Opening a Canadian Bank account, obtaining credit card and qualifying for a car loan or a home purchase mortgage are all made easy for new immigrants.
Bank accounts must be opened in person at a bank branch office after you arrive. Bank branches are plentiful, and you will want to choose one in the area that you are planning to live. When you arrive at the branch, make sure you have with you your passport and landed immigrant papers with you.
In Canada, lenders rely heavily on each individual’s credit history which is gathered and reported by credit reporting agencies. Each time you borrow money, or make a purchase on credit, your credit history is updated. As you demonstrate a regular pattern of on-time payments, your credit rating increases. Missed or late payments decrease your score.
When you arrive, your will have no credit history. In order to help new Canadians, the banks have various new immigrant packages which include help in establishing bank accounts, a credit card, car loans and mortgages without requiring a credit history. Some conditions will apply for the car loans and mortgages. For example, a bank may require that the car being purchased be less than 4 years old, and you must have a 25% down payment.
The five largest banks in Canada are:
Royal Bank of Canada,
Toronto Dominion Bank,
Bank of Nova Scotia,
Bank of Montreal, and
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
Smaller banks include:
ING Bank of Canada,
National Bank of Canada,
Laurentian Bank of Canada,
President’s Choice Financial, and
Canadian Western Bank.
There are also many international banks operating in Canada including:
AMEX Bank of Canada,
HSBC Bank Canada, and
Walmart Canada Bank.
Bank offerings for new Canadians vary so make sure you check and compare several banks before deciding where to start. In general you can search on Google for any of the Banks above and add “new immigrant” which will take you to a page with that bank’s offering for new immigrants.
The big 5 banks listed at the top above are commonly found in all parts of Canada. The smaller banks are more common in some regions, and the international banks are generally found only in the larger cities, so make sure to check that location of branches in the area you plan to live or work.
Banking services in Canada are easily accessible on line, at the many ATM’s and by telephone. Most banking transactions including balance checking, bill payments, and international money transfers can be done over the internet or by phone. Smaller amounts of money (up to $500) can be sent between individuals in Canada by email transfers.
In recent years bank hours for special requirements such as loans and mortgages have expanded to include evening and weekend hours. Once you choose a branch, you will be able to find the opening hours by checking the bank’s website.
While there are many stressful events in moving to a new country, getting a bank account is not one of them. Establishing your bank accounts and getting your first credit card have been made easy and worry-free. Your bank branch will be happy to help you move money, establish credit and learn how to make daily transactions in Canada.
Header photo: Bronte RBC Branch by Kevin Coleman