Banking is not always free in Canada! Yes, you actually pay the bank to hold your money for you. However, it’s becoming standard to offer free banking for your first year so shop around and don’t be afraid to say you will bring your business elsewhere! Browse through our tips below and feel free to share your experiences with Canadian banks below in the comment section.
● Debit cards can be used almost everywhere without fees and as such, Canadians tend not to carry cash as much. The INTERAC system is a collection of banks and merchants that all use the same payment system. Money can be transferred by using an e-mail address (you don’t need the other person’s bank details) in Canada as long as both parties have a Canadian bank account that has INTERAC e-mail transfer capabilities. It costs $1.50 per transfer.
● Many banks actually charge you to have a checking or chequing (current) account which is bizarre! Most will refund this “cost” if you maintain a sizeable balance (i.e., at least $1,000).
● Check books (as they say in Canada for ‘cheque’) are often required for paying rent. It can cost up to $40 for a book of 100 checks so beware of these costs also.
● International bank cards will not always work so please check with your local bank first. Using cash advance on your credit card is also costly as you pay cash advance fees and exchange rate fees. Try taking out large amounts at one time to save yourself from getting charged a lot of fees.
● Charges from using bank automated teller machines (ATM) apply to all ATM use, except if you use an ATM machine from your own bank. If you use an ATM machine that does not belong to a bank (i.e., privately-owned ATMs that are commonly found in bars and restaurants), both the ATM machine and your bank will charge you fees. (Banks usually charge $1.50 for using another ATM, whether privately-owned or from another bank). Using these privately-owned ATMs is very expensive (generally the fees run from $1.50 – $4.50) so try to avoid using them.
● Free checking account available from Coast Capital Credit Union (customers can use Coast Capital ATM’s and HSBC ATM’s free of charge)
● Presidents Choice offer free banking, unlimited transactions, free cheque books. Its an online bank, and you use CIBC cash points free of charge. Every other bank charges $4 a month + limited cash withdrawal/card payments or a fee applies, and $25 for cheque books
● Scotiabank members can attend the Scotia Theatre (located downtown) for free with a current account.
● CreditCards: RBC Dexia provide a creditcard without a credit check which helps solve the dilemna of not having a credit history in Canada while pre-paid creditcard require applicant to be a non-resident.
● Here is a useful website that provides a summary of the main banks of Canada
PayPal International Money Transfer is the most efficient means to transfer money internationally. Alternatively, you can use a HI FX Transfer to transfer from your local bank to a Canadian bank. Next best alternative is a wire transfer through your bank.
Western Union is by far the most expensive