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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 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.

List Of Best Bank In Canada For International Students

A comparative chart will help the students find the best pick for them when it comes to selecting a bank. Here is a table summarising the best banks for international students in Canada:

Best Student Bank Accounts CanadaStudent Account FeaturesMonthly FeesWelcome OffersAdditional Benefits
Bank of Montreal (BMO)No monthly fees, free unlimited transactions, no interest on depositsNoneSpecial offer for Student Direct Stream (SDS) qualifying countries or general category studentsNone
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)No monthly fees, unrestricted complimentary monthly debit card transactionsNoneSpecialised accounts for medical, dental, and optometry studentsNone
ScotiabankFree unlimited transactions, no monthly feesNoneNoneStudent Banking Advantage Plan available to full-time post-secondary students in Canada
HSBCReduced fees or fee waivers for specific transactions, such as ATM money transfers and account maintenanceVariesNoneNone
RBCNo-fee student account, various perks and resources for international studentsNoneNoneNo-fee global money transfer and student discounts available
TDNo-fee student account, various perks and resources for international studentsNoneNoneNo-fee global money transfer and student discounts available


  • Monthly Fees are indicated as “None” for banks that do not charge monthly fees for their student accounts.
  • Welcome Offers column mentions any special promotions or offers for eligible students.
  • Additional Benefits column highlights any extra advantages or features offered by the banks, such as specialised accounts, global money transfers, or student discounts.

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 specialised 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, international student bank account Canada 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.

In-Depth Details On Best Bank In Canada For International Students

This overview goes into the features and offerings of top Canadian banks for international students, providing in-depth insights into account benefits, fees, and special considerations to aid students in making informed decisions for their financial journey. Here are the best Canadian banks for international students:


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 programme, 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 programme – examples include Brazil, India, Pakistan, Senegal, China, Costa Rica, Morocco, and the Philippines – the chance to establish a GIC account, satisfying the programme 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.

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 programme 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.


HSBC stands out for international student bank account in Canada. It provides an international student GIC programme tailored for individuals seeking study permits within the SDS programme framework. This specialised 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. 


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 programme tailored for international students adhering to the SDS programme 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.


Scotiabank’s offering for international students is encompassed within its StartRight Programme. 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 programme. 
  • Scotiabank, positioned as one of the top five Canadian banks, serves over 25 million customers globally and serves international student bank account Canada needs. 

Benefits Of A Canadian 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, prioritise 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 a 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 finalise your account setup upon your arrival in Canada. The subsequent documents will be necessary:

Documents needed to apply for a Canadian Bank account

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.


Which bank is best in Canada for international students?

The choice of the best bank for international students in Canada depends on individual needs. Popular options include BMO, CIBC, Scotiabank, HSBC, RBC, and TD, each offering unique benefits and features tailored to the financial requirements of international students.

Which bank is the best for international students?

The best bank for international students in Canada varies based on personal preferences. Notable options include BMO, CIBC, Scotiabank, HSBC, RBC, and TD, each providing student-friendly accounts with specific perks and resources.

Which is better CIBC or Scotia for GIC?

Choosing between CIBC and Scotiabank for a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) depends on individual preferences and terms offered by each bank. It’s advisable to compare interest rates, terms, and any additional benefits before making a decision.

Which is the best bank for newcomers to Canada?

For newcomers to Canada, various banks offer tailored services. BMO, CIBC, Scotiabank, HSBC, RBC, and TD are prominent choices, providing newcomer packages with features like no monthly fees, unlimited transactions, and additional resources to ease the transition.

Is HDFC Bank good for international students?

HDFC Bank, being an Indian bank, may not be a primary choice for international students in Canada. It’s advisable to explore local Canadian banks like BMO, CIBC, Scotiabank, HSBC, RBC, and TD, which cater specifically to the needs of international students.

What type of bank is best for a student?

The best bank for a student depends on factors like account features, fees, and additional benefits. Consider options like BMO, CIBC, Scotiabank, HSBC, RBC, and TD, all offering student-friendly accounts with perks such as no monthly fees, unlimited transactions, and special promotions for students.

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Best Bank In Canada For International Students: Top Picks

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