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Natasha Macmillan, Business Unit Director - Everyday Banking
A guide to student bank accounts
Students can get special discounts on bank accounts when they are attending a post-secondary institution, and long past the age of 19. The average bank account can cost you around $15 each month or $180 per year. Whether you’re part-time or full-time, a college freshman or university grad, finding a student bank account doesn’t need to be a difficult process.
Below we highlight a few details to keep in mind when selecting the best student bank account for you.
How to choose a student bank account:
While the student bank account you choose will depend on your specific priorities and spending habits, there are some general features you'll want to look for.
1. Compare monthly fees
Being a student is expensive enough without having to pay extra fees on your bank account every month. Many student bank accounts offer no fees with no minimum balance requirements, so try to avoid banks that will hit you with these kinds of charges.
2. Look for unlimited transactions
Because a large amount of your account activity will be debit transactions and e-transfers, you'll want to look for bank accounts that offer either unlimited transactions or, at the very least, a high number of free ones.
3. Look into ATM access
While most places use debit machines these days, there are still times where you'll need physical money, like when you’re going to cash-only bars and takeout spots. That's why you'll want to make sure your chosen bank has ATMs close by.
4. Choose banks that also offer student credit cards
When used wisely, credit cards are a great way to build your credit score and learn financial skills that will come in handy as you get older. When shopping around for the right student chequing account, it may be worth it to investigate a bank's student credit card options as well.
5. Consider extra perks like rewards
While some student bank accounts don't offer a lot in the way of sign up incentives and benefits, many do feature perks. These can sometimes be a small cash bonus or the opportunity to earn rewards points from your purchases. For example, with the Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan, you can earn 1 Scene Point for every $5 spent on everyday purchases with the Scotia debit card connected to your account. You could save up your points for large future purchases or redeem them at the grocery store at a rate of 1,000 points = $10 off your bill.
How to open a student bank account
In general, opening any bank account is an easy process. The vast majority of financial institutions will let you sign up online, and your new account will be ready for you to use within minutes. That being said, there is documentation you'll want to have ready to help confirm your identity and student status. This can include:
- A driver's license or passport
- A valid student ID with an expiration date
- A copy of your renter's lease (if you're living in an apartment)
- A utility bill or other official mail with your current address listed
- A copy of your timetable or proof of enrolment letter
How to open a bank account in Canada for international students
To open an international student bank account in Canada, you may be required to provide your Canadian visa or study permit, proof of enrollment at your college or university, and one piece of valid photo ID like a passport. You may be able to open a bank account online or through a phone call, but it might be easier to visit a bank branch in person to sort things out.
The best bank account for international students in Canada
Similar to other types of student bank accounts, the best bank accounts for international students in Canada offer low or no monthly fees, unlimited transactions, and small cash bonuses, like the CIBC Smart Account for students. You can even qualify for this account before arriving in Canada. Plus, with this account and others like the RBC Advantage Bank Account, you may be able to qualify for a student credit card without a Canadian credit history, so you can start building up your score.
- Also read: Financial tips for newcomers to Canada
What’s the best bank for students in Canada?
Several of the big banks have offers for students, and the best one depends on what you’re looking for in terms of account fees, transaction fees and welcome bonuses. The best student bank accounts offer low-or-no monthly fees, unlimited free transactions like e-transfers, and no minimum balance requirements—like the Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan. Plus, this chequing account lets you earn Scene points you can redeem to save money on groceries and other expenses. Another strong option to consider would be the RBC Royal Bank Student Banking Account or the CIBC Smart™ for Students, both of which have no account fees while you are a full-time student, and unlimited transactions.
Who’s eligible for student bank accounts in Canada?
To be eligible for a student account, you’ll have to provide proof of enrolment at a Canadian college or university. Many banks also provide no-fee bank accounts for high school students and those under the age of 25. To be eligible for certain cash bonuses and other student bank account offers, you likely have to be registered as a full-time student.
Is CIBC or RBC a better bank for students?
CIBC and RBC both currently have competitive offers for students – you can get a $100 cash bonus from each after opening a student bank account and fulfilling the offer requirements. For both accounts, the monthly fees are waived while you are a full-time student. To get the bonus, you have to set up pre authorized payments or send a certain number of e-transfers, for example. However, with the CIBC Smart for Students account, you can also get a $50 referral bonus every time you get another student to sign up for an account (up to 10 students total.) So your potential earnings are a bit higher with the CIBC account.
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- What is a Chequing Account
- How To Choose a Chequing Account
- How To Open a Chequing Account
- How To Save On Chequing Accounts
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