banks in Canada

Best Banks in Canada Suitable For Expats

Moving to a whole new country can be exhausting. Before you move, you should have all your ducks in a row for a smooth transition. Besides packing your belongings and finding a new home in your designated country, getting your finances in check is important too. If you’re moving to Canada, you should know the best banks in Canada for financial safety and easy access to your funds!

Although, different banks may offer different services. It’s important to choose a bank account that offers accounts for expats while also meeting your needs. Keep reading to find out more about banks in Canada and what you need to set up an account.

Why open a bank account in Canada

Opening a bank account in Canada can also prove to be beneficial financially. While the rest of the world suffered in 2008 due to the Global Financial Crisis, banks in Canada were relatively unscathed through strong regulation. With the safety and stability of Canada’s banking system, it would be beneficial to anyone opening a bank account in Canada.

If you’re moving to Canada, here are a few other benefits from opening an account:

  • Easy access to your funds through the multiple ATMs available
  • If you’re a business, you can access both Canadian dollars (CAD) and American dollars (USD)
  • Bank stability to ensure the safety of your funds
  • Safe way of investing and long-term holding, with high-paying dividends

What you need to know before opening a banking account

If you’re confused about what you need or how to open a bank account, we’ve got you covered. Different banks can demand different proof of documentation from you. Banks can have specific and numerous requirements, especially when an expat is looking to open an account. Despite being a foreigner, multiple banks will still welcome you to open an account. So, it’s good to have documents prepared beforehand so that you can open your account with ease.

If you’re unsure where to start, here are some general things you need to open a bank account in Canada:

  • Proof of government-issued identification, such as a a valid passport
  • Information like your address or verification of your residence (whether in your home country or Canada)
  • A copy of your valid driverr’s license
  • Bank statements to show your financial situation

If you’re opening a business bank account, there are different documentation required, depending on the type of business.

Best banks for foreigners in Canada

1. Capital One

Capital One bank in Canada
Photo credit: Capital One

Capital One has been tailoring to the needs of those living in Canada for the last 20 years. If you’re looking to make purchases from abroad, Capital One is a good choice that doesn’t charge for international purchases. No fees are required to open and keep your bank account. You also have access to over 70,000 ATMs for free.

This bank company even has an online application, the Capital One Mobile app. This way, you don’t have to rush to the bank in the afternoon for an emergency. Instead, use the app online and receive help at any time of the day. You can also access your debit card easily and lock or unlock it whenever you wish. Deposit checks online by taking a picture with your camera, instead of wasting time by heading down to the bank physically. The app also allows you to transfer money to friends and family through Zelle for US residents.

Capital One

2. BMO

BMO is the 8th largest bank in North America with more than 12 million customers and counting. Popular for personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment services, BMO caters to individuals, families and businesses in both Canada and the United States.

It offers multiple services, such as opening a bank account, mortgages, starting a credit card, investing or looking for financial advice. If you’re new to Canada, BMO offers a newcomers programme, for those who moved to Canada within 5 years. The programme offers:

  • Unlimited monthly transactions with no monthly fees for one year with the performance plan
  • A personalized financial advice session at a branch near you
  • A safety deposit for free for a whole year

BMO also offers different bank account types for newcomers, such as Premium, Performance and Plus. These account types can usually come with a family bundle bonus if needed, with a monthly fee of $10 and above. You’ll have unlimited transactions, with no monthly fee for the Premium version.

It also offers various financial products, such as a Mastercard credit card which get you a cash-back rate of up to 5 percent within the first three months and with no annual fee required. BMO also has an online banking service which makes dealing with your finances much easier than before.


3. National Bank of Canada

The National Bank of Canada is based in Montreal and is also the sixth biggest commercial bank in Canada. It has numerous branches in almost every Canadian province and has more than 2.4 million clients. It offers services like mortgaging, applying for credit cards, making a bank account and investing.

For newcomers to Canada within 5 years of moving, the National Bank offers up to 3 years with no monthly fees. You can also close your account at any time with no penalties. When you open your new account, you also get a new MasterCard with it and access to over 400 branches. You also get access to various financing products like loans and telephone support. They also provide the rental for a small safety deposit box. More details about the offer include:

Year 1

Banking package with no flat monthly fees
Save $15.95/month

  • Chequing account
  • Unlimited online transactions
  • Access to financing (credit cards, mortgage or car loan, etc.)

Years 2 and 3

Banking package with no flat monthly fee
Save $15.95/month by signing up for the following products and services:

  • Personal credit card
  • Online bank statements
  • Electronic pay deposit or online payment of 2 bills per month

National Bank Of Canada

4. Royal Bank of Canada

Royal Bank of Canada
Photo credit: Royal Bank of Canada

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is a multinational financial services company and also the biggest bank in Canada. It serves over 16 million clients worldwide with 86 thousand employees. You can be certain that an RBC branch will be available in any province that you’re moving to. So you can rest at ease knowing that you can find an RBC ATM anywhere in Canada.

If you’ve just moved to Canada, enjoy the Newcomer Advantage. Some details in the Newcomer Advantage include:

  • Up to a $15,000 credit limit on an eligible RBC credit card
  • No monthly fee banking for a year with an eligible account
  • 2 free international money transfers monthly for a year
  • Receive a free small safe deposit box to keep documents for 24 months
  • Get 1 free online doctor visit through Maple

Find out more about the Newcomer Advantage here or call to book an appointment.

If you’re an international student moving to Canada, RBC also offers an Advantage Banking Account for students. Find out more here.

Royal Bank of Canada

5. Scotiabank

Formally known as Bank of Nova Scotia, Scotiabank is a multinational banking and financial services company stationed in Toronto, Ontario. It is the third-largest bank in Canada with millions of customers. Scotiabank has a StartRight programme that is perfect for newcomers into Canada. It can help you start banking in Canada with access to credit and savings with no-fee international money transfers too! You can also receive help from Scotiabank’s financial advisors. Sounds like the perfect deal for newcomers entering Canada.

More details on the StartRight programme include:

  • Unlimited no-fee international money transfers
  • Receive a small safety deposit box to keep your documents in for a year
  • Get a credit card specififcally designed for newcomers
  • Specialised mortgage for newcomers to Canada
  • Receive a new vehicle loan with only 10 percent down payment

Find out more about the StartRight programme here.


Feeling ready to make the big move?

Head over here to begin your journey
Or start ticking off your relocation checklist here

Still unsure?

Learn more about Canada here
Explore more destinations here 

Canadian flag and Toronto city skylineFind a Job in Canada keyboard
× Chat with us!