As soon as I landed in Canada and my family settled down., one of the very important things I had to do was to get a bank account, to be more specific a chequing account. As an employee, I had to give a bank account to get my payments. My boss at that moment took me to TD bank, why? He claimed that that bank was the best (I had no arguments against that).
When I got the branch, it was pretty straight forward. I was asked for my work permit and in minutes I got my card and a bunch of papers including some directions on how to sign up to the web portal. I also got a chequebook under my boss's recommendation.
Two years later, I decide to terminate my account in TD.
What Bank to Choose?
You will find many banks in Canada with a lot of things. I will explain here the big players.
- TD Canada, in my opinion, it is an expensive bank. At the time when I was a client, there was no unlimited account, so if I used the debit card more than 40 times a month, I was getting an extra charge. However, TD has an advantage against other banks, and it is the operation hours. They usually open very early and close very late. This means that when I got out of my job at around 5 pm, I was able to go to the bank without issues while other banks were closing at 4:30 pm.
- RBC, one of the coolest banks in Canada. I got an unlimited transaction account at a very reasonable monthly rate. However, the debit card they give was not a VISA (VISA debit) or Mastercard, then it was impossible to do some Internet shopping with it. Sadly, RBC is one of those banks that closes early.
- Scotiabank, not a fan of them. Scotiabank explodes the international image because they are in other countries that you could do transactions with the teller. That is half-true, what Scotiabank allows you is to use the cashier for withdrawals without paying an extra fee but you will still be paying the standard rate conversion; the teller is unable to make any transaction in your account. On the bright side, the bank has a fair low rate on debit cards and they allow their employees to speak their native tongue with their customers, indeed they encourage. If an employee speaks Cantonese, it is very likely that at the door of the branch you may see a letter saying "We can server you in ..... Cantonese", which in my opinion is really cool for those who have a hard time speaking English or French. I got a debit card from Scotia and I have been keeping it as it is fee-free with limited transactions. Also, Scotiabank is another bank that closes early, I have seen a few branches that close after 5 pm.
As I have said, there are more but I had had experience with these three.
What About the Chequebook?
This was a cultural shock for me. Cheques are so 1990 but they are in high demand in Canada. When I arrived, I was only able to pay the rent by cheque, school extra fees (like photos, trip fees) were only accepted through cheques.
I have seen that this has changed, now I have been seven years cheque free. It is very common when someone requires a cheque, they also have a second option to pay them.
Chequebooks are not cheap, if you must have one try not to use it.