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Banking in Canada is one of the strongest and safest banking systems in the world. According to the Ministry of Finance, Canada's banks, also known as chartered banks, possess over 8,000 branches and almost 18,000 automated banking machines (ABMs) across the country. Banks provide the same quality of services such as online banking and automatic banking machines making life easier for customers. You should compare services for the best deal or ask people to suggest a bank to you.

Perhaps, you will not survive in Canada without a bank account. Most importantly, you will probably need to use a bank account to receive your salary. Besides you will also presumably need it in order to rent or buy accommodation, pay for gas and electricity, getting a phone line, and many other necessities.

Generally, banks open their doors Monday to Friday from 9:30 until 16:30. Some banks and specific departments may be open till later and even on Saturdays. Consult your institution to see the availability of your branch staff to serve you.

Though a current account is useful for your daily transactions, a savings account provides you with higher interests on your money:

Savings accounts

Savings accounts are a low risk investment, safe and dependable it is targeted to those wanting to have a part of their money in a secured and liquid way. If you are looking for high returns from a savings account, it will for sure not be in Canada. Actually the interest rates for deposits in the banks are in the lowest level they have remained in decades and Canada's legendary safe financial sector means that obtaining 2% from a savings account may be worth of a medal.

Chequing accounts

You should wait for at least a chequebook and a debit card from your checking account. For the people arriving from Britain, Spain and several countries in South America you will find that a having a checking account actually means paying for it (whether or not you setup the checking account as the recipient of your payroll). Some checking accounts generated for students offer free online banking and many other services that otherwise you would have to pay for.

The frequency of transactions that you execute per month determines the fees to serve your account. Some accounts post a maximum of 10 transactions per month while others do not have any limit. Some additional services for checking accounts include overdraft protection, faster cheque clearing times, etc.

Fees for opening a basic checking account are commonly among CAD$2 and CAD$10 per month depending on the preferences that you want in your service.

Advices on Seeking Credit

Establishing credit in Canada can be hard. Banks will not provide you with credit without previous credit history, so constituting any kind of "history" can become delicate for some. As opposed to USA where you can conveniently make credit history with the use of a "secured credit card", such financial instruments are not easily obtained in Canada.

As an alternative you may prefer to have an account (either checking or savings) for about 6-12 months and so inquire for a small line of credit to buy some durable asset, let's say a computer or large home appliance. Maybe, your bank will not agree completely with this, however sellers such as Sears, IKEA, Best Buy, etc. want your business and would take the risk (at a price). The merchant store will probably ask for a payment with an above average rate (currently above 20% APR), so do everything to pay the balance quickly.

If you carry a good balance in that merchant credit card for 6 months, this will serve you as an authentic credit reference.

Other alternatives admit finding a co-signer for a small banking related loan. If the cosigner possesses enough "credit history", you would probably be accepted and that may serve to build a reference.

Finally, to possess a reference with the utilities provider (electricity, phone) or even your landlord may be useful in some instances as references.

A final advice on seeking credit: you must pay back your current payments or balances on time. Failing to pay will cause a negative effect that may even make you unacceptable to rent an apartment. Preserving your credit worth is quite important, particularly if you want to stay and exploit its benefits for the long haul to buy a house, apartment, car, etc.

More Info: Financial institutions and banks


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