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How To Choose The Right Bank

Written by CNN Team

Are you interested in free banking? These are some of the best banks in Canada for newcomers.

Canada’s banking is both convenient and reliable. Unfortunately, it is not always free. 

In order to choose the right bank, you must do your research to find the best bank promotions in Canada. The right bank for you might not be right for everyone, and that is okay. Make sure you understand all the terms you are agreeing to before signing up. 

It is important to note that Canada’s “Big Five” banks provide programs for immigrants, including special newcomer incentives that are worth considering.  Many banks offer free banking during that first year. So let’s kickoff your research by breaking down the newcomer programs offered by Canada’s “Big Five” banks.


Open a bank account before you arrive in Canada with Scotiabank’s StartRight Program. This offer includes unlimited no-fee international money transfers as well as a variety of services and products that are tailored for the needs of newcomers. Additionally, if you choose to bank with Scotiabank, your first year is free. This means no monthly fees! 

This program is for Canadian Permanent residents who have been in Canada for 0-3 years, foreign workers, and international students. 

National Bank of Canada

Are you moving to Quebec? The National Bank of Canada is the largest bank in the French-speaking province where it is known as Banque Nationale du Canada. It has branches in many of Canada’s provinces but far less than its competitors. It is worth noting that the National Bank of Canada has been in contention for the best bank in Canada award. 

Sign up before you arrive in Canada! The National Bank of Canada’s newcomer package consists of services that value up to $600. Also, newcomers will benefit from the National Bank of Canada’s Assistance service for the first year. Most importantly, there is no monthly fee for the first 3 years and unlimited online transactions. 

BMO (Bank of Montreal)

Canada’s oldest bank offers over 200 years of experience when it comes to helping newcomers settle in Canada. BMO’s NewStart program offers 12 months of free banking. This includes no strict minimum balances, unlimited e-transfers, and a free safety deposit box. Moreover, BMO tailors advice to your current situation, which is why they ranked number one in the J.D. Power 2020 Canada Retail Banking Advice Satisfaction Study. With over 850 branches and ATMs, BMO is easy to access across Canada. 

HSBC Bank Canada

With a footprint in many countries around the world, HSBC Bank Canada is part of a large global network that provides customers with over 130 branches in Canada’s major cities. HSBC Bank Canada offers a “Global View” service for those who already have HSBC accounts in other countries. This is a big incentive for people because it makes accessing and transferring money between their accounts much simpler. 

If you have been living in Canada for less than five years, then you may be eligible for the HSBC Bank Canada Newcomer program. With many newcomer incentives, HSBC also includes no monthly banking fees for the first 12 months, a credit card, cash bonuses, points, and an annual fee rebate for those who are eligible. 


Have you received a Permanent Resident status in Canada within the last five years? Then CIBC can help you to save with the CIBC Smart Account for Newcomers! There are rewards, zero monthly fees for the first year and no transfer fees when you send money abroad with CIBC Global Money Transfer. Also, there is a chance to obtain cash back on groceries and gas with the CIBC Dividend Platinum Visa Card. 

CIBC is available online, mobile banking, Apple Pay, and they have one of the largest ATM networks across Canada. So customers can access their accounts from anywhere. 


In the end, the best bank for you will depend on your specific needs and your financial situation. First you must decide, what do I want from my bank? Then determine if the bank lines up with your expectations. It will take research, but you will choose the right bank for you. You can do this! 

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.