Have you landed in Canada, gotten your PR yet, or are you just looking for the best Canadian banks to bank with? This article extensively discusses the best Canadian banks for new immigrants who wish to open a new bank account to help them settle in well.
An Introduction – Best Canadian Banks for New Immigrants
It is not easy to move to a foreign country. First, let me congratulate you and wish you all the best on your new journey. The second point is that I am well aware of the hassle involved in setting up your banking account in a foreign country.
Today’s post will include a list of Canada’s top banks for immigrants (both digital and traditional), as well as basic information about Canadian banking to help you settle in Canada.
Here are some things I think you should know about banking in Canada as a newcomer
First, I want to learn a little bit about Canadian banking.
You may be new to Canada and have questions about the banks, fees, banking options, and differences between Canada and your country.
Although I cannot give you a complete list of differences between Canada and other countries in personal banking, I can paint a basic picture of Canadian personal banking.
The basics of Canadian Personal Banking
For a long time, Canada’s banking system has been dominated by “the big five.” These banks include TD Canada Trust, CIBC, Bank of Montreal (BMO), Scotiabank, and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).
They offer the same banking products and charge monthly account fees that range from $5 to $25.
A majority of accounts have a minimum balance requirement. This means that if your account has a certain amount (say $3,000 or $1,000), you might be eligible to waive this fee.
Many digital banks have been making an impact in Canada recently.
These digital banks are completely digital and do not have branches. They have lower operating costs, offer very low fees (or none), and can also charge high-interest rates for their savings accounts.
Simplii, Tangerine, and EQ are some of the major players in this area. Check out these 13 Best Online Banks in Canada.
While I love digital banks, I strongly recommend that you get set up with a traditional brick-and-mortar bank in Canada to get your business started.
This is mainly because you’ll need to visit the branch to get certain documents and possibly even deposit cash you might have brought from home.
Additionally, having access to a bank branch with a teller who can answer your questions can be extremely helpful for newcomers.
If digital banking is your mainstay, Canada offers many great options to help you get started. Today’s post will also include two great options for digital banking.
How to open your first bank account in Canada
Before opening your first Canadian bank account, there are some things you need to remember.
Start by asking yourself the following questions.
- What are my banking requirements? What are the monthly transactions on my card? Which account type (e.g., chequing, savings, investments, etc.)
- Do I require credit access, such as a credit line or credit card?
- What is my monthly budget? What is the monthly fee?
- Are there substantial savings I can bring to Canada? How can I get the best out of my savings by getting a high-interest rate?
- Are you interested in investing? What is my tolerance for risk?
- How familiar am I with digital banking and user experience? To set up my banking app, will I need to go in person? What distance do I need to get an ATM/bank branch near my home?
These can help you to make an informed decision about which bank to choose.
These questions can make you feel overwhelmed. Moving to another country can be complicated. This is normal.
But I will remind everyone that the staff at your bank branch can and should help you in this process.
You can always switch banks if you feel the bank is not right for you.
This list will help you make a decision. Let’s get started!
Branch Banking is the best traditional bank in Canada for new immigrants:
These are the top traditional banks in Canada that welcome new Canadians.
1. Royal Bank Of Canada – Best Overall
RBC is the bank that offers the greatest number of perks for new customers in terms of dollar value.
RBC is a major financial institution in the banking industry, serving more than 17,000,000 clients across North America.
They are the top choice for new immigrants because of their accessibility, convenience, and amazing offerings.
You will find some of the most attractive perks in their program for newcomers, such as:
- Unlimited transactions, no-fee banking for one year
- Two-year free safety deposit box
- Credit card approval without a credit history (up to $15,000 per month credit limit depending upon income/assets).
- You will receive free two international money transfers for a full year.
- GICs/term deposits: Preferential interest rates
- Free chequebook
These perks are available to newcomers who have been living in the country for less than five years. You will need to prove your residency status, as with all banks. I’ll touch on this later.
Even better, because of the bank’s size, the staff can speak more than 200 languages together.
If you have a problem with language, chances are they will have at least one person who can communicate in your native language, either in the branch or by phone.
2. BMO: Best For Specialized Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) Rates
0.25% Bonus Interest Rate on Eligible BMO GICs For New Immigrants
It can be vital to start building wealth in a foreign country immediately to ensure a financial future.
BMO’s bonus GIC rates for new immigrants are a great way to get in on this. You will receive a bonus interest rate of 0.25% on eligible BMO GICs if you open your first Canadian bank at BMO within five years of your arrival.
This is a significant amount of money, considering there is no risk. I highly recommend BMO’s GICs, if you bring money from abroad that you don’t feel comfortable investing.
BMO offers excellent bank accounts to newcomers, as well as promos.
Other perks are available through the BMO new immigrant program, including:
- One-year free “performance” chequing plan (no-fee bank)
- One-year free safety deposit box
- Unlimited BMO Global Money Transfers (Western Union) with no fees for 1 year
- Even if you don’t have a credit record, there are still credit cards available
3. National Bank: Prolonged benefits
Banking without fees for up to 3 years
The only other banks that are on this list offer free chequing accounts for a calendar year. National Bank is different.
You also get a year of free banking with this bank. This offer is extended up to three years if you sign up for a payroll deposit and a credit card.
You don’t want these products but still want to participate in the program. That’s okay, too. National Bank offers 50% off account fees for year 2 and 25% off year 3, with no minimum balance. This is a significant saving.
Here are the benefits of the National Bank’s new immigrant program:
- Three years of no-fee banking (unlimited transactions)
- One-year small safety deposit box
- Available credit card with no history
- Free delivery on your first order of a chequebook
- Information for newcomers is available in seven languages
- International transfers are subject to $5.95 charges.
4. TD Canada Trust: Best For International Transfer Perks
Unlimited international money transfers for up to 12 months
I recommend TD Canada Trust if you send money to your home country or other countries while you are here.
The best thing about this service is the unlimited international money transfer. You can choose from Western Union, Money TransferSM, or Visa Direct.
Combining these services will make it possible to send funds to your country of choice.
Other perks include:
- One-year free account with no monthly fees
- If you are eligible for their platinum credit cards, there is no annual credit card fee.
- You will receive a bonus interest rate of 0.25% for six months on all savings accounts.
5. Scotiabank: Best For Mortgages
Are you ready to buy your first Canadian home after landing in Canada?
Scotiabank may be your best choice. Scotiabank may be the best place to go if you are looking for a specialized mortgage to help you get started in Canada’s real estate market.
- One-year no monthly fees for the Preferred Package Chequing Account
- One year free small-sized safety deposit boxes
- Transfers of international money are free and without restrictions
- Credit cards can be obtained without having to have a good credit history
- Save 0.05% on savings accounts
Best Digital Banks In Canada For New Immigrants: Supplement Your Banking Online
As a newcomer, I suggested you visit a bank to get help.
Canada offers many wonderful options if you are an expert in digital banking. You will likely find the right solution for you.
You can also supplement your traditional banking with online banking, particularly when the “no-fees” period ends with the traditional banks I mentioned above.
You can enjoy the benefits of a bank relationship (for loans, credit cards, and mortgages) while banking at your convenience from home.
These are the top digital banks in Canada, which I believe you should look into.
Note: Canadian digital banks don’t offer any special perks to newcomers.
6. Tangerine: The Best Digital Bank Overall
All your banking needs can be met, and it can completely replace traditional banks
Tangerine is a digital bank giant in Canada. It is 100% owned by Scotiabank. I’ve mentioned this briefly in the section below.
This option is special because Tangerine has a complete line of financial products.
You can sign up for this bank with your social insurance number (SIN) without visiting a branch. This will allow you to meet all your financial needs in one location.
These are just a few of the features.
- No banking fee, ever
- A gross annual income of $12,000 and more is eligible for a no-fee credit card.
- You can earn great interest on your account balances
- Free first chequebook
- Support is available 24/7 by phone
- Through Scotiabank’s Global ATM Alliance, get access to 3500 Scotiabank ATMs for free and 44,000 ABMs worldwide.
- Reputable range of US and business accounts
- Lending products like mortgages, HELOCs, and Lines of Credit include HELOCs and mortgages.
- Investment funds
- International transfers with Tangerine are not possible. You will need to use Wise as an alternative.
7. Neo Financial Money Account – Top High-Interest Savings Account
SkipTheDishes founders founded Neo to offer Canadians a great alternative to large banks.
The Neo Money account offers a great product and one of Canada’s highest interest rates at 2.25%.
For many years, EQ Bank was my first choice for high-interest savings. Neo has slightly better customer service than EQ Bank and offers a slightly higher interest rate.
- A great savings rate of 2.25% which is more than 100 times higher than traditional banks.
- There are no monthly bank fees
- Pay your bills
- Interac eTransfers: Send and Receive
- Transfer money from and to your bank account by bank-to-bank transfer
- There are no minimum balances
- Unlimited transactions free of charge
- Canada-wide availability (except Quebec; however, it will soon be available)
- CDIC deposit insurance is available to eligible individuals
8. EQ Bank
All your cash will earn 2.50% interest
EQ offers a high-interest rate on your balance, making it one of the most popular.
Although it doesn’t offer certain services such as a credit or debit card, it can be an excellent place to store your cash with no risk and full access. EQ is a great option to complement your current banking.
These are the benefits of EQ Bank.
- No banking fee
- Interac bill payments, EFTs, and e-transfers are free
- GICs (registered and available)
- A mortgage market
How do I open a bank account for new immigrants in Canada?
To sign up for any type of banking, as a new immigrant to Canada you will need to show proof of your immigration status.
This means that you will need a confirmation or permanent residence card, an immigrant visa + record if landing or a work permit.
You will also need to provide one or two pieces of government-issued identification. This applies even if you are not a newcomer. These can include your passport, driver’s license, birth certificate or national ID.
Online banking is also possible if you have an existing social insurance number. However, you will still need to visit the branch to verify your identity so it is not completely necessary.
International students may also be eligible for the accounts that I have listed today. For students, you will need to show proof that you are enrolled in a postsecondary program.
What is the Security of Canadian Banks?
Canadian banks are extremely safe because they are regulated and supervised by The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada. This federal agency is mandated to protect financial customers.
Your deposits at Canadian financial institutions are also insured by Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation. Learn more about CDIC coverage and how it works here.
Conclusion on the Best Canadian Banks for New Immigrants
There are many great options for Canadian immigrants, depending on what you need. I trust this helped you make your decision.
This post will help you find a job in Canada’s banking sector. Good luck with everything, and most importantly!