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Best Bank Accounts for International Students in Canada

One of the first things you’ll need as an international student in Canada is a bank account. This will be a vital tool for you over the next few years, so it’s important to choose one that offers you the best range of services and perks for you. Read on to find out more about student bank accounts in Canada.

Student bank accounts in Canada: What You Need To Know

Most banks in Canada offer free basic banking to full-time students — this means no fees for chequing accounts, but there may be limits or conditions. It should go without saying that it’s important to read through all the fine print before opening an account.

Before you start looking around, think about what services you’ll need. You may just want a basic chequing account, which allows you to withdraw and deposit money and is appropriate for daily expenses. You may want a savings account in order to keep some money separate from your main account. Many student banking plans in Canada offer the option to open a chequing and savings account together, which you can use with a debit card.

Student banking and the GIC Requirement for Study Permits

If you are planning to apply for a study permit through the Student Direct Stream, you need to provide a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) as a part of your study permit application. Even if you’re applying for a study permit through the regular application process, you can use a GIC to demonstrate your proof of funds for study in Canada.

If you do require a GIC, check out our guide comparing all the different GIC banks for Canadian study permits. This will help you determine the best option that’ll leave you with affordable and efficient banking in Canada.


A credit card could be useful while you are in Canada, but think carefully before you open one. While a bit of extra cash could seem helpful, be careful about building up credit card debt. Credit rating is important in Canada, and a poor credit score could affect you later on. On the other hand, if you are confident you can use a credit card responsibly – remain within your overdraft limit and pay at least the minimum amount each month – your student years could be a good time to start building up a good credit score. You may want to consider a credit card that offers air miles or points towards other expenses.

If you are in need of extra money for the cost of your studies, banks may also offer a student line of credit for international students. These can offer larger limits than a credit card, with lower interest rates and incentivized repayment options. However, it’s a good idea to research all your loan options before treating a bank’s line of credit as a student loan, as interest can build quickly.

Many Canadians don’t carry much cash, partly because debit cards are so convenient, and partly because banks charge fees for cash withdrawals at Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) belonging to other banks or private operators. Most shops, cafes, and restaurants take cards (although some may not take credit cards, and smaller outlets may still be cash-only) and of these, most accept contactless payments for transactions up to a certain amount.

Canada’s online money transfer system is called Interac. With Interac, you can send money from your account to any other participating Canadian account — you just need the recipient’s phone number or email address, and you agree a security question and answer between yourselves so the transaction is secure. Chances are you’ll encounter Interac during your time in Canada – it’s great for paying back friends or splitting bills, and landlords may ask you to pay rent this way.

Student bank accounts in Canada

Canada’s largest banks — CIBC, HSBC, BMO, RBC, Scotiabank, TD — all offer student banking options, and they all offer a variety of perks to woo students each year, but other options for student banking in Canada are available too. Watch out in particular for monthly transaction limits – it could cost you around $1 each time you use your debit card if you go over this limit. Canada’s main banks have online banking services and mobile apps for simple and secure banking from home or on the go.

Note: Canadian banks usually charge fees for cash withdrawals at other banks’ (or private) ATMs. To avoid a fee of up to $4 or $5 each time you withdraw cash, consider choosing a bank with an ATM on campus or near your residence.


CIBC’s student account has no monthly fee and gives unlimited free monthly debit card transactions. It’s one of the most cost-effective banking options for international students in Canada. CIBC also offers many perks and resources for international students, including a bonus of $60 just for signing up!

If you are applying for your study permit through the Student Direct Stream, CIBC also has one of the most competitive options on the market for your Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC).

For considering studying in Canada, CIBC is definitely a strong contender for one of the top banks for international students.


In addition to no monthly fees, Scotiabank’s student account gives unlimited debit card transactions and a Virtual Visa Debit card so you can shop online without a credit card. Scotiabank is known for its SCENE rewards program, which lets you build up points towards free movie tickets. Scotiabank offers one of the most popular student bank accounts in Canada.


HSBC’s Newcomers Program for International Students offers special packages for new account holders with added bonuses depending on the type of account you open and the amounts you deposit. Additional bonuses are unlocked when you open a new Mutual Fund account or, for those eligible to work, set up a recurring payroll while studying. They offer no banking fees for 12 months on the chequing account and the opportunity to build credit with HSBC Mastercard.  HSBC Students bank account.

National Bank

National bank does not have a specific program for international students. Instead, their Student Bank Account offer extends to anyone who is a full-time student in Canada. That offer includes a Canadian or US dollar account with no monthly fee, unlimited e-transfers and overdraft protection, as well as a platinum Credit card with no annual fees for the first two years, and vehicle and travel insurance. It’s in the details, and the package also features a student line of credit with preferential terms and conditions.


BMO offers a Student Banking account with no monthly fee during your studies and for a year after you graduate. However, there’s a limit on the number of free transactions you get each month. They’ve also teamed up with discount program SPC to offer more student discounts on popular brands.


RBC’s Student Bank Account for Newcomers has no monthly fee — although there is a limit on the number of free card transactions per month — and includes a Virtual Visa Debit so you can shop online without a credit card. Alternatively, you can choose to pay a monthly fee for your account in exchange for unlimited transactions.


TD offers an International Student Banking package with no monthly fee and no minimum balance requirement. You could also open a savings account, credit card and student line of credit if you’re eligible. Watch out: there’s a transaction limit on the chequing account, after which you’ll have to pay a fee for each debit card transaction.

Other options

Online-only banking is growing in popularity across Canada, and there are several banks that operate exclusively online. This can be fast and convenient, but there may be downsides too – particularly if you need to withdraw or deposit cash frequently. The main draw of online banks for many is that they usually don’t charge monthly fees. However, given that you’re a student, you should be able to get a free bank account at one of the main banks. Furthermore, having access to a branch can be really useful as you’re getting to grips with a banking system that may be quite different from what you’re used to at home.


While Tangerine doesn’t have physical branches, account holders can use the Scotiabank ATM network for free cash withdrawals. They don’t offer a special student account, but the standard chequing account offers a similar range of perks to the main banks’ student accounts.

Simplii Financial

The other main player in Canada’s online banking game, Simplii Financial is operated by CIBC, so account holders have access to their ATMs. Like Tangerine, they don’t have a separate student account, but their standard chequing account has no monthly fees and offers a similar range of services.

Best Bank Accounts for International Students in Canada FAQS

We have provided answers to some of your likely questions under this section.

Can an international student open a bank account in Canada?

Yes, an international student can open a bank account in Canada. The process is fairly simple and can be done online or in person at a bank branch. 

However, there are a few things to keep in mind before opening an account. First, the individual must be eligible for a Canadian Social Insurance Number (SIN). Second, banks have different requirements as far as what documentation is needed when opening an account. Third, banks have different rules for how much money can be deposited in the account without triggering certain reporting requirements to the government. 

Fourth, banks charge different fees for setting up and maintaining accounts so it’s important to do some research beforehand so that you don’t end up paying more than necessary.

Which bank is best for International Students?

There are a few different banks that are good for international students in Canada. The best bank for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. The three main banks that are good for international students are RBC, TD, and CIBC.

Can I open a bank account online for Canadian international students?

The short answer is yes, you can open a bank account online in Canada as an international student. The process is relatively simple and can be done in a few steps. All you need to do is visit the websites of banks that have branches near your campus, find out their requirements for opening an account and register for an account at the branch. 

You will need to provide your passport or other valid government-issued ID with a photo for verification purposes.

Which Account is best for Students in Canada?

The Best Canadian Bank Accounts for Students are;

1. Simplii No-Fee Chequing Account for Students.
2. Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan.
3. Tangerine No-Fee Chequing Account for Students.
4. HSBC Student Chequing Account.
5. CIBC Smart for Students Bank Account.
6. BMO Student Chequing Account (Plus Plan)
7. RBC Student Banking Account.

What’s the best Bank for International Students in Canada?

The best Banks in Canada for International Students are:

  1. CIBC: Best for Student Discount Perks and International Student GICs.
  2. Scotiabank: Best for International Money Transfers and Movie/Cash-Back Rewards.
  3. BMO (Bank of Montreal): Best for Student Credit Cards.
  4. RBC (Royal Bank of Canada): Best for Free ATM Access.

How much Cash can a Student carry to Canada?

An international student can carry up to $10,000 (Canadian dollars). Anytime you enter Canada, you must declare any currency or monetary instruments you have valued at Can$10,000 or more. This amount includes Canadian or foreign currency or a combination of both. Monetary instruments include, but are not limited to, stocks, bonds, bank drafts, cheques, and traveler’s cheques.

Which bank is better CIBC or Scotiabank for International Students?

CIBC is better than Scotia Bank for an international student to make a GIC account. CIBC has more branches than Scotia Bank in Canada. And also for Interest rates: CIBC pays a higher rate of interest than Scotia Bank.

Is TD Bank a good Bank for Students?

Yes, TD Bank is one of the best banks for international students in Canada. TD Bank offers a variety of benefits for student checking account holders. The few key advantages of banking with TD bank include: TD Bank has great hours. Most branches have hours on both Saturday and Sunday, which is convenient for those who have school during normal operating hours on business days.

Is CIBC bank good for International Students?

Yes, CIBC Bank is a very good Canadian bank for international students in Canada. CIBC. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is another mainstream bank in Canada that offers a GIC program to students from Africa, India, Asia, Europe, North, and South America, etc. They are particularly renowned for their faster application processing, lesser application fee, and higher application acceptance rate.

What is GIC for International Students?

What is a GIC? A Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) purchased under the RBC International Student GIC Program is a secure investment that helps you pay for your studies and living expenses in Canada. The GIC also helps you demonstrate to the Government of Canada that you’ll have enough money to do so.

Which bank is best for student GIC?

Based on our analysis, the CIBC Student GIC Program is the best option with the best GIC rates in Canada for international students applying for a study permit through the Student Direct Stream.

Student Bank Accounts in Canada: Summary

Choosing a bank is an important step toward starting your new life in Canada, and it’s important to think carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything you don’t understand when presented with student bank accounts in Canada and shop around before going with the first bank you see.

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