance on your credit card is also costly as you pay cash advance fees and exchange rate fees. Try taking out large amounts at one time to save yourself from getting charged a lot of fees.
● Charges from using bank Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) apply to all ATM use, except if you use an ATM machine from your own bank. If you use an ATM machine that does not belong to a bank (i.e., privately-owned ATMs that are commonly found in bars and restaurants), both the ATM machine and your bank will charge you fees. Banks usually charge $1.50 for using another ATM, whether privately-owned or from another bank. Using these privately-owned ATMs is very expensive — generally the fees run from $1.50 – $4.50 — so try to avoid using them.
● Vancouver: Free checking account available from Coast Capital Credit Union (customers can use Coast Capital ATM’s and HSBC ATMs free of charge).
● Presidents Choice offer free banking in Canada, unlimited transactions, free cheque books. Its an online bank, and you use CIBC cash points free of charge. Every other bank charges $4 a month and limited cash withdrawal/card payments or a fee applies, and $25 for cheque books.
● Scotiabank members can attend the Scotia Theatre in major cities for free with a current account.
● Credit cards: RBC Dexia provide a credit card without a credit check, which helps solve the dilemna of not having a credit history in Canada. This is only available to residents (PR). If you’re on a working holiday visa in Canada then it’s likely you can only get a pre-paid credit card as you will not have a credit history in Canada.
Here is a useful website that provides a summary of the your choices for banking in Canada.
PayPal International Money Transfer is the most efficient means of transferring money internationally. For money transfers to Canada, set up two Paypal accounts — one to your domestic bank and one to your Canadian bank. Then you can transfer money between them then for free; you just need to have two email accounts.
Alternatively, you can use a HI FX Transfer to transfer from your local bank to a Canadian bank. The next best alternative is a wire transfer through your bank. Western Union is by far the most expensive.
Feel free to pass on your tips about banking in Canada by leaving comments.