2021-11-10T09:14:34-05:00Jul 31, 2020|

How to open an international student bank account in Canada

Managing finances, budgeting, and paying school fees are important tasks in every student’s life. As an international student in Canada, one of the things to get you started with your finances is opening a bank account. 

In this article, we will guide you through the process of opening an account and provide helpful tips and resources to help you familiarize yourself with banking in Canada. 

Step 1: Book an appointment

As an international student, you want a trusted partner who understands your banking needs. RBC (Canada’s largest bank*) has been such a partner to newcomers for 150 years. It’s why they support everything we do at Arrive.

As things start to get back to normal, many bank branches are reopening, and some will continue to have reduced hours. You can check the branch locator on the RBC website for the most up-to-date information. Many branches have now restarted scheduling in-person meetings with Advisors.

Book an appointment now to know more about how you can open a
RBC student bank account

Tip: If you have your arrival date fixed, you can book an appointment even before you land in Canada.

Step 2: Gather your documents

Before you head to the bank to open a student account, it is recommended to have all the essential documents to facilitate and speed up the process.  

To open a student bank account with RBC, you will require the following documents:

  • Your passport
  • Landing documents (IMM 1442 or 1208) or Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)
  • Proof of enrollment (optional, good-to-have)
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN) or proof of residence (optional, good-to-have)

Step 3: Choose an account type

There are two main types of bank accounts in Canada: 

  • Chequing account: An essential basic account for daily transactions and purchases.
  • Savings account: A high interest account to save money over a longer term. 

Based on your needs, RBC offers a few different types of student bank accounts for you to choose from:

  1. RBC Student Banking
    • No monthly fee.
    • 25 free debit transactions per month (such as direct purchases, cheques, online purchases, or ATM withdrawals).
  2. RBC No Limit Banking for Students
    • Monthly fee of $10.95.
    • Unlimited debit transactions (such as direct purchases, cheques, online purchases or ATM withdrawals).

Additionally, both accounts don’t require you to maintain a minimum balance and offer unlimited free Interac e-Transfer transactions.

What is an Interac e-Transfer?

Interac e-Transfer is a fast, secure, easy, and convenient way to send, request, and receive money directly from one bank to another. 

To send an e-Transfer, all you need is —

  • A Canadian bank account or an account with a participating financial institution, for both, yourself and the recipient.
  • Access to online or mobile banking.
  • The recipient’s email address or phone number.

Limited time offer: Get $60 CAD cash when you open an RBC student account.#  

You must open your first new Eligible Personal Banking Account by 9:00 PM EST on August 31, 2020, and complete two of the following qualifying criteria by 9:00 PM EST on October 30, 2020, using your Eligible Personal Banking Account: mobile cheque deposit, Interac e-Transfer; or any purchase including those done with RBC Virtual Visa Debit, Interac Flash, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay or with the RBC Wallet.

Once you open a chequing account, you will receive a debit card that can be used for making various purchases (online and offline) and withdrawing or depositing money at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). 

Step 4: Select a credit card

Having a credit rating/score is essential for life in Canada. A good credit score can ensure you qualify for better interest rates on mortgages and other loans down the line. 

To get started with building your credit history, having and using a credit card is essential. Some popular student credit cards offered by RBC are:

Your banking advisor can help you choose one when you call or visit the branch. 

Understanding credit in Canada:

Difference between a debit and a credit card

If you’re contemplating getting a credit card but are unsure about how a credit card differs from a debit card, here are some key differentiating points: 

Debit Card

Credit Card

Tied to your chequing account. It is a line of credit that you can access with your card.
Does not attract interest. Attracts interest if the balance is not paid off within 30 days.
Ensures you stay within budget since you’re limited to only the amount available in your chequing account. You run the risk of overspending.
You can often get cash back at points of sale. Allows you the opportunity to earn cash back and rewards. Provides flexibility to request a refund or return a purchased item.
Spending habits don’t affect your credit score. Spending habits affect your credit score.


Understanding the basics of banking in Canada will allow you to plan, budget, and manage your finances thoughtfully. And having access to the right resources can help you get started on the right foot and be well-prepared to start your student life without stress or anxiety.

Book an appointment to speak with an advisor about banking in Canada


# This offer is available to any Eligible Student Clients which for purposes of this offer includes international students (refer to ^) without a Personal Banking Account with Royal Bank of Canada at the beginning of the Promotional Period or in the three year period before the start of the Promotional Period, and who otherwise comply with the Terms of the offer. The Bonus Offer is $60 with an RBC No Limit Banking for Students account (monthly fee of $10.95) or $60 with an RBC student banking account. You must open your first new Eligible Personal Banking Account by 9:00 PM EST on August 31, 2020 and complete two of the following Qualifying Criteria by 9:00 PM EST on October 30, 2020 using your Eligible Personal Banking Account: mobile cheque deposit, Interac e-Transfer; or any purchase -including those done with RBC Virtual Visa Debit, Interac Flash, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay or with the RBC Wallet. Qualifying Criteria can be made within RBC Online Banking, RBC Mobile Banking or with your RBC Client Card. Transactions made in branch or through the ATM network, as well as bank fee transactions, are not included as a qualifying transaction. The Bonus Offer will be deposited into your Eligible Personal Banking Account within 2 to 8 weeks of completing the Qualifying Criteria, if applicable. Royal Bank may follow up with Eligible Student Clients to remind them to complete the Qualifying Criteria. This offer may not be combined or used in conjunction with any other Personal Banking Account offers. Royal Bank of Canada reserves the right to withdraw this offer at any time without notice, even after acceptance by you. For full details including defined terms visit rbc.com/isofferterms60.