Complete Guide to Bank Accounts for Newcomers to Canada

Jun 6, 2024 | Banking

Congratulations on making it to Canada! Starting a new life in a different country is exciting and challenging. One of the critical steps in establishing yourself is making informed financial decisions, and a crucial part of that is choosing the right bank. Whether you need a checking account, savings account, or credit card, selecting a bank that meets your needs is essential. Let’s take a look at which are some of the best bank accounts for newcomers to Canada.

How to Choose a Bank

When selecting a bank, consider your specific requirements:

  • Types of Accounts: Do you need a checking account, a savings account, or a credit card?
  • Banking Preferences: Do you prefer online banking, or do you want access to physical branches?
  • Location: Are there branches conveniently located near you?
  • Benefits and Services: What benefits does the bank offer, such as competitive loan rates, investment options, and additional services like fund transfers?

For newcomers, transferring funds internationally might be a significant consideration, so examining the associated fees is crucial.

Major Canadian Banks for Newcomers

Canada has five major banks, each offering tailored packages for newcomers. Here’s an overview:

  1. Toronto Dominion Bank (TD)

    • Package: New to Canada Banking Package
    • Eligibility: Permanent Residents or Temporary Permit holders (up to 5 years in Canada)
    • Benefits:
      • TD Unlimited Chequing Account (monthly fee of $16.95 waived for 12 months; waived thereafter with a $4,000 balance)
      • $300 cash offer
      • $79 Amazon Prime membership for the first year
  2. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)

    • Package: Smart Account for Newcomers
    • Eligibility: Permanent Residents (up to 5 years in Canada) and Temporary Resident workers (minimum 12-month permit)
    • Benefits:
      • Smart Account (monthly fee of $16.95 waived for 12 months; waived thereafter with a $4,000 balance)
      • $300 cash offer
      • Credit card annual fee rebate of $99 for the first year
  3. Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)

    • Package: StartRight Program
    • Eligibility: Permanent Residents (up to 3 years in Canada), Temporary Residents, and International Students
    • Benefits:
      • Preferred Package Chequing Account (monthly fee of $16.95 waived for 12 months; waived thereafter with a $4,000 balance)
      • Unlimited international transfers at no fee
      • Free safety deposit box for a year
      • Earn SCENE points through Scotia Rewards Program
      • Credit card fees up to $139 waived for the first year
  4. Bank of Montreal (BMO)

    • Package: Performance Chequing Account
    • Eligibility: Permanent Residents and Temporary Residents (up to 5 years in Canada)
    • Benefits:
      • Premium Chequing Account (monthly fee of $16.95 waived for 12 months; waived thereafter with a $4,000 balance)
      • Unlimited transactions per month
      • Unlimited Interac e-transfers
      • 3GB bonus data through Chatr Mobile
      • Free safety deposit box for a year
  5. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

    • Package: Advantage Banking Account
    • Eligibility: Permanent Residents, Temporary Residents, and International Students (up to 5 years in Canada)
    • Benefits:
      • Monthly fee waived for the first 12 months
      • No fees for using other bank ATMs
      • Unlimited Interac e-transfers
      • No annual fee for credit cards
      • Free safety deposit box for 2 years
      • Two free international money transfers every month for a year

Each bank has unique offerings, so it’s vital to choose one that aligns with your financial goals and needs. Remember, while initial no-fee accounts are attractive, banks typically start charging fees after the first 12 months.

No-Fee Banking Options

For those who want to avoid fees altogether, consider these no-fee banks:

  • PC Financial
  • Simplii Bank
  • Tangerine Bank
  • KOHO

Tips for Choosing a Bank

  1. Research Thoroughly: Investigate all potential banks.
  2. Check Banking Fees: Be aware of monthly fees, transfer fees, ATM fees, overdraft fees, etc.
  3. Assess Your Needs: Ensure the bank meets your immediate and long-term requirements.
  4. Consider Online Banks: If you prefer no-fee banking and don’t need physical branches.
  5. Evaluate Accessibility: Decide if you need the convenience of physical branches.
  6. Review Rates: Look at mortgage, interest, and savings rates.
  7. Explore Credit Unions: They often offer lower fees and higher savings rates but have fewer branches and ATMs.

Finding the Best Savings Account

Choose a savings account with the best terms and conditions for your situation. Look for high interest rates, no monthly fees, and no minimum balance requirements.

Importance of Choosing the Right Bank

Selecting the right bank is crucial for your financial health. By planning and researching, you can find an account that fits your needs as a newcomer, ensuring you take full advantage of the benefits available.


There is no single best bank for newcomers to Canada; it depends on individual needs. However, with the detailed offerings from the major banks listed above, you are sure to find a suitable option. Take the time to compare and make an informed decision to set yourself up for financial success in your new home.


Disclaimer: This information may not be complete or accurate. Please visit the banks website for the most accurate information