If you’re a newcomer to Canada or plan to immigrate soon, you need to contend with many issues like jobs, housing, education, and more. One thing you wouldn’t need to worry about is the right bank for your financial needs.
Canada is well-known globally for its strong financial institutions, and most Canadians can have their pick of any bank for their daily needs. But as a newcomer, you’d need to consider the following factors:
As a new immigrant, will you be making a large volume of transactions or a little? Do you prefer to walk into the bank lobby, or you’re comfortable banking online?
Are you on a strict budget, or you don’t mind paying bank charges on your account? Will you be making international bank transfers? These are some of the questions you need to consider when choosing a bank.
Conservative banks like the Big Five often have a promo period where the account-holder pays zero monthly charges. Once the period lapses, the regular fee will become payable. Understand that most banks will waive the monthly fee if you meet the minimum monthly balance.
Apart from monthly charges, account-holders are obliged to pay transactional fees for services like ATM withdrawals, deposits, automated bill payments, and cheques, amongst many others.
While most Canadian banks provide online and electronic transactions, you still need a bank with a branch close to you. Canada is a vast country, and you don’t want to travel too far for your financial transactions.
Online-exclusive banks like EQ Bank and Simplii Financial have no physical branches that cater to customers. However, the likes of Tangerine have an extensive network of ATMs where you can withdraw cash. It is possible even to open a bank account before you arrive in Canada.
As a newcomer, you’d want a bank that lets your money make more money for you. The traditional banks typically earn a little interest, but you should find one that can give you a good return for your funds.
Big Five Newcomer Bank Accounts
Below are the banking packages provided by some of the largest banks in Canada;
Disclaimer: Rates and product offerings are always changing, so this article might not reflect the current market situation. Please contact your financial advisor before making any financial decisions.
1. Bank of Montreal New Start Program
The BMO New Start Program is another program tailored to meet new immigrants to Canada. It is for immigrants who reside in Canada in the last five years.
Some of the benefits you can enjoy are:
• Unlimited transactions in addition to zero charges for the first year on your Performance Plan Chequing Account
• Variety of BMO Mastercard credit card at your disposal, including BMO Cashback Mastercard, BMO SPC Air Miles Mastercard, and BMO Air Miles Mastercard
• Send and receive money to relatives in your home country in many ways; wire transfer via a local branch, Interac e-transfer, or online banking through Western Union.
• With at least C$1000, you can earn an extra 0.25% interest on 1-5 GICs
• One free withdrawal monthly via non-BMO ATMs
• Zero fees small-size deposit box or 25% discount on the large safety deposit box
• Chinese arrivals may sign up for their Canadian bank accounts via BMO Shanghai, Beijing, or Guangzhou branch before landing in Canada.
PR Card, or either of form IMM 1000, IMM 1442, IMM 5292, or IMM 5688 Foreign workers may provide Passport, employee ID and IMM 1442.
2. RBC Newcomer Advantage
RBC Newcomer Advantage package is a new-to-Canada program provided by the most prominent Canadian bank to international students and permanent residents. The program enables users to sign up for the RBC VIP Banking Account or RBC No Limit Banking Account without paying a monthly fee for 12 months.
New immigrants are obliged to pay C$30 or C$10.95, depending on the account.
Some of the benefits of the RBC Newcomer Advantage include:
• Unlimited debits and free transfers courtesy of Interac
• For six consecutive months, two free international money transfers monthly.
• Access to mortgage, car loans, business bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial products necessary to start a new life in Canada
• Your first credit card with RBC has no credit history requirements or annual fee – depending on the credit card.
• Your first mortgage will not have credit history requirements, although other eligibility requirements must be met.
• No monthly maintenance fee for nine months
• Your first car loan requires no credit history at 3500 designated auto dealerships across Canada.
• Preferred exchange rates on international transactions for one year after registration
• Preferred rates on GICs
• C$50 sign-up bonus upon registering for our first business account
PR Card, landing papers, and Foreign Passport
3. HSBC New to Canada Program
Although not considered one of the Big Five, HSBC still has an attractive program for newcomers to Canada who reside in Canada for less than five years. The standout feature about the HSBC New to Canada program is that you can apply before you arrive in Canada.
The HSBC Canada Newcomers Program offers the following benefits:
• Savings and Chequing accounts
• Unlimited account transactions
• Zero charge maintenance fee for one year
• A personal line of credit
• Seamless transfer of credit history from your country of origin to Canada
• View all HSBC international account from a single login
• Instant fund transfer from one international account to another
• Overdraft protection up to C$500 without credit history requirement
• Credit card withdrawal limit of C$5000 without credit history requirement
The catch with HSBC is that newcomers need to have a minimum personal deposit of C$25000 or a mortgage balance worth C$150,000 with HSBC within six months of landing in Canada.
4. Scotiabank Startright Program
Scotiabank is the third biggest bank amongst the Big Five. It is not a surprise for this bank to have a newcomer package in the form of the Scotiabank Startright Program.
Only newcomers arriving in Canada in the past three years are eligible. Features of this program include:
• Zero monthly fees for one year and C$15.95 subsequently. Scotiabank will waive this fee if you maintain a monthly account balance, not less than C$4000.
• One free withdrawal monthly via non-Scotiabank ATMs
• Unlimited Interac e-transfers and debit transactions
• HISA access
• Up to C$139 waivable in the first one year on Scotiabank credit cards
• Free credit score check
• Earnings via SCENE or Scotia Rewards Program
• Small safety deposit box free for 12 months
• Car loan
5. CIBC Welcome to Canada Package
The CIBC Welcome to Canada Package is for newcomers who obtained PR status in the past famine years.
Some of the benefits of this package are:
• Zero monthly fees for 12 months and C$14.95 per month after
• Unlimited Interac e-transfers and debit transactions per month
• C$55 cash back refund on Safety Deposit Box.
• CIBC Advantage Debit Card
Newcomers can also sign up for various financial products and services like personal loans, mortgages, and car loans.
6. TD New To Canada Banking Package
Unlike other newcomer packages offers by the Big Five, TD Canada limits its financial products to temporary and permanent residents who arrived in Canada in two years or less. That’s the lowest of the Big Five.
Despite this limitation, TD New to Canada provides the following perks:
• Zero monthly fees for six months and C$15.95 afterward. TD Canada will waive this fee if you maintain a monthly account balance, not less than C$4000.
• Unlimited Interac e-transfers and debit transactions per month
• Zero fees for TD ATM withdrawals across Canada
• C$20 discount on select TD Canada. Credit cards for one year.
• One monthly international money transfer for six months
• Bonus interest rate on Savings Account for six months
• TD credit card with no credit history requirement and credit limit of C$5000
• Possibility of mortgage approval without credit history requirement
Either PR Card or Form IMM 5202, IMM 5688. Canadian driver’s license, valid passport, or employee ID card with photo.
In addition, TD Canada provides a portfolio of financial products like savings, mortgages, personal loans, and car loans.
President’s Choice Financial, EQ Bank, and Tangerine Bank are three online banks that can save you money on fees over a long period. If you prefer to do your banking online, consider these three options. They may not have the perks provided by the Big Five, but you’re sure to save more money in the long term.
Which bank is best in Canada For New Immigrants?
All the Big Five have similar packages for new immigrants with a little difference in the details. RBC offers the lowest packages if you sign up for two or more products. But if your aim is free banking, check out EQ Bank, Simplii, or Tangerine.
What is the best bank to use in Canada?
The best bank depends on the services you need. Most online banks offer free banking, while the Big Five provides a lot of perks. Scotiabank is the best of the Big Five for daily banking.
What Canadian banks are offering incentives to open an account?
The following banks in Canada are offering free incentives in 2020 to open an account.
• RBC – free Apple 10.2 iPad 8th Gen
• TD Bank – C$300
• BMO – C$350
• CIBC – C$350
• HSBC – up to C$1000 for newcomers to Canada
• Scotiabank promo – C$300
• Simplii – C$200
• Tangerine – C$150