Opening a bank account in Quebec

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Updated 2021-07-20 12:08

To open a bank account in Quebec, go to a banking agency of your choice and fill in an account application form, leaving your contact information to make an appointment. You can also request an appointment online.

Opening a bank account in Quebec: how to proceed?

At the appointment, you will usually be asked for two pieces of identification: for example, your social insurance number and your passport or study permit. Some banks also require a proof of address and the name and address of several "referents" in Quebec, such as your landlord or employer.

Upon presentation of these documents, your account will be opened without difficulty, and you will get an immediate debit card, "Interac", valid at ATMs and in shops, as well as some pre-printed checks. You can order chequebooks later on in batches of 50 or 100 checks for approximately 30 $ CAD.

Getting a credit card in Quebec

The credit card in Quebec operates on the principle of a credit that the bank allocates to you and which is fixed in advance and should not be exceeded. In other words, the bank allows you to borrow up to a specific "credit limit" from the account associated to your card (different from your deposit account) which you pay at the end of each month. Otherwise, the bank charges you with a loan fee.

As a general rule, banks refuse to issue a credit card to newcomers until they have a credit history. This is a way for the bank to check the individual's creditworthiness and repayment capacity.
After the regular payment of your first bills and rent in Quebec, you will obtain satisfactory credit history, and you will be able to apply for a credit card. Some banks nevertheless agree to grant a credit card to new immigrants with a credit limit provided they block the same amount in a deposit account to avoid delinquency.

Banking transactions in Quebec

In general, the "Interac" debit card does not allow paying for purchases on the Internet, although there are now exceptions. If you use it at ATMs other than those of your network, you will pay a flat fee of 1 to 3 $ CDN per transaction. Your banking package will allow you a limited number of debit card transactions: beyond that, you will pay a fee.

You should also be aware that some banks do not charge any fees for maintaining your account if you permanently leave an agreed sum in advance. The use of checks is very limited, and you cannot use them in commerce except to pay your rent or your bills. When opening your account, do not hesitate to ask your advisor if the bank gives special offers for newcomers, which is often the case. For example, you may be entitled to unlimited free transactions with your debit card for one year.

If you wish to make a transfer from your bank account in your home country to your Canadian account, or vice versa, you will have to pay fees and a commission, the amounts of which vary from bank to bank. Nowadays, the easiest and cheapest way is to go through a money transfer service like Transferwise, TransferMate or WorldRemit

Useful links:

Royal Bank - RBC
Bank of Montreal
Caisse populaire Desjardins
National Bank of Canada
Scotiabank
HSBC
Tangerine (online banking)

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