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Best Bank In Canada For International Students: Top Picks

best bank in canada for international students

Preparing to study abroad for the first time requires careful financial planning, and selecting the best bank in Canada for international students can be challenging due to the multitude of options available. As a student, affordability is paramount, but as an international student, several other factors must be taken into account. For instance, having access to services in your native language can be immensely beneficial if you’re still mastering English or French. Moreover, the capability to easily transfer funds to your home country or conduct transactions in your own currency is a significant concern for many international students.

Though each bank has its advantages and disadvantages, the following financial institutions excel in catering to the needs of international students studying in Canada, making them the best bank in Canada for international students.

Banking System For International Students In Canada 

The banking system for international students in Canada is a comprehensive and student-oriented framework. It addresses their specific needs, providing accessible, affordable, and secure banking services, while also assisting them in navigating the complexities of financial management in a new country. This system ensures that international students can fully focus on their studies and cultural experiences without being burdened by financial challenges.

Account Types and Setup 

When searching for the best bank for students in Canada, you’ll find that Canadian banks offer specialized accounts designed to accommodate the financial situation of international students. These accounts often come with minimal fees and have streamlined the account setup process, allowing students to open accounts online even before arriving in Canada. This level of convenience ensures that students can have their banking affairs in order as soon as they land in the country.

Language Support:

Understanding banking terms and procedures can be challenging for students who are still learning the local language. To address this, some banks offer multilingual customer support and translated materials, ensuring that language barriers don’t hinder students’ ability to manage their finances effectively.

Low Fees and Student Benefits:

Banks catering to international students understand that budgeting is a significant concern. They offer accounts with reduced fees or fee waivers for specific transactions such as ATM withdrawals, money transfers, and account maintenance. Additionally, some banks partner with local businesses to provide student discounts, helping them save money on various services.

Best Bank In Canada For International Students: Top Picks

Here are the best Canadian banks for international students:

1. CIBC Bank

CIBC stands as one of the most established and largest banks in Canada, with a rich history tracing back to 1867 and an impressive clientele of over 11 million individuals. Through the CIBC student deposit program, you have the opportunity to initiate a bank account even before you arrive in Canada and seamlessly transfer up to $20,000. For students hailing from nations eligible for the Student Direct Stream program – examples include Brazil, India, Pakistan, Senegal, China, Costa Rica, Morocco, and the Philippines – the chance to establish a GIC account, satisfying the program prerequisites, is also available.

CIBC’s international student banking package encompasses a CIBC Smart Account, a chequing account devoid of monthly charges and brimming with limitless transactions. Furthermore, the package grants access to a network of over 4,000 ATMs across Canada. As an added advantage, aspiring applicants can seek a CIBC student credit card and acquire a complimentary SPC membership, facilitating access to discounts tailored for students. This makes CIBC a standout choice as one of the best banks in Canada for international students.

2. BMO Bank

The Bank of Montreal (BMO) holds the distinction of being Canada’s most ancient financial institution, with its inception dating back to 1817, and boasts a global customer base exceeding 12 million. Much akin to other esteemed institutions featured here, BMO presents an international student GIC program tailored for eligible candidates adhering to the SDS study permit guidelines. The bank provides an array of offerings including chequing accounts, savings accounts, student credit cards, and a worldwide money transfer service. 

Within BMO’s suite of services, the student chequing account (Plus package) is notable, encompassing 25 transactions monthly and unfettered access to BMO ATMs. Furthermore, BMO extends student credit card options such as the BMO Cashback Mastercard and BMO Air Miles Mastercard. These attributes contribute to BMO’s status as one of the premier options for the best student bank accounts in Canada.

3. HSBC Bank

HSBC stands out for international student bank account in Canada. It provides an international student GIC program tailored for individuals seeking study permits within the SDS program framework. This specialized account serves as a repository for the mandatory funds outlined by the government to cover the initial year’s living expenses.

Post-arrival in Canada, students have the option to initiate a student chequing account, devoid of any monthly charges, accompanied by unrestricted debit transactions, e-transfers, and additional benefits. Moreover, students are eligible to apply for credit cards such as the HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard and HSBC +Rewards Mastercard, carrying a minimum credit limit of $1,000. In a time-limited offer, new applicants stand to receive a cashback reward of up to $150 upon opening a fresh HSBC student account. 

4. ICICI Bank

ICICI Bank Canada, a branch of ICICI Bank Limited, one of India’s largest private-sector banks, established its Canadian presence in 2003. With assets totalling around $6 billion, ICICI Bank Canada is a noteworthy entity. The bank extends a student GIC program tailored for international students adhering to the SDS program criteria. Additionally, ICICI presents the Hello Canada Account, designed for newcomers (including students) from India, Bahrain, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, the U.K., the USA, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, and Germany.

Positioned as one of the best banks in Canada for international students, ICICI Bank Canada provides a suite of offerings that cater to the specific needs and circumstances of students and newcomers.

5. Scotiabank

Scotiabank’s offering for international students is encompassed within its StartRight Program. This package features a complimentary chequing account, unrestricted no-charge international money transfers, and an unsecured credit card. The Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan incorporates boundless debit transactions, and e-transfers, along with a welcoming cash incentive. Moreover, account holders enjoy complimentary access to an extensive network of over 4,000 ATMs throughout the nation. Aspiring applicants can opt for the SCENE Visa Card, which lets you earn Scene+ rewards as you spend, and notably, possessing a Canadian credit history is not a prerequisite for eligibility.

Even before arriving in Canada, individuals can establish a Scotiabank international account, a facility that aligns with the SDS program. Scotiabank, positioned as one of the top five Canadian banks, serves over 25 million customers globally.

Benefits Of A Student Bank Account

A student bank account is designed to alleviate financial stress for students by offering cost-effective services, convenient access to funds, and tools to manage their money wisely. It’s an essential tool that helps students focus on their education without the burden of excessive banking fees or complications.

Low Fees or No Fees: Many student bank accounts offered by the best banks in Canada for international students come with reduced fees or even no monthly fees.

Interest-Free Overdraft: This can be incredibly helpful during times when unexpected expenses arise or when there’s a temporary shortage of funds.

Access to ATMs: Most student bank accounts from the best banks in Canada for international students provide free access to a network of ATMs, ensuring that students can withdraw cash conveniently without incurring extra charges.

Credit Building: Certain student accounts from the best banks in Canada for international students offer the option to apply for a credit card with a lower credit limit. 

International Transactions: If you’re an international student, prioritize banks that offer easy and affordable options for international fund transfers and currency exchange.

Credit Cards: Look into the credit card options the bank offers for students. Consider cards with low credit limits or special features tailored to students.

Overdraft and Credit Building: Check if the bank offers interest-free overdrafts and credit-building opportunities, which can be valuable for emergencies and establishing credit history.

What Do I Need To Set Up A Canadian Bank Account As An International Student?

While certain student bank accounts can be initiated from overseas, you’ll need to schedule an appointment to finalize your account setup upon your arrival in Canada. The subsequent documents will be necessary:

  • A study permit (IMM 1442) or a temporary resident visa (TRV).
  • Official government-issued photo identification like your passport or a Canadian driver’s license.
  • Verification of your enrollment in a Canadian post-secondary educational program. This can include your student ID card, acceptance letter, a copy of your tuition invoice, and similar documents.

To initiate this process, visit your preferred bank’s website and engage with their customer support to arrange an appointment. Alternatively, some banks offer the option to commence your application online.


1. Which are the Best Banks In Canada For International Students?

The best banks in Canada for international students are HSBC, ICICI, BMO, etc.

2. Which account is best for international students in Canada?

CIBC’s student account comes with no monthly charge and offers unrestricted, complimentary monthly debit card transactions. This makes it an extremely budget-friendly banking choice for international students studying in Canada.

3. Which bank is best for international transactions in Canada?

BMO charges 5 CAD along with an exchange rate markup and potential third-party fees. On the other hand, Scotiabank imposes a fee of 1.99 CAD along with an exchange rate markup and potential intermediary fees.

4. Which bank is best for student GIC in Canada?

CIBC and Scotiabank both facilitate swift and convenient online applications for their GIC accounts, catering to students from all four nations.

5. Is GIC only for students?

All international students applying through the SDS or Student Direct Stream are required to obtain a GIC, as it is an essential requirement for pursuing studies in Canada.

Thank you for reading. For more such information read other blogs:

Guide to the Bank for International Students in Australia

Best Bank For Students In Ireland: Top Picks, Features & Process

American University Scholarships In 2023

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Best Bank In Canada For International Students: Top Picks