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Your Canadian Bank Account

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

If you are a person that likes to keep your money under the mattress… go to the next article, otherwise, keep reading 😉 Choosing a bank in Canada is easy, but it’s better if you know which one will give you the best value as an international student.

The Big Five

If this is your first time in Canada, chances are you will not recognize any of the financial institutions here. Let me introduce you to the “Big Five”. These are the top 5 banks in the country and their names are (drum roll...):

  • Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

  • Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)

  • Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)

  • Bank of Montreal (BMO)

  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)

These may not be the biggest in the world, but it’s definitely the same ones that Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) had to choose from when he was a young actor in Vancouver. We don’t want to make you sleep through this article so let’s limit our analysis to these “Big Five”.

Opening an account

To open an account you will need some documents. Most banks will ask you for:

ID - You can use your passport.

Proof of address - Take a utility bill or ask your landlord for one.

Study permit - Gives you access to their student accounts.

Proof of enrollment - You have to show them you are enrolled in a school.

Once you have those documents, head to the branch to open your account.

TIP: We recommend you pick a branch that is easy to access because the location where you open the account automatically becomes your main branch.

Just in case you were wondering, you can open a chequings account, savings account, and get a credit card in most of these “Big Five”.

What are Student Accounts?

Student accounts are bank products made to support you while you are a student. Therefore, you get extra benefits that regular people have to pay for. Example: No Monthly Fee! Normally banks charge a monthly fee to have your account with them, but you don’t have to pay anything for as long as you are a full-time student.

Banks understand that the transition to a new country is difficult, and they create these products to help you establish yourself financially. Just remember that once you stop being a student you will have to switch to a regular account just like the rest of us moguls.

Beware of the ‘secured credit card’

During our research we found a product called a ‘secured credit card’. What this means is that the bank will offer you a credit card with a limit equal to the amount you lock in a savings account.

**Secured credit card explanation below**

If I want a $3,000 credit card, the bank will ask you to deposit $3,000 in a savings account and they will lock that money (you cannot use it) as it is insurance for the bank that you will always pay. MAKES NO SENSE.

Our recommendation is that you stay away from these secured products. There are other banks who will offer you credit without guarantees.

Which is the best bank?

It really depends on who you ask. Every person has horror stories of their bank and these won’t be the exception. We highly encourage you to google the following: [NAME OF BANK] + student account. Example: RBC student account.

After you read through all five, decide which one you like the most and go open your account!

If you are lazy like most of us and want to use your time to swipe through TikTok, we can tell you that the bank that won ‘Best student bank account’ from Moneysense in 2022 was… Scotiabank!

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