It can be difficult for a newcomer to navigate financial services in an entirely new banking system. Not only can the procedures be different, information can also be difficult to find.

That's one of the reasons that Hardbacon published its guide to personal finance for Canadian immigrants. Everything revolves around establishing a credit score in Canada: bank accounts, credit cards, investments, and options including currency conversion and sending money internationally.

Unless you are using a prepaid credit card like KOHO or secured credit like Refresh, you'll need a bank account to begin any credit car application process. So which bank do you use? You can compare offers with our chequing account comparison tool, but we've also compiled a list of the 5 best bank accounts for newcomers.


BMO offers the NewStart® program. You can begin by opening a chequing account with no monthly fees for one year. You also get unlimited free BMO Global Money Transfers for one year, and access to a safety deposit box. Even more impressive, they can help you get a credit card even if you have no credit history in Canada.

BMO is complementing its offer for newcomers with several adapted financial products. For example, you can sign up for the BMO No Annual Fee Cash Back Mastercard with which you get a cash back rate of up to 5% in the first three months. Of course, conditions apply.

Value of the offer up to $1,250
The BMO NewStart® Program

New to Canada? Open a new chequing account with the BMO NewStart® Program* and get $400 welcome bonus, no account fees for a year and other freebies.

The total value of the offer is $1,250!

Apply Now!
*Conditions apply.

If you want to buy a home, we can help you buy your new home in Canada by providing mortgages that do not require a Canadian credit history. You can make international transfers to over 200 countries and territories through the Western Union Money Transfer service, directly from BMO Online Banking.

In Canada, you have the right to open a bank account at any institution if you show identification. That is, you can open a bank account even if you have no job or no money to deposit immediately. If you wish to open an account from your home country, contact the bank or check their website to see if you can open your account entirely online.

National Bank of Canada

The National Bank’s offer for new immigrants is a 3-year offer for a chequing account, access to financing products like loans and credit cards, telephone support, unlimited electronic transactions, a book of free cheques and rental of a small safety deposit box to keep your important documents in. The bank waives its account fees for the first year, saving you $15.95 for 12 months.

For the second and third year, the bank waives its account fees again if you sign up for a National Bank personal credit card, online bank statements, and either online payroll deposit or two electronic bill payments per month. If you don't want that option, the bank will charge you a reduced account fee for the remaining 2 years.

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

This is the most ubiquitous bank in Canada. No matter the city, RBC probably has a branch there. Thanks to RBC, most financial services like credit cards, mortgages and car loans don’t require you to have a credit history. This is an undeniable advantage when you have just arrived in the country.

With the RBC Newcomer Advantage, you get a free safety deposit box for 24 months and 2 free international transfers per month for 12 months.

To take advantage of their offer, you start by signing up for an RBC No Limit Banking account, where you pay no fees for one year, get unlimited debit transactions in Canada, and unlimited Interac e-Transfer transactions. Then you add the no-annual-fee RBC Cash Back Credit Card, which you cash back on groceries and other eleigible expenses.

Desjardins Credit Union or Caisse populaire

In Quebec, you will see the green hexagon of the Desjardins logo everywhere. Unlike other institutions, Desjardins is a credit union, but it offers essentially the same services as a bank.

Therefore, it belongs to its members and not stockholders. A member at Desjardins is the same as a customer in a bank. When there are surpluses, it gets distributed to members in the form of a dividend. Credit unions are committed to and invest in the enrichment of their communities and their members.

Their offer for newcomers includes several products. First, a bank account including a free transaction plan and unlimited transactions for one year. You also get a credit card with no annual fee that does not require a credit history or a security deposit.

For an auto insurance quote, Desjardins takes into account your years of driving experience in your home country. You get a basic safety deposit box for one year to store your documents and valuables. Lastly, you’ll get a preferential rate for non-redeemable term savings to enable you to grow your savings.


Scotiabank allows you to open an account online and transfer money to Canada before you arrive. Scotiabank's StartRight program get you a Perferred Package chequing account. The bank waives the account fees for the first year – that is a $203.40 value. You can also earn up to $350 when you open the Preferred Package account.

You als get access to:

  • Unlimited no-fee international transfers for one year
  • Access to a free small safety deposit box one year
  • Help getting a mortgage
  • A Scotiabank PassportTM Visa Infinite credit card with no annual fee for the first year.
  • If you open a Scotia iTRADE account, you get 10 free transactions for one year.
Compare dozens of Canadian chequing accounts
Compare Canadian Chequing Accounts

Compare dozens of Canadian chequing accounts and find the one that best suits your needs.

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