Money and Banking

We anticipate you will set up a bank account at one of our major banks, allowing you to transfer funds into the account as needed. Major banks in each NIC community include The Royal Bank (RBC), TD Canada Trust, Scotia Bank, Bank of Montreal (BMO), and CIBC.

Opening a Bank Account

To open a Canadian bank account, you will probably need to provide your NIC Student Card, passport, and your local address. Some banks may ask for a letter of reference from your bank at home. If you don't have such a letter, go to a different bank to open an account.

When you visit a bank, ask about accounts that offer lower service fees for students. Be sure to ask for details concerning all the possible service fees that might apply for monthly service, withdrawing and depositing money, using ATMs at other institutions, writing cheques, banking online, using debit cards, etc. These service fees can add up, so make sure you understand how you will be charged.

There are two main types of bank accounts:

  • Checking accounts. Some checking accounts charge you for each cheque you write. Some have monthly service charges. Most checking accounts do not pay high interest.
  • Savings accounts. All savings accounts pay interest, but the amount of interest is not always the same. You cannot write cheques on some savings accounts.

You will probably need a checking account, as cheques are widely used for paying rent and bills. You will have to pay a fee to order cheques, but your bank may be able to give you a few free temporary cheques to use right away. Savings accounts offer a minimal amount of interest. Ask about other options for saving money. Ask about telephone and online banking service options. With telephone or online banking, you may be able to transfer money and pay bills from home.

When you get a Canadian bank account, your bank or credit union will issue you an ATM card (also known as a 'debit card'), which you can use in bank machines (ATM) around the city. In most cases, you can also use your debit card as a debit or Interac card to pay for items in stores directly. Charges to debit cards are deducted from your account immediately.

The big five banks in Canada are:

Bank Machines (ATM)

Bank machines, also called automated teller machines (ATMs) can be found throughout the community. There are also bank machines in some stores and in other convenient places. You can take money out of your accounts or put money into them. You can also pay bills and transfer money to other accounts. You can use bank machines any time, day or night.

To use bank machines, you need a card from your bank or credit union. You will get a secret number (personal identification number or PIN) so that only you can use your card. Be careful, do not give this number to anyone else or allow any person to see you use it. Some banks and credit unions charge a service fee each time you use one of these machines.

Writing cheques

When you write cheques, you may be asked to provide a driver's license number or some other form of identification. When cheques are issued to you by your Bank, seek their advice as to how to fill it out correctly.

Transfering Money To and From Canada

Seek the advice of your bank in Canada as to what will be the best way for you to move money from your foreign account to your local Canadian account. There is generally a fee for sending and receiving money wires, so be sure to ask beforehand. The most common options available to you are:

  1. Obtain a bank draft form your home financial institution and bring it with you for deposit to you new Canadian bank account.
  2. Wiring fund from your foreign bank to a Canadian bank.

We strongly advice against carry large amounts of cash. Debit cards and credit cards are widely accepted.


Most stores open around 9 or 10 a.m. and close by 6 p.m. Some stores may be open late in the evening. Many stores are closed on Sundays, but most grocery stores and department stores are open. There is a goods and sales tax in Canada and an additional goods and sales tax in British Columbia. Together, these are called the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). It is important to remember that 13% will be added to the list price of items. However, HST is not added to all items such as groceries.

If you buy something and later decide you do not want it, you may be able to return or exchange the item. You need the receipt to do this, and the item must not have been used. Most times the store will only take back the item with the original packaging and tags still on. Stores have different return policies and may or may not take the item back and if so, may return the purchase price refunded back via the method paid (cash, credit, debit), offer an exchange in product or a credit to be used later.

While there are exceptions, bartering is not common in Canada’s retail marketplace. The prices marked on items are fixed. Rental rates, utility costs and services fees are also not negotiable. The only items that traditionally barter for in Canada are: used cars, real estate and second hand goods. Aggressive bartering or attempting to barter for fixed price items, can be seen as impolite.

There are 100 cents in one dollar. Common bills (paper money) are $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Coins used in Canada are:

  • nickel = 5 cents ($0.05)
  • dime = 10 cents ($0.10)
  • quarter = 25 cents ($0.25)
  • loonie = 1 dollar ($1.00)
  • toonie = 2 dollars ($2.00)

Many people do not like to carry large bills- those $50 and higher and some stores and restaurants will not accept them.

Canada no longer uses the ‘penny’ 1 cent coin for payment and therefore is rounded up or down when paying with cash. If paying by debit or credit card the exact amount will be charged.


Tipping is a practice used in Canada and much appreciated by those delivering a service to you. A tip or gratuity is usually 10-15% of the bill and given to show you appreciate their service (excellent and friendly). If you see a ‘service charge’ on your bill you do not need to add a tip as it has already been included.

Income Tax

Filing a tax return is done annually by residents of Canada whereby they report their income and taxes remitted by their employer. To learn more about paying income tax visit the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA).

Canada Revenue Agency — International Students Studying in Canada

Find out more about money matters in our Admissions section, get advice on tuition and costs, financial awards, visas and study permits and more!
Questions? Contact Us today or email for more assistance.