Managing Your Money
If you plan to work in Canada or to transfer money while you are here, we suggest you open an account with a Canadian bank or credit union.
Find out which services are offered by banks and caisses populaires (credit unions) before deciding which institution offers the account that best corresponds to your needs, gives you the best return on your money, and charges the lowest service fees.
Opening a bank account
All financial institutions offer a range of services: debit card, foreign currency exchange, money transfer, safety deposit box, etc.
To open a bank account, make an appointment at the branch of your choice and bring two pieces of ID. A deposit is not usually required to open an account in Québec, although the Caisse populaire Desjardins will ask for a $5 qualifying share (membership share). Caisse populaire Desjardins has an on-campus branch. It is possible to open an account before or after your arrival in Quebec.
You might also check with your home financial institution to see if it has an agreement with a Canadian institution. This could save you money.
Cost of living
To get an estimate of the cost of living in Quebec during your studies, please consult the example of student budget available on the website of Student Awards and Financial Aid Office (Bureau des bourses et de l’aide financière, BBAF).
You can transfer money via your bank or Western Union, MoneyGram or Paypal.
Main financial institutions
Overview of services available from main financial institutions.
|BANK ACCOUNTS||CREDIT CARDS|
|Studients registered for two or more semesters||Students registered for one semester||Transaction fees and students plans||Standard credit card||Prepaid credit card or Visa debit card|
|With study permit||Without study permit|
|Banque of Montréal (BMO)||x||x||x||No fees – 30 transactions per month||Possible with a guaranteed deposit, based on file review||Prepaid credit card
Annual fee of $6.95
|National Bank||x||x||x||No fees – unlimited transactions for one year. Then, various plan available||Free||Access to a standard credit card|
|Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)||x||x||x||No fees – 25 transactions a month||Possible, based on file review||Visa debit card with bank account, no fees|
|Scotia Bank||x||x||x||No fees – unlimited transactions||Free
Only for students registered for two or more semesters
|Access to a standard credit card|
|TD Canada Trust, Laurentian Bank||x||x||Plan for students 18 to 25: no fees – 20 transactions a month
Other plans available for students over 25
|Caisse Desjardins de l’Université Laval|| x
|No fees – unlimited transactions||Not available||Prepaid credit card
Free for students 25 and under, $6.95 for others
|CIBC||x||x||No fees – unlimited transactions||Free||Prepaid credit card
Debit and credit cards
You can use a debit card for purchases at most retailers. The amount of your purchase is deducted directly from your bank account. You can also use your card any time to access your account at an automatic teller machine (ATM) or on your institution’s website, where you can perform most routine banking transactions (deposits, withdrawals, transfers, bill payments, etc.).
Credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, etc.) can be used to shop online and at stores. At the end of each month, you receive a statement with a detailed list of your purchases. You must then pay your balance within about 21 days or you will be subject to interest charges that often exceed 20%
Prepaid cards are a handy way to make online and in-store purchases. They provide the same flexibility and security as credit cards, the only difference being that you must deposit your money into the account before you can use them.
To obtain a debit, credit, or prepaid card, apply at your bank.
Find out about the terms and conditions, since fees are often associated with their use.