Home » Blog » #immigration » Tips for Newcomers: Banking

Last updated on July 18th, 2016

So you just landed in Canada and want to start a new life or maybe have a memorable trip. To make sure you have a hassle free experience we’ve compiled this handy guide to your everyday banking needs. Some of the things may be familiar to you or even be the same as your home country, but some can be really confusing.

The key is to shop around. By looking at different branches and different services offered, and even by threatening to take your business elsewhere you can find the perfect place to keep your money safe. There is usually a trade-off though: you want your bank to have branches everywhere you go? Be ready to pay a monthly fee. Want a free checking account? you might have to conduct your transactions and requests online.

There are both advantages and disadvantages of being a newcomer. Banks will usually want you to do business with them so they will throw in extras, like a free checking account or a signing up bonus. On the other hand you might have problems obtaining credit, such as credit cards or a line of credit.

One of the services that our company offers is helping new immigrants obtain credit. You can find links for our credit card offerings at the bottom of the article.
Don’t feel like borrowing? open a checking account which usually gives you access to a debit card. Debit card allows you to make in store purchases and sometimes online purchases depending on the type of the card. Debit cards are also used as an authorization tool when you come to the bank. Most come without any fees but be aware that some banks have a limit on free transactions.
Once you open up your first account- make sure to ask a bank clerk about free cheques- they can be a very convenient method of payment and eliminate the need for cash.

The biggest Canadian banks are:

Royal Bank of Canada
TD Canada Trust
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
Bank of Nova Scotia
Bank of Montreal


What’s a credit union anyway? Credit unions can be referred to as small banks- performing some of the same functions the bank does. There you can keep your money, obtain a credit card, get a mortgage and so on. The difference is that the Credit Unions are limited- both geographically and in terms of services they offer. Some credit unions only have branches in one province, so if you move permanently- you might have to switch.

Canadian banks usually offer all kinds of financial products and services from insurance to wealth management. If you want to keep all your business with one institution to save yourself time and effort- banks are the way to go. Credit unions may serve your everyday needs, and often times offer superior products and customer service as opposed to banks. Looking for a nice community feel and excellent everyday banking tools- credit unions might be just right for you.


Before you decide to commit your money to a financial institution- you might want to make sure your deposits are safe. It’s really easy- just ask if the bank or credit union has CDIC protection. CDIC is a crown corporation that insures the safety of your funds.

If you are an advanced computer user you may want to check out some of the online banks- they offer great interest rates on the savings accounts and most of the services are free of charge. The downside is their lack of physical branches, but who needs them anyway in this digital era!

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.

It’s important for a newcomer to start building credit from the get go. Sometimes you have an option to transfer your credit history from your country of origin, but often this is not an option. Getting your first credit card is usually the easiest and most convenient way to earn credit rating.

We offer a credit card from Manulife- one of the biggest financial services company in Canada. This card provides it’s holders with excellent features including low annual fee of 1.99% as well as bonus dollars that you can redeem for merchandise and other rewards. This is a great credit building tool and we can assist you with the application to make sure your transition to your new home is as smooth as possible!

Contact one of our agents through our online chat or email [email protected] to receive an application form!

#immigration | #savings
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