Banking in Canada

Another important step to take, once you arrive in Canada is to open a Canadian bank account. Opening a bank account helps build your financial credibility and establish a good credit history.
Building a good credit rating will help you secure loans, mortgages and line-of-credit, when you need to. Establishing a good credit score can take a year or so, therefore, you should start this process sooner rather than later.The website links to the top Canadian banks have been provided below.

Understanding credit

To borrow money in Canada, you first need to establish a Canadian credit history —proof to potential lenders that you can
be relied upon to pay your bills and make repayments on time.

So how does a new immigrant go about building a good credit history? There are many ways to start building a good credit history:

One of the best ways to establish a Canadian credit history and build a good credit rating is to get a Canadian credit card. As you use your card and make regular payments, you will create and build a credit history. If you ever need more credit in the future, your good credit history and score will be beneficial. A good credit will encourage potential lenders to look more favourably upon your request to borrow larger sums.

  •   Start using your Chequing bank account by issuing cheques that don't bounce;
  •   Use overdraft within limits and ensure you pay it off in a reasonable time frame;
  •   Apply for a secured credit card, start using it and make payments by the due date;
  •   Apply for a retail department store credit card and do the same as above;
  •   Open a Savings account and start saving money on a regular basis;
  •   Make sure you don't end up with too many credit cards and loans.

Choose your bank with care

There are many things to consider when choosing a bank or other financial institution. Ask these questions before you make your decision:

  • What are your hours of operation?
  • Where are your branches located?
  • What services do you offer?
  • What do you charge for each of your services?

What do these newcomer packages offer?

Each plan is unique, but most generally offer:

  • A savings or chequing account free of charge for a set period of time.
  • A free safe deposit box for a set period of time.
  • Easier access or automatic approval to obtain a credit card to build up credit rating in Canada.
  • Higher interest rates on savings plans and investment programs. Some banks include preferred rates for mortgages.

How do I know if I’m eligible for these packages?

Each bank defines a newcomer in a different way and so eligibility for newcomer programs differ based on this definition. Here are some available definitions:

You are a newcomer if you have arrived in Canada less than:

  • Royal Bank of Canada: one year or from 1-3 years if you are transferring from another bank  
  • HSBC: three years 
  • CIBC: two years
  • Scotiabank: three years 

What should I bring with me to the bank?

  • A valid passport
  • Your Permanent Resident card or Confirmation of Immigration Status in Canada, which may include your Landing papers.

The "Big Five" Canadian Banks are listed below:

  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Toronto-Dominion Bank
  • Bank of Nova Scotia
  • Bank of Montreal
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

Apart from the Big Five banks, there are notable second tier banks namely National Bank of Canada, HSBC Bank and ING Direct Bank of Canada.


Banking Resources for New comers

BMO Newcomers to Canada — For those planning to come to Canada soon or have recently arrived in the country, this page helps ensure your financial transition into Canada goes smoothly.

CIBC Welcome to Canada — Information on living, working and studying in your new country, as well as getting the identification you'll need.

HSBC New to Canada — A checklist for newcomers, advice on getting started in Canada and a Canadian immigration and banking glossary.

RBC Welcome to Canada — Information about life in your new country, buying a home, employment and financial services that are tailored to your needs.

Bank of Nova Scotia Startright Program for New Canadians — A banking program for new Canadians.

TD Bank Group Customer Diveristy — A summary of TD initiatves serving the distinct needs of its diverse customer base.


Subpages (1): Building Credit History