Canada: Bank Account, Debit, Credit Card for Students

Canada is becoming a favorable destination for students seeking education. But for international students, some basic information on banking system in Canada is very important.

This article discusses this information in a very basic manner.

When moving to Canada, there are three financial products everyone should have in his/her name:

  1. Bank account
  2. Debit card
  3. Credit card

Opening a bank account

Opening a bank account is first step towards entering into financial system of Canada and is essential for everyday transactions. To open it, simply go to the bank of your choice, preferably near your home or college. You will be asked to identify yourself using your social insurance number and/or passport. It is important to choose your financial institution carefully because the rates for transactions, cheques and other services vary from one institution to another.

Some banks allow remote account opening from your home country.

Several banks offer specific services to international students and this includes:

  • Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan
  • CIBC Advantage for Students Account
  • Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Student Banking Account
  • The Toronto Dominion Bank (TD Bank) Student Checking Account

Debit Card

In Canada, when you open a bank account, you will be typically offered a debit card for free which is directly linked to your bank account. You have to understand that there is a difference between a debit card and a credit card. Each one has its own functioning and features which is not always easy for the newcomer to grasp especially the students.

A debit card is mainly used to pay for purchases in stores (grocery, stationary, and others). And the amount spent is debited from your checking account the same day. You can also use your debit card to withdraw cash at ATMs (with a fee if you withdraw at a different financial institution). However, you will not be able to use it to make online purchases on the Internet. In this case, you will need a credit card. In many countries like India, you can make online purchase even using a debit card but this is not the case with most of the banks in Canada.

Credit Card

This is the most important financial product everyone moving to Canada should have as it helps in building the credit score which is a gateway to future financial needs in the country. Note that, just by having a bank account and debit card does not help in building a credit history.

Credit cards are widely used in Canada and also in many other countries. However they are not always linked to your bank account (like a debit card) but with a credit account from another organization. You will receive a monthly statement of the card account and the payment due date. You have no obligation to pay the full amount, but a minimum amount must be paid each month. The amount due is accompanied by fairly high monthly interest rates (between 9.9% and 19.9%) until the amount is fully repaid.

Major retail chains and some oil companies offer their own credit cards. Since the application for a credit card often involves historical credit analysis in Canada, it can be difficult for newcomers, for whom a “credit rating” does not exist.

Some financial institutions are more accommodating than others in this regard and some also offer secure deposit-guaranteed credit cards for new immigrants. Depending on the credit card choice, interest rates, authorization limits, payment terms and annual fees may vary from one institution to another.

Some of the secured credit cards in Canada are:

  • Capital One® Secured Card
  • Refresh Financial Secured Visa
  • Scotiabank Value® VISA Card
  • Home Trust Secured Visa Card
  • DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card
  • Peoples Trust Secured MasterCard

So these are the very basic financial products anyone moving to Canada should own. Getting a credit card in Canada should be the most important objective especially when you are planning to stay longer.

Budget Planning for Child in Canada: Clothes, Health Care, Diapers & more

Parents in Canada intending to start a family may wonder how they will manage to finance family life after the arrival of newborn. The carefully crafted budget they are currently living with will necessarily be out of date with the arrival of the baby. Diapers, daycare and those cute little shoes and many other necessary items will add-up to the growing expenses.

Can couple afford them? Here’s how much baby will cost in his first few years of life.

Baby arrival means increased expenses on new stuffs

Arrival of a loved one leads to increased expenses which are necessary and cannot be avoided. But yet, they can be minimized. Here’s what you need to put aside now if you want to minimize the expenses once baby arrives.


It costs more than $70 per month for disposable diapers. The child wears diapers until the age of three. The cost will gradually decrease when he/she grows up and stops wearing the diaper.

To save: Buy unbranded diapers for use during the day and better quality diapers in the night.


Additional costs are zero for the first six months for breastfeeding women. Special milk costs about $100 a month. After six months, your baby will start eating solid foods.

To save: Make your own vegetable and fruit purees to feed your baby.


Babies need a lot of things, or at least parents find life easier when they have a variety of items to help them care for their child. First, you need to invest in a good quality, compact and lightweight stroller to make travel easier. A baby carrier, car seat, exercise equipment and toys will be added to the list. It costs $2,000 or more to purchase these items in baby’s first three years.

To save: You can buy them in used toy stores. Buy a car seat that turns into a booster seat. Plan in advance what you need and ask for these items as gifts.

Health Care Cost

Even with health insurance coverage, you inevitably have to pay for things like a baby thermometer and a humidifier. Water for colic, acetaminophen for babies and teething gel probably won’t blow a budget, but you need at least $20 a month for extra small purchases.

To Save: Buy unbranded items. Take enough medicines with you when you travel to avoid paying too much when you go abroad.


Babies grow up fast and their clothes get too tight before you know it. You will easily spend hundreds of dollars in baby’s first year on overall clothings/ski suits.

To save: Even if baby is not yet born, it is recommended to find a parent who has an older child of the same sex, and ask them to put on some clothes. Provided these children remain proportionally similar in size for some time, this relationship will save hundreds of dollars a year. Grandparents and friends who like to buy clothes can also be asked to buy them in a larger size. In this way, maximum use can be made of it.

Child Care

If both parents are at work, child care becomes one of the biggest expenses. Full-time babysitting can cost up to $1,500 per month, depending on where you live. After-school child care costs at least $500 per month, not including summer camps.

To save: Part-time and co-op child care is less expensive and may be a good choice in combination with part-time work or work with family caregivers. Quality child care is worth every dollar.

Other Indirect Expenses

Life changes when you become a parent. You must realize that maximum time must now be devoted to children. A parent may no longer be able to spend overtime in the office, household chores, and renovations can become more difficult, sometimes requiring the hiring of others to do them.

In addition, children require space and it is possible that you will have to move into a larger space. Going to a movie or going out to dinner requires a babysitter, which adds to the cost of the outing.

How to Save

With children, no need to go out so much and, therefore, the entertainment portion of the budget will shrink. The rental of a film, a bottle of wine is sometimes enough for the weekend. It saves hundreds of dollars in restaurants, movie tickets, taxis, and parking fees.

It is certainly more expensive to take children to the zoo or fairs, but many things you do with children are free. Playing in the park, going to the local pool and just playing in the yard or living room allows you to spend quality hours that have real value and are low cost.

11 Exciting Benefits on Starwood Preferred Guest Corporate Credit Card

American Express offers rewards card named “Starwood Preferred Guest Corporate Credit Card” especially for Canadian business executives.

Fees And Interest

  • Annual fee: $150
  • Interest rate on purchases: 19.99%.
  • Cash advance: 22.99%
  • Balance transfer: 21.99%

Eligibility for Starwood Preferred Guest Corporate Credit Card

  • Income: Any amount
  • Household income: Any amount
  • Applicant should be a permanent resident or Canadian citizen
  • Has not declared bankruptcy in the last seven years
  • Reached minimum age in their province or territory of residence (18 years in AB, MB, ON, QC, SK, PEI and 19 years in the others)

More information on credit cards in Canada


  1. One Point per Dollar Spent: Earn 1 Starpoint® for every $1 spent on the card.
  2. Earn a welcome bonus of 25,000 Starpoints®* if you spend $1,500 with your card within three months of enrolling. However this offer has ended on October 18, 2017.
  3. Earn 2 Starpoints® * for every dollar of eligible purchases made with the card at participating SPG®* and Marriott Rewards®* hotel. However this offer has ended on November 15, 2017.
  4. One free night at a hotel on weekend or resort anywhere in the world if $40,000 is spent during the year.
  5. Automatically become a Gold Preferred member when you spend $30,000 using the card in the year.
  6. As a primary card member, you can recommend the card to a friend and earn more Starpoints as an added benefit. For each approved recommendation, you can get a $25 credit to the card account.
  7. Redeem Starpoints for free nights, with no blackout periods, at over 1,200 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries. Choose from the following nine brands: St. Catharines, St. Catharines, St. Catharines and St. Catharines. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Le Méridien, Westin, Sheraton, Aloft, Element and Four Points by Sheraton.
  8. With SPG Flights, redeem Starpoints for airline tickets from over 150 airlines without blackout periods.
  9. Transfer Starpoints to frequent flyer programs from 30 airlines.
  10. Receive 5,000 Starpoints as a bonus under the Starwood Preferred Guest® program* when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to a frequent flyer program.
  11. Enjoy unique experiences with SPG Moments®* for unforgettable occasions such as welcome sessions with select artists and athletes, behind-the-scenes passes to concerts, professional golf lessons and more.

Student Living Cost in Canada: Tuition, Insurance, Living, Books, Meal & more

A budget is a plan that helps you manage your money. It helps you determine how much money you receive and spend during your studies.

You must include all student living costs while in Canada. So here is the list of most common expenses you will have to pay for while studying in Canada:

Tuition Fees

On average, an undergraduate student at a Canadian university has to pay around $6,500 in tuition fees in a academic year. Tuition fees are what you pay to your university or college to enroll in a program and take courses.

Tuition fees may vary depending on:

  • Study program
  • Institution attended
  • Province or territory where your post-secondary institution is located
  • Your residency or citizenship status
  • Number of courses
  • Type of course
  • Whether you are a full-time or part-time student

Other Education Expenses

In addition to tuition fees, student has to pay other types of fees such as student association and administrative fees. This fee varies for each institution.

Health Insurance

As a general rule, private health insurance is included in tuition fees. This insurance covers medical or dental expenses that are not included in your provincial or territorial health insurance.

If you already have private health insurance, either as part of your employment or through your family, you may waive coverage from your institution. Check with your institution to find out if you qualify. Most post-secondary institutions require that you waive insurance during the first few weeks of the school year. You may have to prove that you have private health insurance from another source.

Books and other course materials

The cost of books and course materials varies by program and post-secondary institution. Between $800 and $1000 per year is a reasonable estimate for an undergraduate student. For a more accurate estimate, ask your post-secondary institution or someone already enrolled in your program.

To reduce the cost of books and course materials, you can:

  • Buy used books
  • Buy books from online retailers that offer better prices than campus bookstores
  • Obtain an electronic version of course materials, such as books and articles
  • Share books with roommates or classmates, so convenient
  • Ask the post-secondary institution’s bookstore if you can borrow materials.
  • Sell your books
  • Use a previous version of the book, if possible

Living Expenses

The amount you spend on living expenses has a significant impact on your financial situation at the end of your studies.

Living On Campus

If you plan to live on campus, check your college or university website for the cost of student residences and meal plans. Consider sharing a residence since a shared residence costs less than an individual residence.

Living Off-Campus

You may choose to live off campus instead of residence. It means living with roommates, alone or with your family. Living with your family while you study can save thousands of dollars each year.

The websites of some post-secondary institutions include estimates of off-campus living expenses while in school. Off-campus living expenses vary depending on where you are studying. For example, rent in a small town can be much cheaper than in downtown Toronto.

Don’t forget to take into account the tenant’s heating, electricity, internet and insurance costs. Living with a roommate is always a good way to reduce these costs.

Meal costs in your budget while you live off campus

Be sure to include the cost of meals in your budget. Some grocery stores offer student discounts on certain days of the week. Ask for student discounts when you shop.

Many post-secondary institutions offer meal plans for students living off campus. Contact your post-secondary institution for more information on these meal plans.

Transport + Gasoline

While in Canada you will definitely use public transport at some point. If you must use public transit to get to the post-secondary institution, ask about the cost of a transit pass. Some post-secondary institutions provide passes to students whose fees are included in their tuition fees.

If you have a car, check your post-secondary institution’s website to find out how much parking costs. You must also consider the price of gasoline. In either case, public transportation is always going to be cheaper than taking your car to school every day.

If you do not live with your parents, be sure to include the cost of going home for a visit or for the summer. Most airlines, bus and passenger train companies offer discounts to students.

You can take advantage of many of these discounts with your international student ID card.

Entertainment Expenses

Entertainment, clothing and mobile phone costs are examples of other costs that you should consider. To reduce these costs, focus on what you need rather than what you want.

You can save on these costs by using student discount cards.

Take into account rising costs

Your tuition and living expenses may increase each year because of inflation. Inflation is the rising cost of consumer goods and services. In recent years, the average inflation rate in Canada has been 2% per year. Average tuition fees for an undergraduate student at a Canadian university were 2.8% higher in the 2016-2017 academic year than in the previous year.

Remember to include inflation when budgeting for your student life. You may want to consider making a new budget for each year you are in school.

Sources of Income for Students in Canada

When making your budget for student life, think about the source of your money. You can earn income from personal savings or work during your study years.

To increase your income, you can also think of:

  • Scholarships
  • Study grants
  • Get a student loan from the government
  • Obtain a line of credit from your financial institution

Student Credit Card

You can find and compare offers for credit card companies on your college or university campus or online. The average annual interest rate for student credit cards in Canada is 18.11%.

Be careful: Credit cards are a very expensive way to borrow money if you can’t pay off the balance every month.

Tax deductions and tax credits for students

There are many tax credits and deductions available to students. Your eligibility for these varies depending on your status as a part-time or full-time student. Be sure to report your income each year on time to avoid penalties.

A tax deduction reduces your taxable income for the year. For example, as a student, you may be entitled to tax deductions for moving and child care expenses, as well as other tax deductions.

A non-refundable tax credit reduces the amount of tax you owe. You may be entitled to a non-refundable tax credit for:

  • Tuition fees
  • Books
  • Public transportation
  • Interest on your student loans
  • Taking advantage of these tax credits and deductions has a big impact on your annual income tax return.

Carrying Money to Canada? Important Rules to Know

Every country has rules for carrying money for the visitors. And the same applies to Canada as well.

And a very obvious and most important question which actually needs professional advice from your bank or banking institution is related to carrying money to Canada. This question particularly affects the banking and financial laws in force in your country of origin.

Are there restrictions on carrying funds from your country of origin?

According to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), “Some countries set limits on how much money you can take out of the country. You should check with your bank, lawyer or financial advisor. If you are able to prove that the funds you want to leave the country are subject to restrictions, you can make use of a special provision that will allow you a period of up to three years to purchase household goods in the country from which you are immigrating. These goods may be shipped to Canada free of duty. This provision cancels the usual rule on the ownership, possession and use of your property.”

You should check with a representative of your financial institution before coming to Canada, if you are unsure of local regulations.

Disclosure of Funds

If you enter Canada with more than CAN$10,000 (per family), please inform a Canadian officer upon arrival. You could be fined if you fail to do so. The funds you bring are not taxable upon arrival.

What type of funds you can bring in Canada?

Definitions of the funds you can bring to Canada:

  • Cash
  • Bearer securities (e.g. shares, bills, bonds, treasury bills) or
  • Bearer negotiable instruments (e.g. bank drafts, cheques, travellers cheques, money orders).

Here are some other suggestions on how to bring or transfer funds to Canada:

Determine whether your local bank has a “correspondent” or relationship with a Canadian bank and whether it has an account to make inter-bank transfers. Your bank may have a branch in Canada, which may make it easier to transfer funds once you get there. Ask your bank if it has offices in Canada.

The Industrial Credit and Investment Corp. of India (ICICI) offers a Hello Canada bank account for immigrants from India, Dubai, Bahrain or the United Kingdom. This account allows you to open a Canadian bank account from abroad and transfer funds to Canada before you arrive.

Arrange to transfer your funds to a Canadian bank once you are in Canada. You will likely have to maintain the account in your home country for a short period of time and then transfer it to your new account in Canada.

One option would be to get a bank draft from your own bank. A bank draft is a cheque drawn on your own account in which a cash deposit has been made. Confirm, before you leave, your bank’s requirements for such transactions. You can then bring enough cash or traveller’s cheques to help you get started. Once you arrive, open a Canadian bank account and have the rest of your funds transferred from your home country to your new account. You must inform your own Canadian bank at that time of your plans and ask them what procedures are required to make withdrawals. The funds you contribute may also be in the form of bearer securities such as shares, bills, bonds or treasury bills.

A Canadian bank may have a branch in your country. Try to find one by searching for Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank (TD Bank), Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), Bank of Nova Scotia or Bank of Montreal. Once your branch is identified, they can help you open a Canadian account and transfer your funds.

You will obviously need to bring the official documentation on your banking situation and your transactions. This documentation will be used as evidence to present to the immigration officer to show that you have enough money in a Canadian bank account or funds that will be transferred into an account. These documents include, but are not limited to, bank statements as close as possible to your arrival in Canada.

It should be noted that this information cannot constitute a recommendation. We request you to please contact your bank or financial institution for additional information and advice.

Buy Ontario Savings Bonds by June 21, 2018: Interest Rates for 3, 5, 10 Year

Ontario Savings Bonds are a secure and flexible type of investment and are on sale until June 21, 2018.

Bonds are available for purchase for all Ontario residents in amounts ranging from $100 to $1 million. They are available with annual or compound interest, with terms of three, five or ten years, and fixed, accelerator or variable interest rates.

To better meet investors needs, three types of Ontario Savings Bonds are available with each offering a choice of interest – compounded or paid annually.

  • Fixed Rate – Bonds with 3-year or 10-year maturity and competitive interest rates until maturity.
  • Accelerator Rate – Annual interest rates that increase from year 1 to year 5.
  • Variable Rate – A new rate is set every year for three years.

Interest rates for 2018 series are as follows:

Five-Year Accelerating Bond Rate:

  • 1.50% in the first year
  • 1.80% in the second year
  • 2.15% in the third year
  • 2.30% in the fourth year
  • 2.55% in the fifth year

Fixed rate bonds:

  • 2.10% for the three-year fixed-rate bond
  • 2.85% for the 10-year fixed-rate bond

Three-year floating bond rate:

  • 1.65% in year one

The interest rate on the new floating rate bond is in effect from June 21, 2018 to June 20, 2019.

How to Buy?

You can buy Ontario Savings Bonds from financial institutions, credit unions, or through an investment broker.

Quick Facts

Ontario Savings Bonds are attractive to investors because they are available free of charge and both principal and interest are insured by the Province of Ontario.

Interest rates on Ontario Savings Bonds are based on current economic conditions and market trends.

The following Ontario Savings Bonds matured on June 21, 2018:

  • 2011 Seven-Year Fixed-Rate Bonds
  • 2013 Accelerating Rate Bonds
  • 2015 Three Year Floating Rate and Fixed Rate Notes
  • All matured bonds may be redeemed at any time after the maturity date. Simply present your bonds to your financial institution, trust company, credit union, or contact your investment broker.

Accelerator bonds can be redeemed prior to maturity on June 21 and December 21. Floating rate notes are redeemable on June 21 of each year.

All bondholders have up to 14 days to redeem their bonds.

Credit Card in Canada: Basics, Types, Application, Fees & more

Similar to countries like United States, India, Germany and many others the importance of credit card in Canada cannot be ignored. For a better financial life, owning a plastic money in Canada is important.

So let’s get into the detail.

1. Concept of credit and debit cards

First of all, there are debit cards. These cards are directly linked to your bank account and the money you use for each transaction is debited directly from your account. Basically the principle is the same in many countries like United States, India, France, and others.

Then there is a second type of card called as credit card. As the word credit suggests, its basic objective is to let users buy things/pay for services etc. on credit i.e. free money, lent by the banks. Each transaction you make will be paid by the bank and after that, you will receive the statement at the end of each month. If you do not pay your credit card bill on time, you will have to pay interest and any other charges on the total amount of your monthly transactions.

2. Credit history and credit approval

In Canada, your financial life is difficult if you do not have a credit card. Simply because the bank and financial institutions base their trust in you based on your credit history. When you attempt to make any credit application (loan/credit card), the credit bureaus (Equifax and TransUnion) in charge of credit history will provide an index of your credit history calculated based on how you pay your debts. In other words, using their credit card and always paying their credit card bill on time is the only way to build a good credit history.

A bad credit history can result in denial of any future credit application in addition to the extra fees and the charges stay in your credit report for 7 years. So don’t take it lightly. On the other hand, people with a good credit history will have the advantage of being very well seen and treated by financial institutions.

3. The different types of credit cards

There are a variety of credit cards depending on whether you travel a lot by air, fill up a lot of gas, go to Starbucks often… To make it short, here are the different categories of credit cards offered by most of the banks in Canada..:

  • Credit card rewards
  • Travel credit card
  • Low Interest Credit Card
  • Student Credit Card

4. How to apply for a credit card?

Applying for and getting a credit card is very simple, especially if you have a job. There are two ways to apply for a credit card, either go directly to the bank and discuss it with the staff, or go to bank’s website and apply online.

Be prepared to give the following information:

  • Your Social Insurance Number
  • Personal information, including annual income
  • Employer Information

If you are already the bank’s customer then they will have all your details. And in this case, the process will be more easy.

5. Credit card operation and fees.

Everyone should know that credit card fees/interest are very important. There are many fees charged by the banks such as:

  • Interest on purchases and cash advances: This fee applies if you do not repay the money before the end of your interest-free period/ grace period.
  • Interest-free period: The bank will choose for you (randomly) a due date (for example the 25th of each month) before which you must repay the money spent before any interest is charged to your account.
  • Grace period: Is there to save you for 21 days from the date of your purchase. Note that there is no interest-free period and grace period for cash advances. Cash withdrawals, balance transfers, the use of cheques drawn on, the payment of certain bills and cash like transactions are considered cash advances.
  • Minimum payment: If you are in debt, you must make a payment of $10 (plus interest and fees, or your entire balance if less than $10 plus interest and fees).
  • Annual fees: Many of the cards carry annual fee or requires you to spend certain amount to avoid this fee.

Also note that many transactions with charged. Again these charges vary for each card and the bank. For example:

  • Cash advance: $3.50 in Canada; $5 outside Canada. This varies for each card and issuing bank.
  • Overlimit: Certain prefixed amount is charged on the day your statement is prepared, if your statement balance exceeds your credit limit.
  • Payment declined: If a payment made to your credit card account is declined for any reason.
  • Statement copy: Fixed amount is charged for requesting a copy of monthly statement. Separate charge is for requesting a transaction statement that is not associated with the current monthly statement.
  • Statement of Account: Charge for statement request at an ABM or branch.