Written by Christopher Nye,
27th September 2017

Banking has become an essential component of modern life. Setting up a current account is one of the highest priorities newcomers to Canada need to take care of.

In Canada it is next to impossible to gain employment, arrange accommodation or to generally function without a bank account. New arrivals should be careful not to rush in to any financial commitments, however, without first doing a little research.

Choosing the right bank is an important first step, but you will also need to evaluate what specific services you require, while considering how much you are willing to pay in fees. Fortunately the Canadian retail banking market is very stable with a handful of nationwide organisations that are very well equipped and experienced in setting up expats with new Canadian accounts.

The big five banks provide online banking and intuitive smart phone apps.


There are several nationwide banks to choose from, including the Royal Bank of Canada.


The Big Banks

Each Canadian province will have their share of small financial services providers. However, the retail banking sector in Canada is dominated by the “big five” financial institutions. Consisting of

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Toronto Dominion (TD), Bank of Montreal (BMO), the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) and Scotia Bank each of the big five provide all the services you need. Plus, as you would expect in this day and age, all of the big five banks provide online banking and intuitive smart phone apps. Using these apps it is very easy to setup recurring transactions for your utility bills so you can take care of all your day-to-day transactions from the comfort of your home.

If you’re making the move, you should speak to a currency and payments specialist about how to get money sent to you in Canada. We recommend Smart, ranked highest on Trustpilot for money transfer and currency exchange.

What to Expect

There is one unfortunate difference between accounts in the UK and Canada: the unavoidable fees and service charges. Even the most basic current account will come with a monthly fee of around $10 CAD (£6). In addition you may also be charged a withdrawal fee if you withdraw cash from another bank’s ATM. Alternatively there are some current account options with a slightly higher monthly fee that offer free ATM withdrawals.

Canadian banks are very committed to providing excellent customer service.

Once you have an account – and preferably some savings or a regular income – you will find that additional financial services like credit cards, loans and lines of credit are fairly easy to obtain. What’s more the Canadian banks are very committed to providing excellent customer service and have branches that open at the most convenient times, including all day Saturdays, and in some cases even Sundays.

Save money when buying overseas

Whether you are buying a property abroad, making regular payments, sending money overseas or back in to the UK, you want the most cost-effective, safe and easy way to transfer your money.

That's where Smart Currency Exchange can help. As one of the UK's fastest-growing currency exchange specialists, we save our clients thousands of pounds every day by minimising the risk associated with transferring money overseas.

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