If you are a new international student at TRU, here is everything you need to know about setting up a bank account and transferring funds from your country.
Banks and Credit Unions
Banks are large for-profit entities. In Kamloops, it includes the Big Five: Scotiabank, TD Canada Trust, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), and Bank of Montreal (BMO). Investors don’t have to be bank customers to buy shares, and their interest is purely financial.
Credit unions are financial cooperatives that are locally owned and controlled by customers. They run on a not-for-profit model that reinvests profits back into the business. In Kamloops, the most popular credit unions are Interior Savings and Valley First.
You can compare features for different chequing and savings accounts, including interest rates, monthly fees and transactions, using the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) – Account Selector Tool.
Opening a Bank Account
To open a bank account in Canada, generally, you will need to go in-person to a financial institution and provide an acceptable form of identification (Passport, Study Permit and T-ID).
Most banks have student accounts with lower services fees, such as:
- Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan
- TD Student Chequing Account
- CIBC Smart for Students
- RBC Student Banking Account
- BMO Student Banking
Here are a few questions to ask before opening an account:
- How much is the monthly administrative service fee?
- What are the withdrawing and depositing rules?
- What are the fees when using Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) at other institutions?
- Is there a limit of e-transfers? What is the fee if I pass my monthly transfer limit?
- Does this account have online banking?
- Are there any point benefits with the account? (i.e. SCENE points, Air Miles, etc)
When using a Canadian account, beware of extra fees such as:
- Withdrawing cash from other banks’ ATMs
- Withdrawing or debiting your savings account directly
- Non-Sufficient Funds (NSF), which means not having enough money in your account
- Going over monthly debit transactions allowed
- Paper statements – some banks charge about $2/month if you request paper bills.
- Monthly maintenance fees
Once you open your bank account, you will be issued a debit card (or ATM card). You can use your debit card to take out money from ATM machines. Debit card transactions are deducted immediately from your account.
To apply for a credit card, you need to visit your financial institution and provide two pieces of government-issued ID. Most banks have student credit card options with no annual fees.
The starting limits for international students may be very low for the first 6 months or more. However, credit scores are very important in Canada, and if you develop a good one, you may be eligible to raise the limit.
In Canada, your credit scores are an important aspect of your financial profile. Credit scores range from 300 (just getting started) up to 900 points, which is the best score. They may be used to determine some of the most important financial factors in your life, such as whether or not you’ll be able to lease a vehicle, qualify for a mortgage or even land that new job.
There are many different issues that can hurt your credit, such as:
- Late or missed payments
- Too many (or too few) open credit accounts
- High credit card balances
- High balances on loans
- Too many credit applications
To develop good credit, you must:
- Pay bills on time, in full-balance to avoid interest charges
- Avoid credit-seeking behaviour
Accessing your account
In Canada, most banks provide online banking access to clients, either through a computer or smartphone. Through both online and mobile banking, you can manage your accounts, pay bills, send money, and check your transaction history.
Transferring money to and from Canada
You can send money to and from Canada either through your bank or through money transfer firms, such as Western Union. Transferring fees can be high, so find out the cost before you use the service.
Transferring funds from your home country before arriving in Canada
- Obtain a bank draft (a check drawn by a bank on its own funds in another bank) for the amount you wish to transfer and bringing it with you to Canada.
- Obtain an electronic bank card from your home bank and bringing it with you to Canada. Be mindful of service charges as well as currency exchange rates.
Transferring funds from your home country when in Canada
- Wire funds from your local bank to a Canadian bank. You will need to provide your bank from your home country with the following information about your Canadian account:
- Account name, address of the branch, account number, transit number, IBAN and swift code.
- Use a bank card from your home bank to withdraw money at ATMs in Canada. When using ATMs from other banks, you may be charged $3-$5 in withdraw fees.
Don’t carry large amounts of cash on you while en route to Canada. Traveller’s cheques and credit cards are widely accepted in Kamloops and in all airports such as in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto.