Basics of banking in Canada



To open a bank account in Canada, it may be wisest to choose from the biggest banks like Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, TD Canada Trust and Bank of Montreal or opt for a regional bank, credit union or an international bank. Most banks have a good network of branches across Canada and offer standard services like Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), online banking and so on. Shop around and ask people for recommendations before you opt for a particular bank.

Once you decide on which bank to use, approach with at least two government issued identifications like a passport, driving license, Social Insurance card and Provincial Health card and proof of address like a utility bill. Foreigners are required to furnish a reference from their employer, educational institution, host university or previous bank.

Those desirous of having low-risk investment may open a savings account. Alternatively, you may open a chequing (current) account offering cheque books and a debit card to all account holders and free online banking to students in some cases. Fees for a basic checking account range between CAD$2 and CAD$10 depending on the services required by the customer.

Banks are usually open for business Monday to Friday from 09:30 to 16:30 with some branches and banks staying open later and on Saturdays as well.

Credit Cards in Canada

American Express, Visa and Master Card are three major credit card companies in Canada. Take stock of the different types of cards offered by your bank as benefits, terms and conditions and points for airline travels differ.

Each time you fill out an application for a credit card, there will be a record at the credit bureau indicating that you are a credit "seeker". Be careful not to make too many requests in a given year as this may result in credit rejection thereby damaging your credit worthiness.

Seeking credit in Canada without a "credit history" is indeed next to impossible. You may have a checking or savings account for 6-12 months following which you may ask for credit to purchase a durable asset of small value. Even then banks may not agree to extend credit.

Automated Teller machines ATM's in Canada

ATMs are known as an ABMs or automatic banking machines in Canada. ABMs are widely available in cities at the different bank branches, gas stations and convenience stores providing 24-hour access to cash from your savings, chequing accounts and/or credit card.

Five major Canadian banks are members of a network called "Interac" enabling customers to withdraw funds from any ABM marked "Interac" in addition to payments at major supermarkets, restaurants, gas stations and shopping malls.

Networks such as Cirrus or Plus offer travellers from other countries access to their cash while in Canada.

Usually, a service fee of at least CAD$1 per operation applies to those using an ABM of another financial institution.


If you want more information, you can visit :

Moving to Canada


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Banking Guide