To keep your money safe, earn interest on your savings, cash your paycheques, write cheques, apply for credit, borrow money and pay daily living expenses, you will need a financial institution – a bank, trust company or a credit union. As a resident, you may open an account at any local branch of a chartered bank.
Any of these financial institutions will be able to offer advice on the kind of accounts that will benefit you. Service fees, interest rates (costs for lending), the range of products and services, and accessibility will vary from institution to institution.
The main unit of currency is the Canadian dollar, and there are 100 cents in one dollar. There are coins for five cents (nickel), 10 cents (dime), 25 cents (quarter), one dollar (nicknamed “loonie” because of its loon picture) and two dollars (nicknamed “toonies” because it’s equivalent to two loonies). Each coin has its value written on the front. Paper money (bills) is used for higher amounts of five, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars. These also have their value written clearly on the front.
Which is the best bank in Canada for me?
Banking in Canada is reliable and secure. To find which bank suits your need, you have to compare the services of the Canadian banks.
The ‘Big Five’ banks in Canada all (RBC, BMO, TD, CIBC, and Scotiabank) have programs for newcomers. These come with special newcomer incentives, so be sure to look into them. The best bank in Canada for you will depend on your specific needs.
How do I choose the best bank in Canada for me?
When choosing which is the best bank in Canada for you, be sure to learn about how your bank deals with each of the following.
Many banks in Canada charge you to have a checking (current) account. Fees range from $5 to $30 per month, depending on the number of monthly transactions you wish to make. You may be able to have these fees refunded if you maintain a sizeable balance, usually at least $1,000. In any case, do some research and see which is the best bank in Canada for your circumstances.
Cheques remain a popular payment method in Canada. This comes as a surprise to many newcomers travelling from countries where these have been largely phased out. Many employers will request a ‘void check’ at the beginning of your employment. This is because it will contain the bank details they require to transfer money to your account. A void check is simply a check with the word ‘void’ written across it. Your bank may give you some of these for free when you open your account. Checkbooks are often required for paying rent. It can cost up to $40 for a book of 100 cheques, so be aware of these costs when choosing the best bank in Canada for you.
You will usually be able to use ATMs belonging to your own bank without being charged. However, if you use another bank’s ATM, then you will usually incur a fee for each transaction. If you use an ATM machine that does not belong to a bank (e.g. a privately-owned ATM at a bar or restaurant), both the ATM machine and your bank will charge you fees. Using these privately-owned ATMs is very expensive. It could cost as much as $4 or $5, so try to avoid using them. When deciding which is the best bank in Canada for you, keep in mind whose ATMs are close to you, and your work.
So long as you don’t exceed the number of monthly transactions permitted by your bank, debit cards can be used almost everywhere without any additional fees. Canadians tend not to carry much cash as a result.
The Interac e-transfer system (pronounced “Inter-ack”) is a collection of Canadian banks and merchants who all use the same payment system. Money can be transferred online simply by entering the receiver’s email address – you don’t need the other person’s bank details. Both parties must have a Canadian bank account that has Interac email transfer capabilities. It costs $1 per transfer. Interac proper is the Canadian debit system that all debit card issuers offer. However, some institutions will also offer Visa or Mastercard debit on top, which has the advantage of worldwide acceptance.
There are a number of ways to transfer funds between countries or to different accounts within Canada. Contact your bank to find out how and if there is a cost for service.
- wire transfers move money electronically from one bank account to another;
- Western Union is a private company that moves money all over the world;
- e-mail money transfer is a system for moving money between people at different banks within Canada; and
- money orders are a secure way of sending money through the mail.