Best Banks in Canada for International Students



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Selecting a bank that will serve your needs as an international student is a vital step towards beginning your new life in Canada. 

The challenges of settling into a new culture and environment can be unnerving for many international students. Don’t fret because there are world-class Canadian banks that will meet your needs. This article Xrays the big five banks in Canada and their offer for international students.

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 decision.

1. Scotiabank

Scotia bank is one of Canada’s International banks, and they boast of about 25 million customers serviced by 2,700 branches spread across the globe. As an international student, you have access to over 1,100 Scotiabank branches and 4,000 ABMs across Canada. Scotiabank also makes you feel at home by providing you with personalized support in the language that you’re most comfortable with. 

If you are considering banking with Scotiabank, you may want to see the Scotiabank Start Right Program’s details below.

Scotiabank Start Right Program

The Start Right Program is created for

  • Permanent residents who have spent 0-3 years in Canada 
  • International students 
  • Foreign workers.

This account provides you with the following features:

  • Access to a free chequing account with no monthly fees.
  • Unlimited free International money transfers.
  • Unlimited debit and Interac e-Transfers.
  • Access to 24/7 safe and secure online and mobile banking.
  • Secured credit cards with a limit of up to $1000 and movie rewards.
  • Borrowing money is made easier with a good credit history.

2. TD Bank

The Toronto-Dominion Bank is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. It was created through the Bank of Toronto and the Dominion Bank merger on 1st February 1955.

TD Bank offers services to cater to the needs of international students that are worth considering.

TD Student Chequing Account

This account is designed to ease the rigours of a student’s financial life. Find below the features of this account:

  • No monthly fees.
  • No minimum monthly balance requirement.
  • 25 transactions per month. Additional transactions may cost you $1.25 each.
  • Free Interac e-Transfer.
  • Get Overdraft Protection.
  • Enjoy access to EasyWeb View Cheque service and paperless record keeping.
  • Non-TD ATM fees in Canada may cost you $2 each.
  • Foreign ATM fees in the US and Mexico may cost you $3, while in any other foreign country, you may be charged $5.

TD Student Savings Account

Get a savings account with a bonus rate. You can choose between 

  • TD Everyday Savings Account
  • TD High-Interest Savings Account
  • TD premium Savings Account

Check out some features of the TD Student Savings Account

  • No monthly fee.
  • Unlimited transfers.
  • Earn a bonus rate on your savings for 6 months.
  • Earn interest on every dollar calculated daily.
  • 1 free debit transaction per month.
  • Free paperless record-keeping or online statements.

As an international student, TD Bank allows you to build your Canadian credit history with a secured TD Credit Card. With no credit history, you can get a credit card.

You may qualify for the TD International Students Package if:

  • You are a student registered full-time and attending a post-secondary program at a registered university or community college.
  • You are a temporary or permanent resident of Canada for 2 years or less.
  • You provide proof of your status through your Temporary Permit, Permanent Resident Card or Student Permit.
  • You have never opened or held a TD chequing account.
  • You are the age of majority in your province or territory of residence.

3. RBC

The Royal Bank of Canada is one of Canada’s largest banks and the world based on market capitalization. If you think language may be an issue, don’t worry because RBC services are available in up to 200 languages.

RBC provides the following accounts for international students to ease their banking needs.

RBC Student Banking Account

You get $60 when you open an RBC Student Banking Account (conditions apply). This offer lasts until February 1, 2021. 

Features of the RBC Student Banking Account include:

  • 25 free debits each month. You may be charged $1.25 for additional transactions. 
  • You may enjoy up to a $39 rebate on the annual fee of an eligible credit card.
  • Unlimited Interac e-Transfers.
  • Unlimited Virtual Visa Debit transactions.
  • Access to the RBC mobile app.
  • Enjoy up to 5,000 RBC Reward Welcome Points upon approval.
  • You will be charged $2 each for Interac transactions at non-Royal Bank ATM within Canada.

RBC No Limit Banking for Students

  • Get $60 when you open an RBC No Limit Banking for Students account. You may enjoy no monthly feed for 12 months(conditions apply). 
  • Monthly fee of about $10.95.
  • Unlimited debit transactions.
  • Free unlimited Interac e-Transfer transaction.
  • No minimum balance is required.
  • Enjoy up to a $39 rebate on the annual fee of an eligible credit card.


The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce offers packages that are international student-friendly. See details of the CIBC Smart for Students account.

CIBC Smart for Students

You qualify for the CIBC Smart for Students benefits when you show proof of your international student status. This account can provide you with all the benefits of a student account for 4½ years. After which, your account can be converted to a regular CIBC Smart account. 

Within 2 months of opening your CIBC Smart for Students account, you can earn $60. You may enjoy this benefit after you’ve registered for the CIBC Online or Mobile Banking and made at least one Visor Debit purchase.


  • You can get a free SPC membership as an eligible CIBC student client.
  • Free unlimited Interac e-Service.
  • Overdraft protection.
  • No monthly fee.
  • Free unlimited transactions.
  • No minimum balance is required.
  • Mobile banking.

5. BMO

Bank of Montreal provides a wide range of services that covers the needs of international students. BMO can assist you in managing your finances by providing the following accounts.

BMO Plus Chequing Account 

There is a limited time offer from BMO for international students that runs from December 1, 2020 – February 2021. This offer is called the Student Chequing Account offer. To qualify for the Student Chequing Account offer, you must 

  • Be a recent graduate.
  • Be a student enrolled full-time at a university, college or registered private vocational school.
  • Be at least 17 years old by February 1, 2021.
  • Complete 4 Interac e-Transfer transactions from your Lead Chequing Account by February 15, 2021.

When you open a new Student Canadian Dollar Primary Chequing Account (Student Chequing Account offer) at any BMO branch or online, you may earn a $60 cash bonus. Terms and conditions apply.

Features of the Plus Chequing Account include:

  • No monthly fees while in school and one year after graduation.
  • Access to the mobile banking app.
  • 25 transactions per month.
  • Unlimited Interac e-Transfer transaction.

Covid-19 and Banking for International Students

When you arrive in Canada, one of the first things you’ll find yourself doing is opening a bank account. Recently, COVID-19 has made countries enforce strict guidelines to protect themselves and their customers against the deadly pandemic.

Canada isn’t left out in the fight against this global issue. That said, as a newcomer to Canada, you won’t be able to visit a bank in person until your 14-day quarantine is over.

Ensure you have an international Visa or MasterCard with you to help cover your expenses during the quarantine period.

Bank Account Types for Students in Canada 

You can have access to one or more of the following account options depending on your needs.

  • Chequing Account 

This account earns you little or no interest. But you can enjoy regular money withdrawals, credit card bill payments, and writing cheques from it.

  • Savings Account

If you’re interested in keeping money over longer periods of time, then this is for you. Your money earns more interest in a savings account than in a chequing account.

  • Foreign Currency Account

This account is for international students who want to keep some of their money in a different currency.

What to Look for in a Student Bank Account

Many banks have loads of freebies lined up to get you hooked. Before jumping straight into the goodies, here are some of the things to look for in a student bank account.

  • No Monthly Fees

As a student, you’ve got enough burden to deal with; bank monthly fees should not be one of them. It would be best if you went for banks that do not require a monthly maintenance fee.

  • Free Transactions 

Some banks have set a limit to the number of free withdrawals, transfers, bill payments and pre-authorized debits you can perform in a month. When you exceed that limit, you are charged. Before picking a bank, make sure the number of free transactions available meets your demands.

  • Free e-Transfers

By now, you should appreciate the ease of electronic transfers. So, if a bank doesn’t offer this service for free, you may want to look elsewhere.

  • ATM Access 

Your choice bank should provide you with ATMs that are free and convenient.

There you go! That’s our list of the best banks for international students. Have an opinion or experience to share? Drop a comment below.

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Jude Uchella


Avid researcher, freelance writer, and personal finance enthusiast passionate about financial education and literacy.

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Kareena Maya

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Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.

Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.