Banking

There are many different types of financial institutions in Edmonton, including banks, credit unions and trust companies.

Each offers several types of accounts and services. Interest rates and service charges vary. When choosing a financial institution, consider these charges, the services you require and the bank’s location.

Banks

Setting up your Account & Banking in Canada

Appointment

Although it is not required, making an appointment before you visit a branch will ensure that someone will be available to help you and you will not spend time waiting for assistance. If you would like service in a language other than English, an appointment is necessary.

Student Account

Be sure to mention that you are a U of A student when opening an account as student accounts generally have lower fees. A ONEcard or Confirmation of enrollment in a post-secondary institution may be required to open your student account.

Proof of residence

If your ID does not include your current residential address, the bank may require a proof of residence (a lease or bill with your name and address on it). If you don’t have a lease or bill, you can use Confirmation of Enrollment which can be obtained at the Student Access Centre in the Administration Building. Be sure to update your address on Bear Tracks to your current Edmonton mailing address first.

Debit Cards

These cards allow you to access your bank account at ATMs (Automated Teller Machines). All banks issue ATM cards free of charge, but most charge for each transaction; though a certain number of free transactions per month are normally included with student accounts. All banks have ATM machines in various locations throughout the city, including the U of A campus. If you are using an ATM from a bank other than yours, you can expect to pay high fees to withdraw cash (over $3 per transaction in most cases).

Internet Banking

Allows you to check account balances, pay bills and transfer money on-line. Ask for information about this when opening your account.

Overdraft Protection

This allows you to take out more money than is in your account, but you will pay high interest on the debt. It is useful if you write cheques, because you are protected in case a cheque is cashed when there is not enough money in your account.

Student Line of Credit

Students can check whether they are eligible for a ‘Student Line of Credit,’ which means that you can take out money up to a certain amount as a loan from the bank and pay only the interest charges on the amount you have taken out, so long as you are a student. Once you finish school, you must repay the loan. International students can ask about these services, but their eligibility to participate may not be the same as that of permanent residents of Canada, so this should be checked out with each bank.

Student Credit Card

International students who are newly arrived to Canada will not have a Canadian Credit History. They are therefore unlikely to qualify for a credit card right away. However, some credit card companies allows students to apply for credit card by depositing an amount of money into a special account to be held for certain time period, and some companies provide credit card services to students after the student has had an account with the bank for a certain time period. The policies of Credit Card companies vary and students are encouraged to contact the Credit Card companies or visit a bank branch for more information.

Cash your Travellers Cheques

It is usually free to cash your Travellers Cheques if you have an account with the bank. There will be a charge if you don’t have an account and the amount depends on where the cheque came from and other factors. For accurate information please contact your bank directly.

Closing the account within 90 days

Usually there is a charge for closing an account within 90 days, different banks have different rates. However, sometimes this can be waived if the bank is notified when the account is open that it will only be needed for a short term. Please contact your bank for details.

Transferring Funds to Canada

There are several ways to transfer money to Canada, including bringing travellers cheques, a bank draft or having a transfer of funds from your bank at home to the Canadian bank where you open an account.The option you select will depend on the amount of funds being transferred, service charges and the timeliness of each option.

Travelers' Cheques

Travelers cheques are widely accepted and provide a refundable, replaceable and convenient way to access money abroad. By cashing travelers cheques as you go, you limit the amount of cash you carry around, and that can lead to peace of mind.

Bank Drafts

Bank drafts go by many names. You may hear them called money orders in Canada or cashier's cheques in the U.S. Bank drafts are a secure alternative to writing cheques or having to open a foreign currency account. You usually must have a bank account in Canada in order to pay for a bank draft by cash, personal cheque or direct debit from your account. 

Wire Transfers

Wire transfers let you transfer money directly from one bank account (i.e. in your home country) to another quickly and securely. You can usually pay by cash, cheque or directly from your account.

In most cases you will need the following to complete a wire transfer:

  • The full name, address including city, province/state, and country, and account number of the person you are sending money to
  • The full name and address including city, province/state, and country of the financial institution receiving the funds
  • The amount and currency of the transfer