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
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.
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:
- Obtain a bank draft form your home financial institution and bring it with you for deposit to you new Canadian bank account.
- 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
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
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
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!