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Best bank in Canada for students

Bank accounts for students typically offer extra perks, but to choose the right student bank account you'll need to compare features and examine costs.

Every dollar matters when you’re a student and learning how to manage those dollars is just as critical. Student bank accounts help young adults learn basic money management skills – skills that lay the foundation for future financial skills.

Almost all financial institutions offer bank accounts specifically for students. The goal is to get the customer young to convert you into a life-long client. For students, this translates into no- or low-fee bank accounts with generous perks. But to find the best bank account in Canada to meet your needs as a student, you’ll need to shop around.

What is the best bank in Canada for students?

On average, it will cost you almost $200 per year for a bank account in Canada. As a student, that’s a lot of money. It makes sense then that the best bank in Canada for students is one that offers no or low fees on banking services.

Thankfully, finding a bank account doesn’t need to be a difficult process. To find the best bank account in Canada for students, you’ll need to compare features, perks and fees. To help, we examined more than two dozen student bank accounts from a variety of providers, including big banks, credit unions, digital banks and money apps.

To save time, we list these best bank accounts based on the most common or sought-after features, such as the best chequing account for students, the best online account or the best international account for students with family overseas.

For more details, scroll down to discover the benefits of each student account as well as the pros and cons of student bank accounts versus regular chequing and savings accounts.

Best banks in Canada for students, by feature

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Best bank accounts and money apps in Canada for students – January 2023 comparison

Looking for the best bank in Canada for students? We analysed more than two dozen student bank accounts to find the best accounts, by feature. In general, each account that makes it on this list will provide a preferred perk, such as no monthly fees, unlimited free transactions and free electronic transfers (e-transfers). Some accounts also offer rewards for using your student debit card or other valuable perks that are perfect for students.

Overall best bank in Canada for students

Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan

Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan

0%
Interest Rate
$0
Account Fee
Unlimited, including Interac e-transfers
Transaction Fee
Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan is more than a bank account – it's a plan to help students access day-to-day money services, earn more on their savings and wade into the world of investing. Combine this with its generous bonus offer and reward perks and Scotiabank becomes the best overall bank in Canada for students.
  • Unlimited, free transactions
  • Access to more than 3,400 Scotiabank ATMs (at no charge)
  • Fee-free cash withdrawals at ATMs worldwide using Global ATM Alliance machines
  • Reduced transaction fees for online trading using an iTrade direct brokerage account + a 'Trade 1 Get 1 Free' promo
  • SCENE points can be redeemed at various restaurants and movie theatres
  • Only available to full-time post-secondary students
  • Need to reconfirm your status as a full-time post-secondary student every year (before November 30)
  • Fees charged for non-standard bank transactions such as bank drafts, overdraft protection and wire transfers
Min. Age N/A
Account Fee $0
Transaction Fee Unlimited, including Interac e-transfers
Interac e-Transfer Fee N/A

Best student chequing account

BMO Performance Chequing Account

unlimited
Free Transactions
$0
e-Transfer Fee
$16.95
Monthly Account Fee
BMO is one of the big banks in Canada and has a long history of mobile and online banking initiatives. For students, this means a stable financial institution committed to responsive banking services. Students get access to mobile banking and pay no monthly fees while in school and for one year after graduating.
  • No monthly fees while in school
  • No monthly fees for one year after graduation
  • Mobile banking
  • Up to $40 rebate on the annual fee for eligible BMO credit cards
  • One free non-BMO ATM withdrawal per month
  • Easy First Fee Reversal &ndash
  • one fee reversal and can include a non-sufficient funds (NSF) or overdraft fee
  • Access to student lines of credit
  • Non-BMO ATM withdrawals cost $2 (after freebie)
  • US and Global ATM withdrawal costs $5
  • Overdraft protection costs an extra $5 per month
Min. Age 18
Min. Age Teen Account 12
Account Fee $16.95
Youth Account Fee $0
# of Accounts Included 20
Overdraft Fee $5
ATM Out-of-Network Fee $2
U.S. ATM Fee $5
International ATM Fee $5

BMO Performance Chequing account review

Best savings account for students

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

2.5%
Interest Rate
$0
Account Fee
$0
Transaction Fee
The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account gives students a great savings account with a few chequing account features, making it an exceptional hybrid or all-in-one bank account option for students.
  • Unlimited, free transactions
  • Free electronic funds transfers (EFTs) &ndash
  • transfers between EQ bank accounts and linked bank-to-bank accounts
  • Set up recurring transfers
  • No fee for NSF chargeback
  • No fee for stop payment requests
  • No debit card
  • No cheques
  • International money transfers powered by Wise at a cost starting at 1%
  • Maximum number of linked accounts: 10
  • Maximum number of EQ bank accounts: 5
Min. Age 18
Account Fee $0
Transaction Fee $0
Interac e-Transfer Fee $0
NSF Fee $0
EQ Bank Savings Plus Account review

Best online (digital) bank account for students

Simplii High Interest Savings Account

5% until January 31,
0.4% thereafter

Interest Rate
$0
Account Fee
$0
Transaction Fee
While Simplii offers a student plan, the best option for serious savers is the Simplii High Interest Savings Account. No minimum balance is required and there are no monthly or transaction fees, plus students can easily set up automatic deposits.
  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum balance
  • Digital bank with a completely online application process
  • Free transactions through CIBC ATMs
  • Earn between 0.4% and 2% savings rate on deposits (more during promotions)
  • Bonus Offer: Earn 5.00% interest on your savings. Open an account and get a special interest rate for deposits up to $500,000. Conditions apply. Valid until January 31, 2023.
  • Must be the age of majority to open an account
Min. Age 18
Account Fee $0
Transaction Fee $0
Interac e-Transfer Fee $0
NSF Fee $45
EQ Bank Savings Plus Account review

Best mobile banking student account

KOHO Save

2%
Interest Rate
$0
Account Fee
$0
Transaction Fee
For those that prefer online and digital transactions, the KOHO account may be perfect. Students can link their free, spending and cashback rewards account with a reloadable prepaid card and then link this card to any other Canadian chequing account. Using the KOHO card gives you cashback plus access to their budgeting app – all for free. The best part is the 0.5% savings rate on deposits. It's higher than most bank savings accounts and even some high-interest savings accounts.
  • Free Transactions: Unlimited, debit transactions and electronic transfers
  • Access to a budgeting app
  • Savings interest on your deposits if you add an eligible direct deposit
  • Earn 1% cashback on groceries, bills and services
  • Earn 0.5% savings rate on account balance
  • No foreign service (FX) fees and one free international ATM withdrawal per month, if you pay for the Premium plan
  • Couples or families members can open a free joint account
  • Bonus Offer: $20 bonus + earn up to 5% cashback when using KOHO Prepaid Mastercard
  • No debit card
  • Credit-building service is optional and costs an extra $10 per month
  • Works best if you already have a day-to-day or student chequing account that you can link to
  • To earn more cashback or higher savings rates, you need to pay for the Essential or Premium subscription plan at $4 or $9 per month respectively
Min. Age 18
Account Fee $0
Transaction Fee $0
Interac e-Transfer Fee $0
NSF Fee $0
Koho Save review

Best account for students building credit

Neo Money Account

2.25%
Interest Rate
$0
Account Fee
$0
Transaction Fee
For students looking to build their credit history, the Neo Money Account is a seamless option. As a fintech company, Neo Financial provides a free savings account (where students can earn a high-interest rate on deposits) and unlimited, free online transactions. Students also get access to the Neo Secured Credit Card with guaranteed approval or may apply for a Neo Card, a no-fee credit card that offers up to 5% cashback on purchases at partner retailers.
  • Guaranteed approval on Neo Secured credit card regardless of credit score
  • No-fee Neo Card offers 5% cashback on purchases as partner retailers
  • All online transactions such e-transfers and bill payments are free
  • Neo Financial is partnered with ATB Financial and Concentra Bank
  • Free Transactions: Unlimited, free online transactions
  • Bonus Offer: Guaranteed approval on Neo Secured credit card regardless of credit score
  • Does not offer a debit card (all cashless transactions must be done through Neo credit card)
  • Must be age of majority and a Canadian resident to open an account
Min. Age 18
Account Fee $0
Transaction Fee $0
Interac e-Transfer Fee $0
NSF Fee $0
Neo Money Account review

Best bank account for international students in Canada

Simplii Financial Student Account

Simplii Financial Student Account

0%
Interest Rate
$0
Account Fee
Free and unlimited
Transaction Fee
As an international student, you'll need to apply and set up a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) to get your Student Direct Stream (SDS) study permit. Simplii Financial makes this a streamlined process, with the GIC application and bank account opening seamlessly integrated.
  • Free Transactions: Unlimited
  • Bonus Offer or Perks: Get $50 if you refer a friend (when you arrive in Canada)
  • Easy, online application process that only takes a few minutes to complete
  • Set up an account and get access to money straight away, with the remaining invested in a one-year GIC
  • Maximum $20,000 in the GIC program
  • Must provide proof of residency and school enrollment
Min. Age N/A
Account Fee $0
Transaction Fee Free and unlimited
Interac e-Transfer Fee N/A

Best bank account for student investors: Scotiabank Student Advantage Plan

Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan

Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan

0%
Interest Rate
$0
Account Fee
Unlimited, including Interac e-transfers
Transaction Fee
Learning to spend wisely and save habitually are critical skills, but for students who want to take the step towards investing, this account is ideal.
  • Free Transactions: Unlimited (including debit, Interac e-transfers, bill payments)
  • Bonus Offer: $75 cash and up to 7,500 SCENE points + $4.99 per trade and trade 1 get 1 free as Scotia iTrade
  • Earned SCENE points can be redeemed at various restaurants and movie theatre
  • Access to more than 3,400 Scotiabank ATMs (at no charge)
  • Fee-free cash withdrawals at ATMs worldwide using Global ATM Alliance machines
  • Mobile banking
  • Get 20 free trades (stock or ETF) on the mobile app in your first year and 10 free trades every year after
  • Works with Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay
  • Only available to full-time post-secondary students
  • Need to reconfirm your status as a full-time post-secondary student every year (before November 30)
  • Need to pay for overdraft protection (either $5 per month or per use)
Min. Age N/A
Account Fee $0
Transaction Fee Unlimited, including Interac e-transfers
Interac e-Transfer Fee N/A

Best bank account for roommates: EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

2.5%
Interest Rate
$0
Account Fee
$0
Transaction Fee
Up to four joint account holders can share and use the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account. This means up to four student roommates can deposit money for rent and bill payments and set up recurring transfers (to and from other banks) as well as recurring payments, to make sure all bills are paid on time.
  • Bonus Offer: 2.50% savings rate
  • Unlimited, free transactions
  • Free EFTs &ndash
  • transfers between EQ bank accounts and linked bank-to-bank accounts
  • Set up recurring transfers
  • No fee for NSF chargeback
  • No fee for stop payment requests
  • No debit card
    No cheques
  • International money transfers powered by Wise at a cost starting at 1%
  • Maximum number of linked accounts: 10
  • Maximum number of EQ bank accounts: 5
Min. Age 18
Account Fee $0
Transaction Fee $0
Interac e-Transfer Fee $0
NSF Fee $0
EQ Bank Savings Plus Account review

Best student bank account for perks and rewards

CIBC Smart for Students

CIBC Smart for Students

N/A
Free Transactions
unlimited
e-Transfer Fee
$0
Monthly Account Fee
If you're motivated to track your finances and modify your spending habits through constant monitoring, then the CIBC Smart for Students may be a great option. Between the SPC+ membership and the various digital and online access points, this account makes it interesting and fun to pay attention to your what you earn and where you spend.
  • Bonus Offer: Up to $150 cash bonus
  • unlimited, free transactions including e-transfers
  • Access to more than 3,800 CIBC ATMs (at no charge)
  • Continue to use the account up to six months after your studies end
  • Get a free SPC+ membership
  • Save up to 30% on over 450 top brands from fashion to tech
  • One free non-CIBC Candian ATM withdrawal per month
  • Keep the perks and no-fee student status up to six months after you graduate
  • Link your CIBC student debit card with Journie Rewards and save up to $0.10 per litre on gas at participating Pioneer, Fas Gas, Ultramar and Chevron locations
  • Mobile banking
  • Service fees charged for non-CIBC ATM withdrawals, plus wire transfers and insufficient fund charges
  • Must be a Canadian resident or an international student with proof of enrollment status
Min. Age N/A
Account Fee $0
Overdraft Fee
ATM Out-of-Network Fee $2
U.S. ATM Fee $3
International ATM Fee $5

Open a CIBC Smart for Students account

Best long-term student bank account

HSBC Student Chequing Account

HSBC Student Chequing Account

N/A
Free Transactions
N/A
e-Transfer Fee
$0
Monthly Account Fee
The HSBC Student Chequing Account offers students all the perks and none of the fees for as long as seven years from when the account was first opened, as long as there is proof of post-secondary enrollment.
  • Free Transactions: Unlimited chequing account transactions including e-transfers
  • Bonus Offer:Earn up to $150 when you open an HSBC Student chequing account. Valid until March 31, 2023.
  • No monthly fees
  • Open an account completely online (and get a $100 cash bonus)
  • Available to Canadian residents and international students
  • Mobile banking
  • Unlimited withdrawals and debits
  • Build your credit history with an HSBC credit card (with a minimum $1,000 credit limit)
  • Overdraft protection is available but at a cost
  • International students must hold a valid Canadian study permit (for a term of 12 months or longer)
  • All account applicants must be at least 17 years old
  • Must be a full-time post-secondary student
Min. Age 18
Min. Age Teen Account 17
Account Fee $0
Overdraft Fee
ATM Out-of-Network Fee $1.50
U.S. ATM Fee $5

HSBC Student Chequing Account review

Best bank account for students learning to budget

TD Student Chequing Account

TD Student Chequing Account

Free and unlimited
Free Transactions
N/A
e-Transfer Fee
$0
Monthly Account Fee
The TD Student Chequing Account is a great day-to-day bank account for young adults or students still learning money management skills. With no monthly fee, interest earned on all deposits and free overdraft protection, students can earn, spend and learn money skills without having to pay for these life lessons. Plus, the Simply Save Program helps develop the habit of saving even as they spend.
  • Bonus Offer: Get a $100 Amazon.ca Gift Card when you open a new TD Student Chequing Account. Conditions apply. Valid until May 31, 2023.
  • No monthly fee for monthly plan overdraft protection services
  • Unlimited, free transactions
  • Earn 50% more Stars at participating Starbucks stores (when you link your TD Access Card with Visa Debit with your Starbucks Rewards Account)
  • Free paper statements + improve spending habits using the TD app's TD MySpend
  • Mobile banking
  • Overdraft protection
  • Simply Save Program lets you save set up automatic saving deposits (between $0.50 and $5) every time you use your TD debit card
  • Non-TD ATM fee is $2 per transaction
  • Pay $3 per transaction for ATM use in America or Mexico
  • Pay $5 per transaction for ATM use anywhere else in the world
Min. Age 18
Account Fee $0
Overdraft Fee
ATM Out-of-Network Fee $2
U.S. ATM Fee $3
International ATM Fee $5

Best bank account for ATM access

Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account

Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account

unlimited
Free Transactions
$0
e-Transfer Fee
$0
Monthly Account Fee
While the Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account isn't marketed as a student bank account, it is a great option for students who put ATM access and free banking at the top of their wish list.
  • Bonus Offer: Sign up using promo code EARNMORE and earn up to $400 cash back and a 4.50% savings rate. Valid until March 30, 2023
  • In Canada, enjoy free access to more than 3,600 Scotiabank ATMs or visit any Tangerine Cafe in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal
  • Enjoy fee-free access to 44,000 ATMs worldwide through Scotiabank's Global ATM Alliance network
  • Unlimited, free transactions
  • Earn 0.1% on all deposits
  • Use your online account to track and categorize your spending
  • Mobile banking compatible with Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay
  • Use your Tangerine Visa Debit Card to make purchases worldwide
  • Order bank drafts online and have it delivered to your door
  • Free cheque book (with 50 cheques)
  • Free replacement card
  • Online-only bank, so no in-person branch support
  • Pay $50 for additional cheque books
  • Pay $12.50 for any stop payment orders (first one is free)
  • Canadian bank drafts cost $10
  • Non-sufficient funds cost $45
  • Non-Tangerine or Scotiabank ATM fee of $1.50
  • Non-Global ATM Allliance ATM fee of $3
  • Foreign currency conversion fee of 2.5% is added to the exchange rate for all non-Canadian dollar debit purchases
Min. Age 16
Account Fee $0
Overdraft Fee $10
ATM Out-of-Network Fee $1.50
International ATM Fee $3
Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account review

Best bank account with a student credit card

RBC Advantage Banking for students

RBC Advantage Banking for students

N/A
Free Transactions
unlimited
e-Transfer Fee
$0
Monthly Account Fee
This student-specific bank account gives account-holders unlimited debit transactions as well as free e-transfers and access to the largest ATM network in Canada. The biggest advantage is the annual rebate on credit card fees. That means students can choose from five different RBC credit cards, many of which are ranked highly in best credit card lists. It's a great perk for students who want to hone their cashless money management skills while building their credit history.
  • Bonus Offer: Up to $48 rebate on RBC credit card annual fee + up to $75 cash bonus with another $75 donated to an eligible charity of your choice (before January 31, 2023)
  • No monthly fees
  • Unlimited debit and e-transfers
  • Save $0.03 per litre on fuel at Petro-Canada stations + 20% more Petro-Points when paying with your RBC debit card
  • Account is open to any student 13 years of age or older who is a Canadian resident
  • No fees charged when using non-RBC ATMs in Canada
  • Mobile app
  • Earn Avion points on debit purchases
  • Students who are 25 years of age or older must provide proof of enrollment
  • Limit of 999 free ATM transactions per month
Min. Age 13
Account Fee $0
Overdraft Fee
ATM Out-of-Network Fee $0

What is a student account?

In general, there are few differences between a student bank account and a regular bank account. Most student bank accounts offer the same services and transactions as regular bank accounts.

The big difference is the fees. Most student bank accounts come with no or low monthly fees, along with generous transaction limits.

Another advantage of a student account is that many come with perks and benefits, such as free overdraft protection, the ability to earn rewards, access to linked debit cards as well as prepaid or student credit cards.

However, to open a student account you will have to meet a few requirements. Most student accounts require proof that you’re attending post-secondary schooling, although some accounts only require proof of age (with a standard minimum age of 18 and a common maximum age of 24).

What is the difference between a student saving account and a regular savings account?

Student savings accounts generally waive any ongoing monthly fees and can be linked to your student chequing account. This varies from bank to bank, so you’ll want to check the fine print before signing up.

Types of student bank accounts

Most Canadian financial institutions and all of the big banks offer bank accounts and packages tailored for students. Despite all the choices, the offerings typically fall into two general categories:

Student chequing accounts

Student day-to-day bank accounts allow the account holder to deposit and withdraw money, pay bills and, for students, offer a few perks such as cashback or reward points. They offer easier access to other financial products such as credit card rebates, a student line of credit or quick links to high-interest savings accounts.

Student savings accounts

There are only a handful of savings accounts dedicated to students in Canada. While most savings accounts are not tailored specifically to students, that doesn’t mean you should skip opening a savings account while you are a student. Many high-interest savings accounts and no-fee accounts from online banks are useful for students given the low or no fees and the higher rate of interest paid on deposits.

How to compare student bank accounts

To help you find the best bank account in Canada as a student, consider comparing the following:

Accessibility and ATM access

As a student, you will want frequent access to your money to pay tuition and monthly bills and deposit earnings. Look for student bank accounts that provide convenient access to your money such as unlimited monthly transactions, mobile banking or an accessible ATM network.

Fees and costs

Even small fees can eat away at your balance, so the best banking options are accounts that won’t cost you any ongoing fees. Look for student accounts with no monthly fees or find a bank account that offers rebates for multiple products.

Consider the cost of transactions as well as minimum balance requirements. For instance, some bank accounts require a minimum balance to be kept in the account to waive the monthly fee. Other accounts will charge a fee for specific transactions such as e-transfers or debit payments. Examine the type of transactions included with the account as well as any balance requirements before opening an account.

Number and type of transactions

Pay attention to the number and type of transactions included in your low or no monthly fee account. Some accounts will offer unlimited transactions, but only for a certain type. For instance, some student savings accounts may include free ATM or mobile deposits but charge a fee for each debit or e-transfer. While per transaction fees are usually small – between $0.50 and $2.50 – use enough of them and the fees add up.

The best option is to consider how you will access the account and use the funds. Then pick an account that offers enough free transactions to stop fee creep.

Savings and interest rates

While some chequing accounts offer interest earnings, most don’t. This isn’t a problem if you spend what you earn quickly. But if you use student loans, work full-time in the summer or part-time during the school year, you may carry a larger bank balance at certain times of the year. This makes it a good idea to use a bank account that offers a better interest rate on the account balance.

Features and perks

To get your business, banks and money apps offer features and perks enticing to students. This can include cashback on debit purchases, access to a student prepaid credit card and even promotional account-opening bonuses. While you should take advantage of these perks, be sure to concentrate on comparing the ongoing features, such as whether or not the account offers mobile banking, automatic bill payments or budgeting tools that help you manage your money.

Access to additional products

Most banks and financial firms are trying to win you over as a life-long customer, so they’ll compete to win your loyalty. This means access to additional features and products such as no-fee credit cards, student lines of credit and other financial services. When comparing these additional products and services, recognize how you will use them and how they will impact your budget and credit score.

Best student credit cards

Promotions and bonuses

Look for bonuses or rewards programs that can help you grow your account balance or save on expenses. Be careful – a big, upfront cash bonus is worthless if the account you open ends up costing you more in the long-run because it doesn’t have the features you need or if it requires you to pay extra for services or transactions.

7 optimal features that make the best student accounts

A quick scan of student bank accounts illustrates the choice and variety available in the marketplace. To narrow down your options and find the best bank account for your needs, consider how each account ranks based on these seven features:

  1. No monthly fees. One of the biggest benefits of having a student bank account is that you get to avoid monthly fees, so you won’t have money trickling out of your account.
  2. Student perks. Many banks offer student perks such as sign-up bonuses or discounts for related financial products.
  3. Linked student debit card. Most student bank accounts include a free linked Visa or Mastercard debit card (or a debit bank card for cashless payments). Many of these cards also have a tap-to-pay feature to make paying a lot easier.
  4. Mobile banking. While most banks offer mobile banking, they’re not all equal. Compare the features of each bank’s app before choosing an account. Features to look for include online bill paying, transaction history tracking, money transfer services, customer service and the ability to lock or unlock a debit card.
  5. Unlimited transactions. How are you supposed to live the student life if you have restrictions on your withdrawals? Most banks offer unlimited electronic transactions and ATM withdrawals.
  6. Competitive credit card terms. If you decide to apply for a student credit card, you may be eligible for extra perks if it’s through the same bank as your chequing account.
  7. Lower limits. Student debit cards often come with lower purchase limits. This can help keep you from splurging but can also be a con if you need to make a big purchase.

What fees are associated with bank accounts for students?

While student accounts rarely have ongoing monthly fees, you may still have to deal with the following:

  • Overdraft charges. If you make a purchase that causes your account to dip below $0, you could be charged a fee. You can set your account to not cover overdrafts to prevent this.
  • International transaction fees. If you’re travelling overseas, you might be charged a fee when you make a purchase or use an ATM. These can add up, so check the fees before signing up if you plan to travel.
  • ATM fees. This includes fees for using an ATM outside of your bank’s network. Some accounts will occasionally also charge for using in-network ATMs if you make too many withdrawals per month, but that’s more common with savings accounts.

How to compare student bank accounts to use overseas

This could be a suitable account for overseas travel for those who are fee-conscious. For most of the popular student bank accounts, withdrawing money from an overseas ATM doesn’t come cheap, carrying foreign transaction fees of 2% to 5% and an international ATM withdrawal fee that typically costs between $2 and $5 per transaction. You’ll want to look for an account that waives one or both of these fees and comes with a variety of money transfer options such as:

TD Canada Trust offers Visa Direct money transfers where customers can send money quickly to more than 170 countries. Banks such as TD, BMO and Scotiabank also give customers convenient access to Western Union transfer services through online banking.
If you travel to America frequently, consider opening a US dollar chequing account. Though still technically a Canadian bank account, you can make US dollar transactions at a preferred exchange rate.

Best debit cards for travelling overseas

How do I create a student account?

It’s easy to open a student account – even for international students. (For more information on opening a bank account as an international student, please see below.)

In most cases, you’ll need to provide documentation to prove your age, student status and where you live. To qualify for a student account, you may need to provide proof of post-secondary enrollment as well as proof that you are of the age of majority in your province of residence (either 18 or 19). Most financial institutions will also want proof of where you live as well as an email address.

You can either open a student account, in person at a local bank branch or through an online process. Keep in mind that most banks allow you to apply online for an account but some will require an in-person visit to a branch even if you start the process online.

Big banks vs online banks: A comparison for students

When considering a new bank account, most people gravitate towards a well-known big bank brand such as RBC, BMO or Scotiabank.

One reason the Big Five banks are so popular is that customers can find in-person branches and local ATMs easily. This makes a student bank account at a Big Five bank a great option. However, big banks aren’t known for extra perks such as higher interest rates earned on deposits or cashback on debit spending.

If you’re comfortable with the idea of not visiting a brick-and-mortar branch, then a digital bank or a money-spending account may be a better option. These money apps and online banks typically offer extra perks such as cashback on debit charges and unlimited debit transactions. They may not require the annual submission of proof that you are still enrolled in a post-secondary institution.

What happens to my student bank account after I graduate?

Most banks will automatically convert your account to a regular chequing or savings account and start charging you the regular monthly and transactional fees.
Some banks give you a grace period that allows you to keep your student account with all of its benefits for a limited period. Check with your bank or financial institution to find out how long the grace period lasts and the best options for converting to a chequing or savings account once it expires.
Keep in mind that if you open a student account at one of Canada’s Big Five banks, you may be required to show proof of post-secondary enrollment every year. You can skip this administrative formality if you choose to open a student account with a digital bank or an online money app.

Can I open a student chequing account or get a credit card if I’m an international student?

Many banks have products and services designed specifically for international students and newcomers to Canada.

For instance, RBC works closely with foreign students and even offers a Chinese International Student Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) to help eligible students finance their education. You can learn more about GICs here.

CIBC has several credit cards designed for international students as well. Popular online bank Simplii also offers a student savings account package specifically for international students.

To open a bank account as an international student, you will need to provide proof of residency showing that you’re currently living in Canada, such as a utility or cell phone bill or similar document showing your name and address. You will also likely be required to present proof of post-secondary enrollment, such as:

  • Canadian visa or study permit
  • Government photo ID, like your passport
  • Proof of school registration (either a letter or student ID card)
  • Expected graduation date

Student prepaid credit cards

Finally, as a student, you have the option of skipping the traditional day-to-day account or standard savings account and using a prepaid credit card.

Most prepaid credit cards or money apps offer basic banking features such as automatic paycheque deposits and recurring bill payments, along with a card for online or in-store cashless purchases. The biggest drawback of these prepaid credit card accounts is the limitations they have when depositing cash or cheques.

Still, for students with basic banking needs and a high level of comfort with online and cashless payments, a prepaid credit card or money app account can be an excellent, no-fuss alternative to a student bank account.

Bottom line

While finding an account that charges little or no fees is important, it isn’t the only factor you should consider before opening a student bank account. Compare chequing accounts based on fees, features and accessibility. Consider the earning interest rate on student savings accounts and review the bonuses, promotions and perks to find an account that suits your lifestyle.

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