Financial first steps
You’ve arrived in Canada and your first days are filled with so many first steps. Settling into your temporary accommodation, exploring your new city, applying for your health care and social insurance cards, and much more. From where to buy groceries to how to learn about the local transit system, your first few days are a whirlwind. Opening a Canadian bank account may not be at the very top of your list, but it becomes a quick priority after your first few days of settling in.
After all, you need a place to keep your money safe and get a Canadian debit card to easily pay for your groceries, transit fare, and more. You may also want to keep a few important documents or belongings in a safe deposit box. Or you may want to figure out how to start sending money back home to your family.
This all means a trip to a local financial institution or bank to open a bank account. Look around your neighbourhood, or do your research online, and you’ll see there are several Canadian financial institutions to choose from. CIBC is a bank with branches in Canadian cities from coast to coast that is ready to help newcomers start their Canadian banking journey, beginning with opening an account.
We understand how overwhelming and exciting those initial days arriving in Canada can be. There are many decisions to make and steps to take to get organized. Opening a bank account shouldn’t be a big obstacle. Our job is to make this an easy process and to help you transition to building your new life here in Canada,” says Carissa Lucreziano, Vice President, Financial and Investment Advice at CIBC. “Opening a bank account is an essential first step because it creates the foundation for you to begin building your wealth in Canada. Our CIBC Welcome to Canada Banking Package was built with people like you in mind, and our team of experts are ready to help guide you every step of the way.”
Ready to start? Canadian Immigrant’s Newcomer Financial Guide, with proud partner CIBC, offers the essentials a newcomer should know about banking in Canada.
Opening an account
After making an appointment at your local bank branch to open an account, you’ll be presented with various account options — chequing or savings, with different features, monthly fees, transaction fees and interest rates. Look at all the options with your bank’s account manager and choose the one that makes the most sense for your needs. Do you want unlimited transactions? Lower fees? What’s important to you? CIBC, for example, offers newcomers to Canada free everyday banking for one year through its Welcome to Canada Banking Package.
Chequing or savings account?
The main choice is between chequing and savings accounts. Looking for an account for daily use? Opening a chequing account is probably the right choice for your day-to-day transactions and to deposit your work paycheques. It’s also a good idea to still have a few physical cheques these days for transactions like rental deposits. In contrast, a savings account is the better option for setting money aside for larger purchases; they typically have higher transaction fees but also higher interest earnings than chequing accounts. So, if the question is should you open a chequing or savings account? The answer is probably both!
If you’re married, you may also want to get a joint bank account with your spouse, if you share income and expenses. This is a personal choice for couples, but it’s advisable to have an independent account as well, and just use your joint account for paying shared expenses like bills and rent.
After setting up your accounts, you will now get a debit card, which is one of the most popular methods of payment in Canada. You will be asked to set up a four-digit PIN(personal identification number) for your card, which you’ll have to remember when using your debit card at an ATM (automatic teller machine), if you’re paying at a store with their debit machine, or if you’re setting up your debit card as a method of payment on an online store or app..
Remember your PIN and don’t share it with others.
Your card may also be set up for “tap,” which allows you to pay for purchases, usually less than $100, by “tapping” your card against the store debit machines, no pin required.
Your new bank can also help you set up mobile or online banking for easy daily banking. Whether you want to pay your monthly bills like your cable bill, or send e-transfers to your landlord, it can all be done from the ease of your cell phone, tablet or laptop. You’ll be able to see exactly how much money is in your account, where you’ve spent it, and where it needs to go. Have a regular monthly bill each month? You can also set up automatic payments that are paid out of your account balance without any involvement from you.
More banking options
And, once you have found a job and have a regular income, you can easily wire money back to your family back home if needed. For example, with CIBC, their Global Money Transfer feature is as straightforward as sending an e-transfer locally. “Sending money to your loved ones should be a quick and easy process, and that’s what our Global Money Transfer feature offers. There’s no CIBC transfer fee to send money to over 100 countries, and your money is protected so you can send it securely.”
Keeping our money secure is important to us all, so keep your online banking password (it will be different than your debit pin) private. Also, only access your account on a personal device using a secure Internet connection — avoid public WIFI!
Finally, to keep small valuables and important documents safe, you may want to rent a safety deposit box. Most banks offer this peace of mind for a modest monthly fee.
Safety should always be top of mind when banking.
Check back soon for the next installment of our Newcomer Financial Guide, as we’ll be talking about credit and how to start building a good credit history in your new country.