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A Student's Guide to Opening a Bank Account in Canada

Surviving without a bank account can be very difficult. But with a straightforward process, opening and maintaining a bank account is not difficult in Canada.

Banks in Canada offer 2 types of accounts- savings and chequing accounts.

The savings accounts pay higher interest compared to chequing accounts. But, in case a person plans to make numerous monthly withdrawals from his savings account, it is better to have a chequing account. The reason for this is that the savings accounts have some limitations such as minimum balance and limited number of free transactions per month. In Canada, all banking institutions members of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) guarantee savings deposits for up to CAD$60,000 per depositor.

The chequing accounts pay very little interest, if any, but they have the advantage of low monthly fees and low transaction fees. One thing that you need to keep in mind is that you must have enough money in your account. Because, bounced cheques attract heft penalties.

Documents required for Opening a Bank Account in Canada

  • Two government issued pieces of identification (e.g. a passport, driver’s license, Provincial Health Card, Social Insurance Card.
  • Proof of address (usually requested in the form of a utility bill).

As a foreign resident you will usually also be asked to provide a reference from your employer/host university or educational institution or your previous bank.

Tips for choosing a bank in Canada

When choosing a bank, take into consideration the following things:

  • How far the branch is, from your home/university.
  • Any special package that your university may have in order to minimize your banking fees.
  • Services that a bank offers to its customers.

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